news The chief executive of the NBN company last week said that the debate over different technologies for the National Broadband Network was effectively over, with ‘most’ Australians having now accepted the rationale for the Coalition’s technically inferior Multi-Technology Mix model for the network.
The original version of the NBN as envisioned by the previous Labor Government called for most Australian premises to be covered by a full Fibre to the Premises rollout, with the remainder to be covered by satellite and fixed wireless technology.
The Coalition’s controversial Multi-Technology Mix instituted by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister has seen the company switch to a model re-using and upgrading the legacy copper and HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus.
Last week the NBN company released its latest set of financial results. The results show that the company continues to make strong strides in deploying its network — both the original FTTP network envisioned by Labor as well as the Multi-Technology Mix approach favoured by the Coalition.
Speaking to the Financial Review following the results, NBN company chief executive Bill Morrow reportedly said that he now believed ‘most Australians’ now supported the rationale for the MTM model. Delimiter recommends readers click through to read the full article.
The AFR reported Morrow as saying: “I think we are past that … we have moved on from ‘oh my God, let’s not introduce new technologies, let’s stay with FTTP for most of Australia’. ”
Morrow’s comments reflect sentiment that he expressed in his speech pertaining to the NBN company’s financial results.
As part of the NBN company’s financial results, the company claimed that customers using its Fibre to the Node service (a component of the MTM model) were just as satisfied with their broadband service as those using Fibre to the Premises services, on the basis of the industry standard Net Promoter Score rating.
“With a bit of experience now behind us, we can see how this technology has minimal civil works, less homeowner complaints, and a lower cost structure than alternative approaches,” said Morrow last week regarding FTTN. “The speed to which we can roll out this technology gives us even further confidence in our roll out plan and we are moving full steam ahead.”
“An important note here on FTTN is that our end-users score the use of this product the same as those with FTTP, reinforcing the belief that FTTN is an acceptable technology that can meet consumer’s fast broadband needs.”
Communications MInister Mitch Fifield also took the opportunity last week to claim that the NBN company’s financial results showed that the MTM model was succeeding.
“The results are a clear indication that the lower cost, more efficient FTTN network and multi-technology mix is the right choice to deliver high speed broadband to homes and business across Australia,” the Liberal Senator said in a statement.
The claims by Morrow go against the grain in terms of previous public surveys with respect to the Coalition’s version of the NBN.
When the Coalition first unveiled its rival NBN policy, online polling showed that 78 percent of readers continued to support Labor’s original, near universal fibre model instead, and in February 2014, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare tabled in Federal Parliament a petition with some 272,000 signatures calling for the Coalition to continue on with Labor’s version of the project.
That same month, Tasmanian Liberal Leader Will Hodgman made the extraordinary admission that the Federal Coalition’s unpopular broadband policy was so unpopular that it could cost the party the upcoming Tasmanian State Election (in the end, the Liberals won the election).
If the majority of Australians do now support the rationale for the Coalition’s version of the NBN, this would represent a significant reversal of the policy’s levels of public support.
Labor issued a statement last week claimed that Fifield had “guzzled” the “kool-aid” generated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the architect of the MTM NBN policy.
“Trying to distract attention from the fact the NBN will cost almost double what Malcolm Turnbull promised and will take twice as long to build as Malcolm Turnbull promised, today NBN Co and Mitch Fifield tried to pretend that copper and fibre are the same thing and that one is as good as the other,” said Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare.
I don’t personally believe Morrow’s comments are correct. Pretty much everyone I speak to, across society, maintains the belief that the Government has royally screwed up the NBN by pursuing the Multi-Technology Model. People are actively angry about the issue, and broadly are confused by the MTM model in general. Support levels for the policy continue to remain low, I would say, with Labor’s rival FTTP policy continuing to enjoy high levels of support.
Morrow has to know that he is going to incite rage by making this sort of claim in public.
Image credit: NBN company