School Said To Face ‘$200,000 NBN Bill’ Will In Fact Get It For Free

It was a relatively quiet week on the NBN front, save for one story that caught my attention. A story ran in The Australian early this week, stating boldly that a school in South Australia was facing a bill of $200,000 to secure an NBN connection. It was a heck of a headline — but as it turns out, it wasn’t the case at all.

The Australian is noted as a paper that’s largely anti-NBN — in its worldview, it might say it was “highly critical of”, I guess it’s a horses-for-courses type thing — so spotting an NBN bashing story didn’t surprise me. The headline really says everything about the paper’s position: School faces $200,000 bill to join NBN

What did surprise me was that on reading through it, the key information was buried right under a lot of indignation about a school having to pay for an NBN interconnect. It sounds reasonable on the surface, but further down in the story was the following paragraph (emphasis added for effect):

“. . . an [NBN] spokeswoman conceded that Tatachilla Lutheran College would only be able to gain access the NBN at no cost if it sat within the fibre footprint.
Mr Minke said an NBN Co official had yesterday told him options were being considered to connect the school, including co-funding or a free connection.

This was buried, mind you, ten paragraphs down, underneath all the bluster about how terrible it was. Nevermind that it essentially negates the headline, which may as well read “School to get either free or co-funded connection”, because that’s not quite sensational enough.

In any case, I was curious about this whole affair, given that one of the core planks that the NBN resides on is that it’s a national broadband network, so I put some calls through to NBN Co to get the full picture. After checking the scheduling maps (some of which aren’t publicly available yet, although many are due to be released as part of the next three year plan due by the end of the month), the school in question is directly within the fibre footprint.

It will be connected, and there will be no charge. End of story — even if it is substantially less sensationalistic.
Image: Tatachilla Lutheran College

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