Thursday, May 29, 2008

Australia - Broadband in Tasmania

NBN not enough for business say Tasmanians

The national broadband network (NBN) will not be fast enough for Tasmanian businesses, according to consumer action group Digital Tasmania, and could even mean further delays for the Basslink cable.

Andrew Connor, spokesperson for the group, said that the broadband network's 12Mbps connection won't meet the needs of local companies. "We believe that businesses in a few years, or even now, will want more than that."

Connor said large data consumers, such as ISPs, call centres and educational institutions aren't targeted by the NBN, and are waiting for the Basslink fibre-optic cable to come online. Negotiations over its commercialisation are ongoing, leaving Tasmanian businesses suffering, according to the group.

Digital Tasmania's comments follow a decision by the Tasmanian government to take part in the NBN bid process, with a state-specific proposal. The government has already paid the necessary AU$5 million bond, a government spokesperson told

"The Tasmanian government believes that a specifically tailored solution for Tasmania will best deliver on the Australian Government's broadband objects rather than the state's inclusion as part of a national process and model," wrote the Tasmanian government in a letter to the national broadband network panel of experts in March.

"The Tasmanian problem is quite different to the issues faced in other parts of Australia. In addition to the lack of competitive infrastructure, Tasmania has a unique set of challenges, being an island with a mountainous geography and a small, very dispersed and comparatively disadvantaged population, separated by 200km of water from the markets and telecommunications routes of metropolitan Australia."

While Digital Tasmania welcomes the government's move to address the lack of affordable and fast broadband in Tasmania, it fears that the government's participation will delay the lighting up of Basslink.

According to the group, Basslink has already seen delays because of the government waiting for the outcome of the Broadband Connect infrastructure contract, which was awarded to OPEL.

Digital Tasmania doesn't want to see more delays hit the cable as a result of the NBN.

The NBN deadline is "who knows when" at the moment, Connor said, whereas Basslink has the potential to be lit up before the end of the year.

"The NBN is starting to look a bit shaky," he added.

The Tasmanian Treasurer, Michael Aird said there would be no delays: "The NBN RFP is a separate process and will not impact on the commercial negotiations between Cityspring, Aurora and the Government regarding the Basslink optic fibre."

Aird could not go into detail about the content of its submission due to probity requirements.

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