11 September 2019

NBN network coming to parts of Bega Valley this week

| Elka Wood
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The satellite ground station, part of Australia’s NBN network. Photo: NBN Australia Facebook page.

After ten years of public uncertainty and confusion, the National Broadband Network [NBN] will extend its roll out around the Bega Valley this week, with homes at Berrambool, Merimbula, Mirador and Tura Beach able to access the network as of today (February 22).

Pambula, Pambula Beach, and South Pambula will follow next month.

On top of those advances, you may have noticed roadworks along the Bega-Tathra Road in recent weeks. A check of NBN’s interactive map tells us that broadband fibre is being laid in preparation for Tathra being connected in April this year.

A map shows NBN work [in brown] is being done around Tathra and between Tathra and Bega. Image: NBN website.

NBN, a government/business enterprise, has been widely criticized for the pace with which the rollout has occurred, and the speed and reliability of the service.

Here in the Bega Valley, more people will soon be able to find out for themselves.

In a media release, head of NBN local NSW and ACT, Amber Dornbusch says that more than 10,500 homes and businesses in the wider Bega Valley region will soon be able to connect to broadband through a phone or internet provider.

Dornbusch says, “We’re urging those residents who are ready to connect or who have already connected to check their internet usage habits and the number of devices connected during peak usage times, between 7 pm and 11 pm, and then speak with a phone or internet provider about the right speed plan for their household’s needs as well as the typical speeds they can expect during the busy evening period.”

There is no obligation to connect to the new network right away (NBN has so far seen about a 75 per cent take-up rate in areas where broadband has been introduced). You have eighteen months from when your area receives service to do so.

Australians are clearly hungry for faster internet and more data hours – as it stands, the average household has seven connected devices and that’s predicted to rise to as many as 25 over the next five years.

The realities of a multiple screen family are here to stay. Photo: NBN Australia Facebook page.

Broadband does offer faster internet, says NBN NSW and ACT spokesperson, Marcela Balart.

“The average ADSL speed is eight megabytes per second and NBN’s commitment is to provide a minimum of 25 megabytes per second,” explains Balart.

No stranger to explaining how broadband actually works, Balart says that understanding that the broadband network is a physical system is helpful.

“We do have two satellites in orbit, which help us reach every corner of Australia and we do use towers,” she says, “but this is a fibre network and to provide that we have to dig. It often takes six to nine months of work in an area before the service can be offered.”

Although NBN is responsible for all infrastructure, retail service providers, who buy space on the network and sell it back to consumers, are responsible for everything to do with the system in the home or business, explains Balart.

Rising Australia-wide data use for September, 2018. NBN Australia Facebook page.

“Existing ADSL modems cannot be used with broadband services but you may be able to recycle them through your broadband service provider as part of an exchange,” Balart says.

It is worth noting that connecting to broadband in your home or business will not change the internet speed on your mobile phone.

“You have to physically connect to broadband with any device, so while you’re out and about your phone will still be relying on mobile towers,” Balart says.

A national broadband network was supposed to make the biggest impact on rural areas. So has the confusion and expense been worth it?

“This is brand new for everyone,” Balart says “but we are seeing positive changes in areas where broadband has been in use for some time – like remote students being connected to distance education programs, increases in new businesses and particularly increases in women starting businesses.”

Are you connected to the NBN? Let us know what your experience has been.

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