Broadband picture a little clearer

A $9 BILLION deal with Telstra to provide infrastructure for the National Broadband Network (NBN) brings the Northern Rivers a step closer to super-fast broadband, Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lyne (Port Macquarie) Independent MP Rob Oakeshott have said.

However, precisely when the 100 megabit network will fall into place remains a mystery, with official predictions saying only that the eight-year national roll-out will now happen more quickly and more cheaply.

It will provide internet speeds more than 66 times faster than a standard ADSL connection and between four and five times faster than an ADSL2+ connection.

Ms Saffin and Mr Oakeshott in February presented a submission to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy arguing the North Coast, between Tweed Heads and the Great Lakes, should be the starting point for the network's national roll-out.

The submission was put together by Southern Cross University and backed by 14 North Coast councils, along with technology-dependent businesses.

Ms Saffin said she had been relentlessly lobbying Mr Conroy in an effort to ensure the North Coast got first bite of the NBN cherry.

“As soon as Senator Conroy announced it I texted the Minister and said this was great news, well done ... and what about Page,” Ms Saffin said.

However, a spokeswoman for Mr Conroy said it was up to NBN Co, the company set up to build and run the broadband network, to decide which areas went first. The Minister had no say in the matter.

Ms Saffin said that she was also lobbying NBN boss Mike Kaiser.

A spokeswoman for NBN Co said the company was not yet at the point of assessing submissions, or even of setting criteria for deciding how submissions calling for an early roll-out would be assessed.

“What we will be doing is setting out a range of criteria on network design, what makes sense commercially and logistically,” she said.

One of those criteria would be the ‘keenness and co-operativeness' of an area, she said.

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