The National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout has been labelled as “poorly planned” and “inconsistent” by Victoria’s Mansfield Shire Council.
In its submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network, Mansfield Shire Council said it is concerned that the NBN rollout is “poorly planned, inconsistent and failing to serve the needs of the Mansfield Shire community”.
Mansfield Shire is a largely rural shire in regional Victoria. A representative of the region’s council, Mansfield Shire Council CEO, Alex Green, fronted up to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network at a public hearing in Wodonga on 20 April.
“There appears to be no clear basis for choice of technologies in the Mansfield Township, resulting in inappropriate delays and arbitrary variations on connection technology for people in similar residential areas,” the council’s submission stated.
“In the Mansfield township, the planned NBN rollout appears to exclude some residential areas from Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) for no clear reason, and put unreasonable delays on delivery of service in these areas and other unserviced areas on the outskirts of the Mansfield township,” it said.
According to the submission, the initial NBN plans for the Mansfield Shire showed fixed wireless and satellite connections for the rural areas and small towns in the region, while fibre was allocated for connections in the Mansfield township, which were to be rolled out after the fixed wireless deployment.
“This was seen as an equitable balance,” the submission said. “However, the rollout plan for the Mansfield township has now been revised. [nbn] has advised Mansfield Shire Council of current rollout plans.
“These are also shown on the NBN website. While most of the residential areas in Mansfield will receive the higher capacity FTTN, the revision shows that some areas will now be downgraded to Fixed Wireless.
“The split between FTTN and Wireless appears unreasonable and unjustified, and will result in the more recently developed residential areas of the township receiving a later, poorer quality service,” it said.
Some of the council’s concerns echo those of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, who suggested in March that, in its current form, the NBN will not meet the future needs of the territory.
In a submission to the Parliamentary committee assessing the progress and effectiveness of the NBN rollout, dated 28 March, Barr claimed the network’s rollout is not only slow and poorly targeted, but also attacked the government’s multi-technology mix (MTM) approach.
“The experience in the ACT shows that the current NBN rollout schedule is not best suited to meet the needs of our community,” Barr stated in his submission to the inquiry, dated 28 March.
“Significant areas of North Canberra already receiving NBN quality internet on the existing TransACT network are being prioritised and provided with duplicated NBN services, while other suburbs with sub-standard internet connectivity are not yet on the NBN construction plan.
“Additionally, NBN rollout in the ACT has slowed significantly since a decision in 2013 to de-prioritise Canberra due to the availability of existing internet infrastructure,” he said.