The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) has come under criticism from Labor MP Ed Husic, who says that the new roll-out sites focus too much on new housing estates and expanding existing roll-out locations.
NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley indicated yesterday that NBN Co had chosen the next 28 sites on the basis of the availability of exchange space, expanding original release sites and greenfield sites. The Federal member for Chifley today took aim at the company charged with rolling out the government's $35.9 billion project, stating that it isn't living up to the project's objective.
"NBN Co is making a big deal out of rolling out broadband in new estates where people haven't even moved in, while down the road people are tearing their hair out to get ADSL or decent wireless access," he said.
"I don't begrudge new areas getting access — I'm happy for them. But how do you explain NBN Co's priorities to residents in Woodcroft and Doonside, who are struggling to get decent internet access?
"It seems to me NBN Co is just reaching out for easy targets, hugging geographic areas within close proximity of exchanges."
The Labor backbencher, who represents outer western Sydney suburbs, such as Doonside, Minchinbury and Mount Druitt, said that suburbs in his own electorate are struggling with problems of exchanges being overcrowded.
"Network access is so congested and so bad in parts of Woodcroft; residents tell me they sometimes have to wait for someone to move out of the suburb before an existing resident can get ADSL access," he said. "On top of that, residents have told me time after time that wireless services are slow or unreliable.
"Businesses in Woodcroft Shopping Centre have told me about how their work is affected by a lack of quality internet access — and they're surprised that the internet access they take for granted elsewhere in Western Sydney can't be duplicated in Woodcroft."
Husic said that he will argue the case for Doonside and Woodcroft to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and plans to raise the matter formally with the minister.
Husic is a member of the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network, scheduled to have two days of hearings at the beginning of next week. NBN Co is set to appear before the committee on Monday. He is also the first Federal Labor MP to air criticism of the sites chosen yesterday, but finds an unlikely ally in the Victorian government, which has complained about the lack of Victorian sites in the new announcement. Liberal MP Paul Fletcher has also panned yesterday's announcement, suggesting that safe Liberal electorates were neglected in favour of marginal seats and those held by Labor and Independent MPs.