Regional authorities are begging the federal government to extend the scope of Australia's fibre-to-the-node network (FTTN), fearing remote areas will be left behind as high speed broadband spreads to metropolitan areas.
A number of state and local authorities have already filed their objections to the government's planned rollout of FTTN, asking for more regional areas to be included in the deployment.
The objections have been filed with the government-chosen 'expert taskforce' be in charge of selecting which provider will eventually build the fibre-to-the-node network. The taskforce has published draft guidelines on the rollout, which will remain open to public consultation for a period of four weeks.
In a submission to the taskforce, the Northern Territory government asks the taskforce to extend the areas that will be covered by the fibre network.
"The proposal leaves to the market place the determination of where the next generation broadband services are deployed.... without effective wholesale competition in the NT there is little likelihood in providing high speed fibre-to-node [sic] networks in Darwin or Alice Springs. Both the Telstra and G9 proposals already with government exclude the NT," the submission says attributing the lack of wholesale competition to the government's decision to pick OPEL to supply WiMax connectivity in the bush.
The Queensland government has also voiced fears that some areas will be left behind in the quest for higher speed broadband.
"There may be a number of smaller regional centres outside the proposed coverage areas able to sustain a commercial investment.
"The guidelines should encourage investigations in these areas as the development of high speed broadband infrastructure proposals to cover such areas in Queensland is strongly supported," the Queensland government says in its submission.
The South Australian administration also believes that, without coverage from the FTTN deployment, the state could lose out on productivity gains from new applications, which a high-speed network could enable.
"Major application areas that will require the speeds available from a next generation network such as health, education, business and government services, typically require not only faster broadband speeds, but will also depend on coverage beyond the footprint on the cities and large regional centres," among other factors, the submission read.
Under the guidelines, the fibre rollout is planned for capital cities and major regional centres, with a separate WiMax network intended to provide higher broadband speeds for regional and bush users.
Labor also plans a fibre-to-the-node rollout, if it wins the upcoming federal election. Under its AU$4.7 billion broadband plan, fibre will be extended to 98 percent of the population.