More than 1600 Coonabarabran homes and businesses will soon have access to faster and more reliable internet access, with construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) officially underway in town.
Crews will be on the ground, checking pits and pipes, laying the fibre backbone to the network and installing node cabinets throughout the area.
It is expected that residents will be able to make the switch to the NBN network from March next year.
While the NBN will be of great benefit to the Coonabarabran community, the service has already made its debut in the Warrumbungle Shire, with areas around Coolah and Dunedoo connected to the NBN network through fixed wireless technology almost 18 months ago.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said the NBN would open up a range of new opportunities for businesses, allow students to learn and engage with classmates in virtual classrooms, and make it easier for residents to stay in touch with family and friends online.
“High-speed broadband is the essential infrastructure of the twenty-first century, and the NBN will provide the platform to deliver a range of economic and social benefits to residents in Coonabarabran,” Mr Coulton said.
“Local businesses will be more productive as the NBN enables access to new online services like cloud- based accounting software. Students will be able to participate in immersive learning experiences, from their classroom or at home. And mums and dads will be able to take care of everyday tasks like accessing government services or paying bills quickly and easily online.”
Coonabarabran High School principal, Mel Johnston, said the biggest benefit of the NBN will be to students when they are studying at home.
“They will have cheaper, more reliable access to online learning, including activities like the MyMaths online mathematics program,” Mr Johnston said.
“The roll-out may increase data speeds, which would improve access to video conferencing and live streaming of learning materials for students at school.
“It is anticipated that the NBN will improve the reliability of data transmission networks throughout the state and this will be a positive for all our schools.”
A boost for business
For business owners dependent on high-speed internet connection, the news is a welcome one.
Coonabarabran Times editor, Max Estens, said the much-anticipated arrival of the NBN network would increase productivity and efficiency in the newsroom.
“We are completely reliant on broadband in order to publish the newspaper each week - for research, managing our own website, accounts, advertising and printing,” Mr Estens said.
“Long gone are the days of taking the newspaper proofs to Gunnedah at 3.00am each Thursday morning to be printed. Today, we send the large files electronically to the printers via a DropBox.”
Mr Estens said when you were on a strict deadline, fast internet was essential.
“Without decent internet service available in Coonabarabran, our business wouldn’t have survived the technological advances of the past decade,” he said.
“For us to keep up into the next decade, we need NBN, like a lot of other small businesses.”
Over 70,000 people across Australia are signing up to the NBN each month.
In the Parkes electorate, there are already approximately 22,660 homes and businesses experiencing the benefits of the NBN.
As NBN construction is completed over coming months, residents and businesses will be able to sign up to an NBN plan with their chosen retail service provider, and will be supplied with a new modem to enable high- speed broadband.
A range of plans with various download quotas and speed tiers are available to suit consumer and business needs.
Mr Coulton said the Coalition Government is rolling out high-speed broadband across Australia in the fastest and most affordable way, with every home and business in Australia to be able to connect to the NBN by 2020.
Coonabarabran High School principal, Mel Johnston, with students Claire Cole and Jayden Rogers in the school’s computer classroom. Mr Johnston said the NBN will offer improved access to online learning for students.