Labor calls on the Government to reject the 2018 NBN Corporate Plan, and direct NBNCo to scale down copper and scale up fibre to the curb where it remains feasible.
Labor took a robust policy to the 2016 election to scale up the rollout of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and phase out the rollout of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN).
At a minimum, the Government should take fibre deeper into the network to provide consumers with a faster and more reliable connection.
Of course, Mr Turnbull has opposed FTTP for years and we don’t expect this to change at this stage of the rollout.
For this reason, at several key junctures since the 2016 election, Labor has afforded the Government the necessary breathing room to retreat from FTTN and, at a minimum, scale-up Fibre to the Curb (FTTC).
However, when the NBNCo CEO was recently asked how many FTTC premises beyond 1 million would be committed to in the 2018 Corporate Plan he said:
Mr Morrow: I'll make it easy on you. There's nothing that we are submitting in the plan that takes it above the million.
This short-sighted proposal crosses a red line, and Labor’s patience is at an end.
The constraints on changing the NBN technology-mix are considerable for the next Labor Government.
From Opposition, our immediate task is to limit the damage by calling for fibre to be taken deeper into the network where it remains feasible.
This won’t fix the NBN but it will salvage something better for those households, guarantee better speeds and modestly improve the long-term economics of the NBN.
Further, Labor has become aware that NBNCo has been pulling some FTTN premises already in the design phase and replanning them for FTTC.
This is no surprise given the sustained pressure by consumers and broadband advocates, in addition to NBNCo revealing that 6 per cent of FTTN consumers cannot achieve speeds of 25 mbps, and 35 per cent cannot achieve 50 mbps.
There were 1.4 million FTTN premises in a design pipeline as of 8 June 2017, and the data indicates a further half a million FTTN premises are not in either design or construction.
Time-limited opportunities exist and they should not be wasted.
The Government needs to end its face-saving charade and take the necessary steps to scale up fibre for consumers.
Should Malcolm Turnbull continue to lock households into copper, Labor will ensure he pays the price in affected suburbs across the nation.