NBN impasse sees town stuck with satellite

NBN impasse sees town stuck with satellite

Summary: NBN Co will only offer satellite services to residents in the regional town of Napoleons, after the Golden Plains Shire Council rejected the company's plans for a tower to deliver fixed-wireless LTE services in the area.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband

NBN Co will only offer satellite services to residents in the regional town of Napoleons, after the Golden Plains Shire Council rejected the company's plans for a tower to deliver fixed-wireless LTE services in the area.

NBN Co had eight proposals for 40-metre towers before the Golden Plains Shire Council in regional Victoria, and although the council has approved six so far, it was the first council to reject a National Broadband Network (NBN) tower on 21 May 2012, stating that the planned tower for Napoleons would have a big visual impact on the area.

An alternative arrangement could not be reached between NBN Co and the council, and, subsequently, NBN Co has said that the residents in Napoleons will get NBN Co's satellite service instead. The news was first reported by The Courier.

In a letter issued to residents by NBN Co, obtained by ZDNet Australia, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has stated that NBN Co tried to address visual impact concerns from the council, by putting "screening vegetation" around the tower and painting the antennae and pole to match the surrounding environment, but this was rejected. A proposed alternate location also fell through in negotiations with the landowners.

NBN Co consequently decided to not seek further alternative sites and has blamed the council for leaving residents without fixed-wireless services.

"As a consequence of the Council's decision, NBN Co is now unable to meet our original plan to place you among the first in Australia to receive high-speed broadband," Quigley said in his letter to residents.

"Our inability to proceed with the Napoleons fixed wireless facility means that we will now have to revisit how best to deliver broadband to your local community," he said. "[I]n all likelihood, we will have to work towards delivering high-speed broadband to the Napoleons area via NBN Co's Long Term Satellite Service, which is expected to be operational by 2015."

Golden Plains Mayor Geraldine Frantz told ZDNet Australia that there had been "very little consultation" with local residents for the tower in Napoleons, but she said that the council remained very supportive of the NBN roll-out, and wanted to keep negotiating with NBN Co for an alternative location for the fixed-wireless tower in Napoleons.

"We've had eight applications and we've approved six of them, so we've shown we are willing and waiting for this to come. We're working with the NBN and we're very supportive of it, just in this instance, it was the wrong location," she said.

"We're very keen for NBN Co to come back to the table and work with us to find an alternative location."

When asked if the town would consider paying for fibre to be extended out to them, Frantz said that the council had not considered such a proposal.

Approval for the eighth tower put to the council for Ross Creek will be considered in July.

Topics: NBN, Broadband


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Luddite councils will doom their ratepayers to get stuck in the 20th century
  • Why on earth do they need that many masts - is it the old Telco land grab mentality at work ?. Not impressed with Quiglies "positioning" letter - has a habit of blaming others doesn't he - whether it be tender procedures being redone as tenderers so called gouging the public, or Fujitsu failing to deliver (because NBN Co are paralysed) or Greenfields operators (as they won't build to NBN Co standard, despite it being accepted - albeit as a poor standard.

    This town is very compact and is ideal for FttH - especially if Governemnt has favoured you with access to Telstra conduits. Why are NBN Co not doing Fiber here - would be extremely cost effective with some infill wireless out of Bannockburn TV site ? Wish the Government would favour the other ftth providers with the same funding as NBN Co are getting.
    • Hi Rossyduck,
      The NBN rollout for fibre goes to towns of 1000 premises or more, or where a town of 500
      premises or more is located on a transit link. Below that limit get Fixed Wireless.
      Hope that helps answer your question.
      Scott Rhodie
    • The Council weren't even aware that they could talk to NBNCo. about getting fibre. They don't appear interested in providing the best outcome for their residents in terms of broadband. They're only interested in making sure the landowners are happy.

      8 towers are needed, because the Golden Plains Shire is 2700 SqKm with only a total of 18000 people. I have no doubt some towns ARE getting fibre. Bannockburn has a population of almost 3000, so they are sure to get fibre to most of that. This report doesn't mention what PARTS of the Shire are getting wireless, only that 8 wireless towers were planned. And considering you'd still have to better part of 2000 SqKm to cover with those towers for those that ARE getting wireless, that's not very many. If I were their council, I'd be asking for both more fibre AND more wireless. Not knocking back more towers.

      The fact is, this was ALWAYS going to be a major problem for NBNCo. And councils were ALWAYS going to try and flex their muscle (seriously, with our council, it's like watching a dog with an inferiority complex- laughable) But ultimately, it comes down to this: Do your residents want access to fast, reliable broadband for the foreseeable future? Or do they want completely virgin, unspoiled wilderness to view, while they can't even get a bar on their mobile?

      People often move to the country to get more wilderness in their lives. But they have a choice- a few disguised towers dotted around (it's not like we're talking rows of marching towers here) or unspoiled wilderness that TRULY has no connection to the rest of the country. You can't have it both ways unless you WANT to be stuck on satellite.

      Sorry, but that's modern civilisation for you.
    • Napoleons, the area they're talking of, is TINY. There's all of 200 people there.

      (have a look at street view)

      Sorry, but this is how the rollout is planned. NBNCo. ALWAYS said they wouldn't put up with council's yipping at their heels because they could.

      I see this as simply the council's desperate try to get "sympathy" in the hope, bowing to public pressure, NBNCo. will do exactly what they want, rather than a compromise which is what NBNCo. have been seeking.
      • LOL! Who the f* is that town/council kidding?
  • this council is a bunch of backward idiots.. Why not stick to postage stamps?
  • Vote this council out. You want to survive as a town? Get with the program.
  • This towns administration is an embarrassment .... They do not undertand what they are doing... this is why as a business person I can not vote for the current coalition ...They have encouraged these people in their ignorance to the detriment of the economies best intersets..
    Econmics loves the NBN
  • http://www.goldenplains.vic.gov.au/page.aspx?u=165&c=6888
    Sounds like the Council is saying Oops!
    Come back, NBN, we'll stop being Luddites to curry favour with the Federal Libs!
    • umbria
      I do not read their statement thus, they are standing firm.
      I have been watching this unfold even before it happened. I have friends up that way who are desperate for the NBN for their business, stuck on RS Telstra 3G with poor reception. They admit it is largely anti Labor, anything to stuff up the NBN rollout.
      As the council stated the Landholder refused the tower on his property. There was an initial shortlist of 2 sites, the Landholders after extensive negotiations had BOTH agreed . However when the preferrable site was knocked back, the Landholder for the second choice changed their mind and refused permission, it is a counttry area and pressure had been applied.
      The NBN negotiatprs are not fools and realised that that scenario would be repeated with the other sites. One big delaying and embarassing excersise for the NBN and by inference the Labor government
      Abel Adamski
  • I'm not sure I am completely against the council here. They did find an alternative site, and it fell thru because of discussions with the land owners, and they did approve 6 other towers. What we need to know is why those two towers were declined and what efforts both sides went to mitigating this. I'm 110% certain we will get luddite councils, but I'm not sure this is one.
    • See my response to umbria. Why did a Landholder who had initially approved decline after the first tower approval was knocked back?. The odds are that will be repeated with all other sites. Purely political and the landholders have to continue living in the area. That is why the NBN walked away they understood the realities, no point as just flogging a dead horse and wasting their time and resources
      Abel Adamski
  • I think in the interests of fairness, to keep costs down and also the schedule on track.

    Any resistance should be followed by that council being sent to the end of the que or bypassed alltogether.
  • "Any resistance should be followed by that council being sent to the end of the que or bypassed alltogether."
    Not sure about that (although I share your sentiment) but if a council is being openly obstructionist, as this council seems to have been, then they should by all means get their just desserts.

    Representing their constituents they are NOT!

    What a bunch of backwards losers....their constituents should draw and quarter them....assuming they are all still riding horses aroung of course!
  • The council does seem to be distoring the facts to a degree.

    They make it out that NBN walked away because their first choice was rejected. In reality the councils secondary proposal was rejected by the land holder.

    Possibly what NBN co could have done is said the original rollout was going to cost $X. Told the council to come back with signed contracts of land holders to provide the same coverage as the NBN proposal. Any cost increase would be borne by the local council.

    That way the ball is in th local residents court. Maybe when they're faced with a large bill to keep the general amenity of the area (gotta say with a noice Kath and Kim accent) they might change their attitude.

    I am glad that NBNCo has not bowed to political expediency but has seen that to give an inch now would be to give few billion dollars down the track.

    BTW - I'm happy to get connected to the NBN now :)
  • Huh

    So let me get this straight. The council is upset because NBNco is accepting the decision of the council and is refusing to take court action against the council in order to force the council into an outcome against it's wishes?