NBN Co is considering taking a model it uses to support the most remote Indigenous communities, and re-purposing it to support disadvantaged urban families.
From opposition, prime minister Anthony Albanese promised support for around 30,000 families who have no broadband.
Answering a question during yesterday’s ACCANect 2022 conference, NBN Co’s general manager of segments and stakeholder relations Sam Dimarco, said NBN Co is working with the government on how to deliver on that promise.
Dimarco said NBN Co is considering using wi-fi as a retail distribution medium: its network would provide fibre to medium or high density public housing, and a retail partner would offer free or subsidised connections via wi-fi access.
It’s a model similar to one NBN Co uses in the most remote Indigenous communities, with Sky Muster delivering the NBN service and wi-fi delivering user connectivity.
That model has connected 94 remote communities so far, Dimarco said.
An NBN Co spokesperson confirmed that discussions with government are underway, adding that the nascent program was mentioned in its 2023-2026 statement of corporate intent [pdf] released at the end of August.
“In line with government policy and strategic objectives, the company will focus particularly on helping connect more seniors, low-income customers and remote First Nations Peoples”, the statement said.
“The company will also support the government’s commitment to provide free internet access for up to 12 months for school children living in households that do not currently have broadband connections.
“The company considers this to be an important commitment to social equity and it is pleased to be supporting its delivery.
“NBN Co is in discussions with the government on the design of the scheme and will soon provide more detail on a proposed way forward for this important digital inclusion initiative.”