National Broadband Network
NBN stands for National Broadband Network and it is Australia’s plan for a fast broadband network that will reach all Australians by 2012. This network will put us on a par with or ahead of many of the leading nations in the world when it comes to broadband speed and reach. It’s an ambitious and expensive plan that will use 3 different types of technology to bring us superfast broadband speeds designed to have a significant impact on our communications network, the economy and our lives at work and at home. The NBN will help future proof us for the use of new technologies and allow us to benefit from the growing range of current technologies that require fast broadband speeds. Because the NBN is a wholesale network this means internet service providers pay to use the network and in turn consumers and businesses can get access by buying plans from these broadband providers.
How does it work?
Much of our current phone and internet network relies on dated technology such as Telstra’s copper network used for our phone service and which still make-up a large part of our current broadband network using ADSL or ADSL2 technology. This technology has a limited speed and is ineffective if the signal has to travel long distance along these lines – that’s why households and businesses in rural areas often suffer from slow broadband speeds. There are similar limitations with our mobile networks with those living too far from the masts transmitting the signals suffering slow and inconsistent speeds. Although the latest 4G wireless technology goes some way to address these problems as our mobile data use continues to grow some argue that even 4G wireless technologies will struggle to cope.
The NBN will rollout a huge fibre optic network; fibre optic networks are capable of delivering much faster speeds and do not suffer from the same deterioration in speed that affects ADSL copper networks. Fibre optic broadband is already available in parts of the country and the NBN rollout plan will see fibre optic networks coming to many more towns and cities.
Due to the size of our country it’s too expensive to rollout the fibre optic network to small remote communities – these require a different technology. The NBN will use satellite and fixed wireless technologies to reach those areas where fibre optic is not practical.
What are the NBN rollout plans and schedule?
The rollout plan is under way with construction started or planned to start in over 1,500 communities and covering 3.5 million premises by June 2015. The full rollout is expected to take around 10 years. You can find out when the NBN is coming to you by keeping checking the rollout map on the NBN Co website.
What is the cost of the NBN and what will it cost me to access it?
The cost of funding the NBN project is huge and has been the source of some controversy and debate. Current estimates from NBN Co say the project will cost $37.4 billion coming in under the original estimate of $43 billion. NBN Co claims that the network will pay for itself and is on track to do so.
The NBN is a wholesale network meaning they will sell access to internet service providers how will then sell plans to consumers. Access to superfast broadband plans using the NBN start at around $30 per month. There are agreements with providers like Telstra and Optus to move customers to the NBN as this replaces existing network.