Internet speeds for families and businesses in rural and regional Australia would be no faster than they are today if Labor’s broadband proposal was adopted, Senator Fiona Nash said.
This is in stark contrast to the Federal Coalition Government’s Australia Connected broadband plan which Senator Nash said is focused solely on delivering improved broadband speeds to the seven million people living outside the metropolitan areas.
“In spruiking their flawed Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) plan, Labor are doing one of two things; they are either deluding themselves, and at the same time the Australian public, if they think a FTTN will deliver high-speed broadband to rural and regional areas, or they are being deliberately deceitful and are trying to trick the public into supporting a plan they know is flawed. A plan they know is unfeasible, un-costed and whimsical at best,” Senator Nash said.
“I don’t know which is worse, ignorance or deceit. Perhaps it’s a bit of both, but whatever the case the people of rural and regional Australia know a furphy when they see one.
“It’s widely understood in the telecommunications industry that FTTN will not deliver improved broadband speeds to rural and regional areas. Experts predict that not only would Labor’s plan cost three to four times their estimate, it’s likely to only reach 75 per cent of the population – a far cry from their claims of 98 per cent reach.”
In a recent Senate Estimates Committee hearing, after questioning from Senator Nash, General Manager of the Broadband Infrastructure Branch of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Mr Simon Bryant, clearly stated a fibre rollout was not going to be feasible in rural areas.
Mr Bryant: ‘The actual concept of fibre to the node is probably not that relevant to smaller regional townships, because the whole point of fibre to the node is to get fibre out to a cluster of premises that enables sufficient density of coverage in that 1.5 perimeter that I was talking about to provide a business case in order to provide high-speed services.
If you think about the structure of most smaller regional towns and cities, at 1.5 kilometres out from the exchange you would be hard pressed in a town of, say, 5,000 people to find sufficient density of housing to warrant doing that.’ – Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Budget Estimates – 24/05/07
“No one technology can solve the problems associated with distance, topography and price. We have to have a combination of technologies and the Coalition’s plan provides the solution – one that can be up and running almost immediately and one that does not discriminate against rural and regional Australians,” Senator Nash said.
“We will deliver broadband – four years before Labor have said they will – to 99 per cent of the population. We have promised speeds of at least 12 megabits at metropolitan comparable prices with room to grow – Labor can only guarantee this as a maximum speed.
“Our investment will deliver leading edge technology at no cost to the taxpayer. To pay for their proposal, Labor plans to raid $2.7 billion from the Future Fund and steal the $2 billion Communications Fund from rural and regional communities which was set up to future-proof rural and regional areas as technology moves ahead in the future. To this end, the Federal Coalition Government will introduce legislation to ensure Labor can’t get their hands on this money for its own greedy purposes.
“My advice to Labor is; best leave broadband delivery to those who not only understand the technology, but who also understand the needs and challenges facing rural and regional areas.”
Media contact: Julie Siegert 0429 818 600
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