The Northern Territory government is pushing for 39 communities to be connected to the National Broadband Network using existing optical fibre rather than NBN Co’s Sky Muster satellite service.
Last week parliament’s NBN committee handed down a report focused on the roll out of the new network in regional and rural areas.
“There was significant concerns expressed to the committee that the rollout of the NBN is not leveraging off existing fibre infrastructure to deliver non-satellite based services,” the report said. “This is a particular issue in the Northern Territory where nearly 30 per cent of the population is reliant on satellite and half of those do not have access to mobile communications.”
The committee recommended that NBN Co work with the NT government and Telstra “to investigate how existing optic fibre can be used to expand the fixed line and fixed wireless footprint in the Northern Territory and other relevant areas”.
An NT government submission lodged with the committee last year argued that some communities are receiving satellite connections “even where the communities have existing, state of the art terrestrial telecommunications connections”.
The territory government called for several dozen remote communities to receive fixed wireless services instead of satellite as part of the NBN rollout.
“Every Territorian, no matter where they live, deserves to have access to high quality phone and internet services,” said the NT minister for corporate and information services, Lauren Moss.
“It is vital we get our communities connected to help support the creation of jobs, and to improve health and education outcomes.”
“The Territory Labor government, in collaboration with Telstra, is investing in the bush through our current $30 million co-investment program and a new $28 million program with Telstra that starts next year,” the minister said.
“So far we have connected 34 remote Territory communities via broadband or both broadband and mobile services with work underway for another five communities and more sites to come.”
Moss said it was time that the federal government “stepped up” to provide more reliable connections in remote communities.
“We look forward to working with NBN and Telstra to expand both the fixed line and fixed wireless footprint,” the minister said.