FttNI might be a reality, if Pauline Hanson has her way.
As you may have heard, Hanson is the latest Joint Standing Committee member for the National Broadband Network. Now she has written to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield asking him to back a proposed 90km fibre optic spur to Norfolk Island from the $US300m Hawaiki Cable that will link the United States, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand.
Hanson’s request follows a “fact-finding visit” to Norfolk Island last week, during which she toured the islands communications infrastructure.
“Senator Hanson has requested that Minister Fifield urgently examine how the Australian Government could underwrite or provide other support to ensure the Norfolk Island community is not excluded from this cable,” a statement from her office said this morning, along with claims the cable would provide for the data needs of the island for the next 40 years.
The Australian Government has also been asked to back the plan, and for the fibre optic cable to be used to carry NBN data to the island — the current NBN plan will see the island dependent on the Sky Muster satellite.
Hanson says the laying of a submarine cable of this scale is “quite infrequent”, and it may be “several decades” before another cable runs as close to the island. The short distance of this proposed 90km spur allows it to be unpowered, drastically reducing the ongoing costs of operation compared to other options, she says.
A previous consortium of private investors pulled out of their offer to build the spur, which will cost approximately $12 million to lay and connect, following the political uncertainty caused by the Australian Government’s takeover of governance on the island this year. Hanson says this happened in part because the Australian Government terminated another commercial agreement with the former Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly, that would have allowed the cultivation of medicinal marijuana.
Norfolk Telecom, which was taken over by the Australian Government as of July 1, 2016, currently operates a fibre to the node broadband network on the island. The data for this network is transferred via the O3B and TNZI Satellite system. Hanson says this fibre network, along with a fibre connection to the former Anson Bay Cable Station on the island’s west coast, would allow for an easy integration with the existing telecommunications infrastructure on the island.
The additional data would also allow the introduction of 3G/4G mobile phone services on the island, Hanson says.
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