Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the Gillard Labour Government appear to be favouring a mionority of Australians in the roll out of the NBN Vs delivering the fibre network the majority of the polulation who will responsible for paying for the $45 billion dollar network.At a recent Senate hearing NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley said building the infrastructure to remote locations was “quite time-consuming” and getting services to suburban estates was difficult because of the lack of supporting infrastructure. “Taking on the wholesale universal service obligation for these development estates before we have a network built is obviously not easy, so it is no surprise that it is taking some time,” he told the hearing last month.
Conroy who said the government was committed to NBN Co’s so-called “greenfields” obligation despite the sites only delivering a small number of the people who will eventually have to pay for the network has approved the roll out of the fibre network to mining towns in the far North of Western Australia Vs the roll out across highly populated areas in NSW and Victoria where analysts say the biggest benefits from the network will be delivered.
Fairfax Media reported that the mining boom is straining the rollout of the national broadband network because of the requirement that the NBN Co install fibre in all new housing estates and mining towns as a priority over established suburbs.
They claim that has caused delays installing the ultra-fast network in urban estates closer to major cities because construction workers are scattered across hundreds of sites around the country where NBN Co has not yet built the backbone of its network.
Until January last year, Telstra was responsible for installing copper telephone lines to new houses. But the government decided in mid-2010 that NBN Co would become the “provider of last resort” and install fibre networks at no cost.
Conroy’s office responded by claiming that Broadband access should be increasingly seen as a critical utility service like water or electricity, “The government is well aware that servicing new developments is challenging. This is one reason why NBN Co was chosen as provider of last resort: as a national carrier, it has the scope and ability to deal with these situations,” she said.
An NBN Co spokeswoman said demand for network construction was “now occurring in more regional areas, reflecting the two-speed employment markets partly from the mining boom”.
“The effect is that NBN’s build has needed to respond to ‘spot’ areas of regional demand, creating high construction demands,” she said.