NBN for broadcasting, not broadband: Libs

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has labelled the National Broadband Network as the "Nationalised Broadcasting Network", and said the business case did not make the NBN a better investment in a press conference in Sydney today.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has labelled the National Broadband Network (NBN) as the "Nationalised Broadcasting Network", and said its business case did not make it a better investment.

Turnbull and Abbott

(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

"[It] should probably be called the Nationalised Broadcasting Network given the information we now have. It's pretty obvious that the main usage for the NBN is going to be internet-based television, video entertainment and gaming," Abbott said in a press conference in Sydney today.

"Now as far as the Coalition is concerned, there's nothing wrong with any of this but given all of the infrastructure needs facing Australia … it's far from clear that this is really a sensible investment."

Abbott said that Telstra and Optus already pass more homes than the 1.7 million NBN Co promised would be connected by 2013 in the document. He said the broadband access costs were comparable to what was already available and that in 10 years only one third of households would be using applications that require 1Gb speeds.

He noted there were also no provisions in the document for customers who only want a basic telephone service, and no internet connection.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull noted that the taxpayer contribution had risen from $26 billion to $27.5 billion. He said the network would be "burning cash well into the 2020s" while not offering prices to consumers lower than what is available today.

"This is no Nirvana of cheaper broadband for Australians," Turnbull said.

He said that areas in regional Australia with inadequate broadband would have broadband now available to them under the Coalition's cancelled OPEL plan if the Coalition had been re-elected in 2010, and estimated that metropolitan blackspots could have been rectified in just one year, not the nine years it would take for NBN Co to roll-out broadband across the country.

Turnbull said the document released today was "not really a business plan".

"This has just got summary financials. The business plan was 400 pages, this has got 160. It has assumed that there are going to be very solid cash flows in 2040," he said. "You're going to have to wait decades for this business to throw off serious cash."

Abbott and Turnbull used the conference to again call for a cost-benefit analysis for the network.

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