Faster broadband set to roll out in regional areas

The National Broadband Network will extend to the Avon and Wheatbelt.
The National Broadband Network will extend to the Avon and Wheatbelt.

But the news came as a Senate Select Committee heard in Perth that fewer than 10,000 WA homes were currently connected to the network ” way behind advertised targets and connections in other states.

Just 740 existing homes have hooked up to the NBN across WA, despite 25,600 being deemed as ‘serviceable’.

Greens communications spokes-|person Senator Scott Ludlam said |people across WA were being stranded on the obsolete copper telephone network under the current NBN plan advanced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Liberals Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Farmers, regional architects, designers and software developers in WA should by now have been conducting business with people across the world with fast broadband, he said. But huge sections of the area were suffering from sub-standard telecommunications.

NBN Co and its design and construction partners will work with local governments to identify locations for fixed wireless network infrastructure in and around the Avon and Wheatbelt.

More than 630 homes and businesses in the shires of Northam, Toodyay, Chittering and Gingin have been targeted for the fixed wireless service. They include houses in Muresk, Narrogin, Malebelling, Wilberforce, Malabaine, Mount Hardey, Grass Valley, Juradine, Cold Harbour, Quellington, Daliak, Balladong, and Qualen.

Fixed wireless services are delivered by radio communications via antennas that transmit a signal direct to a small outdoor antenna on a home or business. In these areas, traditional copper phone lines will remain in place to provide a landline telephone service.

Following a planning and consultation phase, construction of the fixed wireless network has now begun at sites at Grass Valley and York South to bring fast broadband to parts of the communities.

On average, it takes about 12 months from the start of construction until residents and business owners can order NBN retail services from telephone or internet service providers. NBN spokesman Peter Gurney said the fixed-wireless service offered the best option for broadband in regional areas.

‘For decades, rural and regional Australia has been left behind when it comes to telecommunications,’ he said.

‘The fixed wireless service is designed to provide access to internet speeds and bandwidth that many in the big cities currently take for granted.’

Mr Gurney said the Avon Valley and Wheatbelt fixed wireless service would likely be available when its Long Term Satellite Service launches next year.

NBN’s fixed wireless service is expected to offer download speeds of up to 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to five megabits per second.