The National Broadband Network (NBN) is set to arrive on the Bellarine Peninsula in 2015, yet much of the Peninsula won't have access to it.
The NBN is being rolled out in stages. Stage one will include the Bellarine Highway from Leopold to Queenscliffe, speading south-west to take in Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove; and Portarlington Road from East Geelong, but stopping abruptly at Curlewis Road. Nowhere else on the Bellarine will be included in that first stage. (The current installation of broadband at Coriyule Estate in Drysdale is an anomoly, unconnected to the rest of the roll-out.)
The NBN has published a roll-out map, from which the illustrations in this article have been taken. Areas in green will be included in the stage one roll-out. For a closer look, go to the NBN's map: http://nbnco.com.au/rollout/rollout-map.html
Does this make sense?
Two things stand out from NBN’s roll-out map. Firstly, the stage one roll-out (starting 2015) will include Central Geelong and North Geelong including Lara. This will give businesses in that central/north area a competitive advantage over those in areas excluded from stage one, for example in South Geelong and in the outer regions of the City of Greater Geelong, such as the Bellarine Peninsula. Deliberately or not, this reinforces the City of Greater Geelong’s continuing practice of promoting the economy of central Geelong at the expense of anywhere else within its boundary.
Secondly, while it could be argued that most of the Bellarine Peninsula has been excluded from the stage one roll-out because of its relatively lower population density, the roll-out map shows otherwise. Peripheral, semi-rural areas to the west of the City such as Lethbridge and Teesdale are included in stage one; and Ocean Grove is included, yet Drysdale isn't, despite both towns being designated areas of population growth - just the sorts of places that you'd expect to be in stage one of the NBN roll-out.
Pleasing some of the people some of the time
Of course, the staged introduction of any service never pleases everyone. It pleases the people in the early stages and displeases everyone else. However, a longer wait for a service is more acceptable if it can be seen as the result of a fair and rational process. The NBN’s roll-out map shows that the introduction of broadband in the Geelong area is neither fair nor rational. It’s unfair on communities outside of central Geelong whose local economies may suffer as businesses in the centre become more competitive; and its scattergun approach of connecting individual communities in isolation from neighbouring ones is anything but rational.