Liberals: We will block Labor's FTTN funding

Liberals: We will block Labor's FTTN funding

Summary: Opposition Communications spokesperson Bruce Billson has said the Coalition will attempt to block the Federal government's proposed use of the AU$2 billion Communications Fund to build its national FTTN network in the Senate.


Opposition Communications spokesperson Bruce Billson has said the Coalition will attempt to block the Federal government's proposed use of the AU$2 billion Communications Fund to build its national FTTN network in the Senate.

In reponse to the threat, Federal Minister for Broadband and Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, criticised the Howard government's record on telecoms infrastructure communications investment.

"Under the previous government's strategy, only AU$400 million would be available every three years to improve telecommunication services in the bush," he said, citing the Rudd government's own AU$4 billion pledge to build a national broadband network, which he said "meets the needs of rural Australia".

Victorian MP Billson yesterday said the Opposition would oppose "Labor's planned smash-and-grab raid on the AU$2 billion Communications Fund" in the Senate.

"Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wants to raid the fund, lock, stock and barrel, yet cannot even say what the money will be spent on," Billson said in a statement.

"Despite this, he remains hell-bent on spending AU$4.7 billion of taxpayer's money, just so he can tick a political box, regardless of the consequences for the telcos sector and consumers," he continued.

A spokesperson for Senator Conroy told today that Billson "can't work out if he is blocking or supporting the national broadband network".

With the Senate in the hands of the Opposition until 1 July, the Federal Labor government would need to get the Greens, Family First or South Australian Independent Nick Xenophon on its side if it hoped to pass the Bill freeing up AU$2 billion from the Communications Fund to bankroll part of the national network, with potential bids for the contract due by 25 July.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, Networking, Telcos, NBN, IT Employment

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  • FTTN network

    Why are we wasting money on a network which would be almost redundant before it is built. I mean, 12mbs, is that all? Indonesia are building a 224mbs network to connect over 100 mosques to the internet for goodness sake. And Rudd is planning a 12mbs network to be complete in 3 years! Get real, build a real network Kev!
  • Corporate welfare

    This is going to end up a taxpayer funded handout to Telstra to build something inferior to what is already available. Have a look at the stats for the number of Australian broadband connections already faster than 12Mbps (and rising rapidly by the week). It is imperative that it is blocked and if necessary replaced by something that will actually be useful.
  • Paying More for Less

    Many analysts are predicting based upon the rate of return Telstra is demanding that we will be seeing $100+ broadband. I don't know about others here, but I'm certainly not excited about paying more for something unlikely to be any better than what I'm receiving today!

    There's still the problem of country and rural customers not having access to affordable broadband and I fully support tax payer dollars being spent to provide these services because without government aid it would not be feasible. What I am against however is the prospect of city dwellers being forced to pay more to access what's already available now and generally adequate*.

    *Excluding new estates which have been shafted via Telstra RIM's
  • Market forces

    I am certain that whoever builds FTTN will offer enough services to justify the costs, if not there will be someone quick off the block to compete. I await the outcome of the tender, the construction and marketing, until then I am happy to come here and real a whole lot of crap from the likes of you.
  • Did you say something?

    It's a bit hard for others to compete if one vertically integrated company controls the entire network with inflated wholesale pricing. Don't fool yourself and save the potty talk for 3 year olds thanks.
  • Wake Up Australian goverment!

    We are so behind to the rest of the world in Telecommunications, science technology, transportation. We need to catch up otherwise other countries will laugh at us.
  • RE: Wake Up Australian government

    Behind the rest of the world? Compared to who?

    China, Korea, et al all have massive populations in small densities. Of course it's affordable to roll out higher speeds.

    On business here in the UK at present the average speed is 4-6Mbps provided over DSL, unless you happen to be living in central London and have access to cable.

    The story is much the same in the US.

    Believe me - for our size and culture, Australia isn't as far behind the rest of the world as the pollies and telcos would like us to believe.
  • Let's avoid grandstanding and get to the topic at hand!

    Hello James.

    Nice typical rhetoric. However, let's put our usual biases aside just for one moment to answer a simple question, please!

    I'm am interested to know, following your above each way bet, are you supporting the blocking of funding as described in the article (i.e. the topic) or not?

    You didnt really make it abundantly clear! In fact one may say your comments were perhaps a tad "contradictory"!

    A simple yes or no will suffice, but feel free to take the opportunity to typically have a dig at Telstra, for no apparent reason!

  • Our country folk need this fund, us city dwellers don't.

    If my earlier comments weren't clear enough then yes I back the blocking of the access to the Future Fund if the government intends to use it for anywhere outside the country and rural areas the fund was designed to support. I also don't support access to the principal amount unless the projected interest the fund was to provide for ongoing support & maintenance to these areas is recuperated in some manner.

    It is widely expected the government is going to realise a $19billion+ surplus this financial year. I'd be more supportive of the government using some of this surplus to support its plans instead of raiding the Future Fund, but as per my original post not if it means those who already have access to fast, affordable broadband are going to have to pay any more for the privilege.
  • What if?

    Thanks for that James.

    Now I know we havent seen eye to eye previously and dont wish to be pedantic for the sake of pedantics, but whilst your earlier comments were clear, your actual position wasnt and still isnt. You want the funding blocked if, but dont want it blocked if. Anyway, it doesnt really matter...

    Why I was asking was, if the NBN plan the government took to the people and has a voted mandate to implement is blocked by a hostile Senate/former government, what do you think the government would then do?

    You know what I believe? If they are unable to utilize governmental funding as budgeted and/or choose not utilize funds from elsewhere, they may/will decide to simply hand it over to private companies to fulfill their election promise.

    Under these circumstances, guess which company comes to mind?
  • I believe the following would happen..

    How much clearer I need to make it? I do not currently support access to the Fund given Conroy's inability to outline exactly how the funds will be allocated (i.e Is some of it going to be used to aid metro rollouts?) and what steps can be put in place to salvage the lost interest the Fund would have provided.

    If the government is unable access to the Future Fund, and unwilling to find available funding from elsewhere (such as the significant surplus they've inherited) then no company (including the one you're alluding to) will build anything outside our capital cities, effectively breaking their election promise and denying services to the ones that truly require it.
  • Ah politics - lol!

    Yes I should have known better than trying to rationally correspond with the irrational - my mistake.

    So this is all about politics not telecoms, as you allude to the Future Fund's interest. The Future Fund which now bulges simply because of the sale of Telstra? But you worry about interest?

    Plus the surplus the new government "inherited" - although they didn't inherit the interest rate rises I suppose?

    I again see you are gazing into the crystal ball to tell us all what will happen! But perhaps it's time for a new crystal ball if your hOPELess predictions are anything to go by - lmao!

    My friend you are priceless!
  • RE: Market Forces

    If Optus decided to invest for a change, then true competition would soon come and we the consumer would benefit.

    Optus/Singtel attempting to cling to their easy profit ULL/LSS, we continue to artificially prop them up with regulatory aid!
  • No Laughing Matter

    Laugh away all you like, but the only humorous feature from your last post was you trying to imply you're the one being rational. Yes the future fund may exist courtesy of selling Telstra, but what exactly is your point?

    And I'm not "gazing into the crystal ball", I'm just stating the bloody obvious. Telstra has never been prepared to roll FTTN outside capital cities without receiving government assistance; this is no secret and I don't see anything changing. If the government doesn't provide the funding then country Australians will miss out, while all that the metro populace will have to look forward to is increased pricing. It's quite simple really SJT..
  • I agree - yay!

    I actually agree, it isn't a laughing matter.

    So please stop with the slap-stick, comedic comments and we'll all stop laughing (at you)!
  • Always focusing on speed

    What is it with pollies always going on about speed, who cares if you have that much speed and no downloads.
  • Re: Always focusing on speed

    Very true, but the high prices we pay for bandwidth are due in large to the duopoly on international bandwidth.

    Mind you, Telstra is also partly to blame for that, but less than a lot of people believe.

    I think FTTN should be rolled out in areas that actually would benefit from it, rather than a full-scale rollout where people who are close to their exchange (ie: inner cities) using 24mbps ADSL2+ wouldn't notice a difference, and would pay higher prices for the privilege.
  • There's profiteering going on

    I agree with your comments about only rolling out FTTN or other solutions out to the areas that need it, but I believe the wholesalers of international bandwidth are less responsible for low download limits than certain ISP's.

    When I first got BigPond Cable they charged me something like $70-80 per month for a 100Meg.. yes a 100Meg download limit! If you exceeded this limit you were charged ridiculous excess usage rates and as you can probably imagine a 100Meg allowance on cable could be used up within a matter of minutes.

    Then shortly after Optus launched it's cable internet service with approximately a 19Gig limit and no excess usage, while also being at a lower cost!

    We're seeing the same thing happen now with NextG. Telstra will continue to charge inflated prices (I'd hate to imagine what their margins are!), but wait until the end of the year and see what happens.
  • 100Meg to 19GB

    That is pretty hard to believe, as you are so good at pointing out other people's flaws and posting references to the facts please do so here.

    Between Optus entering the cable broadband market and offering plans of 100MB, 500MB and 1GB with excess charges to the plans going up in size and rate limits instead of usage plans several years had passed.

    You seem to make it sound that Optus was offering 19GB plans at the same time and price as Telstra's 100MB plan. You also write the pricing band for one but not the other.

    If that was an advertisement the ACCC would force you to rip it down, post an apology and pay a heavy fine. You are lucky that you are not officially representing Optus or any other company on this site (although we know you do). But then again that is why you constantly post here because you can write anything you want with impunity.
  • Give us a break.

    What a compelling argument you put forward ~ NOT.

    Something like $70 or $80? Or maybe it was more like $80 or $90? Or $95? Since you obviously dont know and are simply just making **it up as you go, why not just round it off to a nice neat $100 for 100meg and be done with it!

    Remember when the Playstation first came out and it was $800? Well I can get a similar but much better unit now for much less. So like you, shall I spend the rest of my meaningless and pitiful existence writing into blogs/forums 24/7, to tell everyone what a terrible bunch Sony are for ripping us all off?