Monday, 8 February 2016
National Broadband Network
2016 will be a tremendous year for telecommunications in Hume, and I am urging residents to keep up the pressure so that we can use programs already in train to improve internet and mobile coverage. In my hometown of Goulburn, close to 10,000 premises will have access to NBN optic fibre to the node. Technicians from Transfield are preparing to install cable, and they will be back there again tomorrow. Work is well underway installing node boxes in north Goulburn—around Bradfordville, Taralga Road, Progress Street and Queen Street—and moving south across the city.
Goulburn is the largest population centre in Hume and the first to have fibre to the node installed. Of course, fixed line NBN is just one part of the broadband solution for Goulburn Mulwaree. Fixed wireless towers will be located at Marulan, Tallong and Wingello to connect a further potential 800 premises to the NBN. The rollout of the NBN is forcing the major telecommunications companies—namely Telstra, Vodafone and Optus—to come to the table with other services.
In a number of locations in Hume—at Tirrannaville, in parts of Goulburn, at Oolong between Gunning and Yass and we will see it shortly in Boorowa—the telcos have activated 4GX capacity to deliver fast internet coverage for areas within 20 to 30 kilometres or more in many cases, of these towers. Because Hume is so vast, the NBN will be delivered in different ways to different locations. But, regardless, fast and reliable internet—whether it be fixed line, wireless or satellite—is coming to all of Hume via the NBN. In Wollondilly and Wingecarribee shires, fibre preparation work is underway. In Bundanoon, Colo Vale, Yerrinbool, Hill Top, Willow Vale and other parts of Wingecarribee and Wollondilly, which I will come back to, the fixed line rollout is happening right now. It will allow 5,500 premises to connect to fast broadband. In Wollondilly, fibre is rolling out to The Oaks, Oakdale and Belimbla Park, allowing 1,100 premises to connect. In coming months, the rollout will extend to Bargo, Buxton, Couridjah, Picton, Tahmoor, Thirlmere and Yanderra, allowing 6,700 premises to connect to the NBN.
In the Yass Valley, the first three of four fixed wireless towers have been switched on over the Christmas holiday break in north Yass, at Mount Manton and at Bowning. These will provide fast broadband to just under 1,000 premises. So it is a busy, busy time for telecommunications in Hume. Through the fixed line and fixed wireless networks—that is, fibre and towers—42,000 businesses and homes will be passed in the next couple of years, which is a really terrific result.
Usually it is not the town dwellers who are the ones contacting me most urgently about communications; it is more often than not landowners, rural property-based businesses and farming families. The strong message to those on outlying properties is all about satellite. Satellite broadband services will be up and operating in the next few months, and we are already seeing a number of retailers advertising their packages for satellite connections. Satellite will deliver internet speeds of up to 25 megabits per second, in affordable packages. It is fast and reliable and will cover those areas outside the fixed line and fixed wireless footprint, which is a fantastic solution for those outside the towns—me included.
Even more than dodgy internet, poor mobile phone coverage is a big frustration for the residents of Hume. I had the great pleasure last year of announcing 18 new mobile phone towers for the electorate under round 1 of the federal Mobile Black Spot Programme. This result came about after many meetings with locals, lots of mapping of coverage areas with the telecommunications companies and much lobbying. I inform the House that the first three of these 18 towers will be switched on in the middle of the year at Windellama, south of Goulburn, at Darbys Falls near Cowra and near Werombi in Wollondilly. This will be a tremendous benefit for the surrounding communities, and I am looking forward to visiting each of these villages later in 2016. Round 2 of the Black Spot Programme is in progress and we hope for more good news. We have done well to date, but I urge residents in Hume to keep the pressure up. Mobile phone coverage and reliable internet are no longer an option. They are vital services for my electorate and for regional Australia.