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When will we get the NBN?

Monday, 5th May, 2014

By Nick Gibbs

Broken Hill residents are expected to know when the national broadband network will be available in the city before the end of the year, but should not anticipate the speeds promised under the previous government. 

Infrastructure in the city is likely to take the form of fibre to the node which translates to broadband being delivered to the street and relying on Telstra’s copper network to reach homes and businesses.

Towns in the Far West such as Silverton and Menindee will receive satellite broadband under the roll out.

Fibre to the node speeds are expected to range between 25 and 50 megabits per second while satellite broadband will be around 25mbps.  

This news came from Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley when she met with local residents at a public Q and A session at her office on Thursday night.

A spokesman for Ms Ley said the potential of the network to reach speeds of more than 100mpbs was an idea shaped by the previous Government.

There will most likely be an option for dwellings to connect directly to the fibre network and access higher speeds, but this would come at considerable cost to the consumer, the spokesman said.

It is believed a fibre connection directly to a household or business will cost around 40 per cent more than fibre to the street. 

The exact cost of a direct connection will depend on the infrastructure in place but it is likely to be several thousand dollars per kilometre.

Special considerations will be made for facilities such as schools and hospitals.  

Following the public information session, Ms Ley said she was hopeful Broken Hill residents would get an answer about NBN access before year’s end. 

“I am optimistic, but I also know everybody across the country is clamouring for fast broadband,” she said.  

Ms Ley also confirmed the promise of $100 million to fix mobile phone black spots across the country made by the Coalition in opposition was not under threat from the new federal budget.    

A decision of how the investment will be spent is expected in the latter half of this year.

Ms Ley said it was too early to say how or if the Far West would benefit from the investment but conceded many of the issues would only be solved by building more telecommunications towers. 

“There are still black spots in the Far West and many of those will only be solved by mobile towers,” she said.

A co-payment system with stakeholders such as emergency services, local councils and state governments was touted as a possibility. 

Ms Ley was joined by representatives from Telstra during discussions.  

“We’ve actually solved some problems here this afternoon,” she said.

It is understood that residents from Silverton and Sunset Strip were particularly concerned about poor mobile phone coverage.

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