MP’s anger at ‘woeful’ NBN
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.