Abbott will cancel NBN fibre: Conroy

Summary:The government has warned that over 1 million NBN fibre connections in areas where construction has commenced are at risk if the Coalition wins the September federal election.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said that over 1 million premises currently scheduled to get fibre to the premises (FttP) in the next three years on the National Broadband Network (NBN) will miss out under the Coalition's alternative proposal.

NBN Co has close to 5 million premises in its sights for construction of the NBN out to mid-2016 under the updated three-year rollout plan. This includes 1.3 million new premises in 190 different towns and suburbs that are now expected to have construction commenced or completed by June 2016.

Conroy announced the updated rollout plan at an event in Blacktown, Western Sydney, on Sunday. The event was said to mark the first NBN services being activated in Sydney; however, the service has already been activated in new housing estates in parts of Western Sydney already. Sunday's announcement was the first connection of the service to existing, or "brownfields", premises.

Conroy warned that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would "cancel" the construction of the NBN to these new premises should he win the September federal election.

"Tony Abbott's plan is to leave 9 million Australian homes disconnected from Labor's NBN, and this is going to create a digital divide across suburbs, across cities, and across all of Australia," he said. "You will have Labor's NBN with gigabyte [sic] capacity, and Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott's NBN delivering you a second-rate broadband network, but still spending AU$20 billion, and still borrowing nearly AU$30 billion for a second-rate network."

The opposition's NBN policy, released last month, would see 22 percent of Australian premises (2.8 million) continue to get fibre to the premises, while 71 percent will get fibre to the node (FttN) and will have to continue to use the existing copper line to their premises. NBN Co would remain the wholesale provider of services on that network, but users would not be able to get the 100Mbps speeds that the full fibre service offers.

While Turnbull has said that he will honour existing contracts that are in place with NBN Co, Conroy's statements on Sunday suggest that Turnbull's plan would not include all of the premises currently scheduled for construction by 2016.

"So these 1.3 million homes that will be built in 2015 to 2016, this will only happen if a Labor government is re-elected in September."

In the Coalition's background document, 2.8 million premises will continue to receive fibre to the premises, but the vast majority of these (1.6 million) will be new housing estates. Of the 1.2 million remaining, the policy only budgets for 565,000 existing premises, scheduled to be completed by June 2014, to continue getting the full fibre services — far fewer than what it has been suggested NBN Co is currently contracted for.

Turnbull's office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

The use of the term "construction commenced or completed" in describing areas set to get the NBN has been labelled as misleading by Turnbull . The term indicates construction that is either in planning, underway, or completed. An area specified to be in the three-year rollout plan could be waiting 18 months from the time NBN Co indicates that construction has commenced before they are able to connect to the NBN.

For example, NBN Co has said that construction had commenced or been completed for 784,592 premises at the end of December 2012; however, the company's June 30, 2013, target for the number of premises that will actually be able to connect to the fibre service will be between 200,000 and 220,000, Conroy said on Sunday.

NBN Co has set up a site for people to check to see whether they are included in the three-year rollout plan.

The new suburbs include:

New South Wales

  • Albion Park

  • Bankstown

  • Barham-Koondrook

  • Batemans Bay

  • Batlow

  • Bawley Point

  • Bellingen

  • Belmont

  • Bermagui

  • Berowra

  • Berridale

  • Bombala

  • Bondi

  • Branxton-Greta

  • Bulahdelah

  • Canowindra

  • Cessnock-Bellbird

  • Clarence Town

  • Como

  • Cooma

  • Coraki

  • Culcairn

  • Deniliquin

  • Dorrigo

  • Dungog

  • Edensor Park

  • Evans Head

  • Finley

  • Frenchs Forest

  • Gilgandra

  • Gunnedah

  • Hornsby

  • Howlong

  • Jindabyne

  • Kellyville

  • Kempsey

  • Kooringal

  • Macksville

  • Maclean

  • Manilla

  • Mona Vale

  • Moruya

  • Moss Vale

  • Murrurundi

  • Murwillumbah

  • Narooma

  • North Parramatta

  • Petersham

  • Quirindi

  • Ramsgate

  • Raymond Terrace

  • Shoalhaven Heads

  • Singleton

  • South West Rocks

  • Sydney

  • Springwood

  • Tocumwal

  • Tumbarumba

  • Tumut

  • Tuross Heads

  • Ulladulla

  • Uralla

  • Urunga

  • Walcha

  • Williamtown

  • Woodburn

  • Yamba

Queensland

  • Agnes Water

  • Airlie Beach

  • Albany Creek

  • Ayr

  • Babinda

  • Bells Bridge

  • Booral

  • Bowen

  • Boyne Island

  • Burleigh Heads

  • Burrum Heads

  • Cardwell

  • Childers

  • Collinsville

  • Cooktown

  • Coorparoo

  • Crows Nest

  • Gympie

  • Herberton

  • Highfields

  • Howard

  • Innisfail

  • Lammermoor

  • Landsborough

  • Malanda

  • Maleny

  • Maryborough

  • Mission Beach

  • Mossman

  • Murgon

  • Oakey

  • Proserpine

  • Rainbow Beach

  • Ravenshoe

  • Redland Bay

  • Sherwood

  • Sunshine Coast Caloundra

  • Sunshine Coast Noosa

  • Tin Can Bay

  • Toorbul

  • Toowong

  • Tully

  • Wondai

  • Wonga Beach

  • Woodford

  • Woodgate

Victoria

  • Anglesea

  • Ballan

  • Beaufort

  • Beechworth

  • Castlemaine

  • Chiltern

  • Clunes

  • Coburg

  • Craigieburn

  • Daylesford

  • Dimboola

  • Elmore

  • Garfield

  • Glen Iris

  • Heathcote

  • Heidelberg

  • Heyfield

  • Kooyong

  • Kyneton

  • Lang Lang

  • Maldon

  • Mirboo

  • North Moreland

  • Nathalia Newport

  • North Melbourne

  • Numurkah

  • Oakleigh

  • Point Cook

  • Portarlington

  • Romsey

  • Rushworth

  • Rye

  • Shoreham

  • Sunbury

  • Tallangatta

  • Thomastown

  • Trentham

  • Warburton

  • Winchelsea

  • Woori Yallock

South Australia

  • Barmera

  • Beachport

  • Berri

  • Brighton

  • Ceduna

  • Glenunga

  • Lyndoch

  • Millicent

  • Minlaton

  • Mount Gambier

  • Naracoorte

  • Penola

  • Port Lincoln

  • Renmark

  • Robe

  • Salisbury

  • Stansbury

  • Tumby Bay

  • Waikerie

  • Yorketown

Western Australia

  • Augusta

  • Broome

  • Cowaramup

  • Derby

  • Dunsborough

  • Ellenbrook

  • Esperance

  • Glenfield

  • Jandakot

  • South Margaret River

  • Norseman

  • Quinns Rocks

  • Spearwood

  • Wickham

  • York

The NBN rollout in Tasmania and the Northern Territory is scheduled to be completed in 2015, so no new suburbs were announced.

Topics: NBN

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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