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Thursday, 25 August 2011 14:23

Reps NBN report branded a 'feel-good' failure to demonstrate NBN demand

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The Coalition has dismissed a House committee report on the NBN as "a highly political exercise, designed to generate a feel-good report offering support for the rollout of the NBN," that fails to demonstrate demand for NBN bandwidths.

The report "Broadening the debate: Inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network" was tabled in Parliament by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. It had been initiated in November 2010 by the minister for infrastructure and transport, Anthony Albanese, who asked the Committee to inquire into the 'role and potential of the NBN.'

Coalition members of the committee tabled a dissenting report to the main report and committee member Paul Fletcher - MP for Bradfield and former senior Optus executive - said: "The NBN Inquiry just completed'¦shows the case for Labor's NBN has not been made. There were very few persuasive examples given of applications which actually require the 100Mbps speeds that the NBN will deliver."

According to Fletcher "The central premise of the NBN policy - that there is overwhelming demand for fibre to the home - is wrong. That is evident from the poor early take up, from the relatively poor response to the Inquiry and from extensive evidence that many stakeholders are not interested or engaged."

The committee received 252 submissions (including 17 supplementary submissions)], but the dissenting report compared this to the 1996 senate inquiry into the sale of Telstra received 634 submissions.

 Fletcher said he was struck by evidence that many applications which are claimed as benefits of the NBN in fact do not require anything like the speeds it is being engineered to deliver.

"For example, the Inquiry was briefed by Intel-GE Care Innovations on a 2010 trial of health monitoring equipment, involving 50 elderly patients receiving in-home nursing care in the Hunter. This application only requires a speed of 512Kbps'¦Yet remarkably, NBN Co has issued a fact sheet which claims that the Intel Health Guide it is an application which requires the NBN'¦"Unfortunately, this kind of story is not uncommon."

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