The Northern Territory Government’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee regarding the nbn highlights that the lack of basic telecommunications infrastructure is a major issue faced by many remote communities across the state.
Below is a summary of the Northern Territory Government’s position as outlined in the submission:
- The Northern Territory Government will continue to strongly advocate for families and businesses living and working in remote areas of the NT to receive the best telecommunications infrastructure available.
- As accepted by the Australian Government, better use of existing telecommunications service infrastructure needs to be a part of the solution to broadband connectivity in remote areas of the Northern Territory. This includes working with NBN Co to change its service delivery model for 34 remote Northern Territory communities from satellite to a fixed wireless solution utilising existing fibre technology and infrastructure.
- The reliability of the satellite solution needs to be addressed by NBN Co, including:
- poor performance – the climatic disadvantages with the NBN satellite solution, including network failure and frequent outages due to extreme weather conditions (heavy cloud cover, rain and heat)
- priority for isolated areas – residents and businesses in remote parts of the Northern Territory, particularly those without choice of service offering, should be given priority to both access and support over and ahead of those residing in more populated areas of the country with access to far greater mobile coverage and choice of broadband provider
- engagement – a planned approach to solving the challenges of NBN connectivity in remote Northern Territory areas is vital and includes co-operation between the Australian Government , NBN Co and the Northern Territory Government
- Additional broadband capacity needs to be addressed. It is unclear whether further satellites are planned to be launched by NBN Co to meet apparent demand. There are other technologies available for broadband connectivity, including low orbit satellites, and these technologies need to be investigated by NBN Co.
- End user support needs to be improved, especially in very remote areas. Post-sale support received by farmers and remote businesses must be better aligned with needs. Many remote users have limited IT knowledge and this needs to be reflected in the standard of service.
- Engagement with remote residents and businesses must improve.
- NBN Co must work with the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Government to find the most appropriate solution for remote residents and businesses and not operate in isolation.
In the submission, the Northern Territory Government urges the Australian Government and NBN Co to work collaboratively with the Northern Territory Government to find an equitable solution that will provide more reliable telecommunications services for Territorians living in remote communities.