NBN commits to fixed wireless and satellite

Those rural and remote communities promised a connection to the National Broadband Network (NBN) either by fixed wireless or satellite under the scheme's original plan will remain part of the roll-out, but other areas hoping to receive fibre to the premises (FttP) are likely to miss out.

NBN Co today released a statement of principles determining which technology will be deployed under the government's revised “multi-technology mix” (MTM) approach.

Under Labor's original plan, 92 per cent of Australian households and businesses were to receive high-speed fibre to the premises, but following the election of the Coalition government those plans were ditched in favour of a mixture of fibre-to-the-node (FttN), fibre-to-the-basement (FttB) and the reuse of Telstra and Optus's hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cable.

NBN Co says it will complete existing deployments of FttP, but other sites are likely to receive FttN or FttB. While broadband speeds are claimed to be higher than existing ADSL2+, both of the latter technologies rely on Telstra's ageing copper network.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said the company was considering a fibre-on-demand product, in which individuals or businesses that wish to purchase fibre to their premises can do so.

He also said NBN Co would work with small communities that choose to co-fund FttP if they are in an alternative technology area.

While the announcement that rural and remote communities will receive the technologies originally promised was not unexpected, the announcement finally puts to bed the original plans, which would have delivered far higher speeds and more reliable connections than the MTM model but at a higher price.

NBN Co said that for each service area, it will consider whether existing infrastructure can be used as well as local construction capabilities. It will also consider whether advances in technology may mean an alternative approach may be preferable.

For areas that have very poor or no broadband, “NBN Co will prioritise areas identified as poorly served to the extent commercially and operationally feasible,” the company said.

Poorly served areas were delineated in a broadband availability and quality report released late last year, highlighting the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia as having more areas with poor access to quality broadband services compared to the remaining states.

“Overall the analysis found that there are areas of inadequate access to infrastructure across the country – approximately 1.4 million premises (13 per cent) are in areas where fewer than 40 per cent of premises can access a fixed broadband service,” the report found.

“The premises in this category are typically located in regional or remote areas of Australia, or in small pockets of poor service in metropolitan and outer metropolitan areas.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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