news Internet Australia, the peak body representing Internet users, has expressed its disappointment that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield “missed an opportunity” to meet with his local digital and ICT community last week.
Chair of the group, George Fong, said he was “bemused” that the Minister did not make the time to catch up with local stakeholders, despite being in his hometown of Ballarat at the time, and following multiple requests for a meeting.
“This would have been the ideal opportunity for the minister to speak first hand to people who need fast broadband and have the evidence to prove it, and to hear their stories not the filtered reports ministers traditionally receive”, Fong said.
Fong, who owns and operates a local ISP located in the Ballarat Technology Park, said he would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the NBN rollout and “its potential impact on the economic and social fabric of rural and regional Australia”.
Ballarat is also home to Stuart Benjamin, Chair of auDA – the organisation that administers the .au domain space on behalf of the Federal Government.
“Internet Australia has been in touch with Minister Fifield’s office on a number of recent occasions asking to meet with him,”, said Fong. “We’d like to provide feedback on the NBN rollout and relay the genuine concerns of our members.”
On the same day that Fifield visited Ballarat, the Minister issued a news release concerning the Coalition’s delivery of broadband to businesses and homes in regional Australia.
However, according to Fong the reality is “more complex than the Government seems to appreciate”.
“It’s a shame we weren’t able to show Senator Fifield some of the success stories unfolding here for those businesses that have already been connect to the NBN,” he said.
Fong continued to say that those parts of Ballarat that have been provided with the high-speed fibre-based FTTP version have already benefitted greatly from the NBN rollout.
“Businesses there are now able to undertake tasks never before possible,” Fong said. “The parts of our city that have FTTP provide a benchmark for operational delivery of high speed NBN services across regional Australia.”
On the other hand, he said, under the Coalition’s multi-technology mix (MTM) model, other parts of Ballarat are now set to have the “inferior” copper-based FTTN version run out to residences.
“We are on the verge of creating a two class city”, Fong concluded.
With the availability of new, lower-cost optical fibre technologies and following a survey of members that found 80% “dissatisfied” with the copper-based MTM model, Internet Australia urged the Government and the Opposition to agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy.
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting