Engineers and architects are among the professional services groups who will soon benefit from access to tailored advice on how to improve and build their businesses by using the National Broadband Network (NBN) and adapt to the digital economy.

The Australian Services Roundtable (ASR) will receive $500,000 in Federal Government funding to develop a digital business kit to help the sector get online and use the NBN to drive productivity.

“For businesses to take full advantage of the NBN they need targeted information, as well as an understanding of how leading small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their industry sector are using the internet and online tools,” said Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy.

“The online opportunities for the professional services industry are endless, and the kit will demonstrate how embracing the NBN and the digital economy can help businesses reach new customers and increase trade, as well as find efficiencies and reduce operating costs.”

Lundy said more and more in the engineering and architecture fields are beginning to realise the benefits the NBN can provide to those willing to embrace the technology.

“Many architects and engineers are realising the power enabler that is the NBN and how through increased speeds SMEs are able to share and relay blueprints, designs and drawings with clients in Australian and overseas,” she said. “The NBN is delivering a world class communications network, which will allow our lawyers, architects, engineers, and financial advisors to flourish in Australia and globally.”

The digital business kit will include a suite of online and real-time training tools such as cloud based applications, business case studies, interactive small group training sessions and webinars.

It will be regularly updated to incorporate new ways of making use of the NBN as these emerge in the sector.  The Australian Services Roundtable will promote the kit to industry to raise awareness.

The Rudd Labor Government is providing a total of $5 million to develop digital business kits for 10 industry sectors.  Funding for this grant is already provided for in the Budget.

It has been a rocky road for the NBN project with recent reports suggesting that construction costs in Australia are set to soar past $60 billion as troubled construction contractors seek price increases of up to 40 per cent.

The NBN project also hit trouble earlier as NBN Co, the company responsible for the roll out, spectacularly missed its targets – passing only 207,000 homes and businesses before June 30 amid challenges in managing contractor relationships despite initial targets calling for the network to reach more than 341,000 homes before that date.

Still, the company insists it remains on track to deliver the project on time and on budget, with NBN Co Spokesman Andrew Sholl saying the project will repay all of the investment by taxpayers and more.

With the upcoming election, the Coalition is insisting on a cheaper version of the project which would see fibre optic cable rolled out to the street corner rather than to individual premises.