NEWCASTLE: Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed on Friday that the federal government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) could cost as much as $94billion.
While delivering a keynote interview to ABC Newcastle, he said that the project was running well beyond its schedule and had only been able to connect 20,000 Australian homes to the new Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) network.
It would be an uphill task for the government to even achieve 15 per cent of its set targets by the end of this financial year, Turnbull said.
The shadow minister also defended the Coalition’s internet policies rigorously arguing that they were cheaper, easy to build and that it would cater to the needs and requirements of Australian households and industries.
“ If your question is ‘should you be providing higher rates of bandwidth to industry and research and businesses than you do to residential consumers’ the answer is obviously yes, because they’ve got market for it,” he said, when asked to elaborate upon the Coalition’s policy that higher broadband speeds would be provided to the industrial sector and businesses.
Commenting further, Turnbull said that their broadband layout would be based on a Fibre-To-The-Node (FTTN) model and would be built at a cost of $30billion, therefore resulting in national savings worth $60billion.
Denying the view that the Coalition would base its broadband modeling on the existing copper infrastructure, Turnbull said that the crippling copper infrastructure would be rebuilt nationally.
“The only copper that would remain in the customer access network is the last four or five hundred metres to the premise,” he said.
“The reason for not replacing that is that as long as it is in good condition, as long as the length is short, you can deliver very high speed broadband, up to 100 Mbps, certainly more than fast enough for what people want and what people value,” he added.
“You’ve got to remember that he said, claiming that the government’s fibre-optic lay outs would lead to a massive hike in the cost of using internet in the country.
Turnbull’s frank remarks came weeks after the Coalition released its broadband policy—and copped significant criticism from experts in the technology industry.
Industry experts have said that the Coalition’s broadband policy, which Turnbull has been assigned to sell in an election year, did not keep up with the needs and requirements of the modern times.
The government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard has already promised that the NBN, which will be fully operational by 2021, would help Australian educational institutions build better relations with their Asian counterparts.
According to the government, the NBN, which is based on the FTTH model, would also revolutionize the health care sector as patients based in regional areas would be able to seek medical counsel from their doctors who would likely be located in the bigger cities.
Technology experts have criticized the Coalition’s broadband plan, saying that it fails to address issues of the business sector and regional Australia. Experts further argue that very high speed broadband cannot be delivered through the inefficient current copper based telecommunications infrastructure, and that new fibre-optic infrastructure would have to be laid out.