Source: Illawarra Merury Read on Illawarra Mercury Website
More than 94,000 Illawarra homes and businesses will have access to lightning-fast broadband under the National Broadband Network’s three-year roll-out.
Work is due to begin by mid-2015 to extend the fibre network to more than 50 new suburbs, from Scarborough to Shellharbour, as the roll-out steps up a gear.
Thirty-six of those suburbs, the bulk of them surrounding Wollongong and in the region’s north, appear set to benefit in the immediate future, with construction to start within one year, according to the government-owned network builder NBN Co.
Shellharbour City residents are also set to get their first taste of the network, with 7500 homes at Warilla, Shell Cove, Flinders, Barrack Heights, Shellharbour city centre and elsewhere included in the three-year plan.
‘‘I’m hoping that, like Kiama, we have a new wave of people coming to our city who want to work from home,’’ Shellharbour Mayor Kellie Marsh said.
But while most of the Illawarra now waits expectantly for the fibre to arrive, some areas such as Albion Park, Oak Flats and Gerringong were again overlooked in the three-year timetable.
Throsby MP Stephen Jones said the announcement was another opportunity to transform the region’s economy and would help attract businesses.
The 20,000 Wollongong residents who travelled to Sydney each week for work could benefit from opportunities such as teleconferencing and telecommuting, he said.
‘‘It’s hard to quantify what it is directly worth to the region ... but when I talk to businesses who get it, they understand that if they’re not on the web, they’re not in the game,’’ he said.
Mr Jones also said he was ‘‘still working’’ on Albion Park and wanted it to be brought forward.
‘‘The biggest threat to suburbs like Albion Park getting the NBN is [Opposition Leader] Tony Abbott’s threat to cancel it,’’ he said.
An additional 13,400 premises have been included in the Nowra-Bomaderry area, while the NBN is already available to 2500 homes at Kiama Downs and Minnamurra.
The three-year plan also includes the 16,000 premises across Wollongong, Dapto and Corrimal already lined up for NBN connections, with work to start as early as July.
Across the country, the National Broadband Network will roll out to 3.5 million premises over the next three years.
NBN Co estimates it will take about 12 months after detailed maps are released in each area for customers to be able to order services.