Thursday, 8 October 2020
In the past several months, Australia's digital infrastructure has been critical to ensuring our economy and society continue to function as efficiently as the pandemic will allow. Videoconferencing has enabled businesses to maintain their operations as much as possible, while it has also allowed family members and friends to keep in touch and check on one another. I have even joined volunteer ceremonies by virtual link. However, sectors of our community have been badly let down by our substandard National Broadband Network. With the latest global internet speed ratings in January 2020 pushing Australia further down the list to No. 68, we have slower internet speeds than Kazakhstan. In fact, many constituents now resort to 4G mobile connections for their home internet services because the NBN is slow and unreliable.
Suburbs across my electorate, such as Cecil Hills, West Hoxton and Horningsea Park struggle to study, do business and work from home with the inferior internet connections. Another suburb, Long Point, has for many years struggled with poor internet and mobile phone infrastructure. One of my constituents who lives in Long Point contacted me earlier this year. This constituent had been on cable internet for a decade and had received consistent speeds of 80 to 90 megabits per second, which is excellent, even compared to today's fibre connections. He was made to switch to the NBN at the end of April, where the only technology available to him was fibre-to-the-node. That, in itself, is not necessarily a problem, except for the fact that the node which would service his property was a kilometre from his home and was joined by copper wire. Even the technician who connected his NBN service remarked that it was too far away to get a decent service. His speed dropped from 80 to 90 megabits per second on the cable connection to around 12 megabits per second, which he tells me is the minimum legal requirement for his contract. Eventually, the NBN sent out a technician to test the service. He can now achieve 25 megabits per second. As he said, it's nothing to be excited about and it's still not even a third of the connection speed he had before the NBN. This story is not unique to this constituent or the suburb of Long Point. Almost on a weekly basis my office is contacted by constituents with similar stories of substandard NBN—sole traders, small-business operators, families working from home, students trying to complete their HSC or their university studies. All of the suburbs in Werriwa have waited patiently. I note the government has finally announced changes to the rollout and will now refit the NBN, but all this frustration and delay could have been avoided if the government had put the national interest before its partisan politics—$51 billion and seven years later is a monumental waste of taxpayers' money and time.