The team at Better Internet for Rural, Regional & Remote Australia (BIRRR) welcomes today’s announcement of a joint investment by the Australian Government and NBN Co into regional connectivity.
BIRRR has hailed the investment, which includes a range of key upgrades and enhancements to the nbn Fixed Wireless and Satellite networks in the regions, as ‘transformative’ for regional broadband users.
Co-Founder of the BIRRR group, Kristy Sparrow, said the investment should greatly improve bush broadband offerings, with the announcements coming as the result of eight years of volunteer advocacy to ensure regional Australians have access to affordable, reliable and adequate connectivity.
The proposal made by NBN Co today include a wide-range of enhancements and upgrades, including:
- Enhancements to nbn Sky Muster Plus plans (beginning mid-2022) will see ‘Plus’ users able to have full use of their connection, without data limit constraint, from 12 midnight through to 4pm (offering an unlimited experience which includes VPN and video streaming that have previously been limited). Metered data allowances (VPN and video) will only be measured 4pm-midnight.
- For regular nbn Sky Muster plans, nbn will double average monthly allowances on their ‘fair use’ policy from 45GB to 90GB. This will be made possible with busy satellite beams ‘deloaded’ by approximately 25,000 active satellite customers (who will be moved to nbn Fixed Wireless connections).
- The nbn Fixed Wireless footprint will be extended (selected towers) from 14 to 29 km, creating a 50% bigger Fixed Wireless footprint reaching 720,000 residences (allowing an extra 120,000 addresses added to the nbn Fixed Wireless footprint).
- Speeds will increase significantly on nbn co Fixed Wireless services – customers will see an increase to typical speeds (100mbps/20mbps) and an increase to typical busy hour speeds of at least 50Mbps. It is also anticipated that 85% of the footprint will be able to order speeds of up to 250mbps.
“The upgrades within the $750 million package will be transformative for regional Australians, ensuring they have access to broadband options that meet their needs now and into the future. Future-proofing connectivity in RRR areas by adopting and funding solutions that plan for future growth and investment
in our regions will ensure that RRR regions are not disadvantaged due to their population and postcode.” Kristy said.
BIRRR’s data analyst, Dr Rachel Hay (James Cook University) said that some of BIRRR’s top advocacy ‘wish list’ items were an expansion of the nbn Fixed Wireless coverage footprint and an increase to upload speeds, as well as making more data available to satellite users during school and business hours.
“BIRRR submitted an extensive list of recommendations for improvements to regional connectivity in our 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review (RTIRC) submission and we are delighted to see some of our wishlist come to fruition.
“The upgrades to connectivity will enable scalable change across a range of regional sectors including business, agriculture, health and education, as well as supporting community growth and resilience,” Dr Hay stated.
Ms Sparrow described the changes as ‘exciting and much-needed’, particularly noting that nbn Sky Muster Plus users will be able to freely use their connections for the majority of the day for everything they need to do online, for the very first time since nbn Sky Muster was launched.
“We have been working with nbn co for a number of years towards further enhancements to their networks – I believe they have described our advocacy as ‘tenacious’,” she said. nbn co Chief Development Officer – Regional & Remote, Gavin Williams has credited the move towards these upgrades to the advocacy of passionate regional lobby groups, federal government funding and the nbn team of network engineers who will use 5G enabled technology to vastly extend the range, speed and capacity of its existing Fixed Wireless network. The upgrades will begin taking effect mid 2022 and are expected to be fully rolled out over the next two years.
“We look forward to these transformative upgrades and enhancements being rolled out as quickly as possible to provide much-needed access to better broadband in the bush. BIRRR would like to particularly thank the nbn local regional team for listening to our feedback and recommendations and to the Federal Government for their significant investment.”
Media Contact: Kristy Sparrow
*nbn co will use the funding to 5G-enable its network of more than 2,200 Fixed Wireless infrastructure sites and more than 22,000 cells in semi-rural areas and across regional and remote Australia. nbn will use the latest 5G
technology to vastly extend the range, speed and capacity of its existing Fixed Wireless network, while reducing latency to deliver the best possible customer experience. (nbn media release, 22/3/22)