Federal secretary to the minister for communications, Paul Fletcher, has reaffirmed the Coalition Government's commitment to rural and remote access to the National Broadband Network (NBN), stating it continues to support the rollout of wireless and satellite technologies in less densely populated regions of Australia.
Speaking at the TechLeaders 2014 Forum (formerly Kickstart), Fletcher said the Government's priority is improving the operational performance of the NBN's wireless and satellite business following following the progress of the former Labor Government.
"Today the wireless network covers just over 65,000 premises, with less than 8500 activated," he said. "This is an underwhelming performance nearly five years after Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy announced the NBN."
No surprises as to the plan - Fletcher said the goal is to beat Labor's coverage targets through the extensive use of fibre to the node (FTTN). He claims that placing equipment within an exchange in a rural town with a 100-metre radius will provide most premises NBN services.
Fletcher also promised the Coalition Government will leverage the NBN bill to better support mobile communications by exploring the option of enabling telecommunications providers to deliver mobile services via fixed line towers. The question at the heart of this is whether it would be cheaper and easier for operators to serve larger areas of remote Australia in doing so.
The consideration, which the Government is pushing the NBN Co's strategic review to explore in its strategic review, will be coupled with specific funding to support the expansion of mobile coverage under the Coalition's $100 million mobile coverage expansion investment for regional Australia.
NBN Co is currently amidst a strategic review of its business operations - led by its Board and executive management with Deloitte, Boston Consulting, and KordaMentha elected consultants - which is due within the next two months and will provide key input to the company's 2014 to 2017 corporate plan.