NATIONALBroadband Network Communications has revised its rollout targets after construction contractors progressed more slowly than forecast.

The optic fibre network in Horsham was due to start construction in November this year, but could be delayed by up to three months.

NBN chief executive Mike Quigley said some of NBN’s construction contractors had progressed work more slowly than forecast.

“We are accountable for the delay and are disappointed it has occurred,” he said.

“The problem is, we are just not seeing the ramp up of construction workers on the ground that would be needed to deliver project targets.

“This lack of mobilisation has led us to make the judgment call to re-forecast our end-of-year projections.”

Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke said she was unsure whether the delay would affect the Wimmera.

“We have NBN representatives in the region at the moment giving information sessions, so we will definitely be asking them what the impact will be,” she said.

“The delay announced might only affect current construction and construction has not yet commenced in the region.

“We are actively involved in the planning with NBN about the optic fibre rollout in Horsham and the fixed wireless services in other communities.

“We are keen to get an understanding about the time frame.”

Mrs Bourke said faster broadband would allow residents in the Wimmera to be part of a global network.

“We need to see it as an opportunity and not a threat,” she said.

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said he would like to see the NBN set up in the Wimmera as soon as possible.

He said it would be disappointing if the delays affected the region.

“The fact that we have a place in the queue is still very good for the community,” he said.

“The world has become a digital economy and society and the Wimmera needs to be able to move forward with everyone else.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Luke Hartsuyker said the delay was creating a digital divide for regional areas.

“Regional Australia stands to benefit more than most from the rollout of high speed broadband,” he said.

“Yet the NBN rollout is so far behind schedule, and so poorly targeted, that the digital divide separating regional communities from economic and social opportunity is growing wider and wider.”

Mr Hartsuyker said while there was no specific information about Horsham, the experience around the country had been that construction took longer than forecast.

“It is impossible to tell whether construction is likely to start as scheduled,” he said.

© NBN Co Limited 2012

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