The Tasmanian Government is ramping up its roll out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) announcing it will shortly seek to legislate an ‘opt out’ model for new connections to the broadband network - the first of its kind in the country.
Tasmanian Premier and Minister for Innovation, Science and Technology, David Bartlett, said the decision that households should automatically be connected to the NBN was based on the fact that half the homes and businesses in the first NBN trial sites had decided to connect to the network; a result Bartlett described as “a good early result”.
To date, the rollout of the NBN had followed an ‘opt in’ model due to legal issues around entering an owner’s property to connect optic fibre without consent. However, Bartlett said advice and research had convinced him that the ‘opt out’ model was the “most practical and efficient”.
A possible move to an opt out model was first flagged in July, with Barlett committing to raising the issue with the Tasmanian NBN Company noting he did not know of the legislative or regulatory impacts it may present.
“I am sure there would be plenty of people that would not want the government rolling up onto their property and installing fibre without permission," he said at the time. "Nonetheless it would be an enormous cost to the community if we only do get half of our homes connected to the fibre.”
Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has also thrown his weight behind an ‘opt out’ model, echoing the issue of needing written permission to enter a property.
"If David Bartlett, with the support of state Opposition Leader Will Hodgman and the Greens, are willing to amend the legislation and the planning laws in his state we think that would be fantastic. We are dead keen to connect to every home," he told Tasmania's Examiner paper in July.
Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has rubbished the suggestion that existing legislation be changed, however, saying such a move would “force” consumers to opt out and give free license to the NBN Co to connect homeowners to the network without their consent.
“The Tasmanian Government’s push for new laws allowing the National Broadband Network Co to connect to houses without the explicit consent of owners confirms that the business plan of the NBN depends on compulsion and the elimination of competing technologies,” Turnbull said in a statement.
According to Turnbull, the move adds to Labor’s existing plans to eliminate fixed line technologies, including Telstra’s copper network, after the NBN is rolled out, and leaving consumers with one choice for telephony or internet access: the NBN’s fixed line.