THE town of Napoleons could be crippled by NBN Co’s decision not to provide wireless broadband in the area, a leading internet expert has warned.
George Fong, vice president of the Internet Society of Australia, said the impact of the decision went beyond download speeds and could affect everything from health services to house prices.
“I think there could be serious implications in terms of longer-term thinking,” he said.
NBN Co this week announced it would not provide Napoleons with fixed wireless broadband, as it had originally intended to, because Golden Plains Shire Council rejected a development application for a tower.
The company told residents that they were likely to instead receive a slower satellite service in 2015.
Ballarat Federal MP Catherine King yesterday joined Goldens Plains Shire Council in condemning the move.
“I am disappointed with the decision of NBN Co not to continue to seek a fixed-wireless broadband option for Napoleons,” she said.
“I would encourage NBN Co, Golden Plains Shire and the community to re-engage in discussions.”
Mr Fong, a key figure in the push for high-speed internet services in Ballarat, said broadband infrastructure would be vital for the growth of regional communities.
“I think there will be both economic and social effects,” he said.
“[It] will impact on everything from education and health to the viability of towns and the prices of housing.”
Mr Fong said NBN Co’s relationship with local communities could be better, but the decision was “probably not unreasonable” from an engineering perspective.
“I think (councils) need to take into consideration that if there is enough resistance in a particular area, NBN Co will simply say ‘we haven’t got time for this, we’ll go to another area and come back to you’.
NBN Co said it had been in discussions with Golden Plains about the planned tower since September last year.