Wimmera NBN rollout nears halfway point

ALL Wimmera residents will be able to order a service through the National Broadband Network by this time next year.

Fixed wireless technology construction is complete, and NBNCo is continuing construction work in Horsham and parts of Haven to connect people to fixed line services.

More than 40 per cent of the region’s homes and businesses are connected to the network so far. 

This figure will jump to about 60 per cent when Horsham becomes ready for service in the next few months.

NBNCo corporate affairs advisor Kasey Ellison said more than 9000 of the region’s homes and businesses could access services through the National Broadband Network’s fixed wireless technology.

“Construction is well underway in Horsham and parts of Haven to connect about 7800 premises to the fixed line network,” she said.

“It is expected they will be able to make the switch to a retail service by October.

“Construction will start in early 2018 to connect the remaining homes and businesses – about 12,000 premises – in Warracknabeal, Nhill, Edenhope, St Arnaud, Stawell and Ararat to the fixed line network.

“It is expected these premises will be able to make the switch to a retail service by mid-2018.” Ms Ellison said once the rollout was complete in these areas, the entire Wimmera region would be able to order a service through the NBN.

She said many premises in outlying areas could connect to retail services through a Sky Muster satellite service.

This has been available to people in regional and remote areas since last year.

Once the rollout is complete, Horsham, Haven, Warracknabeal, Nhill, Edenhope, St Arnaud, Stawell and Ararat will have fixed line services, while the rest of the Wimmera will have fixed wireless or satellite services.

Fibre-to-the-node fixed line connections use fibre-optic main lines to reach metal cabinets installed in streets, while using the existing copper lines to reach individual homes and businesses.

The new connections promise speeds up to five times faster than existing services.

In contrast, the fixed wireless network uses a rooftop antenna to connect to mobile phone-style towers.

Ms Ellison encouraged people to check their address on the National Broadband Network website to find out when the service would be available at their home or business.

The nationwide project to improve internet speeds has a final deadline of 2020.