The NBN has left WA behind

Published on Thu 5 March 2020 10:06am

Mr Wilson (10:06am) — It is depressing to say that high-quality broadband remains just as hard to obtain as it is necessary for the people of Fremantle and Western Australia. I am sure there are people all over Australia who take that view, because the government’s not cheap but nasty version of the NBN has been pretty bad everywhere.

But there is no doubt that WA got the worst allocation of the multi-technology mess. The dud technology within the NBN is the copper based fibre-to-the-node and WA has received the largest share of all the states. Nearly 60 per cent of our line broadband is delivered with copper. In Queensland, it is 39 per cent. In New South Wales it is 34 per cent. In Victoria it is 26 per cent. There is absolutely no doubt that fibre-to-the-node is the worst-performing technology. In the last 12 months, the ACCC’s speed testing of NBN services has found that a quarter of people on FTTN connections who are paying for high-speed 50 or 100 megabit per second services still don’t receive anywhere near their full plans at any of the time, and 95 per cent of underperforming NBN services are FTTN connections.

Last week, Telstra announced it would no longer offer its 100 megabit per second package to any premises, business or residential, that had FTTN. That is essentially saying that 60 per cent of all premises—residential and business—in WA will never get seriously fast broadband. What is crystal clear is that fibre-to-the-node is the worst NBN technology and WA has been lumped with more copper than anyone else. What happens when the ACCC compares speeds across the states? Surprise, surprise—WA is stone-cold motherless last. We are the largest and the most remote state. We are removed from the rest of the country by geographical distance and by time difference. We watch as service headquarters and personnel get moved east and told, ‘Just do it online. Just go to the website.’ But when it comes to the technology infrastructure that is supposed to make distance irrelevant, we instead have been dealt a hand that puts us at a further and permanent disadvantage.

Never forget—never forget—that this government ditched the plan to deliver a fibre-rich network that would have given all Australians access to high-speed broadband now and into the future. Instead, this coalition government thought it was smart to base a broadband network on telephone cabling. What a brilliant idea. Let’s develop a new technology network by basically reusing the old technology network—genius! You might as well decide to move from rail transport to air transport by gluing wings on a train. Has it been cheaper? No. Has it been delivered more quickly? No. Has it been rubbish? Absolutely it’s been rubbish. Has it seen Australia, with the 13th largest economy in the world, find ourselves at No. 68 and falling on the broadband league table? Sadly, yes. WA has received the worst of it not by accident, but by design.

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