There wasn’t a lot announced in Budget 2019/20 concerning connectivity in Australia for city folks, but some in the bush will see funding headed their way.
The Morrison Government announced it will invest a further $220.0 million in regional communications, part of its response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review. This figure includes $160.0 million for two new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program and $60.0 million for a new Regional Connectivity Grants Package, which will include a hub to improve digital literacy.
Over in Western Australia, the Federal Government will provide $2 million to conduct a feasibility study assessing ways to improve digital connectivity in the Grainbelt Region of Western Australia; using existing infrastructure.
On a somewhat related note, $7.2 million will be directed over four years to ensure telecommunications services complaints, including those related to broadband services, are quickly and effectively addressed. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will take on oversight of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Scheme and introduce improved public reporting about telecommunications complaints.
“The changes will increase transparency about complaint handling and help to ensure consumers get the level of service they expect from their provider,” said part of a statement from Senator Mitch Fifield’s office.
On the NBN specifically, budget papers reveal the Government will reduce the cap on the Regional Broadband Scheme (fixed wireless and satellite networks) charge from $10.00 to $7.10 a month (indexed yearly to CPI). It will also provide a new five year exemption from the RBS for the first 55,000 greenfield premises activated on certain carriers’ networks.
While on the topic of the NBN, an interesting snippet revealed earlier this week – NBN Co had purchased 29,460km of copper cable as at 19 February 2019 reports ITWire. The company says a significant proportion is used in relation to FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Curb) network construction for short extensions of copper lead-in cables to the FTTC DPU (Distribution Point Unit) location, and for the link between existing pillars and new nodes.
We reported last year NBN Co had purchased 21,078 kilometres of copper wire up until June 12, 2018, so that works out to 8,382 kilometres acquired in the approximately 8 months since. If the rate of purchase continues, it won’t be long before the amount of copper could go right around the coastline of mainland Australia (estimated at 35,877 kilometres, but the distance depends who you ask).