Labor Communications spokesperson Stephen Conroy has restated the
Opposition's commitment to a pan-Australian fibre-to-the-node network, while
accusing the government of wasting taxpayers' money with a planned WiMax
Senator Conroy, writing today in "The Australian", said that the
government's choice of fixed WiMax to supply broadband to bush users was a
mistake, adding the technology will not provide the speeds the government has
advertised--20 to 40 times faster than those rural residents currently
"The reality is that the minister is misleading the Australian public. Under
the government's broadband plan Australians can expect speeds up to 20 times
today's average," Senator Conroy wrote. The Opposition communications minister
also criticised the government's lack of transparency over pricing of WiMax
services to date.
"That is why Labor has proposed a national broadband plan that extends the
superior technology, fibre-to-the-node(FTTN), into rural and regional areas, to offer
not just city comparable pricing but parity of service.
"The fibre-to-the-node service will deliver to 98 percent of Australians
guaranteed minimum connection speeds that are 40 times faster than today's
"The remaining two percent will receive a standard of service which,
depending on the available technology--fixed line, wireless or satellite--, will
be as close as possible to that provided by the new network," Senator Conroy
Under the federal government's vision, FTTN will be used solely in urban
areas. Labor's plan for Australia's broadband future would, however, see a fibre
network deployed to most of the country.
The specifications for the network were based on a Telstra plan which stated
it would be possible to deliver 12mbps fibre connectivity to 98
percent of the population for AU$4.7billion (US$4.1b), although full details of how
the scheme could work have yet to be revealed by Kevin Rudd's party.
Senator Conroy also criticized the Communications Minister Helen Coonan over
the tender process for building the network, currently the
subject of an upcoming court battle between Telstra and Senator Coonan,
accusing the government of "moving the goalposts" during the procedure.
Senator Coonan, however, said the tender was "fair and consistent with both the guidelines, assessment
plan and probity requirements."
Senator Conroy concluded by daring his government counterparts to eat their
own dog food: "If the government's solution is good enough, we challenge the
minister to switch over her office, her home and her department from the current
fibre solution to the wireless product."