Tasmania's NBN shrouded in mystery

Tasmania's NBN shrouded in mystery

Summary: Tasmanians have complained they're being left in the dark over the state's leg of the National Broadband Network (NBN), despite the Federal and Tasmanian Governments insisting construction could start within weeks.


Tasmanians have complained they're being left in the dark over the state's leg of the National Broadband Network (NBN), despite the Federal and Tasmanian Governments insisting construction could start within weeks.

It's been such a drawn-out process. Right now, we would really like to see some more detail

Digital Tasmania's Andrew Conner

"It's been such a drawn-out process. Right now, we would really like to see some more detail," Andrew Conner, spokesperson for consumer group Digital Tasmania, told ZDNet.com.au this week.

The state has been fed snippets of detail about the NBN, with the latest drip coming last Sunday after Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett announced in the state's budget that it would tip $12.7 million into energy utility, Aurora, as part of its contribution to the National Broadband Network.

On Sunday, Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury reported Bartlett as saying Tasmanians would see "Aurora trucks rolling into town and rolling out the optic fibre" within weeks as funding came through. But a spokesperson for the Premier yesterday was unable to provide ZDNet.com.au any further details other than a statement from Canberra was due in the next few weeks.

The Premier's comments gave little joy to Tasmanians keen to know how the project will progress or how much of the $700 million expected cost will be federally funded. "That Aurora will roll out the network is about all we know," said Peter Gartlan, president of local IT industry group, Tas ICT. "After that there doesn't seem to be a lot of certainty around anything."

Gartlan said the state could miss its short window of opportunity to take advantage of its 100Mbps speed connection advantage while the mainland waited for its own roll-out. He said there was a risk of the NBN being viewed in Tasmania as just "fast Facebook" rather than changing the way its businesses conduct their affairs.

"It's frustrating these details haven't been sorted out so that we can get stuck into it. The big benefits that will ensue from this won't last for a long time," he said.

A spokesperson for Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin said it was not clear yet whether the NBN Company would own the Tasmanian leg of the network, or even if it was really a part of the NBN.

Tasmanian sources involved with the state's previous fibre broadband efforts under TasCOLT have said they have not been privy to planning discussions for the state.

I would have thought for any government tender there would be a statutory requirement for its cost to be reviewed for value, and then for implementation to go ahead.

IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick

Other sources, including senior staff at likely network hardware suppliers for the project, said they had not heard of any tendering effort that was planned to be released by state-owned utility Aurora Energy — presumably a necessary step to acquire equipment for the Tasmanian roll-out, but which is yet to occur.

Intelligent Business Research Services analyst Guy Cranswick said, "I would have thought for any government tender there would be a statutory requirement for its cost to be reviewed for value, and then for implementation to go ahead."

Work has been proceeding in the state with the Federal Government locking down three recent contracts valued at around $800,000. KPMG was contracted to provide pricing information for the Tasmanian NBN, Minter Ellison for legal advice, and Consultel for technical advice. A spokesperson for Consultel was unable to discuss details of its assessment. The timing of this work coincides with the opening of the Basslink cable due by 30 June and Internode's plan to expand its ADSL2+ footprint in the state.

The spokesperson for Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy told ZDNet.com.au yesterday that the government was now in "very advanced negotiations" with the Tasmanian Government for the roll-out of the NBN. "The Tasmanian Government has indicated that it is confident the roll-out can begin in the short term and we are working with them to make that happen," the spokesperson said.

Topics: Broadband, Government AU, NBN

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • At what cost??

    There is no detail..but is the hype and the money really worth it when in the UK 2 Mbs is sufficient & for alot less??
  • NBN shrouded in mystery

    And which part of the NBN is NOT shrouded in mystery
  • Obviously

    The unmysterious part of course :-)
  • what is delivery model?

    1. Who is the ISP here? Who does the billing? Is it Aurora? Internode? Will Telstra & Optus be allowed to provide services?
    2. What services will be offered? A basic telephone service and internet would be mandatory? Foxtel? VoIP?
    3. How are 000 calls supported?
    4. Where do the provisioning, activation, fault reporting, network monitoring systems come from? Has the government budgeted or planned for these with NBN2?
    5. Will there be resellers? Will they be virtual operators or will Internode etc be allowed to compete with Aurora with services?
    6. What about enablement of ipv6? It should be mandatory.

    There are way more questions than just laying the fibre.
  • Internode Slipped in Twice

    Sounds fair. I ask the same questions for my ISP TSN Communications. How are we allowed to compete? It is bad when the industry doesn't even know what is happening.
  • Answers

    I suspect we not see any answers until the very last possible moment as any answer may be mirrored in the federal govts NBN plans.
  • Where

    Has anyone seen any Aurora trucks in tassie anywhere installing stuff other than their usual stuff???.......let us know
  • delivery model - you want delivery model!?!?!?

  • delivery model - you want delivery model!?!?!?

    You TWIT
  • Looking forward to decent speeds

    but i'm not looking forward to pathetic download limits. e.g $100 for 40gb. thats like only 12 hours of youtubing
  • nice try

    This network can only make a loss as it will only provide internet and voice. What about all those 'next generation' communication services and products?

    This type of thing can work as a pilot and test case, but I can only see this happening if Telstra was on board for a larger deployment plan, which will require national integration into the network. So its good to have a test subject.

    In short it needs to backing of a major Telco to be able to have any form of longevity. It would be ideal if Telstra was onboard and this can be expanded all over the country. If not, this sort of thing will just be left flailing and an example of politics over common sense.
  • 2Mbps?

    Our international competitors have or are rolling out networks with 1Gbps. Even 100Mbps will leave Australia a technological backwater by the time the NBN is completed.
  • NBN and the Photonic Chip. Gigabit and beyond

    We al know that the routers that we use at home at this point in time willnever be fast enough to deliver the true throughput of fibre optic to the node. Developement is underway to allow the fastest internet and largest bandwidth at the lowest power consumption the division is called CUDOS (Centre For Ultra high Devices for Optical Systems.) This will not only allow us a 100 plus megabit now but will allow us 100 plus Gigabit once this technology becomes widely available. and the fibre optics will already be in place. Its not just the old copper pair and cable internet that slowws every thing down its those very same routers/Modems and Nodes we use to transmit the light signals back to electrical signal data. this process uses alot more power than if we just use a new technology being designed that is ready for deployment by the time the NBN is finished. so it is more than possible we will see beyond 100 megabit connections if this fact comes into play possibly
    much fater Gigabit and beyond.

    The link below will give you a look at what we can expect.

  • NBN and the Photonic Chip. Terrabit Per second.

    Sorry that was supposed to Be Photonic Chip Is 1 terabit 1000Gigabit per second so I suppose thats a minimum 1 terrabit persecond connection does it not.