The South Australian town of Victor Harbor is hoping to raise approximately $800,000 in funding to build its own fibre loop ahead of the National Broadband Network (NBN) to meet broadband requirements of emergency services and take advantage of additional backhaul recently installed to the town.
The funding would help build between 10 and 30 kilometres of fibre underground around the central business district of the town, connecting to key infrastructure and importantly, providing point-to-point connections between services.
A key link between the Flinders Medical School in Adelaide and a training institute at Victor Harbor’s public hospital is being eyed as part of the project.
Victor Harbor was identified by the Federal Government as a key objective of the $250 million Regional Broadband Blackspot Program, launched in 2009 and built by Nextgen networks.
The backhaul link to the town was completed earlier last month but as yet remains unconnected to the Telstra exchanges, which would provide additional capacity for higher speed ADSL2+ services to eligible premises.
The town is yet to be earmarked for fibre rollout under the NBN, but the town hopes its plans to pre-empt the national network will solve some of the broadband issues faced by businesses there by connecting directly into the fibre backhaul.
However, lobbying to both the Federal and South Australian state governments is yet to prove successful. Letters sent to communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, and the SA Government were acknowledged but responses indicated a lack of budget for the project.
Talks with Internode subsidiary Agile Communications proved unsuccessful.
In a submission (PDF) to a parliamentary committee on the role and benefits of the NBN, Victor Harbor pitched the potential fibre loop as a short-term boon to businesses and a catalyst for relocation of state government resources to regional branch offices, an idea similarly floated by the Queensland Government last month.
The issue was raised in front of the committee this week and was met with some interest from Federal MPs, but did not fit the committee’s terms of reference.
“Although we’ve been at it for a couple of years, we’re still in the early stages,” Victor Harbor council ICT manager, Daniel Brinkworth, told Computerworld Australia.
“Everyone’s trying to influence [NBN Co’s] schedule at the moment, so I’m not sure what can be done.
"At this point, the City of Victor Harbor is looking at being a local co-ordinator of the infrastructure delivery but where it goes from there is currently unknown."
Brinkworth conceded the high costs and lack of education around possible benefits of fibre had hampered much of the council’s efforts to build both the fibre loop and a push for changes to planning restrictions on new housing developments.
Another attempt at securing funding, through the $1 billion dollar Regional Development Australia Fund is also underway.
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