news Tasmanian MP Brett Whiteley has told residents and businesses unhappy with the satellite broadband the NBN company is planning to deploy in his electorate in Western Tasmania that the infrastructure represents a “great opportunity” and they should stop pining for a Fibre to the Premise instead.
Residents of areas such as Queenstown in Western Tasmania were previously scheduled to have received a full Fibre to the Premises rollout as part of the previous Labor Government’s original NBN plan.
However, under the Coalition’s revised Multi-Technology Mix approach to the NBN, they will instead only receive satellite broadband, with the NBN company not planning to deploy any fixed broadband infrastructure to some areas of the state, despite the fact that townships such as Queenstown already have ADSL broadband over Telstra’s copper network, and several thousand local residents.
Residents and business groups in the region have bitterly complained about the issue to their local MP, Brett Whitely, demanding better broadband.
However, in a speech in Federal Parliament last week, Whiteley — the Liberal Member for Braddon — rejected the complaints.
“Satellite will be delivered to the west coast of Tasmania in the next few months. I say to the people of the west coast: that is a great opportunity. Sign up. Find out what it is like. And if it is still a problem let’s talk about it,” Whiteley said. “But I do not believe it will.”
Whiteley said Christmas might have been over six months ago, but Labor party figures were “still parading as economically irresponsible Santa Clauses … telling everybody that they should have Fibre to the Premise, that Fibre to the Node is a complete waste of time, that satellite will be no good and that the wireless tower technology is a waste of money.”
However, Whiteley told the Federation Chamber in Parliament (watch the video in full above), it was “about time” the Labor Party “came clean”.
“My electorate, on the west coast, are being stirred up into a bit of a frenzy—a few of them—by the Labor Party, particularly, and they need to understand this: when we inherited the NBN plan there was no plan, no design, no money, no funding, no contract, no anything for any NBN to flow to the west coast of Tasmania,” said Whitely.
“Yet they are rolling in there telling everyone they can have [Fibre to the Premises].”
Whitely said there was “no plan” for the Labor Party to deliver a fibre NBN — “in any way, shape or form” — into the west coast of Tasmania.
“The people of the west coast need to understand that. If they want to hold onto the hope the Labor Party pretends to put forward, we are looking at a potential eight to 10-year delay in providing the sort of rolled gold system that the Labor Party is talking about. I say to the people of the West Coast: do not believe them.”
“There is an opportunity, in the next few months, for the people of the west coast to sign up to a satellite service that will deliver speeds 10 times faster than those they have now, and it will be a great opportunity for that community.”
Allow me to put a few facts on the table in relation to Whiteley’s speech.
Firstly, it is clear that the NBN company and the previous Labor Federal Government did somewhat stuff up the FTTP NBN rollout in Tasmania. Tasmania was supposed to be the first state in Australia to get the NBN, but the rollout got bogged down in problems largely to do with contractors and the construction process.
However, Whiteley’s claim that Labor didn’t have a plan for Tasmania is not true. The state was to receive mostly FTTP under the previous Labor plan … now it is to receive a mix of various technologies.
The satellite issue on the state’s west coast also continues to be a major issue.
There are a number of major communities on the Tasmanian west coast which already have Telstra copper in the ground, and even have access to some fibre infrastructure in the region. Normally this would be a clear-cut case or upgrading that infrastructure to fibre, or at least fibre to the node.
And yet the NBN company appears to be ignoring the communities in rural Tasmania, instead pledging to put satellite dishes on areas which have thousands of homes.
Whiteley can rant all he wants about how great satellite is. But the reality is that these people deserve — and were promised — better. If the NBN company is going to take over Telstra’s copper network, after all, the least it can do is upgrade it with some fibre. Satellite is usually not the best option when there is existing infrastructure in the ground.