Where is the outcry from the National Farmers Federation or the "National Party" in any state??
Previously I've written on "Fibre to the Farm", running along the Rural Electricity Distribution network. Presumably the network owners would become the ultimate owners of the asset, gaining a second, even third, income from their assets.
There are Engineering questions I'm not able to answer with limited resources. I've assumed a single-tube 144-fibre (12*12-ribbon) cable could be run for $10,000/km. Only $2,000/km is the cost of the cable.
Today I updated that piece, suggesting that the Federal and State Governments could between them share the build costs with the householders who originally paid for the construction of their power supply (poles, wires and transformer) and understand the notion "you need to pay for services".
$2,500 per household should be affordable and enticing to rural subscribers, with Grid Electricity.
Who would end up owning, controlling and maintaining the Fibre asset? Presumably the owner of the Distribution network, perhaps jointly with NBN Co.
There is an immediate and substantial subscriber benefit in swapping to pure-digital connections from a Copper phone service, or POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service): increased clarity and zero noise and cross-talk. But as well, they can access many of the ISP-run VoIP services, eliminating long-distance call charges (Internode: 18cents/call, untimed, to any National landline). Update 8-Jul-13:
Current timed-call charges for rural phone subscribers. 49 cents flagfall and 25 cents per minute. Most VoIP plans are cheaper than Internode.
At $2,500/household, most rural household would get a 12-24 month payback, just from direct savings of avoided car travel (2-3,000km). I've not attempt to estimate the unquantifiable benefits of time wasted travelling, resulting opportunity costs and avoided car crashes with attendant deaths and permanent disability.
For those on fixed-incomes, even pensions, perhaps the Federal Government could allow NBN Co to recover the $2,500 over 5 or so years through their bills.
From a Victorian DPI document, two maps of their Rural Distribution Network. First is a Google map with whole network overlaid, second is a partial map of the state:
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1GLdfqdwpNQS2d4VEpEcVcwVm8/view Colour Key: SWER: Pink; 22kV: Yellow; Alpine HV underground: Red
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1GLdfqdwpNQN2ZOemNXajhiZTg/view. Map showing the extensive reach of the system.