Get your act together councils tell NBN Co

Councils to engage with local community

The NBN Co's community engagement key activities

The NBN Co's community engagement key activities

Councils involved in first release sites for the National Broadband Network struggled to prepare for the change and recommend hiring project managers to facilitate the roll out a new report has found.

In-depth: How to create a clear project plan.

Commissioned by NBN Co and conducted by research firm Ovum, the Best Practice Guide for Councils when initially dealing with NBN Co report was released today at the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly in Canberra.

Among the key findings is councils believe their engagement with NBN Co was positive, but required a steep learning curve at the start of the project.

“Council staff had to understand the project scope, the impacts on their communities and then manage the exchange of data with NBN Co. The clear recommendation for future councils was to be prepared for the project before it arrives,” according to the NBN Co.

These issues are “mainly resolved” and councils involved in future NBN work would see a more organised approach from NBN Co.

“However [council] project teams had a high workload, and some councils would consider a full-time project lead for future rollouts,” the report found.

[The report can be downloaded from the Australian Local Government Association’s website: Best practice guide for councils when initially dealing with NBNCo (PDF).]

None of the first release site councils added any staff or experienced financial burden as a result of NBN projects.

ALGA president, Genia McCaffery, said that while there was a great deal of support and enthusiasm within local government for the NBN, some councils were concerned that they were not prepared, or that they were spending resources in areas that may not be useful to NBN Co.

“We have based this guide on the practical experience of some of those councils which have already worked with NBN Co in the first release sites,” McCaffery said.

Local councils will deal with NBN Co for a range of activities, including:

  • Require a regional site for a Fibre Access Node.
  • Provide a Fibre Distribution Hub for every 200 premises.
  • Connect a Network Termination device to each premise.
  • Require rights of way and access for the provision of backhaul transmission services to and throughout the area.
  • Determine the optimal mix of underground vs overhead cable throughout the municipality.
  • Carefully traverse heritage and environmentally significant regions and manage local planning codes.

NBN Co head of corporate services, Kevin Brown, said the government-owned business relies heavily on the support and assistance of councils to gather information for network planning and as a conduit to the local community for consultation and the dissemination of information.

“The right engagement can help save weeks in our preparations if there is ready information about local infrastructure, heritage and environment zones, planned site developments and a good guide to the demographic characteristics of the area,” Brown said.

The NBN aims to supply fibre broadband connections to 93 per cent of Australian premises with the remaining 7 per cent served by a mix of wireless, mobile and satellite technologies. It is scheduled to cover 13 million premises by 2021 and involve the installation of 181,000 km of optical network cable and 57,000 km of transit fibre.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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Tags broadbandNBNnbn colocal governmentBest Practice Guide for Councils when initially dealing with NBN CoAustralian Local Government Association (ALGA)

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