Residents of regional who are connected to the National Broadband Network are 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to combat social isolation than those who don’t have access tothe nbn, according to astudy being released today.

The Connecting report, commissioned by NBN Co, compared users of the high-speed network in regional and metropolitan areas with those who weren’tconnected to the nbn.

The report said those with accessto the nbn in regional were 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to fightsocial isolation thannon nbn users, while people on thenbn in metropolitan areas were 30 per cent more likely.

There were no specific figures available for the Newcastle/Hunter region.Butat a national level,the report foundpeople connected to the nbn were 30 per cent more likely to use the internet to stay in touch with loved ones–10 hours a week–compared with non nbn users–seven hours a week.

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“Social isolation is shrinking, in particular for regional ns, and I am delighted to see evidence of thenbnbroadband access network helping people right across our beautiful country to strengthen their relationships with their loved ones, their communities and the world,” nbn CEO Stephen Rue said.

Data-analyticsfirm AlphaBeta used information from the 2016 Census and a national Ipsos surveyfor the report, which described the findingsas a“statistical baseline to measure the impending impact of ’s digital transformation over the years and decades ahead”.

The reportnoted 94 per cent of people connected to the nbn in regional in 2017 used the internet to“socialise with family, friends and community”, compared with 68 per cent of regional non nbn users.

The gap was not as widein metroareas, where 96 per cent of people connected to the nbn used the internet to socialise, compared with 76 per cent of non nbn users.

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“It’s promising to see how access to fast broadband can help reduce social isolation across the country, which is particularly critical for older ns and those living in regional and remote areas,”federaleSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.

“Improved connectivity can help drive digital inclusion and enable those who are geographically isolated to more easily access vital services, connect with family and friends, and improve their online confidence, skills and safety.”