By Elly Bradfield

Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, Assistant Secretary Kim Donaldson says no matter how fast satellite connection under the National Broadband Network (NBN) is, lags will make distance education difficult.

She lives west of Townsville, Queensland and teaches two of her children by distance education.

“I won’t be getting anything other than faster satellite, which is great for data transfer but not so great if you want immediate response for voice,” she said.

“If the program is written that requires it, it’s going to make it very awkward for those of us who are still going to be on satellite internet because there is a lag using satellite.”

She says a “lag” is what you experience when using an old satellite phone.

“There are several different layers of satellite… The internet still uses the highest place up for the signal,” she said.

“It has to travel 36,000 kilometres to actually reach that satellite and then has to come back down again.”

Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, says the speeds of satellite will be better than anything that can be currently accessed in Australia.

“These next generation wireless and satellite systems will provide customers with significantly improved services– with average data rates higher than most users of these technologies experience today, and higher than average DSL usage today,” Mr Conroy said.

NBN Co has brought forward the introduction of these next generation services so that regional Australia can access better, more affordable broadband as soon as possible.”

NBN Co Queensland coverage
NBN Co Queensland coverage. Source: NBN Co.

Professor Rod Tucker, Director of the Institute For a Broadband Enabled Society RMIT University, says rolling out fibre to the whole population would be ideal, but that’s not economically viable.

“It’s all a matter of economics for NBN Co,” he said.

“NBN Co is going to have to do is decide on a case-by-case basis for around each town in the country, where the population density has dropped to a point outside the town where it is no longer economic to put the fibre.”

He says if people like Kim Donaldson are still raising concerns, more education is needed.

“I think there are many aspects of national broadband and potential for broadband that are not really well understood,” he said.

“Those of us, myself included, involved in working in broadband probably need to do a better job in selling and explaining to the community what the benefits will be.”

LISTEN TO: ABC Southern Queensland’s coverage of A Girl Named Elly.