Web_xcartoonNBN_3413THE township of Cowes was named as one of the first places in Australia to be connected to the National Broadband Network. And Wonthaggi shouldn’t be too far behind. In fact, the NBN Co website claims that there are several sites in Cowes where services are available which no doubt refers to the fact that all new housing estates on the Island have to have fibre optic cable laid for them to be NBN ready.

So far there are four estates in Cowes with fibre optic cable; Shearwater, Seagrove, Whitesands and Justice Farm Road and according to the Bass Coast Shire’s Economic Development Manager, Peter Francis, some residents of these estates are “up and running” with their NBN Broadband. “It’s only isolated cases at the moment but I was talking to an IT professional living in one of these new estates and he said his wife was connected up through the NBN and was delighted with the speed of the service. “It’s up to the service providers to be marketing it but I wouldn’t like to be going out just yet and saying ‘come to Bass Coast, we’ve got the NBN until we know when there’s to be a more widespread rollout on the Island, for example,” Mr Francis said. “There are also the wireless services that are being constructed at the moment, using new infrastructure or existing poles but once again, I’m not sure of the technology there and how long it is before that’s available. “It’s all good news but it will be interesting to see what takes place after the election.”

Wonthaggi too is listed on the NBN Co website with several locations in the town with the status ‘Construction commenced’ but how long it is until there is general access to the NBN is not known. “A couple of the new estates in Wonthaggi have fibre optic connection built-in and I assume it will soon be available to those building houses there but when they are connected, I don’t know. Hopefully not too far off.” The Heartland Estate, between the Wonthaggi Wetlands and the hospital, is one of those where NBN services will be made available to new home builders. Meanwhile, some towns in the area don’t even have access to the faster speeds offered by ADSL lines.

At Inverloch, for example, a local business operator was told, on applying for a faster Internet connection for his business that all the ADSL lines to the town were taken up and he’d have to wait until someone relinquished theirs. He couldn’t be serious, could he? It’s typical of government programs though. They spend all this money on the projects but no one in the community is kept abreast of what is really going on, much less how to get connected. What’s the future for NBN services in Cowes and Wonthaggi? It would be good to hear from a McMillan/Flinders candidate who knows the answer to that question. Here are the major parties’ policies:

Coalition on NBN
The Coalition will deliver high speed broadband that is both affordable for families and businesses and cost effective for taxpayers.  We will for the first time do a fully transparent cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network, to find out the quickest and most cost- efficient way to upgrade broadband to all areas where services are now unavailable or sub- standard. This is the cost-benefit analysis Labor didn’t do before committing to spend tens of billions of dollars on the NBN. We will roll out super-fast broadband using whichever is the most effective and cost efficient technology and we will use existing infrastructure where we can.  We will roll it out faster to high priority areas. We will end billions of dollars of wasteful spending on the NBN and deliver more of the modern infrastructure we urgently need while encouraging competition wherever possible to put downward pressure on prices.

Rudd Government’s NBN
The facts are that the Rudd Labor Government’s NBN is delivering fibre direct to Australian homes and businesses for free. The Coalition’s fibre on demand policy is based on BT in the UK, which charges individuals as much as $5000 to connect with fibre. For Australia’s 1.9 million small businesses, this would be a disaster, delivering them extra costs that could hit as high as $9.5 billion. The Rudd Labor Government believes that access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable broadband is an essential service, like water and electricity. It shouldn’t be a lottery that depends on how much money you have or where you happen to live. “The rollout is on schedule, and in terms of cost it is on schedule as well. More than 200,000 homes and business have been passed, which was the target by June 30 this year,” Minister for Infrastructure and Transport of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese said.