Feds push regional broadband 'brokers'

The federal government is expanding from 13 to 24 its network of community broadband 'brokers' which aggregate regional demand and look to entice service providers to meet it. The government said it was allocating second-round funding of AU$2.

The federal government is expanding from 13 to 24 its network of community broadband 'brokers' which aggregate regional demand and look to entice service providers to meet it.

The government said it was allocating second-round funding of AU$2.6 million under the Broadband Demand Aggregation Broker Program launched in December 2003. The funds will go to non-profit organisations like rural councils to hire brokers to assist in coordinating demand for broadband in their area and identifying appropriate service providers.

However a Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) spokesperson told ZDNet Australia  this morning hiring a broker usually resulted in one of three scenarios.

Typical outcomes included ensuring Telstra-enabled rural exchanges for ADSL services, ensuring users were aware they could access satellite broadband, or attracting new Internet providers -- often wireless operators -- to the area.

The spokesperson confirmed the additional funds would support 11 new brokers, who will join the 13 existing personnel announced in July 2004.

Telstra maintains an ADSL demand register through which consumers can register their interest in having their local exchange enabled. However, some communities such as Alice Springs claim they have experienced problems convincing the telco to come to the ADSL party -- problems Telstra denies existed.

Regions benefiting from the new brokers include Eden (NSW), Macedon, Mitchell and Murrindindi (Victoria), the Wide Bay Burnett region (Queensland) and the Great Southern Country Zone (Western Australia).