Labor senator speaks out after NBN technology bypasses Tasmania

NBN rollout.
NBN rollout.

Labor says Malcolm Turnbull is “leaving Tasmania off the map” when it comes to the NBN.

NBN Co went live with fibre-to-the-curb technology last week, which will only be installed in premises that do not already have the NBN.

There are no plans to introduce the technology in Tasmania, where the majority of customers are connected via fibre-to-the-node service.

TasICT chief executive Dean Winter described FTTC as a “superior product to fibre to the node”.

Launceston-based Labor Senator Helen Polley said the announcement reflected the Prime Minister’s “disinterest” in Tasmania as a state.

“Labor welcomes the development of more fibre, but this is little consolation for the almost 100,000 Tasmanian premises locked into Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate copper [FTTN],” she said.

“Mr Turnbull’s flawed policy direction will continue to deliver poor outcomes for Tasmanian consumers and businesses.”

Speaking in response to Senator Polley’s claims, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said Labor needed to clarify its own NBN policy before criticising the existing rollout.

“Labor Senators need to come clean about their own plans for the NBN,” he said.

“The rollout in Tasmania is virtually finished.

“If Labor want to spend more and build over the top of the existing rollout, then internet bills will go up.

“Labor’s NBN plans are a huge threat to internet affordability particularly for low-income households and Tasmanian pensioners.”

Tasmania NBN Co local manager Russell Kelly pointed to the state’s percentage of fibre-to-the-premises connectivity as evidence of its premium position in the national rollout.

Tasmania already has excellent broadband connectivity available now through the nbn, and technology will be upgraded into the future as it becomes feasible and there is demand.

Approximately 45% of the rollout in Tasmania is Fibre to the Premises – a higher proportion than any other state.”

NBN launch to bypass state

Progress of the National Broadband Network rollout in Tasmania means the state will miss out on technology launched this month. 

NBN Co went live on its latest form of technology, fibre-to-the-curb, with 1000 homes in two suburbs, Coburg in Victoria and Miranda in New South Wales, the first in Australia to have the option to connect to the service.

FTTC involves NBN fibre optic cable laid out to a telecommunications pit underneath the curb or footpath, with NBN Co then using the existing copper network to connect the short distance to the home.

Given the technology will only be installed in homes that don’t have the NBN, there are no plans for it to be introduced in Tasmania.  TasICT chief executive Dean Winter described FTTC as “superior product to fibre to the node”.

“Obviously, TasICT and the vast majority of Tasmanian internet users would prefer to see the FTTC rolled out, rather than FTTN,” he said.

“FTTC has a number of advantages, including performance, consistency, reliability and the ease of upgrade to fibre to the premises at a later date.”

Tasmania NBN Co local manager Russell Kelly said people in the state should not feel as though they are missing out.

“The rollout of the NBN in Tasmania is 99 per cent complete, with Tasmania scheduled to be the first state finished later this year,” he said.

“This is years ahead of some other parts of Australia.”

“Tasmanians share the same NBN technology as millions of other Australians.”