The Australian Government today released the Broadband Availability and Quality: Summary Report (accessible in PDF format here), indicating that there are more than 1.6 million premises in the country with very poor or no fixed broadband access at all.
Despite committing tens of billions of dollars to the construction of a NBN, the previous Government had not ever attempted to identify those areas of Australia which had the most inadequate broadband and in the rollout of the NBN under Labor there was no apparent effort to prioritise areas of greatest need.
The report is therefore the first of its kind to be undertaken by an Australian Government and will inform the rollout of the National Broadband Network, ensuring that the worst served areas in the country will be prioritised for upgrades.
The report is the latest step in the Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) reform agenda in ensuring the network is rolled out sooner, cheaper to taxpayers and more affordably.
Key findings of the report are that there are approximately 700,000 premises unable to get access to a fixed broadband service and an additional 920,000 premises in areas with estimated median peak download speeds of less than 4.8 megabits per second (Mbps).
The analysis draws on data from all major Australian telecommunications carriers and a number of smaller network operators.
It will ensure that the NBN Co minimises the extent that it overbuilds existing superfast networks – such as Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) networks, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) networks – in the short term while communities with very poor or no broadband have to wait many years for upgrades.
NBN Co will be provided with this analysis and asked to consider to prioritise those underserved areas wherever this is logistically and commercially feasible.
Following the recently completed Strategic Review, the NBN Co has advised that underserved areas will, on average, receive upgrades two years earlier than the rest of the country.
Access to cheap, reliable and affordable broadband can revolutionise the way households and businesses participate in the digital economy.
But while an improvement from, say, 5 mbps to 25 mbps, will be appreciated by most if not all consumers, the biggest improvement in productivity and amenity accrues to households and businesses which go from having no broadband at all to very fast broadband.
Key findings from the report
- 9.9 million premises (91 per cent) have access to fixed line broadband services delivered via digital subscriber line technology.
- 3.1 million premises (28 per cent) have access to a high speed broadband platform including fibre-to-the-node, hybrid fibre coaxial netoworks and fixed wireless networks.
- 8.8 million premises (81 per cent) have access to 3G mobile broadband services and 6.4 million premises (59 per cent) have access to 4G sevices.
- 1.4 million premises (13 per cent) across Australia are in areas where less than 40 per cent of premises can access a fixed broadband service.
- 3.1 million premises (28 per cent) have access to peak download speeds of between 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to 110 Mbps download.
- 7.1 million premises (65 per cent) are in areas that have access to peak median download speeds of less than 24 megabits per second over the copper network.
- 0.7 million premises (6 per cent) are unable to get access to a fixed broadband service.
- Of the premises with access to xDSL broadband services over copper, 3.7 million of these are located in areas with an estimated peak median download speed of less than 9 Mbps, and 920, 000 have an estimated peak median download speed of less than 4.8 Mbps
The Summary Report is the first release of the broadband availability and quality analysis. The Department of Communications is refining the detail of the analysis and compiling maps which will be published early in the new year along with the methodology used. There will be the opportunity to provide feedback on the methodology and the results.
Further information on this analysis will also be available via a website that is currently being developed to allow end users to access the results for their local community and provide feedback on their individual experience.
More information and advice is available at www.communications.gov.au