The NBN is Live in Gungahlin

February 1st, 2013 by Russell 7 comments »

Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for many of the residents of Gungahlin and at the same time, closes a chapter in my life. With great fanfare Senator Conroy, Senator Lundy and Mike Quigley officially turned of the NBN in the ACT today, 1st Feburary 2013.

Also in attendance was Andrew Leigh MP, Andrew Barr representing the MLA, Japan’s Diplomat to Australia, Peter Elford and others from the Gungahlin Community council. Representitives from the contractors performing the cabling were on hand as well as from the ANU and many other industry representatives. The event was held in the Gungahlin Library to a packed house and filled with media.

The event was opened by Peter Elford from the GCC and a traditional welcome from an elder of the Ngunnawal people was given. At this point a Big Red Button became the focus as a number of VIP’s officially “switched on” the NBN. As part of this ceremonial gesture Paige Murry, a student from Harrison Public school was given the honor of standing beside the politicians and NBN representatives during the big button press.

NBN Button

A live demonstration of the NBN capability commenced with a live high definition video conference session setup between a group of Harrison School students and students in a classroom in Japan. The demonstration went without a hitch and saw Harrison Students speaking Japanese and students in Japan speaking back in English. Although many of the students on both sides were obviously nervous the demonstration showed the possibilities of greater learning experiences which are definitely not possible with the existing telecommunications services in the area.

Speeches were made and people were thanked but there was a number things said that I wanted to convey to the rest of the ACT.

The NBN Co. wants everyone to know;


  1. Gungahlin roll-out is on track with hundreds of houses and businesses connected to the NBN in Gungahlin already.
  2. The NBN is still on track to deliver the NBN to all the ACT over the next three years.
  3. The NBN has already started works in Civic.

Senator Stephen Conroy wants people to be aware of the additional information and services available at the Gungahlin Library. A Digital Hub has been set up to show case what the NBN can deliver to Australians and provide education and promote greater online participation. Information on the Digital Hub can be found here and is worth a visit.

I wanted to thank a few people for their support over the last 4 years. I would like to thank the residents of Gungahlin for maintaining their interest in this issue and resisting the piecemeal approach providers have taken in this area. I would like to thank the Gungahlin Community Council for running with the issue for so long and being the interface between the NBN and the community. I would like to thank various members of the NBN Co. who sent representatives to my house to discuss the issues in the area. Finally I would like to thank Senator Kate Lundy who has been dealing with phone and broadband issues in Gungahlin for the longest time. Senator Lundy took time to meet with me and listen to my view, she represented our concerns to the NBN Co and Senator Conroy and was a great advocate for our area. Regardless of your feelings about politics in general, any representative who listens, supports and represents you should be acknowledged. Thank you Kate Lundy

So, with the NBN now “Live” in Gungahlin and the cable contractor pulling green fibre cabling through conduits only 100 meters from my house, this campaign looks to be at an end. We as a community have succeeded in bringing change. From my perspective this is a major victory and one I was proud to be a part of.

Thank you to everyone who has provided me or the cause support over the past 4 years and remember to SIGN UP.

Kate Lundy’s Joint Media Release about the NBN Switch on

Andrew Barr Twitter photo of Senators Conroy and Lundy and myself pressing the big button

NBN Blog – Canberra connected to NBN



Finally, I have something to report….

February 23rd, 2011 by Russell 14 comments »

It has been an age since I last posted. This is due to a number of reasons, but this is mainly due to a delays in the release of information about the Gungahlin NBN roll out.

Since November a number of things have occurred that have caused NBN to change the way in which the core network will be deployed across the country. This has meant some rework on the NBN part to adjust to the changes. This has meant the NBN has not been able to release information to us with any certainty until the changes have been dealt with, hence the delay.  I will try to explain these changes as efficiently as I can.

The NBN Co had planned to deploy the NBN across the country using approximately 14 Points of Interconnect (POI). The ACCC made a recommendation that the NBN increase the Points of Interconnect from 14 to 120. This is actually a significant change to the way both the NBN and service providers will service customers. A POI is equivalent to an Telstra phone exchange in that it is the point where all services for a geographic area are consolidated. Under the NBN model, any service provider would be required to place infrastructure in a POI to service users. This would be similar to the the way ISPs place ADSL DSLAMs in exchanges to service connected customers. With 14 POIs, service providers would only need 14 sets of infrastructure to service all Australians. With the ACCC recommendation, service providers will need to deploy 120 sets of infrastructure.

This will obviously be an advantage to incumbent telecommunications providers and a greater burden to smaller or new players. The more POIs deployed the more complex the interconnect between POIs and the more sites service providers will need to run infrastructure in. The ACCC believe that increasing the number of POIs/exchanges the greater level of competition. As many of the POIs will be in Telstra exchanges, the jury is still out if this will be the case.

What I can tell you is both Civic and Queanbeyan exchanges have been identified as the POI sites for the NBN in the ACT. Queanbeyan will support 10 Fibre Support Areas (FSA) and Civic will support 11 Fibre Support Areas. Gungahlin mini exchange will be the likely site for the first Fibre Support Area which will hold the Fibre Access Node (FAN). All of Gungahlin will be served from one Fibre Support Area deployment.

The FAN in the FSA will connect to all the locally deployed Fibre Distribution Area (FDA) nodes. Each FDA provides connectivity to 3000 houses. The roll out will be consist of adding new Fibre Distribution Areas of 3000 houses to the central FSA. I hope that  makes sense, well I think it does…

What I have also found out is that the wheels are turning on the commercial side of the deployment. The NBN has assured the ACT Broadband Taskforce (a group of territory government representatives from Mr Stanhopes’ office and other departments) that the Gungahlin release WILL go ahead. To date the NBN has met with the ACT government on two occasions. The NBNCo is still in the tender review process that will award the infrastructure and cabling work for the Gungahlin roll out. This could be awarded as early as mid march and will allow the start of the real work in our community. Once the tender is awarded the contractor will be required to provide a detailed design to the NBN for approval. Once cleared the digging will commence.

Do not doubt there will be some digging. The NBN will look to use every Telstra duct they have permission to access but I am sure numerous streets will have new trenches run through them.

On a side note the shadow minister for communications Mr Malcolm Turnbull addressed concerned Gungahlin residents in February. I decided to go and listen to what he had to say. The meeting was held to an audience of 40 people at 12:00pm on a Monday, about a third of the people who attended the GCC meeting to hear the NBN speak.

Malcolm had been briefed on who I was. He was expecting me to be there and when I stood up and introduced myself made some comments along the lines of  “the illustrious Mr Gillon.”

First I want to say thanks to Mr Turnbull for turning up and facing the community. Anyone who is prepared to come here and engage is welcome, regardless of their opinion. Peter Elford from the GCC and a few others where there to ask the tougher questions. Unfortunately a large segment of the audience were senior citizens who were scared the NBN would cost them so much extra to use that their pensions would be affected.

Mr Turnbull was pushing the wireless wheelbarrow, he spoke of being able to provide a service much cheaper than $43 Billion dollars. Unfortunately he missed two major issues, one is that he still does not know how to do this. I had hoped to hear more on “How” the Liberals could help our issues. One can only assume Mr Turnbull has not worked out a policy yet, with out the “How” there is very little to digest.

The second point missed is the dissatisfaction with the Telstra Monopoly which is the cause of much of the under service experienced in Gungahlin. If the RIMs/CMUXs did not exist, other providers could have competed on equal footing. This would have provided the environment with competition and better service to clients. Mr Turnbull seems to want to move away from these discussions. When I put the merits of an equal access environment to him in a question, I felt he maneuvered away from answering directly. In my opinion this was a missed opportunity.

Anyway, if you made it this far congratulations. You now know as much as I do about the NBN roll out. I promise I will get more posts out as things start to come through.

Edit – I forgot to mention, NBN have made assurances to the GCC that the roll out will continue until all of Gungahlin is connected.

NBN Consultation Has Begun

October 14th, 2010 by Russell 18 comments »

I know it has been a while since I last posted and in that time a lot has happened. We have had an election, followed by a caretaker government and finally a hung Parliament.  Labour holds a slim balance of power, enough to keep the National Broadband Network rollout alive.

During the election I decided to take a break from the campaign while the fate of the NBN sat with the outcome of the election. I was taking to time to plan how to address broadband issues in Gungahlin if the NBN was no more. Since the election and subsequent support for the NBN by the independents in the House of Representatives, my day job and family have taken a lot of my time.

In the time since the election I have had the chance to meet with representatives of the NBN Co twice. About four weeks ago I was contacted by the NBN to discuss the beginning of the consultation process. NBN representatives met with members of the Legislative Assembly as well as Kate Lundy’s office and myself. I had about an hour with the NBN to hear how they would be addressing the community concerns and to discuss the process of the rollout.

Today NBN reps returned to Gungahlin to address a community meeting and formally start the consultation process. The Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) meeting held at the Palmerston Community Centre was the location of the meeting with 130 interested residents in attendance. Earlier in the afternoon the NBN reps came to my home to discuss the issues with telecommunications in the area and discuss the contents of my web campaign.

The process described by Glenn Holdstock of the NBN Co involves early community consultation and continued communications leading up to and during the rollout. The consultation includes local government discussions to ensure all the correct permissions and support is in place. The consultation is initiated 6 months out from the rollout date and will include static information stands in the local library and information in local news papers.

The rollout is still on track for April to June 2011 and will target between 2500 and 3500 residences and businesses

The suburbs included in the first deployment will be announced within the next 4 weeks. The NBN has informed the community the choice of suburbs included will be decided based on a large number of issues. These influences include geographical, technical as well as on a needs basis. NBN reps also indicated that schools and hospitals are also a focus for early rollout to benefit the community.

One thing was made clear during the meeting, once the rollout begins it will continue until the entire Gungahlin area is completed.

The rollout will be an opt-in system with consent forms being delivered to households about 6 weeks prior to installation. The NBN reps indicated the cost of installation of the NBN to the home would remain free during the rollout period.

The presentation seems to have been well accepted by the residents in attendance. Many residents got a chance voice their opinion and ask questions directly to the NBN. The NBN will provide a phone number and email address for enquiries and feedback leading up to and after the rollout.

Stay tuned for the announcement on which suburbs will be first. As soon as I know I will post it here.

This all bodes well for Gungahlin, 15 years of poor service might finally be coming to an end.

The Community Voices its Opinion

July 15th, 2010 by Russell 5 comments »

Last night, Wednesday the 14th of July was not a comfortable night to be traveling. It was raining and blowing a gale yet 70 concerned residents turned out to confront Telstra representatives concerning years of broadband issues.

The Gungahlin Community Council meeting attracted a wide cross section of the community. I was glad to see Shane Rattenbury (MLA Greens) and Caroline Le Couteur (MLA Greens) at the meeting. I had written to each of them during my campaign and I was glad to see their interest in this issue continues. I was also glad to see Pia Waugh from Senator Kate Lundy’s office was also able to attend and took a copy of my submission on behalf of Senator Lundy. I was also pleased to see David Mathews at the meeting. David ran for election to the Legislative Assembly for the seat of Molonglo for the Labor party at the last election.

The meeting was split into two sections with the speakers taking up the first half of the night and general questions following. I stood up and spoke first for a few minutes. It was my intention to frame the meeting by describing the issues faced by Gungahlin over the past 15 years. It was important for me to make sure everyone at the meeting understood the magnitude of each broken promise made.

I also took 4 of the most commonly asked questions sent to me prior to the meeting which I asked Telstra to address.

  1. Why did it take 18 months to address the congestion issues?
  2. Do you believe making Gungahlin wait 18 months was acceptable?
  3. What are you doing to ensure this does not happen again?
  4. Why should we trust you?

Chris Taylor followed and spent a significant period of the night explaining Telstra’s position, what they have done and the future of the service. Chris Taylor, to his credit gave an honest account of Telstra’s actions and provided information about the service and Telstra’s activities leading up to the meeting.

The third and final speaker was David Forman from the Competitive Carriers Coalition. Mr Forman provided a perspective of the Broadband issues from the non-dominant ISPs who are in competition with Telstra and Optus.

In my opinion that both David Forman and Chris Taylor’s talk provided a good balance with each party allowed to put forward their perspective. My intention was to put into people’s minds the reality of poor broadband and telecommunications. I wanted to remind people of the hardships the community faced while they listen to the other speakers. Ultimately I was there to hear from Telstra and get outcomes, I wanted Telstra to do the majority of the talking.

Once the floor was opened to questions a number of residents made their feelings known. Many of the community who attended made sure they got their point across. I was glad that people got to take their issue straight to Telstra and I was pleased to see that Chris took details after the meeting. The expectation has been set by Telstra that something will be done. I hope it gets followed up.

I provided Chris Taylor with 60 odd pages during my talk. This consisted of letters I sent to the MLA, Federal Ministers and others. It also included reports I have generated and posted on this site as well as other speed test results and trace routes. I also included a handful of stories sent to me by people in Gungahlin. These stories detailed some residents experiences and how it affected their lives. I asked these people’s permission before I included them and nearly everyone I asked were happy to oblige. This campaign is about the representing the community and I felt it was important to include some of these stories.

I encourage you to visit the GCC website and view the video when it is released (if your connection is up to it).

Gungahlin to Get NBN Fast Track

July 8th, 2010 by Russell 17 comments »

What can I say? I am not sure I really know what to say other than WOW.

The NBN Co announced today that Gungahlin will be included as one of the 14 locations where the NBN will be rolled out in early to mid 2011. The announcement, which can be seen on the NBN Co site here states that Gungahlin will start to receive the upgrade as early as March next year.

This announcement is a great boon for our community. For too long we have struggled with bad service and broken promises with regard to phone and internet services in Gungahlin and it is great to finally have our issue acknowledged.

The broken promises started on the 31st of August 1995, almost 15 years ago when Telstra representatives stood in front of my local primary school in Palmerston ACT. At that time Telstra promised to invest $20 million for “…connecting each of our [school] buildings with optical fibre, using a hub and router system to connect the school then into the university’s file server … other schools but also the World Wide Web and Internet.” Reference -The Media Report

The $20 Million dollar telecommunications investment was also to trial new technologies.

“There was no pre-existing infrastructure in Gungahlin, and in terms of choosing Gungahlin we were able to try out various infrastructure opportunities.” Reference -The Media Report

Unfortunately for Gungahlin, Telstra quietly withdrew the investment and decided to only “trial” Pair Gain and RIM technology. People moved to the area with the belief they would get the best in schooling for their children and world leading communications services. It was not until later people realised they had been mislead.

The reality of the broken promise crystallised on the 15th of February 2002 when the then Chief Minister Garry Humphries was quoted by the Canberra Times as saying

“…it was almost impossible for ACTTAB to be moved to Gungahlin due to costs, particularly the installation of new communications lines/systems.” Reference – Canberra Times

Only at this point, the true impacts of poor communications infrastructure became clear. Government Office space and the associated office workers will not be setting up in Gungahlin. The under investment in phone and data services in Gungahlin had become a major disincentive to business and Government departments moving into the area.

Still to this day only one Government department has located in Gungahlin. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship temporarily located a small number of workers at Gungahlin. The Department has since vacated the site and no other large private entity or Government Departments have moved in.

As Gungahlin has the largest rate of population growth in Canberra it is hard to believe very few employment opportunities exist within the area. The local business that provide support and services like coffee shops are suffering for lack of clientele. Our local economy has suffered with many businesses closing or moving to other locations.

The NBN will bring a new infrastructure service to our area providing what has been lacking for 15 years. The NBN will enable big businesses and Government Agencies an affordable telecommunications solution to support their businesses. Residents will be able to get the benefits of usable internet access for the first time. People who run business from home will be able to service their clients effectively.

No longer will our beautiful area be shunned as a “Technology Ghetto”

In an Interview today Mike Quigley stated community dissatisfaction with services had made a difference.

“… the inclusion of Gungahlin was partly thanks to community dissatisfaction over its poor Internet coverage.

“I’d say it certainly is a factor in our consideration,” he said. “It’s clear Gungahlin has a problem – it has a bunch of RIMs serving large parts of it, they can’t provide broadband.

“So it makes good sense if you can pick an area in the ACT to pick one that’s got problems with broadband.”

Reference –

The article links to this site and proves that some of the people who make decisions are listening.

To the community within which I live, thank you for all your support, emails and feedback. It was what kept me going and fighting for a better deal. The system does work some times. It was this campaign and other work done by Alan Kerlin at the GCC and Senator Kate Lundy who helped make this happen.

Thank you Kate Lundy and Pia Waugh for finding my site, listening to my story and supporting this campaign.

Thanks to Alan Kerlin and the members of the GCC who also put in time and effort to improve services for community.

Thanks to the MLA members who took time to respond to my letters and represent our community. Special thanks to Caroline Le Couteur (Greens) who responded to my letters and posted comments on this site. Thanks also to Katy Gallagher, Deputy Chief Minister who also responded to my letters and represented the issue at the Federal level.

I am not going to call this campaign over just yet. This is just the beginning of a journey we have not yet completed. It is not a victory until the first home is connected but still, today is a great day :)

Some additional links and information

NBN Company website – NBN Co announces next rollout locations

Senator Stephen Conroy – Media Release

Kate Lundy Website – Warm Welcome for Initial NBN Rollout – Broadband Battlers Get Their Dues

ARN – update: nbn co announces 14 new mainland australia sites

Gungahlin Community Council Facebook Page

Canberra Times – Super-fast internet for Gungahlin

Chris Taylor Reschedules June Meeting

May 29th, 2010 by Russell 19 comments »

As I sat down to prepare for the Gungahlin Community Council (GCC) meeting I discovered Chris Taylor, Manager for Telstra Countrywide had rescheduled and will now meet with us on the 14th July.  He had originally agreed to attend the June meeting to discuss the recent newspaper articles which have been critical of Telstra’s current service. The announcement made by Alan Kerlin via the GCC Facebook page was slipped in on Monday the 24th of May.

He has accepted the invitation to the July the 14th meeting…if something else does not come up like it did for June.

If you were planing to come then you will have to wait another month to voice your dissatisfaction. I am disappointed it has been postponed, I was looking forward to meeting the man face to face to discuss the issues.

I hope this is only a one off situation but I am a bit skeptical. There are a number of planned upgrades for Crace Exchange listed on the Telstra Wholesale website and there could be more going on soon. I hope his appearance is not being timed with these upgrades to give the impression he is some sort of White Knight to our problems.

The last two documents on the Telstra Wholesale website (DSLAM Software Upgrade Planand DSLAM Backhaul Upgrade Plan) indicate some upgrades are being performed at some level but may not actually bring any change to the end user.

The Backhaul upgrade plan lists 13 entries related to Crace Exchange. The devices are listed as follows :

Exchange   DSLAM ID                  Date Complete

CRCF            QCRCFE4026S2

CRCF            QCRCFE4026S4

CRCF            QCRCFE4026S5

CRCF            QCRCFE4047S2    21-May-10

CRCF            QCRCFE4047S3    19-May-10

CRCF            QCRCFE4062M

CRCF            QCRCFE4064M

CRCF            QCRCFE4065M

CRCF            QCRCFE4072M

CRCF            QCRCFE7S2            28-May-10

CRCF            QCRCFE7S3            24-May-10

CRCF            QCRCFE7S7            26-May-10

CRCF            QCRCFE7S8

It is my opinion that the term backhaul used in for these upgrades are between the DSLAMs in Crace exchange and core network connections upstream. The reason I think this is the case is due to the device IDs not lining up with RIM/CMUX naming convention used in other Telstra Wholesale documents. Also the upgrade is for 13 devices which does not seem to align with the 75 RIM/CMUX in the area.

The Telstra documentation refers to DSLAM id, but users connected to RIM/CMUX devices don’t terminate ADSL on an exchange based DSLAM. ADSL is terminated on the RIM/CMUX itself and goes to the exchange on a shared backhaul connection. Some of the items listed have the same ID except for the last number in the sequence, this could mean each entry refers to the same device but different network interfaces or devices in the same location. I am only guessing of course but it is common for ISPs to use naming conventions based on location.

RIM/CMUX users can experience congestion on the RIM/CMUX itself as well as the backhaul between the RIM/CMUX and the exchange. It would appear neither of these parts of the infrastructure are being addressed. If they were there would be 75 entries in the document and Telstra vans everywhere.

If anyone can show their connectivity has been better over the past week then I would be interested to hear. I expect that no one really noticed any change at all.

I am still looking for more performance statistics and experiences from people affected. I am starting to gather quite a lot of information which adds weight to our argument that the service here is bad and it affects hundreds of people.

Is It Do or Die for Gungahlin?

April 28th, 2010 by Russell 4 comments »

I have been holding off making posts until I have the submission sorted out but too many things have occurred in the past few weeks. Today the Liberals announced that they would drop the NBN if elected in the up coming Federal election. I will spend some time over the next few days to see if they have come up with some alternate policy. To would appear that our issues here in Gungahlin, Dunlop and North Lyneham might continue if a Liberal government get in. It may come down to do or die now.

The announcement by Tony Abbott today might mean the continuation of our poor service and lack of choice for some time. An article on the Daily Telegraph website quotes Mr Abbott saying

“But if you want to cut spending, look at the NBN. Not proceeding with it could save billions of dollars.”

The full article can be read on the Daily Telegraph Website here

In response to this announcement Kate Lundy posted the following Media Release about what effects this decision may make to Gungahlin and to jobs. This Media Release also links to the next important event that occurred last Friday 23rd April, Kate Lundy’s office released the second video interview on the Broadband issue in Gungahlin.

The video provides the views of Kate Lundy, myself and others of the current issues in the area as well as providing some history of the issue. The video in full  can be seen here.

Two articles were published in news papers over the past few weeks, one article in the Gungahlin News and one in the Chronicle.

The Chronicle article headed “Business hit by slow net speeds in the north” takes the issues I have raised about the cost of setting up communications  in Gungahlin for office space and the flow on effect it has on local business. The article can be seen here in full.

The article published in the Gungahlin News has been the most surprising of all the coverage in recent times. The article was read by Christopher J Taylor – General Manager of Telstra Wholesale ACT and he was “bemused by the inaccuracies…” Alan Kerlin of the GCC jumped on the opportunity and invited him to the June Gungahlin Community Council meeting to discuss the situation.

The GCC website has posted the article and the general public has responded with comments. The GCC post with the news article can be read here.

I would encourage you to contact Alan Kerlin and the GCC if you wish to attend and meet the man responsible for the performance of Telstra Wholesale services in the ACT. If you are out of town on the 9th of June then feel free to leave comments or contact me and I will attempt to pass your message onto him during the meeting.

More Coverage on Gungahlin Broadband Issues

March 19th, 2010 by Russell 7 comments »

After Kate Lundy’s press release and the release of the interview three major news and industry sites/radio stations covered the issue.

2CC Radio Canberra rang me for an off air interview which was incorporated into the hourly news bulletin Friday 12th of March 2010. This included quotes off the press release and a sound byte from me. ran a story on its website which quoted both the press release and posts I had made on this site. The news article can be seen on at under the NBN category. You can read it here.

The third place the my campaign was posted was the National Broadband Network News and Information website. The article posted here used both press release and this website as source material. You can read the article here.

I am working on a submission to Senator Lundy and Senator Conroy as well as other things. This coverage has provided renewed interest in the campaign and I will take what advantage I can to keep the issue in peoples minds.

Discussion still continues on Whirlpool forums over the congestion issue with one post in particular still receiving updates 12 months after the original post. I recommend reading and contributing to the discussions as many industry representitives participate as well as the general public. The Whirlpool Forums post can be seen here.

I will post more when it happens, I don’t expect that to be long.

Focus Back on NBN

March 11th, 2010 by Russell 3 comments »

A number of events have come together in recent days to bring the telecommunications debate back at a federal and local level. The NBN seems to be back on the agenda for Senate debate with the imminent release of the NBN implementation study and debate on the new draft telecommunications bills to be held over the coming months .

On the local front Senator Kate Lundy has published a Media Release and part of an interview she recorded with me during a meeting we had at my home. I took the opportunity to raise my concerns with broadband performance in Gungahlin with a hope she may help raise the profile of the issues we face. Senator Lundy has a long history dealing with broadband issues in Canberra and the release of the video interview and Media Release could bring national focus to our broadband issues.

The Media Release, titled NBN urgently needed in Gungahlin was released today by Senator Lundy’s office and goes to the heart of one of my objectives with this campaign – fix broadband services in Gungahlin. If Telstra continue to ignore existing complaints about performance then trying to bring an alternative to Gungahlin is the only other option. The NBN is the prime candidate for such an alternative and my conversations with Senator Lundy have revolved around bringing the NBN to Gungahlin as fast as possible.

I am still working to have TransACT expand their current Fibre roll out to include existing suburbs. I have been working on a submission to send to their board in an attempt to convince TransACT to do “brownfields” rollouts.

The full interview is being worked on and will be released shortly. In the full interview I talk about the problems faced by Gungahlin residents with the current copper network and the impacts of what I understand the technology constraints to be. I hope this issue gets greater coverage and the interview and Media Release helps to bring a result for our community.

Two draft bills have been released and I encourage people to review them and comment. I have participated in these in the past and will be making a submission on both of these bill as listed on the DBCDE website. Comments close 15th of March.

You can see the Video here

You can read the Media Release here

Feel free to comment or contact me via email and thanks again for all the support and feedback.

ACT Planning Authority December Meeting

February 25th, 2010 by Russell 1 comment »

I would like to thank Caroline le Couteur MLA for representing the issues I have raised in my previous letters with the ACT Planning Authority. In her response, which is posted on this site Ms le Couteur indicated she would take this issue to the next meeting. She has kept her word and I applaud her for doing so.

In a comment left on this site on the 21st Feb 2010 she has posted part of Hansard which documents the proceedings of the committee meeting. I recommend that anyone interested in new suburbs and broadband coverage read page 53 (document page 23) and pages 69-70 (document pages 39-40) of the transcript of evidence from the Standing Committee on Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services, Annual and financial reports 2008-09 which sat on the 11th December 2009.

Transcript from

What interests me most about the meeting is the details provided by Mr Neil Savery and Mr Ben Ponton on the questions asked by Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Sorry. Ms Le Couteur asked the question and you talked about the national broadband. I am asking: when you actually design the suburb, are you saying there will be trenches that will take these sorts of things et cetera?

THE CHAIR: That is a different question.

Mr Savery: Through the chair, we do not get into that level of specificity in our designs. That is for estate developers to provide. It is up to governments to set policies as to whether or not they want internet provided to every home. That is not for a planning agency to determine. We do not get to that level of design.

MRS DUNNE: No, but, when suburbs are being planned, do you tick off or have any consciousness of whether the trenches, because everything is underground these days, are capable of carrying gas, water, electricity, cable, fibre, whatever? Is that sort of element ticked off? It is about the common trenching policy, I presume. It may not be
called that anymore.

Mr Ponton: In the estate development plan we seek advice from various agencies. We also ask developers to speak with communication providers to ensure that communications, including internet, can be provided to the estate. At the moment it is possible for common trenching; so we do this without issue. We do not get involved in the detail of that but we have to be satisfied that it can be provided.

MRS DUNNE: So you do tick off on the capacity to deliver all these services?

Mr Wurfel: That is right.

Page 39 and 40 of the transcript of evidence from the Standing Committee on Planning, Public Works and Territory and Municipal Services, Annual and financial reports 2008-09 which sat on the 11th December 2009.

It would appear that telecommunications delivery is NOT part of the ACT Planning Authority’s scope of responsibilities. What is indicated through the responses provided by ACT Planning Authority representatives is a situation where critical services are subject to a relationship which is controlled by the developer. I would consider this to be a significant flaw in planning where both policy and governance are weak and very little “planning” is done to provide assurance to the home buyer.

The planning committee seem to accept the fact that critical services including Gas, Electricity and Telecommunications only need to pass a capability test, that is can a trench accommodate a Gas or Electricity service? It seems to be inferred by the statements above that actual access to the common trench is controlled by the developer.

How can the residents of a land release be assured that a service will actually exist? The planning Authority does not seem to have a plan to provide open or fair access to these resources. They deal with fair access to Sun light and Solar resources but can not ensure fair competition is achieved for the delivery of  services to houses.

The ACT Planning Authority and the Members of the Legislative Assembly  should seriously consider the implications of restricting access to the “common” trenches by leaving developers without clear guidelines on use. I may be wrong and there may be controls in place, but the comments made above don’t support that in my opinion.

This lack of policy and governance could the reason why Canberra has such patchy and inconsistent services geographically. As the choice of service providers is controlled by the developer each area has services provided by different organisations and without competition. With out fair use policy I contend that competition is discouraged as service providers would attempt to establish exclusivity with the developer and discourage other providers of a similar service. Gungahlin is a prime example where Telstra is the only provider of telecommunications services in some suburbs without Optus or TransACT services available to residents. It may be that some providers declined to be involved but that is not consistent with other areas of Canberra where wires are placed above ground.

In my opinion this lack of guidelines on trench access has contributed to the issues in Gungahlin. As Tesltra is the exclusive provider in the majority of this area, they have no competition. The lack of competition is the reason why the bare minimum service has been rolled out and why residents suffer. The MLA and the ACT Planning Authority need to provide guidelines to developers as well as supporting legislation to ensure developers do not limit access to common trenches to a single provider.

The new suburbs in the Molonglo development are a good chance to correct the past mistakes. I urge Caroline le Couteur MLA and others to ensure all future developments that use common trenching take the true meaning of the word “common” and ensure open access to all.