Building a better network

BIGGER AND BETTER: NBN Head of Regional Affairs SA Tim Saul, right, with Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin during a visit in August.
BIGGER AND BETTER: NBN Head of Regional Affairs SA Tim Saul, right, with Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin during a visit in August.

A $3.5 billion upgrade to the National Broadband Network (NBN) will make internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second accessible for six million homes across Australia, including Whyalla.

The project will create up to 25,000 jobs and allow residents to access high-speed internet by ordering and paying their monthly fee to their internet provider, without having to pay for the additional construction costs involved.

Head of Regional Development and Engagement Tim Saul said around 75 per cent of areas on the fixed line network, including Whyalla, would be able to access the higher speeds by 2023.

Mr Saul said the second stage of the NBN rollout would create 10,000 jobs in regional areas, 2800 new businesses in regional Australia, and boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $1.5 billion per year.

"At the moment most technologies can deliver 100 megabits per second, and we still see around 50-60 per cent of residential households on 50 megabit plans," he said.

"It's an on-demand upgrade, the current network might be fine for some people but those who want faster speeds will be able to order them from their service provider, and we'll build the fibre to the premises."

Part of NBN's $4.5bn upgrade will go towards extending the fibre network out into towns and suburbs to make it simple to connect households once they order the high-speed internet.

A $300 million Regional Development Fund was also announced by NBN on Wednesday, which will enable local governments such as the Whyalla City Council to co-invest with the NBN to create a better network for regional areas.

"A local government might be trying to stimulate growth or demand in an area. That's exactly what this fund will be used for - to improve the NBN in regional areas," he said.

Regional businesses will also be boosted by a $700,000 investment in Business Fibre Zones, which will allow businesses in the zones to access the NBN Enterprise Ethernet product.

That will give businesses access to the same download and upload speed 24/7.

"If you're a business that wants 100 megabits download and 100 megabits upload all times of the day ... ... you'll be able to get that with a no-cost build, if you're in one of those zones," Mr Saul said.

This story Building a better network first appeared on Whyalla News.