Adelaide councils tackle broadband blackspots

Summary:Two of Adelaide's largest councils have identified significant unmet demand for broadband services in their regions and are attempting to work with the telecommunications industry to solve the problem.The Cities of Onkaparinga and Marion collectively represent almost a quarter of a million residents occupying some 114,000 both business and residential premises.

Two of Adelaide's largest councils have identified significant unmet demand for broadband services in their regions and are attempting to work with the telecommunications industry to solve the problem.

The Cities of Onkaparinga and Marion collectively represent almost a quarter of a million residents occupying some 114,000 both business and residential premises.

But according to research conducted by the pair and the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) and released in tender documents issued today, about 17 percent of those premises may lie in so-called broadband "blackspots" which cannot access minimum speeds of 256kbit/s.

"During interviews and sample surveys ... it was found that approximately one-third of businesses have a broadband service, one-third want one but cannot get it, and one-third don't want a service yet and haven't tried to get one," the documents added.

"Significant levels of unmet demand were identified and with no current plans from telcos/Internet Service Providers to provide services in the areas where broadband services are not available for a variety of reasons."

The issue is a concern for the councils as research has consistently linked high levels of broadband penetration with significant economic benefits.

The two councils are currently seeking to work with the telecommunications industry to match unmet and latent demand with potential suppliers. The tender document mentions potential access to government funding in some areas, for example drawing on the federal government's AU$1.1 billion Connect Australia package.

But the pair indicated they were not interested in building infrastructure or providing services themselves.

However, they noted they regularly reviewed their own corporate purchasing needs with respect to telecommunications services, and invited telcos to indicate what services they could provide.

The move follows a similar initiative in late July, where some 15 of the state's regional local councils banded together to address broadband blackspots.

The group -- dubbed the Central Local Government Region of SA (CLGR) -- collectively covers a large portion of rural South Australia, from the Barossa and Clare valleys through to the Flinders Ranges and the Yorke Peninsula.

Are you stuck in a broadband blackspot? Drop me a line at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post some comments below.

Topics: Broadband, NBN, Telcos

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