More dregs for WA as we drift towards NBN backwater

Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2018 17:40
In announcing a further increase in fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC), NBN Co has once again given WA an extraordinary bad deal, with the state due to see only 3000-4000 additional premises receive the superior technology (or less than 1 per cent) of the additional 440,000 FTTC connections announced this week.
 
WA has already been lumped with by far the largest share of the worst NBN line technology, fibre-to-the-node (FTTN). Senate Estimates revealed in February that WA is getting far and away the highest proportion of FTTN, the worst line broadband technology. WA will see 61% of its network in the form of FTTN, compared to NSW (39%), QLD (43%), and VIC (32%). Only 1 in 4 households with FTTN can get the higher speed package of 100 mbps, yet before long this is likely to be a basic operating speed requirement, especially for businesses. 
 
It is totally unacceptable that WA will get virtually no increase in FTTC. One percent of the new allocation is simply pathetic. We’ve already been lumped with by far the largest share of the worst NBN technology, fibre-to-the-node (FTTN). This latest announcement would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. WA is at serious risk of becoming Australia’s broadband backwater. 
 
In WA we received less than our fair share of fibre-to-the-curb in the first place, and this can’t be allowed to happen a second time. WA must have its woeful broadband technology mix corrected with any increase to the FTTC component. 
 
We are the largest state, with the greatest challenge when it comes to remoteness. If the government doesn’t listen to reason and require the necessary rebalance, the West will be left on the far side of a harmful digital divide. 
 
It is critical that any further extension of the FTTC rollout must be delivered in a way that rebalances WA’s appallingly bad version of the ‘multi-technology mix’. 
 
BACKGROUND: 
• September 2017: Joint Standing Committee on the NBN 1st Report: Recommendation 1: The committee recommends that the Australian Government direct and enable NBN to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using FTTC at a minimum (or FTTP), and require NBN to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved. 
 
• December 2017: Government responds to JSC NBN Report, saying “The Government does not support this recommendation. The Government notes the Committee’s recommendation that the fixed line rollout be completed using FTTC at a minimum. The Government remains committed to the Multi Technology Mix (MTM), which will see the roll out of fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices and at least cost to tax payers.” 
 
• February 2018: Senate Estimates reveals that WA is getting far and away the highest proportion of FTTN, the worst line broadband technology. WA is getting 61% of its network in the form of FTTN, compared to NSW (39%), QLD (43%), and VIC (32%). 
 
• April 2018: NBN Co announces further extension of FTTC rollout, with an additional 440,000 premises to receive the technology. Only 3000 to 4000 of those premises are in WA. 
 
• Of the 1.44 million premises to receive FTTC, only 6.5 per cent (94,000) will be in WA, when our population share would be nearly double that number. 

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AUTHORISED BY JOSH WILSON
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY CANBERRA
© COPYRIGHT 2018 JOSH WILSON MP