As a small tourism business in Dilston, we are certainly shocked to learn that we will miss out on being connected to the high-speed NBN. Under the current plan, the NBN will not service our region with ‘fibre to the home’ (FTTH) even though we’re only 5kms from the rim of the Launceston provision, one of Australia’s top 10 largest regional centres.

Of further concern is that by 2014, our whole area – residents and businesses – will also lose landline telephone and internet services, as far as we understand. We have read in newspaper reports that as part of its NBN rollout strategy, the Australian Government has reached agreement with the major Telcos to phase out the copper network and telephone exchanges. For homes and businesses alike this means that telephone and landline internet services connected to fixed copper cable lines will be obsolete. This will be further complicated by the disadvantage of the unreliable mobile phone reception in many parts of the Tamar Valley.

As operators of boutique accommodation, and we are only one of many tourist businesses in this great valley, our business relies on fast internet service for the vast majority of our bookings. We have just invested significantly in a new website, extended our internet marketing and, in the real world, completed an additional guest suite. The decision to do this was based on the belief that we are successfully filling a niche in providing a wanted service, and that it was reasonable to expect continued growth of our business over the coming years. However if we do not keep up with our competitors, in relation to speed and accessibility of our web marketing and bookings, then we will certainly be significantly disadvantaged. This is in spite of our business being totally e-enabled. We stand to lose substantial business, through no fault of our own, when potential guests will spend time on faster websites and consequently by-pass our slower service.

Recently one of our politicians raised this issue in Parliament. Greens Member for Bass, Kim Booth MP, said, ‘Despite the Premier claiming that the NBN is Tasmania’s giant leap into a digital future, it appears that it will be life in the slow lane for North East communities including Dilston, Windermere, Swan Bay and Hillwood, as they are left off the map for fibre to the door.’

So, even though we’re only 5km from the Launceston rim, we’ll end up with a patchy ‘line-of-sight’ wireless service – ten times slower than the promised fibre optic broadband. Instead we’ll have slow wireless networks with black outs and drop outs; when the power goes out in our area, like it does regularly, the system will go out, and with it, any chance of doing business.

We truly believe that this is not good enough. The Sensational Tamar Valley is an extremely popular tourism destination with travellers from all quarters. Surely Tourism Tasmania and the Launceston Council must have serious concerns in relation to this;they must have significant influence with the NBN people – because we need the NBN to rethink its plans!
And with the current changes of this week, will there be a further opportunity to redefine the recipient roll-out or will we be further disadvantaged?

We can’t afford to be left behind!

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Earlier on Tasmanian Times:
Tamar Valley residents denied NBN, HERE