Australia’s Government Spruiks Regional Broadband Progress

Australia’s Government Spruiks Regional Broadband Progress

Federal Minister for Communications Senator Bridget McKenzie said yesterday that 2018 has seen regional Australians connected “like never before”.

Minister McKenzie stated around 98% of regional homes, farms and businesses are now able to connect to the National Broadband Network (NBN), or were in areas where it is ” under construction”. A further breakdown of how many are actually connected vs. those who aren’t yet wasn’t provided.

Senator Bridget McKenzie - Australian Regional Broadband Image: Senator Bridget McKenzie via Facebook

The Minister says more than 500,000 premises outside major urban areas have been NBN- activated since the beginning of 2018, with more than 1.8 million regional premises now using an NBN service.

Also mentioned as a highlight for the year was an upcoming addition to Sky Muster broadband services, which are delivered via satellite.

Announced in November and scheduled to launch in 2019, Sky Muster Plus will see the use of what NBN Co terms essential internet services – including email, general web-browsing and common critical phone/PC operating system software updates – not counting towards data allowances (there are some gotchas – such as video embedded on web pages still counting).

With operating system updates being notorious data hogs (for example, iOS 12 was around 1.6GB), this will no doubt be welcomed by many in the bush. There will also be an increase in speed where network conditions allow.

“This is a very positive step in the right direction to end the ‘data drought’ that has restricted business, education and social development across Australia,” said Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) shortly after the November announcement.

Minister McKenzie stated the Liberal and Nationals Government were committed to delivering fast and reliable communications across Australia.

“By 2022, the Liberal and Nationals Government will have invested more than $3.55 billion to provide fixed wireless services across rural and regional Australia and around $2 billion in NBN Co’s next-generation Sky Muster satellite service.”

Fixed wireless broadband offers a number of advantages over a satellite connection, including lower latency (a measure of time delay between two points on a network) and connections being more robust in poor weather conditions. However, it is limited by distance, which makes it unsuitable in some remote locations that are sparsely populated, and is best used in line-of-sight scenarios.

Far from being a technology just used in the bush, fixed wireless is also being rolled out in Australia’s major cities by non-NBN providers (such as Lightning Broadband) as a fast and reliable alternative to the NBN. Learn more about fixed wireless broadband.

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