Monday, 16 March 2015
Questions without Notice
I thank the honourable member for his question. Around 3.4 million homes in Australia are either passed by or within the footprint of the hybrid fibre coax networks—these are the pay TV cable networks that were rolled out some years ago. Under the Labor plan for the NBN, the owners of those networks, Telstra and Optus, were to be paid billions of dollars to switch them off—to turn them off, to render them utterly useless.
What we have done is that we have been trying to mitigate the massive losses incurred by Labor in this project and get it built and underway properly, as we are doing. What we did was negotiate with Telstra and Optus to secure, for no extra money, access—indeed, ownership—of the HFC networks. Those HFC networks are not only able to deliver very high speed broadband today of 100 megabits per second; but, as the NBN Co announced last week, by 2017, using the DOCSIS 3.1 technology, we will be delivering fibre-like speeds of one gigabit per second down and 100 megabits per second up.
When you consider that it costs over $4,000 on average to connect premises with fibre to the premises, and when you consider there are close to three million premises already passed by the HFC and 3.4 million within the footprint, you can see that the amount of money Labor was going to waste by junking those networks was truly extraordinary.
In the honourable member's electorate and in many other urban electorates in Australia, including in the electorates of McPherson and Moncrieff and Fadden and, indeed, Petrie and Longman, where I was over last week—in all of those electorates—there are thousands of households with HFC present. What our approach will enable us to do is deliver on our word, which is to deliver very fast broadband, in this case at extraordinary speeds, fibre equivalent speeds, much sooner, much cheaper and at much lower cost to customers.
This is only part of what we are doing right across the board, because our approach to the NBN is focused on the customer. We are focused on delivering very fast broadband to customers; Labor were focused on one political stunt after another. They were not interested in fibre to the premises; it was, again and again and again, fibre to the press release—that was their only interest and they failed even at that.