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NBNco Community Update (December 2011)

Tony Gibbs from NBNco has sent through a community update on the NBN roll out in Dereel. You can read it in full here:
Dereel Community Update: NBN Co Fixed Wireless Service
By Tony Gibbs, Community Relations, NBN Co

 

Dereel has been selected as one of the first communities in regional Victoria to be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via its fixed wireless service. Dereel residents, business owners and students have the opportunity to look forward to high-speed broadband, which has the potential to enhance the way everyone connects with one another, from health and education to lifestyle and business.

The question everyone is asking is 'when will we be connected to the NBN?' The answer is that NBN Co has currently lodged a development application (DA) with the local council in relation to the fixed wireless facility it would like to install to provide broadband services in the area. If this proposal is approved, Dereel is expected to be connected to the NBN by mid-2012, providing the potential to offer enhanced broadband download and upload speeds* to local residents.

NBN Co held two, two-hour information sessions in Dereel on Tuesday 6 December as part of its ongoing commitment to provide open and transparent consultation with the community. Both sessions were well attended and were an opportunity for local residents to find out more about the NBN and the fixed wireless service. While many people openly expressed their support, a small group voiced concerns about the proposal. NBN Co is working with the community as a whole at each and every stage of the rollout to address these concerns and to ensure residents' feedback is heard.

Dereel is receiving the NBN via fixed wireless service rather than fibre optic cable. As highlighted in the information sessions, Ballarat is among the first handful of places in Australia to see the rollout of the NBN. NBN Co plans to roll out fibre to 93 per cent of Australian premises. In areas where population density is lower, it's more efficient to roll out fixed-wireless services. Where we can't provide fixed wireless services, NBN Co will be offering satellite services.

Dereel falls into the category of being part of one of five first release sites in Australia selected for the fixed-wireless service. NBN Co is planning to build a fixed wireless service using the latest fourth generation technology commonly referred to as 4G or LTE. This is the same technology that is just starting to be used for mobile data services. While NBN Co's fixed wireless service is not a mobile broadband service, it will use cellular technology to transmit signals to and from a small antenna fixed on the outside of a home or business premises. The antenna is then connected to NBN Co's equipment inside the house in a similar way to a fibre-based service. Unlike mobile broadband services where people move in and out of an area or get further from the centre of the cell, the advantage of a fixed wireless service is that the network can be built for a known number of users at a set distance from the base station.

In other words, NBN Co is designing its network to a target standard of service, and plans to offer internet service providers wholesale broadband services designed for speeds of up to 12/1 megabits per second (Mbps) , and aiming to offer higher speeds in the not too distant future.

To offer this service to people in Dereel and some of the other smaller communities in the Ballarat region, NBN Co needs to install transmission equipment. In designing the network the first thing we do is try and use existing mobile infrastructure, and in fact around half of the network can be built by simply co-locating our equipment at existing sites. However, to deliver the level of service we are targeting, it does mean some new sites will need to be established.

In building the network we are committed to consulting with the community as we work to comply with council development application processes.

Part of the information supplied to councils for all existing and new site proposals is a report on cumulative electromagnetic energy (EME) based on predictions of the maximum signal strength from a proposed facility. The power required to operate the NBN fixed wireless broadband network is really very low, particularly when compared to the power levels required by TV and radio broadcasts.

The EME reports that we have submitted with the development applications show that the EME from the NBN equipment is a small fraction of the acceptable safety limits. The safety standard in Australia is based on the international safety standard recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

We are also aware that there may be concerns about the visual impact of any new structure, and we aim to provide the lowest impact structure that can support the necessary level of service. For example, in some areas it may be possible provide service via a 30-metre concrete pole, but because of terrain in other areas a larger structure may be necessary.

More information is available on the website operated by the responsible government agency http://www.arpansa.gov.au/eme.

If you would like to find out more about connecting to the NBN and the fixed wireless service, we encourage you to contact the NBN Co Solutions Centre on 1800 881 816. If you would like to view a map showing the respective fibre and fixed-wireless services areas in the Ballarat district, as well as further information about the NBN rollout plans in Victoria, please visit the NBN Co website at: www.nbnco.com.au.
* Speeds actually achieved by retail customers (end users) will depend on a number of factors including the quality of their equipment and in-premises connection, the broadband plans offered by their service provider and how their service provider designs its network to cater for multiple end users.