Labor promises fibre-to-the-premises NBN, but embraces cable

Labor promises fibre-to-the-premises NBN, but embraces cable
Photo: Kainet/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo: Kainet/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The question of what Labor will do to the National Broadband Network if it does win the election has finally been answered. Labor has announced today that it will upgrade the NBN to a fibre-to-the-premises network; and will connect an additional two million homes and businesses to the network.

Labor says they will cap the cost of their NBN rollout at $57 billion, $1 billion more than the current estimate of the Government’s NBN plan. It also promises to complete the rollout in June 2022 – which it notes is when the Government’s NBN will “likely” to be completed (the Coalition says their plan will be completed by June 2020).

According to its plan, Labor will “phase out” the roll out of the existing fibre-to-the-node network, with construction of the network ceasing when the current pipeline of work has finished. It will also commission Infrastructure Australia to write a report on how to transition this network to a fibre-to-the-premises network.

However, Labor’s plan will also continue the HFC rollout – via Pay TV – that was started by the Government, despite its former communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy labelling it “Operation Clusterfuck.” Labor notes it is continuing with the rollout due to contracts have been signed, spending already has taken place, and constraints placed on future governments by the Coalition.

It also plans to continue fixed wireless, satellite and fibre-to-the-basement rollouts.

“It’s no longer possible” to cover 93 percent of homes

Labor’s policy document on the NBN keeps referring to its “original NBN” – the fibre-to-the-premises network that promised to deliver fibre to 93 percent of homes and businesses. However, Labor admits it is not able to deliver such a network today.

Instead, its new fibre-to-the-premises NBN network will reach only 39 percent of homes and businesses in Australia.

“The truth of the matter is that we cannot pretend that the last three years hasn’t happened, so we are not going to do what right-wing Liberal governments always do if and when they get elected and try and unpick everything that the previous government’s done,” Bill Shorten said in a press conference earlier today.

“He’s already tied it up in copper, so we’re not going to go back and re-dig out every fibre to the node merely because we think that fibre to the premises is superior but what we can do, because this is a choice in 2016 between Mr Turnbull and myself, is we will get back to having fibre to the premises in the future.”

When further pressed about where those two million houses and businesses will be located, shadow communications spokesperson Jason Clare notes that those who will “benefit most from this policy are in regional Australia and outer suburban suburbs.”

The other 61 percent of the country will be covered by fixed wireless, satellite and HFC networks, though the exact percentages have not been released by Labor.

Turnbull: It’s another example of “Shortenomics”

“I see that Labor has said that they are going to – extend more fibre to the premises but it’s not going to cost any more. This is what one might call in political terms an oldie but not so goodie. Remember Kevin Rudd said in the last election that only Kevin Rudd can deliver broadband to your home for free? That was one of Labor’s policies,” Turnbull said in a press conference in Townsville.

He also added that they have connected more homes to high-speed broadband in the last month than the previous six years under Labor.

“They have no credibility on this issue. They hopelessly mismanaged the project. They wasted billions, and what they are talking about today will have only one consequence: that it will cost a lot more, and it will take a lot longer,” Turnbull said.


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