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News, Telecommunications - Written by Renai LeMay on Thursday, October 31, 2013 15:29 - 57 Comments
Clare bemoans Coalition’s 500k NBN “victims”
news Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has issued a statement claiming that half a million homes and businesses have become the first “victims” of the Coalition’s revised NBN policy and that the new Coalition Government is not sticking to its promise of honouring existing NBN fibre contracts.
Yesterday the National Broadband Network Company updated its projected rollout maps to provide residents and businesses around Australia with greater certainty in terms of when they can expect the NBN’s infrastructure to be deployed to their area. Previously, the maps had shown NBN Co’s three year rollout schedule. However, they had become substantially inaccurate due to the fact that the project has been repeatedly delayed in many areas nationally.
Simultaneously, NBN Co published the first of an ongoing series of weekly reports which will chart the progress of the rollout, providing a more detailed look at the project than had previously been possible under the previous Labor administration, which only provided updates once every three months.
The information also distinguishes for the first time between those premises passed by fibre that are able to connect to the NBN and those that are not yet able to obtain a service (typically because they are located in a multi dwelling unit, such as an apartment building or shopping mall).
The rollout of the fixed-line network is underway for approximately 300,000 homes and businesses in built-up areas (“brownfields”). The maps will be updated when further areas enter the building stage and the shape of the rollout becomes clearer following the completion of the Strategic Review into the NBN.
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, while in Opposition, had stated that NBN Co under a Coalition Government would honour existing construction contracts signed under Labor. This statement has been taken by many in the community to mean that the Coalition would continue deploying fibre to the full extent contracted under those arrangements.
However, it has been clear for some time that NBN Co’s contracts with its construction partners allow for significant modification of the work and that those same contractors may be contracted to deploy different styles of NBN rollout — for example, Fibre to the Basement- or Fibre to the Node-style rollouts, as opposed to Labor’s Fibre to the Premises model — or that the contracts may even be able to be cancelled in some cases due to a lack of delivery by the contractors concerned.
In late September, Turnbull ordered NBN Co to continue with construction works where work orders had been issued, but also ordered NBN Co not to begin new construction works without consulting the Government. The updated NBN maps merely reflect this situation – which has been evident for a month.
However, in a statement issued yesterday, new Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare accused the Coalition of creating “victims” of its “cuts” to the NBN.
“More than half a million homes and businesses were today identified as the first victims of the Coalition cuts to the National Broadband Network,” a statement issued by the Labor MP wrote. “Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare called on the Coalition Government to stick to its word and honour existing National Broadband Contracts whilst the NBN Co Strategic Review is underway.”
“Before the election Malcolm Turnbull promised to honour existing contracts, now he has broken that promise,” Clare added, stating that this week 500,000 homes and businesses that previously had a date on which they could expect fibre-to-the-home broadband to be connected were quietly moved to a list entitled “TBA”.
“This week Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have pulled the plug on half a million homes and businesses that were expecting to receive fibre to the home. They are the first victims of the Coalition’s cuts to the NBN,” Clare said.
Deputy Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland added: “The Coalition Government needs to stick to its word, honour existing contracts and let workers get on with rolling out the NBN,” Ms Rowland said.
Turnbull told the ABC this morning that the old maps were misleading because they listed areas as being “under construction” even though they were only at the planning stage. “What we’re doing is spelling out the facts about the NBN’s performance, instead of trying to create false impressions,” the Liberal MP said.”Under the Labor regime, they were basically being misled.”
Image credit: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
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