FIXED wireless broadband speeds in the bush have been ratcheted up, allowing small and remote communities to enjoy wholesale speeds many city dwellers take for granted.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced families, farms and businesses residing within its fixed-wireless footprint are eligible to double their wholesale download and upload speeds from 12 megabits per second to 25 megabits and 1 megabit per second to 5 megabits per second respectively.
Woolomin’s Janelle and Matt Walsh eagerly awaited the roll-out of the NBN fixed-wireless service to their area late last year and were one of the first to sign up.
“We were with Telstra originally and they couldn’t provide NBN fixed wireless,” Mrs Walsh said.
“We kept a close eye on it years ago. I just uploaded the roll-out maps and once it hit here, we joined before we even got flyers in the mail.”
The family of seven and self-confessed “heavy users” said the NBN service had been a lifeline.
“It’s huge for us,” Mrs Walsh said. “We use the internet for pretty much everything.
“It would take us literally days to download things before, now it just takes an hour or so ... and it works just as well for voice calls over the internet.”
As a consequence, Mrs Walsh is able to work from home and spend more time with her young family.
“I work at Peel Valley Milk and do a lot of office stuff. I do a bit from home I could never do on our old Big Pond service.”
And contrary to what most think, the service is cheaper to run, she said.
“It used to cost around $109 for our 3G service per month and now it’s $75 for a faster service and 10 times the amount of data.”
Fixed-wireless and satellite networks will service about seven per cent of the population – those in smaller and remote communities – while the NBN fibre network is expected to support the remainder.
NBN Co stakeholder relations manager Joe Dennis said the service enabled rural Australians to keep up and to compete with their city cousins.
“Better broadband will benefit the bush,” he said.
Areas covering an additional 25,000 homes, farms and businesses are set to be switched on in the coming months. Construction has also started in another 150 locations.
The design phase of the NBN’s fibre program for Tamworth is due to start in September, an NBN spokesperson said.