The National Broadband Network (NBN) has been steadily infiltrating cities and rural communities across Australia, according to figures released by the NBN Co.

Published on July 1, the NBN report revealed that 20,000 premises in remote and regional areas have been connected to the network over the past 12 months. This coincides with a sevenfold increase in the number of households and families who have started using the service, climbing from 1,870 in 2013 to 16,000 in June this year.

NBN Co Chief Operating Officer Greg Adcock explained that these figures demonstrate a clear demand for broadband connections outside of major cities.

"We've put a significant focus on accelerating rollout of NBN Co's fixed wireless service to rural and regional Australia. That allows people in these communities to take advantage of the economic and social opportunities that the rest of the country takes for granted," he said.

Getting regional and remote communities connected to the NBN service is a crucial factor in boosting innovation, productivity and prosperity in rural Australian enterprises.

"Fast broadband will enable rural businesses to flourish and regional economies to grow and attract further wealth and investment," Federation University Australia Centre Director Helen Thompson explained.

As the NBN rollout reaches further into regional and remote locations, contractors and employees are continually being sourced close to project areas. Those living in a rural community who wish to take part in this exciting national program are required to undertake mandatory occupational health and safety training.

Fortunately, AlertForce offers an online NBN Safety and Awareness program, providing convenience and competencies to workers who may be unable to travel for an instructor-led course.

Moving forward with the NBN rollout

Further statistics, reported by ZDNet on July 10, show more than 380,000 premises are ready for NBN services, while the network itself is currently able to support 658,000 households and businesses.

"While there has been an ongoing effort throughout the year, these achievements are a result of the hardworking employees, contractors and third party partners under the direction of a new leadership team," NBN Co Chief Executive Officer Bill Morrow said, according to ZDNet.

"We have seen a significant uplift in performance and morale in the past several months. This is important not only because we have surpassed our forecast, but because the team has done so in a year of incredible uncertainty and change."

With the NBN rollout moving forward at an increasing rate, the NBN Co has been considering ways to streamline operations and complete connections faster and more efficiently. In particular, contracts with construction companies are being revamped and improved to deliver a standardised connection method.

"We have an obligation to build the NBN as quickly and cheaply as possible but we also know that if we don't pay a fair price for them to be able to pay for good labour then this won't be built," Mr Morrow told The Australian on June 11.

However, with the volume of work expected to be undertaken over the next 12 months, Mr Morrow has identified a need for better workforce solutions. He believes there is a "time and an environment that warrants different models" and the NBN Co is embracing this need.

One example of this drive to make the NBN rollout more efficient and convenient is the adoption of the online safety and awareness program. By developing this internet-based course, the NBN Co – along with AlertForce – has enabled regional and remote workers to undertake vital and mandatory training even when unable or unwilling to travel.

Accessing the NBN Safety and Awareness Course

As with any construction or electrical-based occupation, working on the NBN rollout can pose many hazards to an employee's health and wellbeing.

Because of this, the NBN Co has developed a mandatory safety program that can be accessed either face-to-face or online. This competency must be undertaken by any individual engaged in any of the following duties:

  • Installing, connecting or maintaining network assets
  • Hauling fibre optic cable
  • Conducting boring or excavation

Additionally, any person directly responsible for an NBN work site is also required to access this safety and awareness program.

The training provided through this course includes the identification and control of specific industry and environmental hazards, as well as offering insight into how an individual's role fits into the scope of this exciting national project.

Currently, AlertForce is the only registered training provider offering the online training option. Individuals who choose to undertake the program through this platform are also required to complete an accredited CPR course in an instructor-led environment.

If you are interested in joining the history-making network rollout, get in touch with the AlertForce team for more information on the online NBN Safety and Awareness program.

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