THE rollout of the National Broadband Network to communities in the Ballarat region has gone far less smoothly than the federal government would have hoped.
Local government processes, coupled with community distrust has seen what Prime Minister Julia Gillard referred to as Australia’s largest nation-building infrastructure project hit some initial hurdles.
As The Courier has reported earlier this year, the initial excitement about Ballarat being one of regional Australia’s first cities to receive the network has been tempered by the reaction of some residents who live near fixed wireless towers which are either proposed by NBN Co or could be utilised as part of the project.
It’s likely that the business communities and sectors such as health and education are bemused by all the fuss.
The benefits of improved connectivity to organisations and individuals in these sectors should not be underestimated, particularly in an environment where competition against local, metropolitan, national and international companies or bodies is greater than it ever has been.
The ability to lever new business and better practices through the NBN gives Ballarat a headstart on our regional opposition.
On consideration, it seems that NBN Co is becoming frustrated at the lack of acceptance of new tower applications in our region.
Its decision to effectively give up on providing fixed wireless services to residents in the Napoleons area is a sign that it might take a take-it-or-leave-it approach to communities which do not accept the need for new towers.
These communities will lose out – having to wait for a slower satellite service which may not be available for many years.
As we have said before, striking a balance between welcoming new technology and giving NBN Co total control over planning the rollout was never going to be easy.
The reality is that it has been messy.
The advantages of this investment have not been communicated appropriately to all Australians, sparking the “what’s in it for me?” opposition to towers.
If this week’s statement from NBN Co is a sign of what might happen in the future, its relationship with councils could turn adverserial.
Clearly, it believes that the greater good is being hampered by a lack of foresight. What do you think?