Fast broadband still years away in region
THE National Broadband Network is still years away from reaching the Douglas region. It may never get here. Tony Abbott and the federal LiberalNational Opposition have promised to scrap the multi-billion dollar national fibre-optic network if they get elected on Saturday, August 21.
Even if the network does arrive, it is likely that some locals will be better off connecting to the internet through their mobile phones than through the $43 billion national network.
NBN Co, the Federal Government-owned entity in charge of the rollout, announced this week that the fibre portion of the network will reach 93 per cent of Australian homes, rather than the 90 per cent first announced. It makes little difference locally, however. While people living in major population centres such as Port Douglas and Mossman and beach suburbs such as Wonga and Cooya will benefit from the top speed of 100 Mbps, the more rural regions will have to make do with next generation wireless or satellite connections of 12 Mbps.
Telstra’s current wireless technology is already capable of speeds up to 21 Mbps, and the telco plans to roll out upgrades locally to double that speed in the next 12 months.
The speed of development in the telecommunications industry may render the national fibre network redundant before it is even completed.
Telstra’s local manager believes in the “build it and they will come” philosophy.
“When we first introduced broadband a decade ago, 256Kbps was considered superfast,” Telstra Countrywide Far North Queensland general manager Wally Donaldson said.
“Over the past 10 years, increases in speed have been exponential.
“As you get more speed, applications are developed that make use of that speed.”
Mr Donaldson points out, however, some customers are already getting speeds comparable to the NBN.
“In and around Cairns, we’ve been rolling out our Velocity product, which is fibre to the home already,” he said.
“There are housing estates that are already getting close to 100 Mbps.”
For those off-grid, however, the national network will not necessarily mean faster downloads.
“Terrestrial wireless technology will have the same issues as digital television,” Mr Donaldson said.
“There’s only so much spectrum available for wireless, and wireless can be affected by atmospheric and environmental conditions.”
The NBN project has been touted by NBN Co as “a unique nation-building opportunity” but panned by the federal Opposition as a white elephant that will never fly and doesn’t deserve to live.
It is estimated the NBN will take eight years to roll out fibre optic cable to every home to be covered.