Finally, Half Of Australians Can Connect To NBN

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NBN has reached a major milestone - one in two Australians can now connect to the network.

But since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised every Australian would have access to the NBN by the end of 2016 - and over 5.5 million homes and small businesses are still waiting - is there really cause for celebration?

NBN says up to 100,000 new properties are being added to its footprint each week, but Labor MP Michelle Rowland says it's not good enough.

"Malcolm Turnbull promised an NBN that was faster and more affordable," Rowland said in a statement. "Instead he has pushed ahead with a slower, less reliable and more expensive copper-based NBN nightmare. He dug his heels in on copper and that has come back to haunt him."

CEO Bill Morrow says NBN is seeing "great demand" for fast broadband across the country.

"The rollout of the NBN network is one of the most complex and ambitious initiatives to be undertaken in any market across the world," Morrow says. "We're building a nationwide network that has the ability to deliver wholesale speeds which are currently around eight times faster than the average capacity available on the majority of Australia's existing broadband services."

Morrow says the NBN "is on budget and ahead of schedule".

But Rowland says consumer experience on NBN has been "nothing short of abysmal", people across the community fed up with ongoing slow speeds, dropouts, buck passing and the inability to have their NBN problems resolved.

"For many, Malcom Turnbull's second-rate mess has been more trouble than it is worth," Rowland says, "and it has reached a point where Australians have begun to ask 'am I in danger of getting the NBN'?"

Morrow says Australians need to understand the role of NBN as the access network connecting their homes and businesses to services provided by retailers.

"Speeds experienced over the NBN network are influenced by a range of factors such as the technology used to deliver the network as well as equipment quality, broadband plans, signal reception and the age of the smart devices being used to connect to the internet," Morrow says.

Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield says the NBN rollout "remains on track" and will be available to every home and business across Australia by 2020. Fifield praised the Coalition's multi-technology mix with "new technologies, higher speeds and greater download quotas introduced into the NBN."

"The rollout milestone coincides with the release of a new report by the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research, showing that broadband prices on the NBN are comparable to ADSL services," Fifield says. "This is in stark contrast to Labor's rollout, which would have seen a $43 increase in monthly internet bills."

Fifield says Labor's "gold-plated" NBN would have cost an additional $30 billion, and taken six to eight years longer to complete.

But Rowland says under the Coalition's plan, the reliance on copper has proven costly to consumers.

""The 2017 NBN Corporate Plan forecasts that up to 2.3 million households could be passed with copper between now and July 2018," Rowland says. "This is cold comfort for anyone in that pipeline."

"In 2013, Malcolm Turnbull promised that under the Coalition individuals would have the option to pay between $2,250 and $3,000 to switch their NBN copper connection to fibre," Rowland says. "Yet the Senate has learned the average quoted cost to date has been $15,800, with some households being quoted up to $149,000."

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