When the clock ticked over to the new financial year on Wednesday, legislation kicked in enshrining in law guaranteed access to broadband services.
“These historic laws mean that all Australians can access high-speed broadband, no matter where they live or work,’ said Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP.
The minimum guaranteed speeds won’t be anything to write (email) home about for some.
Under the new Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) laws, NBN Co will be legally obligated to provide broadband services able to reach peak download speeds of at least 25Mbps and upload speeds of at least 5 Mbps. Notice the word “peak” – meaning the mileage may vary.
But the Minister’s office also notes NBN Co must also provide at least 90 per cent of premises on its fixed-line network with peak broadband speeds of 50/10 Megabits per second. Again, the “peak” wording another important term to note is “fixed-line”.
Broadband speeds that may be lower than what some are able to get is better than none at all. But with an increasing shift to telehealth and other bandwidth-heavy applications, a fast, stable connection isn’t just a nice thing to have, it’s essential. However, the Federal Government believes what it has put in place is sufficient.
The SIP laws are part of the Telecommunications Reform Package, which includes the Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS) that will commence in January next year and provide ongoing funding for NBN Co’s loss-making fixed wireless and satellite services. As we’ve previously mentioned, the cash for the RBS will come from some non-NBN carriers that will be required to pay a charge for each premises on their network that has an active fixed-line superfast broadband service.
The SIP regime is also part of a new Universal Service Guarantee (USG).
“The new Universal Service Guarantee expands the mandate to give Australians guaranteed access to broadband as well as voice services, while also ensuring current fixed telephone and payphone services are maintained in rural and remote areas,” said Minister Fletcher.
You can learn more about the Telecommunications Reforms Package here.