The recent Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network report confirmed what Canberrans already know.
There is a digital divide in Canberra.
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, study and communicate with download and upload speeds of less than one megabit per second.
And what’s the Turnbull Government doing about it?
The ACT Government’s submission to the committee confirmed NBN Co’s rollout is prioritising residents who already have access to the existing TransACT network, when parts of Canberra – particularly in South East Tuggeranong – are battling to do a speed test!
“The resources for duplication would be more economically beneficial if reallocated to disadvantaged suburbs where it will provide a substantial upgrade compared to existing internet infrastructure.” (1st report, page 29)
The submission reinforces what I have been calling on the Turnbull Government to do for 18 months – prioritise Canberra’s digitally disadvantaged suburbs.
The committee’s report also recommended the Turnbull Government direct and enable NBN Co to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using fibre to the curb at a minimum where feasible, and require NBN Co to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved.
Many homes, particularly in South East Tuggeranong, risk being permanently left behind if the Turnbull Government continues its rollout of fibre to the node – when the rollout finally happens.
Canberrans living in South East Tuggeranong are unable to receive adequate internet via ADSL because of the quality of the existing copper network. This is unlikely to change with a fibre to the node rollout.
And the Turnbull Government has not directed NBN Co to provide for an adequate upgrade path once fibre to the node is rolled out.
NBN Co conceded during Senate estimates in February there was no capital set aside in the current 30-year NBN business case to upgrade the copper network.
Why should the Canberrans who have sent me their speeds, frustrated by impeded opportunities, be forced to accept a second rate NBN?
If better broadband technology, like fibre to the curb and fibre to the premises is being rolled out in some homes and businesses across Canberra, it should be rolled out to every home and business in Canberra.
FRIDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2017