The National Broadband Network Company has responded to criticism that it's not explaining its mission well to Tasmanian residents, saying that it had appointed a community relations manager in the state. It's also reassured those in areas to be served by wireless that existing ADSL broadband over Telstra's existing copper network won'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. It said that some communities had no knowledge on 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, NBN Co this morning pointed out that it 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," it 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.
However, NBN Co said that the government policy under which it was operating had stipulated that the copper network should be maintained for a decade in areas not to be covered by the fibre footprint — 7 per cent of premises.
In addition, it said that the promised wireless 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 roll-out, NBN Co pointed out that 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, NBN Co said that 50 per cent of people in Tasmanian fibre areas had opted to have their house connected.
"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."