Conroy ducks broadband deadline queries

Conroy ducks broadband deadline queries

Summary: Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has declined to deny opposition claims that construction of the government's planned $4.7 billion national broadband network might not commence until July 2009.

SHARE:

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has declined to deny opposition claims that construction of the government's planned $4.7 billion national broadband network might not commence until July 2009.

The Rudd Labor government had initially promised to deliver the first services over the network by the end of 2008.

However, last week Conroy revealed delays in receiving network information meant the government wouldn't receive bids to build the network until the end of this year. The deadline set in the original request for proposals was 25 June.

"We wouldn't be surprised if the roll out come this time next year has not commenced, considering all the work that has to be done," a spokesperson for Shadow Communications Minister Bruce Billson said yesterday.

Conroy did not directly deny the opposition's claim when responding yesterday via email, and today during a brief interview with ZDNet.com.au. Instead, he said the process had taken longer than expected, due to problems getting bidders to agree on the type of information necessary to complete a full proposal.

When asked when he believed the broadband build could begin, Conroy only answered: "It has been our ambition to start by the end of the year", without giving an updated estimate.

"There have been difficulties getting voluntary agreement to a data set sufficient to enable proponents to submit robust proposals," he said. "The scope of the information proposed is extensive, there are a range of stakeholders involved and it has taken longer to work through the issues than envisaged."

The specified time frames were always contingent on network information being available, he continued.

Despite the delays, Conroy believed pushing out the time frame to build the network was the right thing to do. "Given the important role that the national broadband network will play in the future delivery of economic and social benefits to Australia, it is important that time is taken to get fundamental issues right," he said.

The minister accused Billson of hypocrisy, saying the opposition had criticised time frames as being "unrealistic" and "dangerously truncated for no apparent reason" but then changing its tune to take the government to task for spending time getting information proponents needed.

Conroy's reason for playing coy on build dates was that the start time depended heavily on what sort of technologies were involved in the roll out.

Topics: Broadband, Government AU, Networking, NBN

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

9 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • No suprises there.

    Is it just me or do you smell Telstra's involvement here? Its obvious that its Telstra's 'data set' that everyone is waiting for. Why is it so hard for them to give up the documentation?
    I am getting sick of hating Telstra, but they seem to be pushing it on me every time i hear about the NBN, or anything broadband related for that matter.
    anonymous
  • Anti Telstra whinge!!!

    yeh lets blame Telstra for the price of oil aswell idiot!!
    anonymous
  • Well Ok

    The price of oil is so high because we all have to drive to work. We have to drive to work because we cant work at home. The nerds amongst us can't work at home because its hard to get good internet at home....
    anonymous
  • How about this

    Every Wan*er who want's an iPhone is a vain and ignorant person. They want it because it is cute and will help them attract the opposite se x, these are the same losers who drive huge V8 cars, 4WD's and have no consideration about everything except themselves. They are the ones that will drive to work, park the car in a garage for 8 hours and then drive back instead of considering thinks such as public transport,

    Hang on we can't blame the poor public transport system because there is no way I can twist this to make it look like it was Telstra's fault.

    They are the same ones that want everything here and now, the world owes them something and they owe it nothing.

    They are the people that constantly say thinks like:
    "I want faster and better services"
    why?
    "because I deserve it not because I need it"

    How much will you pay for these services?
    "nothing, technology means everything is getting cheaper"

    "Why can't I use it when I travel to the middle of nowhere?"
    Because you and about 20 other people are stupid enough to travel to this location each year.

    "I can't get coverage in my my house"
    Yeah well you fail to mention that you have metal lining in your roof, you are on a slope of a hill shadowing the transmitter and because your local school complained about the towers the telephone company could not install a tower in a better location.
    anonymous
  • Uh huh...

    So it might be about now Steven might be regretting the way he reneged on the OPEL agreement, since he could be quite comfortably sitting back and avoiding all of this media attention while the network would already be 12 months underway. Oh no, that's right, he has an election debt to honour and it seems Tel$tra is calling him on it.

    Sit Steven sit... Good boy Steven, now have a biscuit.
    anonymous
  • Is start date important?

    Seems to me that the timing of the start of the rollout is much less important than getting the best outcome. This is not a $4.7 billion project - it's likely to be in the $10-15 billion region, and it's of great importance to every Aussie. What's most worrying is that the bar seems to be set too low. With a 2009 start date the rollout won't be finished until say 2012. What performance should we be aiming for by then? 12Mbit/s is just laughable. Probably something around 100Mbit/s to 85% might be achievable. Delivering high bandwidth to the last 10% of population is laudable, but expensive. Too much emphasis has been placed on achieving 98% coverage and not enough on achieving better performance for the majority of users.
    anonymous
  • The Minority

    Quote: "Delivering high bandwidth to the last 10% of population is laudable, but expensive. Too much emphasis has been placed on achieving 98% coverage and not enough on achieving better performance for the majority of users."

    This only seems to be a problem if you do not belong to the outback (minority) community. Just remember, for every meal you enjoy - thank a farmer and for being able to read this - thank a teacher!
    anonymous
  • Opel - Ha Friggin Ha

    They had a signed contract they allowed them to proceed and they sat on their behinds lapping up the publicity and accolades instead of starting to build the network, the contract was torn up because they consistently failed to meet major deadlines.

    Thankfully they didn't start because there have been multiple reports in recent times from companies that tried to build simular networks to global consulting firms that all say the same thing ... WiMax technology is not ready for major roll out.

    I would rather be a lap dog to a good master then the master of a bad dog.
    anonymous
  • And to be able to read this on your computer

    thank an ISP
    anonymous