SOUTH-west leaders have expressed concerns at having missed out on the next phase of the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.
Nanjing Night Net

The federal government yesterday announced the stage-one schedule of the eventual nationwide network, which will connect 3.5 million homes in 1500 towns and suburbs to high-speed fibre-optic broadband over the next three years.

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Great South Coast Group chairman Matt Makin said he and his colleagues were “disappointed and confused” at the logic that exclude the south-west and its need for internet upgrades.

“We are in the thick of unprecedented growth and yet we’re already so far behind urban Australia in terms of broadband access and speed,” the Corangamite mayor said.

“A lot of the investment flagged for our region could be jeopardised without access to the NBN.”

His frustrations were echoed by member for Wannon Dan Tehan and Warrnambool businessman Rod Brugman, co-owner and director of IT support company eResources.

Mr Brugman said regional businesses would be disadvantaged without high-speed broadband access.

“A whole range of industries and businesses are dependent on the internet,” Mr Brugman said.

“(This announcement) puts us three years behind other centres like Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong who, because of high-speed broadband, are now going to be a whole lot more competitive and a whole lot more attractive to investors.”

Mr Brugman said his business worked with around 150 small to medium enterprises in the Great South Coast region whose futures could be reliant on having access to high-speed internet services.

“It’s not so much that we’ll feel it today, but in three, five, even 10 years’ time, we won’t be able to do what the world is expecting us to do because we won’t have the access we need to high-speed broadband.”

An infuriated Mr Tehan yesterday described the rationale for the three-year rollout as a “complete joke”.

“The problem is this is a city-centric federal government, which is not allocating broadband on a needs basis,” he said.

“It finds all the excuses in the world to just deliver to major capital cities because they can get the commercial gains they need for the $50 billion the NBN is costing to roll out.

“One lives in hope it could be based on a needs basis but everything we’ve seen indicates they will continue to operate on an ad hoc basis on the whim of the NBN and the minister.”

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