By Gavin Payne from NewSprout
Just where we stand in Lennox Head and surrounds with regard to the rollout of the NBN remains uncertain.
For a long time the NBN has been a political football, and each side has attempted to blame the other for continued delays and budgetary blow outs.
In 2007 the Labor government started with an NBN budget of $15billion. A grossly underestimated cost and a pathetically over-committed infrastructure (and they knew it). Now, over 10 years later and after a failing baton was passed to the Liberal coalition it is even worse, with an inevitable budgetary blowout to around $50billion. Not only has the price exploded, but the quality and extent of the delivery has also been reduced, with constant flipping on just exactly where the fibre will go. Will it be fibre to the node or the kerb? Still we have no definitive answer.
In my opinion neither side of government has got it right.
No doubt, it’s a huge task to rewire Australia and by no means a simple task. We would never have been in this position if the big providers had kept pace with the rest of the world. Instead they continued to do what they had always done, forming a monopoly, protecting it and offering zero innovation.
Now we are in the position where we must use some of the existing aged infrastructure: that is the old copper wire which has been connecting us by phone and ADSL for decades.
The solution on paper is sound, as copper can give good speeds, however the problem with that wire is that it degrades over time, in particular in coastal areas where rust is a problem.
New fibre will replace large parts of the network, however the big issue is just how much of that old copper wiring we will be forced to keep.
Originally of course, we were promised the world; fibre to the house. But the problems associated with that soon became apparent: the long and difficult task of arranging times with residents, the likelihood of damaging other infrastructure on private property and the subsequent insurance claims, made the reality of fibre to the house impossible.
Next best thing is fibre to the kerb. In this scenario, the new technology would be laid on public land, and then connected to the old copper just for the last few metres to the house. Simplifying it, reducing costs and not touching anyone’s private property.
The current option for Lennox Head, is a combination of fibre to the kerb (great!) but unfortunately combined with the least favourable outcome: fibre to the node. The node is the telecommunications exchange. Our exchange is a small cement shed adjacent to the Lennox Head roundabout.
If you are one of the lucky ones like me, who lives outside of the town, you will be enjoying wireless NBN right now. But in the township you will have to wait, and still we don’t know exactly what service you will receive.
The good news in all of this is that the NBN will be better than what you have now, even if you only get fibre to the node. Yes copper has limited speed, but it is capable of far more than most people think, especially if the length is shortened. And it did get us this far. So any fibre added to it will mean it gets better and improved and upgraded further over the years.
So it’s not all doom and gloom. We know the NBN will deliver.
Just when it will deliver remains the biggest unknown.