MP’s anger at ‘woe­ful’ NBN

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - PA­TRICK GEE

WHILE NBN Co is cel­e­brat­ing the near com­ple­tion of the net­work roll­out in re­gional Aus­tralia, Lyons MHR Brian Mitchell is call­ing it a “cob­bled-to­gether mess”.

NBN Co re­leased a state­ment this month say­ing nearly all homes and busi­nesses out­side of ma­jor ur­ban ar­eas were able to or­der an NBN ser­vice from a net­work provider.

NBN Co chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Mor­row said the or­gan­i­sa­tion aimed to “bridge the dig­i­tal di­vide” and “see that Aus­tralians, re­gard­less of lo­ca­tion, have ac­cess to fast broad­band”.

“We are proud to an­nounce that the roll­out of the NBN ac­cess net­work to re­gional Aus­tralia is on the home stretch,” he said.

“We have seen a mas­sive im­prove­ment in re­gional in­ter­net ac­cess, with our whole­sale broad­band ser­vices of­fer­ing more com­pe­ti­tion, faster speeds.”

But Mr Mitchell, deputy chair of the NBN joint stand­ing com­mit­tee, said NBN ser­vices in re­gional ar­eas such as Lach­lan and Molesworth in the Der­went Val­ley were “woe­ful”.

The joint stand­ing com­mit­tee was estab­lished in 2016 to in­quire into and re­port on the roll­out of the NBN.

Mr Mitchell said re­cent com­mit­tee hear­ings in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Bris­bane re­vealed frus­tra­tions with low net­work speeds felt in the Der­went Val­ley were shared by ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties na­tion­wide.

“We got a wider view of what’s go­ing on,” he said.

“The prob­lems in re­gional Aus­tralia are very sim­i­lar to what’s hap­pen­ing in re­gional Tas­ma­nia, which is con­ges­tion on the fixed wire­less tow­ers.”

“NBN Co just does not seem to have had an up­grade path to take ac­count of the fact that peo­ple are us­ing 40 per cent more data year on year.”

Mr Mitchell said the is­sue stemmed from NBN Co pro­vid­ing satel­lite or fixed wire­less con­nec­tions rather than fi­bre to the node or premises.

“We know some peo­ple on the Lach­lan tow­ers are as low as 1 and 2 megabytes per sec­ond,” he said.

The NBN Co state­ment said new re­search showed Aus­tralia was now ranked 17th of 37 mem­ber coun­tries of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (up from 29th in 2012).

“Peo­ple ex­pect that if you are in a re­gional town or on an iso­lated prop­erty, you’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to get top notch, su­per-fast fi­bre,” Mr Mitchell said. “But you do ex­pect to have a good-qual­ity, us­able broad­band ser­vice.

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