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Woombah residents continue fight for fibre

The continuing problem for Woombah residents who cannot connect to NBN Co’s fixed wireless network was discussed at a meeting between the Woombah Residents Association (WRA) and NBN Co representatives on Wednesday June 17; however, a mutually acceptable solution was not found.

The WRA’s president, Danika Britten, has written a letter to the men with whom the WRA met – NBN Co’s national general manager for regional community affairs, Chris Cusack, and Tom O’Day, head of regional community affairs (NSW) – that begins, “It would appear that the have disregarded the demographic population projections for Woombah as the second fastest growth area in the Clarence Valley”.

The association has maintained its preference to connect to the fibre optic cable, which passes through the village on its way to servicing Iluka’s NBN connections.

NBN Co is continuing to push satellite as the panacea for the village’s lack of wireless coverage.

“We will arrange for a Road Muster truck … to attend the village to show people the Sky Muster satellite,” Mr O’Day wrote in an emailed response to the June 17 meeting.

“We are sure, that based on feedback from end users, nationally, that the Sky Muster Plus product would be of significant interest and benefit to those already on satellite in Woombah and those now also looking to start accessing the satellite network.”

The residents association responded: “With fibre running though the town, it seems the NBN is prepared to deny up to 1,000 future residents to the area the opportunity to have the best possible NBN service.

“As no concessions for satellite [connections] were forth coming from you at our meeting last week, the WRA reaffirms its commitment to reject satellite for Woombah, as an interim solution, whilst awaiting connection to fibre optic broadband.”

On the fibre front, NBN Co has “agreed to the WRA’s request to have a desktop exercise completed by NBN co, to provide a high level, non-binding, indicative view on fibre options for the village, as a part of our standard Technology Choice Program [TCP]”, which is a user-pays program.

Meanwhile, NBN Co maintains that “the Woombah community is well served by the current multi-technology mix (fixed wireless and satellite)” and has organised its fixed wireless engineers to attend “any resident’s properties that have said they can’t currently get fixed wireless or have previously failed a fixed wireless” test.

The WRA has provided four addresses that have previously failed a fixed wireless service test.

“We will be very interested to find out whether employees can get a better signal service than NBN contractors,” Ms Britten wrote.

In his email to WRA, Mr O’Day wrote: “…if the WRA and the Woombah community want to move forward from the desktop exercise”, the next step is “for the community to secure funding for the detailed design and physical delivery partner assessment”.

Mr O’Day warned that this would cost residents “in the order of tens of thousands of dollars”.

“…anything beyond the Technology Choice Program desktop exercise will not be paid for by nbn, and any funding would need to be sought from relevant and applicable digital connectivity initiatives and programs or other means.”

The WRA, however, said in its letter to NBN Co that “the residents it represents have expressed … their ongoing concerns that are refusing to assist Woombah achieve its desired objective of connecting to the fibre optic broadband at this time”.