Addressing digital disadvantage

Bellingen Shire Council in New South Wales has been advocating strongly to NBNCo to secure fast internet for the Bellingen community.

With strong support from the community, Council has been lobbying State and Federal Government to deliver equitable internet speeds for the Shire.

On 27 June Council facilitated a meeting between local businesses, a representative from the Shadow Minister’s office, as well as representatives from NBNCo and Telstra.

At the meeting NBNCo announced that Bellingen and Dorrigo would be switched from fibre to the node to fibre to the curb.

This announcement was a huge win for large parts of Bellingen Shire and shows what can be achieved when efforts are collaborative and coordinated.

However, the outcome has the potential to create a digital divide among the community with Urunga residents still to receive out-dated fibre to the node technology and some pockets of Bellingen, Urunga and Dorrigo township to receive fixed wireless technology.
“The people of Bellingen Shire value fairness and inclusion,” said Mayor Dominic King.

“It is very important that all members of our community have equitable access to fast reliable internet.

“Urunga, in particular, is currently experiencing a great transition and is recognised as a future hotspot.

“240 blocks have recently been approved for development and now that the Pacific Highway bypasses the town, the area is highly sought after due to its idyllic beachside location.

“If the government is truly committed to attracting people out of the cities where housing is no longer affordable, then it must provide regional Australia with state of the art technology.”

The Mayor added: “Technology is a game changer in a fast moving and disruptive world. It is really important that councils actively advocate on behalf of their communities and the outcomes that a small rural council has been able to achieve for its community is absolute testament to that.”