JULY 17, 2014 12:02PM
The Northern Territory's mango industry will receive a boost when the NBN is switched on in farms.
MANGO grower Ross Maxwell's farm owners live in the United States, but the flick of a switch means they might as well be in his Northern Territory office admiring their crop.
THE NT is Australia's biggest mango growing jurisdiction, and the industry is set to receive a boost with Thursday's switching on of the National Broadband Network (NBN) for another 2700 homes, farms and small businesses in Darwin's rural area.
Mr Maxwell once had to describe to his overseas investors how their crop was growing so they could keep abreast of developments in real time, but internet connections were so patchy he often couldn't transmit even small photos.
"They'd have to believe what I said: 'yes, it's a heavy fruit set, good flowering this year, everything's looking perfect for a good year'; that encourages them to put more money into the business," he told AAP.
He says the NBN will encourage more investors to support NT horticulture as the government mounts its campaign to develop northern Australia.
"They're on the other side of the world, they've got a lot of money tied up in this and you're asking for more money for machinery to improve efficiencies," Mr Maxwell said.
"It's hard to convince anyone over the phone that this is a good idea; now you can show them what's going on (via video), flick over files that are a lot larger."
Thursday's connection will bring the total number of premises connected to the NBN to 12,400, although NBN spokesman Justin Jarvis was not able to say how that figure matches up to projections.
AAP understands updated targets will not be available until later this year.
Darwin households have faced delays in their connection, which takes up to a year to be active from initial works, which Mr Jarvis said was due to the complexity and size of the project.
He said it was engaging people living in remoter areas.
"Being able to provide broadband to people gives them so much more of a connection to their friends and family, it allows them to work from home, allows them to be a part of the modern environment," he said.
He believes more reliable connectivity will result in increasing innovation by local businesses.
"We can already see the horticulture industry taking every advantage of improved broadband services so they can have access to market data and share information with each other, and that will spread out to other areas," he said.