Many people will wonder what all the fuss is about connectivity and whether phone coverage in this place or that is really so critical. The advent of up to 99 percent phone coverage on the Melbourne train might seem equally immaterial to those who have not ridden the line and wondered when anything close to a bar of coverage will ever appear. The point is, in the age of instant demands and competition, it can make all the difference and in its own way could have an ongoing impact on shaping the future of Ballarat.
The reality is mobile phone connection within two decades has gone from luxury to an essential service - as basic in many cases as a water or electricity supply. In an interconnected world, this goes a long way beyond the starting point of safety and an intrinsic role in emergency warnings. It would be easy to argue connections also act as one of the equalisers on a continent where distance still holds a tyrannical disadvantage and where wealth and jobs are overwhelmingly concentrated in big cities
Ballarat does not suffer any extreme remoteness but all the same it is a city that very much demands the highest level of coverage, by phone or broadband, because it is this new form of electronic connection that puts it on the best possible footing, whether in industry, education or health to offer competitive services not only to its own residents but much of western Victoria.
So to the trains. We already know the value in Ballarat’s proximity to Melbourne, and how vital an efficient rail link will be in helping Ballarat grow alongside Melbourne. We know growth in specialised jobs will continue to grow in Melbourne but we also know in livability Melbourne has reached a congested cul de sac. By contrast Ballarat has enormous advantages in this regard. So a commuting population of skilled, computer literate professionals will be a key part of our future. Keeping them connected will be a non-negotiable
If it were only a matter of the odd phone call or checking your social media page, it might be luxury governments and telcos would be less enthusiastic about. The future ideal? A comfortable and fast commute at an hour each way where the average business traveller has the potential to do as much as 25 percent of their work while in transit. The option remains for those where travel means a good book or a snooze but for many more this is the fast train to the future and it is worth Ballarat being on board.