Fibre to the node not keeping pace with business needs

Screenshot of rollout to occur in a section of Bellingen.

Screenshot of rollout to occur in a section of Bellingen.

The NBN rollout is coming to the Bellingen Shire soon, and there’s lessons to be learnt from the south.

Recently, Nambucca Shire Council, which is further down the nbn path than the Bellingen Shire, received a letter from a property owner in the region, Michael Quicke.

Its content has lead to a discussion about the options available for the nbn services.

Copy of Correspondence

Dear Rhonda Hoban, Mayor Nambucca Heads,

As a multiple property owner and investor I am concerned that Nambucca not be left at a disadvantage to Coffs Harbour and surrounding areas with respect to fibre to the premises, or curb connections.

As you may be aware there have been substantial issues with the Fibre to The Node and Wireless NBN speeds and reliability particularly on the Central Coast.

Prospective bandwidth and speed intensive businesses and individuals have a strong preference for direct fibre to the premises (or at least fibre to the curb/ DP as the next best option). For many creative businesses eg designers, computer software, this is a key issue particularly with upload speeds as well.    

At present there is a strong incentive for new businesses to set up in Coffs Harbour rather than Nambucca Heads, Macksville etc, especially given its other advantages of greater population and facilities and this impacts on employment, revenue, including council rates, and property values etc.

There is a provision on the nbn site stating “The nbn™ Technology Choice Program enables interested individuals, local governments and communities to apply for a change to the nbn™ network infrastructure planned or built in their area.”

If it hasn't been done already the council should submit an application to change the rollout technology under this program to at be at least Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) or full fibre to the premises. A solid business case could be put forward on this. This would also show that council did all that it could be reasonably expected to do, to secure the best services possible for its residents and businesses.

Mr Quicke’s point – that there was a strong incentive for new businesses to set up in Coffs Harbour rather than the Nambucca Shire because of better access to greater bandwidth and speeds – was taken aboard by mayor Hoban. She put forward a motion recommending the council receive a report discussing the costs and benefits of such an application.

It was noted, that the nbn policy suggested that changing fibre from the node to the kerb incurred a fee and that even lodging a request for a quote had a price tag.

Nambucca Shire Council councillor Anne Smyth said she thought it was necessary.

“Fibre is much safer and less hackable … we need to look at what the cost would be to do this for our residents and if there are any funding opportunities to help,” Cr Smyth said.

Nambucca Shire Council passed the motion unanimously. It read: “That Council receive a report discussing the costs and benefits of an application to nbn Co to change the proposed fibre to the node rollout to either fibre to the kerb or full fibre to premises”.

Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun understands that a number of locals have approached both council and the nbn in order to request an upgrade to the proposed local rollout. More to come.

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