THE National Broadband Network’s (NBN) chief spin doctor made a flying visit to Tamworth yesterday to deliver a resounding message to local business leaders – faster broadband is on its way.
NBN Co lead manager of community affairs Darren Rudd said despite swirling uncertainty over the future of the project under an Abbott government, Tamworth residents and businesses could expect dramatically faster internet speeds in future.
Just when that future might arrive, however, remained unclear.
“We just don’t know the exact timeline until later in the year,” Mr Rudd said.
“But Tamworth is very much in the NBN world; there’s already a big footprint here.”
He said 3300 properties outside the urban fringes of the city were already able to access fixed wireless NBN, which is eight times faster than ADSL1.
Greenfields sites and residential developments across the region were also required to make themselves equipped for fibre to the premises NBN, considerably faster than fixed-wireless or fibre-to-the-node.
Mr Rudd, who was invited to town by Tamworth Business Chamber, said in coming years, all Tamworth residents would be able to access fibre-to-the node or fibre-to-the-premises NBN.
“There are already about 400 properties in the Tamworth LGA (in new estates) on the NBN,” Mr Rudd said.
While many surrounding areas have access to satellite and fixed wireless – and Armidale has the fixed line NBN – NBN Co this week released a revised list of every community in Australia where the NBN is in being built and it did not include Tamworth.
In May, New England MP Barnaby Joyce all but confirmed Tamworth would only have access to fibre-to-the -node, which uses the existing copper network.
The technology is expected to roll-out to Tamworth within the next two years.
As of June 30, the NBN nationwide was ready for service at 658,000 premises, and NBN Co had activated about 210,000 homes and businesses.
Sefton and Associates managing director Robbie Sefton said Mr Rudd’s talk only reinforced how inextricably linked fast broadband was to the region’s prosperity.
“It’s not important, it’s critical,” Mrs Sefton said.
“We need to have equality with the city for economic reasons and for health reasons.
“It’s not just about kids being able to download movies.
“Even on farms everything is becoming technology intelligent: driverless tractors, sheepyards and cattleyards all hooked up to the net.
“For business, ‘e-tailing’ is massive and the ability to have video meetings is vital.”