darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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September 3, 2012

There have been a lot of myths about the Coalition’s broadband policy and how it compares to the Gillard Government’s $50 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).

As I travel throughout the region, I am often asked by East Gippslanders about which towns will have access to the NBN and when.

Last month, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, released a list of cities and towns included in the NBN fibre rollout plan which included the East Gippsland communities of Bairnsdale, Paynesville, Eagle Point, Metung, Lakes Entrance, Lake Tyers, Orbost and Mallacoota.

However, the NBN website indicates that none of these locations will have access within three years.

The rollout is proceeding very slowly and after two years only about 4000 premises have been connected to the NBN fibre to the home network.

I had the opportunity to discuss our policy and the benefits for consumers in regional communities with Malcolm Turnbull who is the Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband who gave the following breakdown of the Coalition’s policy:

“We will use a mix of technology. Where it makes sense to use fibre to the home (FTTH), such as in greenfields developments, we will do that. Where we can upgrade to very fast speeds without digging up footpaths or people’s front gardens we will do that, bringing the fibre close enough to the home that when it is connected to the existing copper lines it can deliver very fast speeds more than capable of delivering the video services and other applications residential customers want.

“In built-up areas this approach, called fibre to the node (FTTN), costs around one-quarter and takes about one-third of the time to build as FTTH, which Labor proposes to roll out to 93 per cent of Australian premises. Not only will this approach save taxpayers billions, it will also result in lower broadband costs.

“Senator Stephen Conroy says FTTN is a “second rate” technology because it will not deliver the very high speeds (100 mbps and higher) that FTTH is capable of doing. However consumers will only pay for bandwidth to the extent it enables them to use services and applications of value to them and, for residential consumers especially, these very high speeds do not enable them to do anything they cannot do with lower speeds which FTTN can deliver.”

The Coalition believes fast broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity and Australians need it now – not in a decade.

While we can’t predict what will happen in the future, there will be advancements in the technology currently used to deliver broadband.

It would be more economically responsible to invest in the infrastructure for the services we need now and then when further investment is required to deliver additional services, there will be more advanced and efficient technology available to carry out such projects.

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