Wednesday, 02 May 2018 10:17

Labor reiterates commitment to fibre in NBN rollout Featured

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The Australian Labor Party says it is committed to fast, reliable and affordable Internet for the country, and that means more fibre in whatever remains of the NBN rollout after the next election which it expects to win.

The party's acting shadow minister for communications, Stephen Jones, told iTWire in response to a query that work was continuing on the party's broadband policy for the next election.

In its draft policy for the next election, the word "fibre" has been left out, raising questions in some quarters that the party was planning to follow the current rollout policy for the national broadband network.

The relevant portion of the draft policy says: "Labor will hold the Liberal Government to account for the rollout of a second-rate NBN, and work to deliver for all Australians a network that is fast, reliable and affordable."

The previous policy had said: "Fibre is the end game. A National Broadband Network for the 21st century will be rolled out across Australia, but because of the Coalition’s limited vision, it will now need to be built in two stages rather than one."

But Jones said: "Labor is committed to fast, reliable and affordable Internet – and, of course, that means more fibre.

"We continue to work on our NBN policy and will have more to say in the lead-up to the next federal election.

"Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate copper NBN is a mess and leaves both consumers and taxpayers worse off."

He added that the final official platform would be released later this year.

When construction of the NBN was begun in 2009, the Labor Party was in power and it envisaged fibre being rolled out to the premises for 93% of the populace, with the remaining 7% to be supplied with connectivity through either wireless or satellite.

The rollout became a political issue when the Coalition Government that took power in 2013 decided to change the technology of the network to what it called a multi-technology mix.

The MTM includes fibre-to-the-node, HFC cable, satellite, and wireless, apart from fibre-to-the-premises which is being provided only to new dwellings.

As the MTM plan and the connections provided have come under increasing criticism, fibre-to-the-distribution-point, which considerably reduces the copper lead-in to premises — what the network builder NBN Co calls fibre-to-the-curb — has been introduced as well.

The rollout of the NBN is scheduled to be completed in 2020. The next federal election can be held between August this year and November 2019.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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