By Lilia Guan
The minister for broadband communications and the digital economy has announced the north-west New South Wales town of Bourke as one of ten towns across Australia that will have a satellite ground station.
Bourke’s ground station will act as a satellite gateway to deliver broadband to rural and remote communities across Australia.
The Bourke ground station will be operational in 2015 and contribute to providing between 15000 and 20000 Australians with broadband speeds of up to 12 megabits per second.
NBN Co is operating an interim satellite service that is transforming the lives and businesses of people in the remotest parts of Australia.
The ISS offers a broadband service better than many people receive in capital cities since it was launched on 1 July 2011, over 6000 homes and businesses have been connected.
“Through the NBN, the government will also deliver uniform national wholesale pricing,” he said.
“This means that people living in Bourke, Walgett, and Cobar will pay the same prices for NBN services as people in Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong.”
The NBN will deliver tremendous economic benefits to rural and regional Australia through increased productivity, greater employment opportunities, and better access to information and services.
These benefits will arise across the full range of sectors from health care, to agriculture, and small business.
“The NBN also means that people living in towns like Bourke and other north-west NSW towns will have less need to travel to get specialist services, saving time and money,” he said.
“Through the NBN, people will be able to obtain face-to-face assistance online rather than having to travel to a shopfront.”
Senator Conroy has also announced that eleven more councils are eligible for the NBN Digital Local Government Program
The Digital Local Government program makes up to $375000 (excluding GST) available to local councils so they can fully benefit from the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The program will assist these councils delivering projects to improve online council services, particularly to homes and businesses.
“The fast, affordable broadband provided through the NBN enables local governments to better put the needs of residents and businesses at the very heart of their service delivery,” Senator Conroy said.
“The eleven eligible councils are located right around Australia – from Mandurah in Western Australia to Aspley in Queensland and Bellerive in Tasmania. I encourage all of them to take up the opportunity to use the NBN to improve delivery of essential council services to their communities.”
Councils already accessing the program’s funding under rounds one and two will use the NBN to benefit their communities.
For example, the City of Onkaparinga in South Australia will use the NBN to improve its development application assessment process.
Residents will be able to use high-definition videoconferencing to engage with council officers on development proposals, reducing the need to often travel large distances to attend face-to-face meetings.
Councils eligible for round three funding have been selected based on the fibre footprint maps released by NBN Co as in May.
They are required to notify the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy by 5 July 2012 of their intention to participate in the program.
The remaining councils eligible to apply for funding will be announced when the next fibre footprint maps are released by NBN Co and the number of premises each council has within the NBN footprint map is a key eligibility criteria.
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