Internet speeds of just 25Mbps are "good enough" for those living in regional and remote parts of Australia, according to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Joyce, speaking on the ABC's Q&A program on Monday night, admitted that those living in remote areas won't get the highest-quality internet service on the federal government's National Broadband Network (NBN), but said the speeds provided are sufficient for their needs.
"It's a bit of a slip to say that well 25Mbps is fine for us," questioner Elizabeth Wakeford argued back.
"Just because you are remote, Barnaby, you still need more than 25Mbps," added National Farmers' Federation vice president Fiona Simson.
Independent candidate Tony Windsor, who is contesting Joyce's seat, said the NBN should be returned to Labor's original fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) plan.
"Do it once, do it right, and do it with fibre," Windsor said.
"It never has been about cost. It has always been about politics.
"Because one side decided to go for the top standard, the other side had to oppose it -- that's one of the great tragedies of this."
Joyce's comments follow those of Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne on the same program a week earlier, when he claimed that the Coalition's so-called multi-technology mix (MTM) enables "speeds that people want and need".
"They simply didn't need the speeds that Labor was promising," Pyne said.
After being elected in 2013, the Coalition moved away from Labor's full-FttP NBN model to the MTM, which aims to cover 20 percent of the Australian population with FttP; 38 percent with fibre to the node (FttN), fibre to the building (FttB), or fibre to the distribution point (FttDP); 34 percent with hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC); 5 percent with fixed wireless; and 3 percent with satellite services.
The technology being delivered to each premises depends on the geographic positioning of an area, with those living in metropolitan areas receiving FttP, FttN, FttB, or HFC. FttDP connections may be utilised for premises that are located more than 1 kilometre from a node, while those in more remote areas will receive either fixed-wireless or satellite services.
NBN launched satellite services in late April after the first of its satellites, named Sky Muster, was launched from French Guiana in October. Within two weeks, it had already received 3,000 orders of service.
In what Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash called a "rare moment of bipartisanship", the Coalition had built on plans by the former Labor government to launch two new AU$620 million Ka-band satellites, despite Communications Minister cum Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull having labelled them unnecessary "Rolls-Royce" satellites during his tenure as shadow communications minister.
During 200 end-user trials of the satellite service, users attained speeds of up to 25Mbps down and 5Mbps up, which NBN said amounted to being four times faster than existing satellite services, as well as allowing between three and six times more data.
NBN also published research by Ovum indicating that its satellite service is "world leading" in terms of download and upload speeds, affordability, and peak data allowances.
A fair use policy will impose a cap on each IP address' usage at 150GB per month maximum in order to prevent capacity from being outstripped by demand again, although in December, NBN announced an increase in data allowances for distance education students, upping its offering to 150GB per month plus 50GB extra for having freed up satellite capacity by moving 40,000 premises to its fixed-wireless or fixed-line networks.
Fixed-wireless NBN connections, meanwhile, had speeds increased to 50Mbps down and 20Mbps up in December. Fixed-wireless technology makes use of radio signals from ground stations to transmit data to home equipment, with the upgrade amounting to double the 25Mbps down originally on offer.
"By the time we complete the NBN network rollout in 2020, this world-leading broadband service will provide more than half a million homes and businesses living in regional and rural Australia with access to faster internet speeds that rival what their city cousins have available today," Gavin Williams, executive general manager of Fixed Wireless Product and Sales at NBN, said at the time.