Co-investment bid pushes to get NBN rollout up to top speed

REGIONAL Development Australia Northern Rivers wants co-investment in the NBN allowed, in a bid to roll out local infrastructure faster.

A submission sent by the RDA to the Department of Communications broadband cost-benefit analysis panel, titled Review Of Regulatory Arrangements For The National Broadband Network, spells out the request in no uncertain terms.

The seven-page submission also calls for an equitable NBN cost for Northern Rivers residents, comparable to metropolitan Australia, and notes fast tracking the high speed internet service is critical for the area.

OPINION: Northern Rivers internet services are in dire need of an overhaul and this is the best option on the table

"To progress fast-tracked access to NBN-speed broadband, Northern Rivers business, local councils and individuals have expressed a willingness to co-invest with government, working with private sector providers to build critical infrastructure," the submission states.

"To enable this to happen, changes are required to remove all the bottlenecks and artificial barriers that prevent the region accessing existing optical fibre infrastructure and gaining access to NBN-speeds and NBN pricing.

"We recommend appropriate changes in legislation, regulation and policy to encourage private sector providers to be licensed to install the required new infrastructure, access existing and new infrastructure, and that markets be opened for national and local RSPs (retail service providers) to access backhaul capacity at NBN standard pricing."

The new chief executive of Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers, Kimmaree Thompson, said she considered fast and reliable internet the "backbone" of the region's economic future.

"At the moment we have businesses that can't move to this region because they can't access broadband," Ms Thompson, who started in the role in January, said.

"It's very difficult to service clients in Sydney let alone overseas when your internet can't even handle Skype.

"The ADSL1 currently available is almost equivalent to dial-up from a business perspective."

RDA added that the "lack of modern commercial-grade broadband" was impacting on the region's economic resilience, saying it "has progressively driven prime age adults out of the Northern Rivers".

The submission makes it clear a quick rollout of the NBN is essential for businesses, especially those relying on national communications and sales.

OPINION: RDA plan is ambitious but it's the best plan we've got

REGIONAL Development Australia - Northern Rivers' proposal to bring decent broadband internet to the region is plausible but will require a whole-hearted acceptance by the Federal Government to succeed.

At the risk of over-simplification, the proposal is:

  • for the government to bring parts of Telstra's infrastructure into the National Broadband Network early;
  • force the telco to allow local internet service providers access to that infrastructure at NBN prices (Telstra will let them access it now, but at a much higher rate); and
  • allow private contractors to do whatever work is required to connect businesses and, so long as they're at it, homes.

Given the intensity of the wrangling involved in getting access to Telstra's copper network and pipes, the proposal is ambitious - maybe even optimistic given this government's stance to the RDAs.

However, Northern Rivers internet services are in dire need of an overhaul and this is the best option on the table.

A report in this week's Star on a Goonellabah resident who was told, jokingly, he would have to wait for someone to die to get an ADSL2+ connection, has triggered a storm of comments from readers complaining about their internet connections. It's worth noting, the region's dodgy internet has nothing to do with the Coalition's planned changes to the NBN. Under the original plan developed under Labor we were still going to have to wait of years - possibly another decade - for decent broadband to reach the Northern Rivers.

And while it may not come as a shock to hear places such as Bonalbo have a lousy connection, it is a surprise to hear some new housing estates are also going without good internet.

There are new estates going up across the Northern Rivers. However, the only four of those - Tallowood at Mullumbimby, Wollongbar Park, a small section of Ballina Heights, and the Seabreeze Estate at Pottsville - have full NBN access. The remainder, mostly because they were approved before rules requiring new estates to be connected to the NBN were put in place, are going up with the mixed-bag of ADSL, wireless and satellite internet so familiar to most Northern Rivers residents.

At a time when so much of our lives - work, education, communications, shopping, entertainment - depend on the internet, the mixed-bag approach to internet services no longer works. The internet unlike, say, TV, is no longer a luxury item and Reliable, fast, affordable connections are essential.

The RDA's proposal offers the best and surest path to this - now all we need is for the Federal Government to recognise that and to back the proposal with words, action and investment.

Topics:  internet national broadband network nbn regional development australia northern rivers

Vikings, horses, art and showbags at North Coast National

Vikings (left to right) Gabriel Hooper, Peter Romilio and Michael Rowe with a replica model of a Viking ship on display at the North Coast National Show.

PHOTO GALLERY: The iconic Lismore show is on today

Loss of Mitch hit like a 'physical force'

Mitchell Eveleigh, who died in the 2006 crash on Broken Head Road. Southern Cross LADS.

The early morning hours after the accident were a "living hell”

Local Partners

Finishing touches to beautify Bangalow Weir

FINAL finishes on the Bangalow Weir are underway and residents are encouraged to join an upcoming beautify planting day.

Jethro Tull is back to Bluesfest

ICONIC: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Bluesfest 2011.

Jethro Tull returns to Bluesfest next April

Beth Hart will set the stage on fire

ON FIRE: Beth Hart, coming to Bluesfest 2017.

American singer/songwriter Beth Hart

Emily's portrait of a landscape

ART SHOW: Emily Imeson's Portraits of Landscapes opens tonight. The young artist has been awarded an Arts NSW scholarship.

Artist Emily Imeson is turning the landscape art world on its head

Bruce Springsteen finds therapy useful

Singer Bruce Springsteen

Singer encourages others to seek help

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

Kerry Washington wants one more child

Kerry Washington recently gave birth to her second child

Kerry has only just become a new mum again

TRAVEL: Musicals light up Sydney

David Campbell performs in Dream Lover.

We take a trip through one of Sydney's finer scenes

Jethro Tull is back to Bluesfest

ICONIC: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Bluesfest 2011.

Jethro Tull returns to Bluesfest next April

Beth Hart will set the stage on fire

ON FIRE: Beth Hart, coming to Bluesfest 2017.

American singer/songwriter Beth Hart

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb breaching lease

Rental properties.

Tenants renting rooms on Airbnb is a no no