Thursday, 20 December 2018 11:10

Labor queries HFC cost rise despite drop in homes served Featured

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Michelle Rowland: "On every measure, the Liberals’ disastrous decision to adopt HFC has left taxpayers and consumers worse off." Michelle Rowland: "On every measure, the Liberals’ disastrous decision to adopt HFC has left taxpayers and consumers worse off." Supplied

The Australian Labor Party has questioned how the cost of the NBN Co's HFC build has increased by 64% since 2015, despite the fact that the number of premises being served by the technology has fallen by 37.5%.

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said in a statement on Thursday that the Federal Government needed to come clean on "the extent to which Australian taxpayers have been fleeced" due to the decision to use HFC as one of the technologies for "the second-rate NBN".

Rowland pointed out that in April 2016, NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, had reached a deal to pay Telstra $1.6 billion for its support of aspects of the rollout.

At that time, the NBN Co was planning to deploy HFC to four million homes.

"However, due to ongoing reliability issues and cost blowouts, NBN Co is now planning to deploy HFC to only 2.5 million homes," Rwoland said. "Given the 37.5% reduction in the number of proposed premises passed by HFC, it would be reasonable to assume the cost of the Telstra HFC deal should have also decreased.

"The Senate has given NBN Co several opportunities to clarify this has occurred - but NBNCo has so far refused to do so."

In November last year, the NBN Co decided to suspend the provision of NBN connections on HFC for what it said would be anything from six to nine months, while it fixed technical issues that were affecting the speed that the network could deliver.

HFC connections were resumed in June this year.

Rowland pointed out that the underlying build cost of HFC on the NBN had increased by "a staggering 64% since 2015".

"In contrast, over the same period, countries such as New Zealand, the UK and the US have reduced the cost of deploying fibre-to-the-premises by between 40% and 50%," she said. "On every measure, the Liberals’ disastrous decision to adopt HFC has left taxpayers and consumers worse off.

"It’s time the Morrison Government came clean about what the true scope of the impact."

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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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