Copper broadband is failing Canberrans

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network's report on the rollout of the NBN only confirmed Canberra's worst fears—that this government's rollout is failing them. 

It's causing a digital divide within the suburbs of my community right across the electorate of Canberra, and it will leave many people in my community behind and many others no better off. The reason for this is that it's a rollout of a second-grade network. Since launching the Send Me Your Speeds campaign 18 months ago, I've shared the experiences of hundreds of Canberrans who are struggling to run businesses, who are struggling to study and who are struggling to communicate. They're struggling because they've got download and upload speeds of less than one megabit per second—we're talking one megabit per second within five kays of this Parliament House, 10 kays of this Parliament House, 20 kays of this Parliament House. This is in the nation's capital. This is in 2017.

These are speeds that they're currently getting on ADSL using the copper network. This is the same network that this government expects the NBN to use in its deployment of fibre to the node. Instead of rolling out a network that would advance Australia's standing in the international rankings when it comes to broadband, this government is attached to a rollout that is pushing us backwards. It's definitely not the network you would expect for the 21st century and beyond.

Canberra is fast becoming one of Australia's great innovation hubs and knowledge economies. We are seeing growth in the defence and space industries—there's been significant investment in space, most recently—and an increasing number of start-ups in renewables and manufacturing. Along with the growth of these industries, Canberra is home to thousands of small businesses and microbusinesses, most of which operate from home. The main thing holding back many of these businesses is internet speed. Many businesses will face an additional burden when trying to compete domestically and on the international stage without communications infrastructure that will serve them both now and into the future.

I want these businesses to be able to thrive. I want people to be able to work from home. I don't want them to have to go off to hire office space and commute there just because the internet speed is so lousy. It shouldn't be so hard. Why is this government so determined to hold back businesses here in Canberra? Internet speed doesn't only make a difference to businesses; it's a key enabler for students, grandparents and families. I have heard from so many students and parents concerned about their current speeds. It is holding them back from educational opportunities.

The joint committee's report determined what so many of us already knew—that fibre to the node will quickly become an outdated technology. I'm calling on the government to adopt the recommendations from the report and roll out fibre to the curb as a minimum.

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