Ahead of an April customer trial, NBN Co has begun construction on 12 towers for the fixed-wireless network, but has warned residents that they may be forced to use satellite if tower plans are not approved.
As first revealed by ZDNet Australia last week, NBN Co will conduct trials of its fixed-wireless long-term evolution (LTE) network in Armidale, Tamworth, Toowoomba, Ballarat Darwin and Geraldton, beginning with Armidale in April. Internode, iiNet and Rivertel are three of the five ISPs picked by NBN Co to offer the free trial to customers for a period of six months.
But as the company lodges plans with local councils to construct 40-metre towers to build the wireless network, it is facing mounting opposition from locals concerned about the health implications in areas such as Smeaton and Buninyong.
NBN Co will need a total of 94 towers in the first five sites, 43 of which already exist and therefore don't need council approval. The company has begun construction on 12 towers so far, and will need to seek approval for another 39.
Should the local councils reject NBN Co's tower plans, the company confirmed to ZDNet Australia that the residents in those areas will only be provided with satellite coverage.
NBN Co has been trialling "network extensions" to bring the fibre past the 93 per cent mark, but the company has warned that it is "very expensive", and that NBN Co will only do this in places where councils are willing to foot the bill for the extra cost involved.
The wireless network is expected to cover 4 of the 7 per cent of premises not covered by the fibre roll-out of the NBN. The first five sites will cover 14,000 premises, and are scheduled to be up and running by the middle of this year, with the fixed-wireless portion of the NBN roll-out to be completed by 2015.