The NBN Co’s 60-day strategic review of the NBN has generated a range of responses, with Shadow Minister for Communications Jason Clare saying that the Coalition government has broken its election promise to deliver 25 Mbps speeds by 2016.
"Australians want Labor's NBN, not the Coalition's second rate copper network that we now know won't even meet the low expectations they set for it,” he said in a statement.
Clare pointed out that before the election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Coalition would deliver download speeds of 25 Mbps by the end of its first term.
“[We] are absolutely confident that 25 megs is going to be enough, more than enough, for the average household,” said Abbott in April 2013.
“I want our NBN rolled out within three years and [Communications Minister] Malcolm Turnbull is the right person to make this happen.”
However, the NBN Co’s report released yesterday found that there was “no viable path” to achieve the goal of 25 Mbps speeds by 2016.
Instead, approximately 90 per cent of Australians will get broadband speeds of about 50 Mbps by year-end 2019 under the Coalition’s proposal to overhaul the NBN.
NBN Co said the new plan would cost $41 billion, about $11.5 billion more than what Turnbull had estimated in April. It recommended a move away from a pure fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) plan to one that includes fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre to the basement or distribution point (FTTB/DP), a mixed technology approach.
"Yet again, the Coalition has shown the Australian people this isn't the government they said they would be,” Clare said.
- Government unlikely to hit NBN deadline: report
- NBN Co chair says copper in `reasonable condition’
- NBN to improve telco competition: Bill Morrow
Telcos positive about NBN strategic review
Telco industry groups were more positive about the strategic review with the Competitive Carriers’ Coalition (CCC) saying that it provided certainty for competitors to Telstra.
“It was important for industry confidence that there has been a renewed commitment to a structurally separated, wholesale-only national network, and a new timetable for its completion,” the CCC said in a statement.
Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton also voiced relief.
"We are still digesting the analysis and recommendations, but we welcome the frankness of the review and the pragmatic approach to assessing the re-engineering options that now lie before us," Stanton said.
iiNet acting CEO David Buckingham said he welcomed the commitment to a continuation of the rollout of superfast broadband by the Coalition government.
“We’re particularly encouraged by the extra investment outlined in the review and the 2019 completion target, which will bring the benefits of superfast broadband earlier than expected,” Buckingham said in a statement.
“It’s promising to see the assembly of a strong board and management team at NBN Co, with a good mix of industry experience and a new customer focus. We’re excited by the renewed commitment to operational scalability and connecting as many people to the network as possible.”
According to Buckingham, iiNet has already connected more than 25,000 customers to the NBN.
Additional reporting by Adam Bender
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick