The Barcoo Shire Council and the Diamantina Shire Council have made joint representations to the Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) as well as to the National Broadband Network Corporation (NBN Co) with a view to achieve fibre network connectivity for the Shire area. Under current internal NBN Co policies, areas or clusters with less than 1000 population will not be served by fibre cable but rather by satellite or microwave.
The satellite broadband service has significant latency due to the 72,000 km round trip to and from the satellite (around 600 milliseconds), in addition to normal network latency and the limitations in bandwidth (shared transponder channel access), which makes interactive applications appear sluggish and telephony/video-conferencing a tardy experience. As part of the Federal Government's $250 million Regional Broadband Blackspots Programme (RBBP) the company NextGen will be constructing and operating a new fibre link from Brisbane to Darwin, with access points in Longreach and Mt Isa.
To service the six villages in the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires, around 1000 km of additional fibre cabling is needed for a redundant route from Long Reach via Stonehenge, Jundah, Windorah, Betoota, Birdsville and Bedourie to Mt Isa. Additional drop cabling will be needed to service all Farm Stations along the route. The cabling inside the villages themselves is a relative minor job if compared with feeder cables to Long Reach and Mt Isa. However, it may be possible to 'dig your own trench and lay your own cable', likewise to many successful FTTH projects in the Nordics.
For a 'Do-it-yourself' solution, the six Internet Exchanges as listed will need to be established as a place to connect the subscribers to the Shire backbone. As an example of how a community Internet Exchange started, and became the largest 'Not-for-profit' IX in the world, have a look at the Amsterdam Internet Exchange story. And if you want to know what you can do with fibre on the farm, read the Fibre to the Tree (FTTT) story. The Birdsville Internet Exchange might be right in the centre point of Australia but it is unlikely to ever grow to the size of the Amsterdam IX. But the community spirit and the principles of operation are the same. So, take an example and duplicate the success of others in the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires. And if you can use a little help, well, you know who to call.