Determined Council Lobby NBNCO To Address Regional Digital Disadvantage

Bellingen Shire Council has been advocating strongly on behalf of our community to NBNCo to secure fast internet speeds for Bellingen Shire.

Digital inclusion is a major challenge facing many regional areas of Australia including Bellingen Shire.   The internet is transforming almost every aspect of our lives with more and more services being delivered online.  Access to fast reliable internet is critical for achieving positive social and economic outcomes and is essential for living, working and participating in today’s society.  It is extremely important that Bellingen Shire have fast internet in order to improve skills, deliver education, drive economic growth and enhance quality of life.

With strong support from the community, Bellingen Shire Council has been lobbying State and Federal Government to deliver equitable internet for our Shire.  On 27th June this year Council facilitated a meeting between local businesses, a representative from the Shadow Minister’s office, as well as representatives from NBNCo and Telstra.  At this meeting NBNCo announced that Bellingen and Dorrigo would be switched from fibre to the node to fibre to the curb.

This announcement was a huge win for large parts of Bellingen Shire and shows what can be achieved when efforts are collaborative and coordinated.   However, the outcome has the potential to create a digital divide among our community with Urunga residents still to receive outdated fibre to the node technology and some pockets of Bellingen, Urunga and Dorrigo township to receive fixed wireless technology.

Mayor Dominic King said, “The people of Bellingen Shire value fairness and inclusion.  It is very important that all members of our community have equitable access to fast reliable internet.  Urunga, in particular, is currently experiencing a great transition and is recognised as a future hotspot.  240 blocks have recently been approved for development and now that the Pacific Highway bypasses the town, the area is highly sought after due to its idyllic beachside location.  If the government is truly committed to attracting people out of the cities where housing is no longer affordable, then it must provide regional Australia with state of the art technology”

Council formally considered the NBN rollout at its June meeting and resolved:

That Council

  1. Lobby the NBNCo and relevant State and Federal Ministers in partnership with local businesses, education organisations and the community for the township of Bellingen Shire Local Government Area to receive Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) infrastructure as a minimum service level. Council is highly concerned with the impact on equity of access and property prices within the township areas should “Multi-Technology Mix” (MTM) extend into the town boundaries.
  2. Welcomes the decision of NBNCo to provide FTTC to the Dorrigo and Bellingen Townships, however, requests NBNCo to provide Fixed Wireless to the Gleniffer Valley and Fibre to the Curb to Urunga.
  3. Acknowledge the representations made to the Shadow Minister for Communications the Hon Michelle Rowland MP and that she be thanked for the attendance of her policy officer to the meeting held in Bellingen Shire Chambers on Tuesday 27 June 2017.

Mayor Dominic King said, “Technology is a game changer in a fast moving and disruptive world.  It is really important that Councils actively advocate on behalf of their communities and the outcomes that a small Council have been able to achieve for its community is absolute testament to that”

For further information contact Liz Jeremy, General Manager Bellingen Shire Council on (02) 6655 7300.