NBNCo made a couple of important announcements this afternoon. The first was a $1.1 Billion contract that will last 10 years to build and operate a 4G wireless network that will service the 7% of Australians that miss out on the fibre. The build should be completed by 2015, which means they have between 5 and 6 years to draw profits from the build before the contract expires.
The 7% of customers who will be serviced by this 4G network will be in rural areas, with more details about specific locations coming the next few months. Customers can expect to get around 12Mbps, substantially less than their FTTN neighbours, but in a lot of locations will be an improvement on existing speeds.
As with all wireless networks, latency can be an issue. So substantial is this issue that it will limit the capabilities of services available to these customers. Real-time On-live type services or even video conferencing may be out of the question. Its disappointing the Fibre rollout of the NBN won’t be available to all Australians, but its understandably financially unviable for a country of our size with a population so distributed.
On to the second announcement, the next big fibre rollout contract has gone to Silcar. Worth $380 million over 2 years, the build will cover Queensland, New South Wales and ACT which represents around 40% of the FTTN network before the end of 2013. Sounds impressive, except by providing rollout contracts based on states, its likely twin-city border residents are likely to be divided.
Living on the border of Victoria and NSW, it’s entirely likely that Albury will get the NBN months, even years before Wodonga. There’s reportedly more contract announcements coming in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed the other states and territories can be built in parallel and arrive on a similar timeframe.