NBN impasse sees town stuck with satellite

NBN Co will only offer satellite services to residents in the regional town of Napoleons, after the Golden Plains Shire Council rejected the company's plans for a tower to deliver fixed-wireless LTE services in the area.

NBN Co had eight proposals for 40-metre towers before the Golden Plains Shire Council in regional Victoria, and although the council has approved six so far, it was the first council to reject a National Broadband Network (NBN) tower on 21 May 2012, stating that the planned tower for Napoleons would have a big visual impact on the area.

An alternative arrangement could not be reached between NBN Co and the council, and, subsequently, NBN Co has said that the residents in Napoleons will get NBN Co's satellite service instead. The news was first reported by The Courier.

In a letter issued to residents by NBN Co, obtained by ZDNet Australia, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has stated that NBN Co tried to address visual impact concerns from the council, by putting "screening vegetation" around the tower and painting the antennae and pole to match the surrounding environment, but this was rejected. A proposed alternate location also fell through in negotiations with the landowners.

NBN Co consequently decided to not seek further alternative sites and has blamed the council for leaving residents without fixed-wireless services.

"As a consequence of the Council's decision, NBN Co is now unable to meet our original plan to place you among the first in Australia to receive high-speed broadband," Quigley said in his letter to residents.

"Our inability to proceed with the Napoleons fixed wireless facility means that we will now have to revisit how best to deliver broadband to your local community," he said. "[I]n all likelihood, we will have to work towards delivering high-speed broadband to the Napoleons area via NBN Co's Long Term Satellite Service, which is expected to be operational by 2015."

Golden Plains Mayor Geraldine Frantz told ZDNet Australia that there had been "very little consultation" with local residents for the tower in Napoleons, but she said that the council remained very supportive of the NBN roll-out, and wanted to keep negotiating with NBN Co for an alternative location for the fixed-wireless tower in Napoleons.

"We've had eight applications and we've approved six of them, so we've shown we are willing and waiting for this to come. We're working with the NBN and we're very supportive of it, just in this instance, it was the wrong location," she said.

"We're very keen for NBN Co to come back to the table and work with us to find an alternative location."

When asked if the town would consider paying for fibre to be extended out to them, Frantz said that the council had not considered such a proposal.

Approval for the eighth tower put to the council for Ross Creek will be considered in July.

Via ZDNet.com.au

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