Fledgling fibre monopoly NBN Co has responded to criticism that it’s not explaining its mission well to Tasmanian residents, pointing out that it had appointed a community relations manager in the state, and reassuring those in areas to be served by wireless that existing ADSL broadband based on Telstra’s existing copper network wouldn’t be shut down for 10 years.
Consumer action group Digital Tasmania late last week expressed its frustration with what it said was a lack of information and promotion about the NBN in the state — stating some communities had no knowledge about when they would get the next-generation network or how to use it, and were concerned that their existing ADSL connections would be replaced with wireless in non-fibre areas.
However, in a statement responding to the issue, a NBN Co spokesperson this morning pointed out the company had already released indicative maps and lists on its website outlining the towns where fibre and wireless infrastructure would be rolled out, with those not mentioned likely to be candidates for satellite.
“As we get into the more detailed site-by-site plans, further information will be available to help address issues in relation to the borders between technology deployments,” the spokesperson said.
Digital Tasmania had said that some residents were concerned they might lose their current ADSL services if they lived in areas to be covered by wireless broadband. There are certain technical advantages to the fixed ADSL service over wireless services — with one usually being better latency (or response time to the broader internet).
However, the NBN Co spokesperson pointed out that the government policy under which it was operating (PDF) had stipulated that the copper network should be maintained for a decade in areas not to be covered by the fibre footprint — seven percent of premises.
In addition, they said, the peak download speeds of 12Mbps would be better than what many people will be currently experiencing on ADSL — “particularly if they are in a rural area some kilometres from their exchange”.
For those communities not covered by the initial fibre rollout, the NBN Co spokesperson pointed out the Government had encouraged it to explore mechanisms for a community to fully or partially fund the extension of the fibre network to cover that location, with NBN Co only seeking to recover the incremental costs incurred in the extensions.
Lastly, on the issue of community awareness in general, the NBN Co spokesperson said it had already achieved a take-up rate of over 50 percent in fibre areas in Tasmania.
“Almost two months ago we appointed a Community Relations Manager for Tasmania, and she has been progressively working through a list of community contacts, primarily working through local government,” the company said. “NBN Co has also recently developed some case studies to increase awareness of the network and what people are using it for.”