10 October 2011 04:19PM
NORTH Stradbroke Island and Redland City’s seven Southern Moreton Bay Islands are on the top of the federal government’s priority list for places to get broadband connection.
The islands’ priority status was outlined in a letter from Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy to Redland City Council last month.
In his letter to the council, Senator Conroy said priority for high-speed broadband was given to those living in isolated areas, such as the Moreton Bay islands.
Senator Conroy said “fibre to the premises” cables would be rolled out at Karragarra, Lamb, Russell, Macleay, Long and Coochiemudlo islands, along with Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island.
His letter also said NBN Co had fast tracked plans to connect “disadvantaged Australians” to broadband but did not say when the islands would be connected.
News of Senator Conroy’s letter to the council came days before Prime Minister Julia Gillard launched the second stage of the $43 billion National Broadband Network in Tasmania last week.
The Prime Minister also announced the third stage of the NBN rollout would begin this year in Tasmania, with most of the work done in 2015.
Senator Conroy’s letter was in reply to a plea from Redland City Mayor Melva Hobson, who wrote to the federal government in June asking it not to overlook the islands when rolling out the technology.
Cr Hobson said the islands needed special treatment as they “had similar characteristics to poorly serviced regional areas”.
Cr Hobson also said the council would keep lobbying for installation of fibre optic cables on the islands, where it would play a vital economic and social role.
Under the NBN plan, Redland will be served by a combination of technology, including fibre to the premises, next-generation fixed-wireless and next-generation satellite technology.
Communities outside Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island, such as Myora, One Mile and Deanbilla will not get broadband and will be serviced by towers, or what the government is calling “next-generation fixed-wireless”.
Residents at Point Talburpin, Wallen Wallen, Canalpin, Price Anchorage and Arawoolum will not get broadband and will have to use “next-generation satellite” technology.
Federal Member for Bowman Andrew Laming said the announcement about the broadband rollout on North Stradbroke Island was misleading.
Mr Laming said it was good news Dunwich was getting broadband but the omission of places such as Amity and Point Lookout in the senator’s announcement was “concerning”.
“Point Talburpin was originally getting broadband and is now not even getting wireless and residents there may have to rely on satellite, which is notoriously slow and expensive,” Mr Laming said.
“Long Island, an unpopulated point on North Stradbroke Island, is going to get fibre even though nobody lives there.
“It’s a shame that uncorroborated reports from Canberra are being touted by the council before the facts are checked with the minister’s office,” Mr Laming said.
Cr Craig Ogilvie, whose Division 2 takes in North Stradbroke Island, said broadband connection was vital for the island in its transition away from mining.
“This is great news for Straddie because not only will the townships get coverage, but so will remote parts such as Myora, One Mile and Deanbilla,” Cr Ogilvie said.
“These are future settlement areas under native title and will grow in importance so this technology is critical for the island’s economy.
“Gradually replacing mining jobs with workers telecommuting will have a significant economic benefit for the community,” Cr Ogilvie said.
The NBN Co forecasts it will take nine-and-a-half years to complete the national broadband network but expects to complete limited fixed wireless network connections by 2015.
Indicative coverage maps are published by NBN Co at www.nbnco.com.au/our-network.