Council in push for NBN
Monday, 31st October, 2011
By Erica Visser
City Council has asked the Government to include the region in the next National Broadband Network rollout.
The city failed to make the cut when the first quarterly announcement of the country cities due to get NBN was released this month.
Council’s plea for consideration was lodged in a submission to the Chairman of the Standing Committee on State Development, Rick Colless, and will be considered during a hearing on Friday into Far West NSW social and economic development.
City Council’s General Manager, Frank Zaknich, said that a partnership between Council and Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far West was vital.
“It is critically important to have a relationship with RDA so that a whole range of these initiatives can be progressed,” Mr Zaknich said.
“We want to put ourselves out there as a vibrant community.”
RDA Far West Chief Executive Officer Linda Nadge said that the city was in “dire need” of an upgrade to telecommunications infrastructure.
“If you went out along Eyre Street now to the service pole, the service provider has the cable wobbling and it’s tied up with black duct tape. It’s an eyesore,” Ms Nadge said.
“We’re suffering from insufficient infrastructure.”
She said that the city was desperate for upgrades to telecommunications systems.
A transmission link is being completed in Broken Hill which is one of six areas in the country chosen to connect regional areas to the wider broadband connection.
However, this does not directly improve broadband connection, but prepares regions for the NBN.
Ms Nadge said that it was important that the city was considered in the next round of areas to obtain NBN.
“We as a community have to be united. The world is changing, you can’t just work in a silo anymore.
“There’s a lot of people who want NBN here such as the mining, teaching and agricultural industries.
“We have obviously got the desire to have it rolled out here as quickly as possible. We’re all singing off the same hymn sheet.”
Ms Nadge said that the barrier to the introduction of NBN in the city was mostly due to competition.
“Every community has the same barrier - getting the attention of NBN Co.
“The competition is only just starting to heat up; most regional areas have been overlooked for many years and technology has not been invested in.
“I don’t believe it’s about politics or isolation or any of the other things that people drag out their pockets.
“We’ve all got the same dire need. Now it’s time to walk the talk, which council is doing.”
Ms Nadge said that poor infrastructure was not only damaging the functioning of local businesses, but would limit the city’s progress.
“We know we need tools like NBN to be involved in the future to withstand the good and the bad of economic cycles.
“We’re an asset to the nation and NBN will allow us to exploit that anywhere in the world.
“We need to use it for industries that we haven’t fully broken into yet like eco-tourism and creative arts.
“You benefit in that you don’t necessarily have 50 million people coming here - maybe 49 million of those can stay at home and see us online so through globalisation we can access more markets.”
Ms Nadge said that not knowing when we will be connected to the network was “just as destructive as not having NBN”.
“I’m looking forward to see if we’ll be part of the quarterly announcement in January.
“I definitely believe that this week’s hearing is one of the most important events that will help our region.”