After it was announced the much-anticipated rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) had officially begun in Coonabarabran, a number of issues in regards to inadequate coverage have come to light.
The contention relates to fixed-line connection of the NBN network, which has failed to encompass a number of residential areas within town limits including Rifle Range Road, Hilton Place and Sutton Lane.
However, what has raised most concern is the failure to cover the Industrial Area of Coonabarabran in the fixed-line rollout.
This will affect more than 20 businesses, with the exception of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), who have confirmed the new Fire Control Centre building in Ulan Street has been fitted with optical fibre and will have a fixed- line NBN connection to the closest node on town limits under its Telstra contract.
Coonabarabran Business Centre and Computer Hospital owner, Steve Turner, raised the topic of the meagre NBN rollout at the local community consultation meeting, held on Tuesday, 29 November.
“Despite past assurances and efforts by Council, it would appear that large parts of the town have been missed in the NBN rollout,” Mr Turner said.
“What the NBN has done is provide exactly enough to fit the current core boundaries of the town and nothing more.
“Who will want to move a business to an area so close to town that demands they get satellite Internet only?
“Who is going to move to a town where their fast Internet options are so badly curtailed?
“This problem is going to affect us all. It’s going to affect future growth for the town and future possibilities.”
Mr Turner said it was also absurd that homes just minutes from town only had access to satellite Internet.
“NBN satellite keeps you with low download limits - 70-80GB per month maximum in peak times, an amount we can use on ADSL in three days - and charges upwards of 50 per cent more for that limitation than fixed-line or fixed wireless Internet.
“Satellite should be for truly remote country properties, not for homes and businesses near or even in towns!
“I urge everyone affected by this directly and everyone who just wants a better deal for Coonabarabran now, and in the future, to make some noise about this.”
Timor Road resident, Nicole Hunter, has been connected to NBN’s satellite connection, Sky Muster, for the past two months.
“I could not say it is much faster than the previous satellite unfortunately, as we still have difficulty watching a three minute YouTube clip, even at off peak times,” Mrs Hunter said.
“We now get complete cut off/nil service at least three times a week, where over the past two years it was very rare to be disconnected completely.
“The two years previous to that were shocking!”
Mrs Hunter said the only upside to the new connection was the additional 10-15GB of data.
“This does not seem like much, but because we still don’t have the speed, we can do nothing more than post on Facebook and send an email,” she said.
“We were hoping to be able to log the kids on more readily for Mathletics, but it’s still not reliable.
“We are used to this now, being out if town, but it is unacceptable that half of the town would be forced to use this horrendous service.”
When asked why some areas of Coonabarabran had missed out on fixed-line access, NBN spokesperson, Marcela Balart, said the choice of technology was decided area-by-area, based on the best solution for the location.
“Several factors are considered, including geographical location, existing infrastructure, cost and time to build,” Ms Balart said.
Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, is aware of the NBN coverage issue facing the Coonabarabran and wider community.
Mr Coulton said he hoped to meet with representatives from NBN Co in the new year to raise the concerns.
A map featuring the area of Coonabarabran covered by the fixed line rollout of the NBN.