As we noted recently, big city residents have had to look on as regional centres and towns like Armidale and Willunga get hooked up to the NBN first.
So what is the situation in Melbourne? Below is a by-no-means-exhaustive summary of what we know so far, and a quick explainer looking at how these sites are chosen
Right now, NBN connections are few and far between if you live in Melbourne. Although the city does have a headstart on Sydney - Brunswick is already connected, while Sydney has yet to see the NBN arrive anywhere other than new housing estates (of which there are six currently listed as connected).
There is a three year rollout plan expected to be delivered by NBN Co at the end of this month, which should give us a much better picture of what's ahead, but for the meantime, here's what the publicly available coverage map tells us:
- NBN connections have commenced work at 37 housing developments
- None are yet available
- One non-housing development where the NBN is available - Brunswick.
- Two locations where work has started on NBN, in South Morang.
- Seven places where work is scheduled to start with one year.
As with Sydney, if you're moving into a new housing estate, you'll have a much greater chance of having an NBN connection - with far more new housing developments where work will begin over the next year, compared to existing houses in suburbs.
Getting in first
One of many things we see time and time again in forum discussions about the NBN is why some suburbs and towns are getting it first.
It's a topic that's generated headlines and accusations of political bias. So we weren't so surprised to see a blog post on the NBN Co. site last week touching on the subject.
The post makes two key points, which we've quoted here:
- The simple answer is NBN Co's shareholder -- the Australian Government -- has asked us to prioritise delivering fibre to regional areas so that those with some of the worst access to broadband now can be among those who get the NBN first.
- However, before the ACCC gave the final tick to NBN Co's deal with Telstra, we could only access a limited number of Telstra exchanges, transmission links, pits and ducts, which limited where we could begin rolling out the network.
This explains the regional focus, but there is still the issue of why some sites were picked ahead of others.
In expanding the sites in 2010, NBN CO CEO Mike Quigley referred to engineering and construction requirements, and network design as factors. Other considerations included "engagement of local government and the receptiveness of communities to broadband".
What will be interesting is how the network grows now that trial sites are bedded down and as the rollout begins to speed up.
As explained in this blog post on the NBN site, the "modules" which piece together to form the NBN are made up of 3,000 connected buildings. Each telephone exchange can service several suburbs made up of these big blocks of houses (FSANs).
As the NBN gets bigger, sites like these NBN-connected exchanges and FSANs are where the action will be. The network will "expand" from the first and second release sites, Mike Quigley has said, and from new additional release sites. "NBN Co will generally continue the rollout where it has already begun until all modules in the fibre footprint have been covered," states the NBN Co's FAQ.
Higher up the network, there is another factor in the rollout - the location of Points of Interconnect (POI), where the NBN connects to individual ISPs. The location of the network is often linked to these connection points, an NBN spokesperson is quoted as saying in this story on the Sydney Morning Herald web site.
The location of these POIs are reviewed according to whether there is more than one backhaul provider prepared to build the necessary fibre links to connect the exchange to an ISP.
You can view a list of POIs here. Something to keep in mind when the next round of NBN sites are announced.