Monday, 27 March 2017
What has happened to broadband in this country is nothing short of a travesty. Labor's full fibre NBN had indeed the potential to be the single greatest economic enabler for our country in decades, and nowhere was set to benefit more than regional towns and cities like my home town of Newcastle. Then along came the member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull. He talked a big game about innovation, about agility, about disruption and about the critical importance of digital infrastructure. But that was just talk. In practice, in fact, he betrayed the Australian people, our future and indeed everything he knows to be true by delivering a substandard offering based on ageing copper wires. This will be this Prime Minister's shameful legacy. Only this month, global internet speed rankings revealed that Australia now lags behind Kenya, Latvia, Romania and Estonia. In my electorate of Newcastle, the Turnbull government's second-rate NBN rollout has been plagued with installation problems, glacial speeds, huge lag and drop-out for too many homes and businesses, and the number of complaints I receive is growing every week.
I wrote to the ACCC last year about this and I am pleased that they are now investigating widespread problems with the NBN not delivering on the advertised or expected speeds. But this still will not solve the fundamental problem that Mr Turnbull's $50 billion NBN is outdated, second-rate and built on last century's technology. When I put the call out for constituents to tell me what speeds they were getting, I was inundated with people telling me how their new NBN connection with actually slower than their ADSL—the very connections they were meant to replace—with rates as low as four megabytes per second. One constituent even told me that on some nights, NBN is slower than what his dial-up connection was from the 1990s. Others noted that every drop-out also caused them to lose vital phone services and pointed to the very real risk that this will present in an emergency. But not all constituents were unhappy. One posted to my page told me that he was getting 91 megabytes per second and is very happy with his service. Do you know why? Because he is one of the lucky few in Newcastle to be on Labor's first-rate, fibre-to-the-premises network. In fact, he told me that he chose his house precisely for this reason. It is outrageous that the Prime Minister has created a digital divide where those with Labor's first-rate NBN are able to participate fully in the digital world and the digital economy, while those lumbered with the 19th century copper technologies of the past are being left behind. Sadly, for most people in my electorate that is the majority.