THE National Broadband Network (NBN) has gone live in Moriac, Bellbrae and Mount Duneed, with three fixed wireless towers being switched on last week.
The towers will service about 1,300 homes and businesses in and around the three towns.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Corangamite federal member Sarah Henderson visited the Moriac tower on Thursday.
The NBN is expected to be fully complete by 2020, but Mr Fifield said the NBN rollout had been prioritised in regional areas and was 92 per cent complete in the Surf Coast Shire and 95 per cent complete in Corangamite.
Ms Henderson said she had received “wonderful feedback” from people who were now connected to the NBN.
“I was speaking to a farming family in Ceres… they say it’s been transformational for them and for their business.”
However, local feedback about the NBN has not been universally good, particularly in Bellbrae, which saw a long-running dispute between some residents and NBN Co about the location of the town’s fixed wireless tower.
Ms Henderson said NBN Co “overwhelmingly” located its towers where they would reach the most people.
“We’ve been working very closely with a number of people in West Bellbrae on an individual basis.”
Labor has frequently criticised the Coalition’s multi-technology mix model for the NBN and its heavy reliance on the existing copper infrastructure, and has committed to putting more fibre-optic cable into the network.
In response to a question about whether the NBN was good enough, Mr Fifield said “the NBN rollout today is on track, it’s on time, and it will be fit for purpose for the needs Australians have”.
“Our approach has been to give NBN Co a mandate to use the technology that makes sense in a given area that will see it rolled out fastest and at lowest cost, which means people are going to get the NBN six to eight years sooner and at $30 billion less cost (than Labor).”
He was also dismissive of a highly critical report from ratings agency S&P about the NBN, which predicted the network would not reach its take-up targets.
“Whatever misgiving they have about the NBN as it is today would only be worse if we had persisted with Labor’s approach.”
The MPs also visited Torquay for a tour of coworking space Workers Hut.
* Thanks to Kevin from Torquay Towing, who rescued the cars of both this reporter and Ms Henderson when they became bogged at Moriac.