Govt reviews bush broadband dilemma

State governments, telcos, regional groups submit wish-list for rural and regional broadband access

State governments, major telcos and regional interests groups are among the 30 industry submissions detailing how the National Broadband Network (NBN) should be delivered to regional Australia.

The documents were received by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DCDBE) following a call by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for industry consultation for initiatives to provide high speed broadband to the two per cent of rural and remote areas that are unlikely to be serviced by the proposed Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network.

Telstra, Optus, the Northern Territory government and Queensland government were among notable submissions which also included the Indigenous Remote Communications Association and the NSW Farmer's Association.

The submissions will be considered separately to the NBN, by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, led by Dr Bill Glasson.

"The Australian Government is committed to improving broadband for all Australians, including the two per cent of homes and businesses which may not be covered by the National Broadband Network," Senator Conroy said in a statement.

Supplying broadband to regional Australia has been a point of contention for the government's NBN plans, with telcos, including Telstra, arguing that it will be too expensive to provide fibre infrastructure to the region because of the sparse population.

Submissions cover the argument for structural or functional separation of the NBN operator, and the need for wholesale access to the existing copper and Next G networks.

NBN bidders have split over the need for open wholesale access, with Telstra threatening to withdraw from the tender process if structural separation is enforced

A comprehensive report will be provided to the government in August.

Commentators also discussed the continuation of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) and the Australian broadband Guarantee (ABG).

Copies of the submissions can be found here.

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Kathryn Edwards

Computerworld
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