NBN Says Targets Are Being Met, Internet Australia Says It's Not Good Enough

Last night NBN chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski assured audiences of ABCs The Business that the company is meeting all of its milestones, adding that “the progress in terms of copper has been fabulously fast”.

But internet users’ lobby group Internet Australia says this is “hardly the issue”.

Image: Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Stefan Postles/ Getty Images.

“Dr Switkowski is lauding the rollout of a service that is going to leave four and a half million homes — the NBN Fibre To The Node (FTTN) target he nominated — very disappointed when they discover that their more fortunate friends and neighbours have fibre going into their homes delivering speeds hundreds of times faster,” Laurie Patton, CEO of Internet Australia said in a statement.

“That’s because fibre has a virtually unlimited ability to be upgraded whereas the copper network has a limited upgrade potential and in any case will need to be replaced within 10 to 15 years”

“As Dr Switkowski conceded, the cost of implementing Fibre To The Premise (FTTP) broadband is continually coming down, so it makes sense to review the current plan now before we’ve gone too far with copper”.

Internet Australia has historically taken a neutral public stand on technology. This week they launched a #FibreToTheFuture campaign designed to persuade both the Government and the Opposition to back fibre to the premises as the only viable long term option.

According to one leaked internal document, the NBN rollout has fallen well behind schedule, with construction completions to February reaching 29,000, against a target of 94,000.

NBN refused to be drawn on what it called the “alleged” internal documents, but said the project has met or beaten every key target for six quarters in a row. It pointed to figures showing the service is available to 1.9 million homes, and 850,000 customers are already connected.

“We have a series of milestones that will see all of this completed in 2020,” said Dr Switkowski.”And we have a very, very strong management team led by the CEO Bill Morrow, who continues to meet all of the milestones that the board has set him.”

Patton says it’s time to take politics out of it. “We need the Government and the Opposition to sit down and say ‘what is in the best interests of the country?’ What do we need if we are going to be a truly competitive innovation nation?”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s sales pitch for fibre to the node NBN was that it was cheaper and quicker to deploy than Labor’s fibre to the home plan.

But there are signs those arguments are coming unstuck, with another leaked document showing the NBN has been trialling a thinner and cheaper fibre cable, cutting the cost of fibre from $1,200 to $600 per connection.

Mr Patton said it was time for the Coalition to consider an about-face, and embrace fibre to the home.

“If we are going to be an innovation nation, how are we going to compete against countries that have already got internet speeds 100 times faster than ours?” he said.

NBN is due to appear before the Senate Select Committee on the NBN in Canberra today.

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