House debates

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: National Broadband Network

3:09 pm

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Forde, who has a longstanding interest in the National Broadband Network and in seeing Australians get the broadband services that they need. As we know, COVID-19 essentially came out of nowhere, and suddenly millions of Australians were needing, just about overnight, to work and study from home. Just when our nation needed it, the NBN was there to deliver Australians the reliable and affordable broadband that they needed. When you've got, typically, mum, dad and a couple of kids at home, working and studying with perhaps four separate laptops all going at once, you need a reliable broadband connection. When you're videoconferencing and you need to have high upload speeds as well as download speeds, that's where you need a good broadband connection. When there's increased demand for streaming video and for games, that's when you need a good broadband connection.

The historical record shows that when we came to government in 2013 we made a decision to drive the rollout of the NBN as fast and as hard as we could. Thanks to that decision, today there are 11.3 million premises able to connect and seven million premises are connected. We're seeing premises connected increasing by between 30,000 and 40,000 a week, and over 80 per cent of new customers are taking a 50 megabits per second or higher plan. If we had not made the decision we made in 2013, there would have been at this time around 3.5 million fewer premises able to connect to the NBN. That decision we made in 2013 has been key to Australians working and studying from home—being able to do that with the benefit of having a National Broadband Network connection.

The NBN has also held up well when it comes to the sharp jump in traffic, with peak traffic up 53 per cent last Friday compared to the same day last week in February. I want to acknowledge everybody at the NBN, everybody across the entire telecommunications sector, who has worked so hard. The NBN's provided 40 per cent additional capacity to its service providers at no extra cost. We've seen the SVOD providers, Netflix and others, agree to reduce their bit rate to deliver more capacity. We've got NBN providing extra capacity at no charge and upgrades to GP clinics to support telehealth. The NBN has been a critical part of Australia's response to COVID-19, and I thank them for what they've done.

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