Conroy backs NBN opt-out model


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy appears to have backed a so-called ‘opt-out’ model for the National Broadband Network where Australians would be required to choose not to have fibre internet connected to their premises — as opposed to the current model where they must opt-in.

The minister’s comments reportedly came during a visit to Tasmania this week, where debate has been raging over the issue after the State Opposition raised it several weeks ago, earning a promise from Premier David Bartlett that he would raise it with the Tasmanian NBN Company.

“At the moment we have to get written permission to come onto people’s property,” the Examiner newspaper reported Conroy as saying today.

“If David Bartlett, with the support of state Opposition Leader Will Hodgman and the Greens, are willing to amend the legislation and the planning laws in his state we think that would be fantastic. We are dead keen to connect to every home.”

Neither Conroy’s office nor NBN Co responded to a request for comment on whether they would consider an opt-out model for the mainland NBN rollout when questioned on the issue several weeks ago.

However, NBN Co has spent a considerable amount of effort recently attempting to convince residents and businesses in the early stage Willunga and Kiama rollout sites to opt-in to the NBN fibre rollout in their areas.

“We do not want anyone within the first release sites to miss out on the opportunity to take their first step into a high-speed future,” said NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley in a statement on Monday. “Residents in the first release sites can expect a letter from me within the next week in their mailbox and an accompanying consent form.”

Quigley pointed out that signing the consent form didn’t mean customers would have to cancel their existing phone or internet service.

“It simply gives you a chance to prepare your premises for the opportunity to be part of the NBN at a time of your choosing once the network goes live,” he said.

The Greens and other politicians have previously argued for the NBN to be universal as an expression of what they have described as a platform that would be able to provide “ubiquity” of online services in future. For example, the idea has been raised that basic government services could be delivered to householders and businesses — regardless of whether they have signed up to a retail broadband service or not.

Image credit: Office of Stephen Conroy


  1. Opt out of fast broadband but not a manditory filter. That makes sense. Not. Conroy makes my blood boil with his shear arrogance and cluelessness. Please vote him out. Pleeeaaase!

  2. Huh? how about all the people, especially amongst the 60+ , who don’t even have or want a computer? this is very relevant in Tasmania with an aging population. And supposing this is anticppating other residents more tech savvy in the future, is the govt going to pay for the connection?

    • you said ‘Huh? how about all the people, especially amongst the 60+ , who don’t even have or want a computer? ‘

      Your missing the point. The installation of the cable should be compulsory so that when those that are 60+, kick the bucket or move the new resident can just ring an ISP and say ‘switch me on please’.

      It’s much cheaper to connect everyone in a street at the same time.

  3. Judy, of course the government is paying for the connection. It’s part of the up-to $43b project. It’s just a matter of you choosing to have it installed or not. Frankly you’d be silly not to have it installed, even if you don’t use it.

    There currently is no facts to suggest this either way, but it seems that if you deny them access, you may have to pay for the installation if you chose to have it at a later date. Remember, if the NBN becomes very popular in your area and the deal with Telstra continues to go ahead, it’s possible that Telstra could decommission the copper phone lines in your street/area which means you’d then have to go onto the NBN or use wireless. Which MIGHT cost you for an install.

    You shouldn’t fear the NBN. Just give them permission to access your property (the outside) and install their equipment. If and when you need/want it, it’ll be there. With one phone call you can be connected. It’s possible the install could also increase the value of your property.

  4. I agree with Peter. Nobody wants his stupid compulsory internet filter and yet, he insists on ramming it down our throats. I am voting Labor last.

  5. Dump the filter Conroy re-introduce the Net Alert scheme and refine it and you might just win my vote back. But continue with this stupid filter farce then no way in hell I will vote for you and Labor.

  6. I think a few people here do not understand what is going on. The NBN rollout will not effect your current phone line operation. It simply gives you the ability to switch over to an NBN provider if you so chose to when the network goes live. If you chose to cutover then your fixed line and broadband services or just your fixed line services if you don’t have broadband will be on the new NBN.

    If you don’t want to change over to NBN you should still get the cable installed as Telstra will be migrating their customers to NBN hardware as part of the deal they have with the government. Read into that what you will but I doubt they will want to continue with the expense of maintaining an ageing copper network when that happens.

  7. Guys, this article is about the NBN, not the filter. Can we please STAY on topic. The NBN is NOT the filter. It is a high speed always-on fibre connection to the home and will revolutionise the way we live today. Opt out is a great idea and Australia should adopt the same model. It means everyone get’s connected the first time around, you don’t have to ask for it. You can choose not to use it, that’s up to you but it will be available at your premises.

    • Kevin, if the filter wasn’t compulsory with no OPT OUT, it wouldn’t even be discussed. Unfortunately it is, and it’s welded at the hip with the NBN so it will float up in the same discussions.

      Oh and Phil, the government has not committed to making connection to the NBN free at all, even the pilot program charges a fee for connections after a cut off date. Conroy wants to rely on good old fashioned Australian apathy by saying that if you don’t opt out, you automatically consent to NBN staff coming on your property and doing works…

      ie. (his quote) “At the moment we have to get written permission to come onto people’s property,”

      This is a cynical ploy to drive take up, so he can claim success, rather than selling the idea of getting connected on it’s own merits. Hell, the pilot program only managed 50% on free connections with staff saturating the customers with information.

      The want to promote ubiquity, they should be working harder informing the electorate of the benefits rather than relying on legislative muscle.

      • The filter is NOT related to the NBN. Your assumption is entirely incorrect. They are two different projects that are run by the same minister. Neither has a dependancy on the other.

  8. NBN should definitely be opt-out. It’s much more efficient to wire the whole street at once. This project will cost a fortune, let’s not waste money doing it inefficiently. Maybe they could use some of the money saved by doing it efficiently to burn more of the fibre instead of stringing from power poles?

    Given that the installers do not have to enter the person’s building to complete the install surely just sending letters for the dates for installation should be sufficient.

  9. A tenant, or body corporate, should be able to override an owner’s opt-out. I don’t want some precious wanker who still uses an abacus stopping my unit from getting fibre. We are already banned from pay tv cos they don’t want a cable run. Thank god the phone line was installed 100 yrs ago, else we’d be sending smoke signals from the living room!

  10. “Conroy makes my blood boil with his shear arrogance and cluelessness. Please vote him out. Pleeeaaase”

    Makes my blood boil too, but Tony Abbot intends to scrap the entire NBN project! That will send us back to, or rather, keep us in the internet dark ages. So, lets keep Conroy until the NBN rollout has too much critical mass to be canned by any politician and then dump him.

    I am astonished at Abbots short sightedness. Yes, the whole NBN project is being badly run with lots of fuzzy numbers and lack of clarity etc, but to not want to leapfrog Australia into the future shows an incredible lack of vision. Rather than can the project, he should be talking about refining it and managing it correctly, this will bring him more votes than he cares to imagine.

  11. Just the thought that there will be no opt-out has made me decide I will not agree to having this installed at my house.I will not be forced by government to pay what they deem is reasonable for this service.Watch the price rise every year as it has with electricity.Competition drives prices down.Who can compete against the government,and once labor’s union buddies start demanding ridiculous wages and concessions,taxpayers will be endlessly milked,as they were with Telstra.Only brain dead morons would vote for this.

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