Fletcher claims Coalition has taken the politics out of NBN

Sweet mercy, has the past decade not happened?
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

No politics here: Minister Paul Fletcher and NBN CEO Stephen Rue

Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

In a speech to the CommsDay Summit on Tuesday, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher clearly decided if you are going to attempt to rewrite history, you might as well go all the way.

The minister began by claiming the announcement to allow upgrading fibre-to-the-node connections was not a backflip, but he was simply warming up.

"Shrewd decisions taken by our Liberal National Government in 2013 -- executed upon diligently over the last seven years by the experienced board and management team at NBN Co -- meant the NBN was well placed to serve Australia during this crisis," Fletcher said in closing.

"Under successive Communications Ministers Turnbull, Fifield, and now Fletcher, we've followed a consistent plan to take the politics out of the NBN. Instead our focus has been on good operational performance, meeting customer needs, and investing for the future."

There was definitely no politics involved when Turnbull said there was no point to having broadband speeds quicker than ADSL, and no politics when Turnbull said that 1Gbps was a marketing gimmick.

There was also absolutely no politics involved when Fifield labelled a document that said Optus' former HFC network was not fit for purpose as fool's gold. A year later, NBN replaced that same network with fibre-to-the-curb technology.

In a speech mentioning Labor 13 times -- thank goodness no politics are involved in the NBN -- Fletcher compared Labor's belief in its full-fibre rollout to Soviet tractor production.

"These comrades are heroes of tractor production with extraordinary vision! Never mind that we made 80% fewer tractors than our first five-year plan promised!!" he said.

"We are going to redouble the heroic efforts of all comrades in patriotic service to our motherland and our glorious revolution!!!

"Our next five-year plan will deliver so many more tractors that we will prove forever the superiority of our economic system!!!!"

As a long-time NBN watcher, I'm glad politics has been removed from the issue; imagine the silliness if it was in the mix.

Elsewhere under Fletcher's purview, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said it would take applications for apparatus licenses involving millimetre wave spectrum from November 4, with applications closing on November 17.

The first round is for spectrum across the nation in the 24.7GHz to 25.1 GHz and 27.5GHz to 30 GHz bands, with a second allocation to occur in the first half of 2021.

"After these two initial rounds of apparatus licence allocations are completed, apparatus licensing will continue to be available in the above segments of the bands on a first-in-time basis, consistent with our general practice for apparatus licensing," ACMA said.

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