BC -- which commenced on 1 January this year -- sees Internet service providers given financial incentives to sell broadband to customers in the bush at similar prices to their counterparts in metropolitan areas. It replaces the AU$157 million Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme (HiBIS), which stopped delivering services to new customers from 31 December last year.
However, in mid-January this year, ZDNet Australia revealed Telstra's wholesale arm would not participate in BC, meaning it would not use funds from the program -- as it had done with the HiBIS subsidies -- to extend its ADSL infrastructure further into rural and regional Australia. This move effectively restricted the participation in BC of retail ISPs who use Telstra's ADSL infrastructure to the heavyweight's existing network. Westnet marketing manager Alex Chagoubatov said his organisation -- which currently has around 130,000 customers, with significant amounts in rural areas -- would continue to participate in the scheme.
"We have an agreement with the government, so we are providing [broadband] as part of the BC program," he said. "The new agreement allows us to continue on."
The marketing manager confirmed Westnet would still use Telstra's network to provide rural access.
A spokesperson from the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) said the BC subsidies could be accessed by ISPs like Westnet even if their wholesale provider wasn't registered under the program.
"Despite Telstra's decision not to register as wholesale BC provider, Westnet and other BC providers using a wholesaler, can offer services under BC as long as the provider has a commercial agreement with a wholesaler that enables them to offer services that meet the BC performance standards," the spokesperson told ZDNet Australia.
Westnet's ongoing BC participation is in contrast to some of its competitors who have stopped providing services to some areas following Telstra's withdrawal.
For example, Internode has announced Telstra's move meant the ISP would not be participating in BC outside of the areas where it owns its own ADSL infrastructure.
The overwhelming majority of ISPs registered for BC use access technologies other than ADSL to provide services, generally satellite or wireless.