On 6 May 2010, the Rudd Government released an implementation study on the NBN. By 18 August 2010, Mayor Allan Smith, General Manager Mark Riley and myself managed to be seated at NBN Co. headquarters in Sydney to push the case for Dubbo to be included in the early stages of the rollout. We created a submission (even though we were told there was no formal submission process) and had many more meetings with NBN Co. and Stephen Conroy (the then Communications Minister) and then with the new government. It has been a long and sometimes frustrating process – mainly due to the fact that we don’t have direct control over NBN. We have been very clear with the Federal Government that we will make it as easy as possible for them to bring the NBN to Dubbo. They have appreciated our willingness to help drive the NBN in Dubbo and there is no doubt in my mind that our enthusiasm and practical solutions we have provided have helped pave the way for Dubbo to be near the top of the list for NBN cities. It is certainly unusual for a week to go by where I don’t speak to NBN Co. or the Federal Government about the NBN – and there are times, such as over the last few weeks, where weekly turns to almost daily. There is no doubt that our Federal Member, Mark Coulton, has been working very hard on delivering NBN to this area as well.

On 29 March 2012, our hard work was seemingly rewarded when the list of areas to be included in the next rollout included Dubbo. NBN Co. announced that work on the NBN would commence in Dubbo from June 2013 with the final stage scheduled to commence by March 2014.

Then of course a little change of government occurred and a new policy was introduced. One where FTTP may be replaced by FTTN. Forget the acronyms – in essence FTTP was a promise of faster speeds today and the fibre end-to-end solution delivered better future-proofing of the network. FTTP currently has speeds of 100MBps download and 40MBps upload compared to the FTTN speeds of 25MBps and 5MBps. FTTN is not a lot different to ADSL2+ (20MBps / 1MBps) but ADSL2+ was launched in Australia on 19 April 2005. In ten years I would hope that we have progressed more than what is being offered by FTTN.

Dubbo’s fears were allayed on 16 July last year when Mark Coulton put out a media release to announce the 2,700 premises in Dubbo are a step closer to the NBN with build preparation on the fibre-to-the-premises network in the eastern suburbs of Dubbo now underway. Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was also quoted in the release to say that one of the chief priorities has been to get this rollout done sooner.

Fast forward to today and NBN are here today to make a major announcement. I am writing this column before the announcement has actually been made so I am only speculating on the announcement – and I imagine we will today see one fantastic announcement and one that is not quite as exciting. One announcement that I am hoping to hear today is that the build work for the first FSAM has actually commenced in Dubbo. The first area was going to be East Dubbo but it will now probably be the CBD. The important part is that we are closer to having connections. The second part of the announcement may well be the type of technology. I am guessing that the NBN will create a digital divide in Dubbo and connect some areas to FTTP and some areas to FTTN – despite the announcement made in July last year.

Stay tuned for the announcement today and, if it has a positive or a negative impact on you, be sure to let the Federal Government know your thoughts as the progression of the NBN into Dubbo is critical to our future growth and prosperity.

Councillor Mathew Dickerson

Mayor of the City of Dubbo


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