Tuesday, 19 July 2016 19:03

Govt still to reconfirm election promise on NBN FttN Tassie west coast rollout


Residents of Tasmania’s west coast are still expecting the National Broadband Network to be delivered to the region over a fibre-to-the-node network, rather than via a fibre-to-the premises (FttP) network favoured by some, but are awaiting final confirmation from the federal government that it will honour its election commitment to an FttN rollout.

While NBN Co itself has said residents in the region will get FttN because the rollout “is done at the behest of the current federal government and the current federal government's policy is to move to fibre-to-the-node", the government has still not actually re-confirmed what it said prior to, and during, the election.

NBN Tasmania corporate affairs manager Russell Kelly was restating the government policy on NBN for the north-west region in an interview on Tuesday with ABC Radio in Hobart.

But, the government is still to restate, post-election, its position on FttN.

FttP for the west coast region, however, has never been part of government policy, and this is unlikely to change.

And, as ABC Hobart radio reported on Monday, West Coast mayor Phil Vickers said that while FttP would be a “better fix for all those people that got to have fibre-to-the-node”, it was “still better technology than the satellite so even if we have to wait until 2018 to have that connected it's worth the wait".

The government promised during the election it would spend $18.5 million connecting premises in Queenstown, Rosebery, Zeehan and Strahan to the NBN with fibre-to-the-node.

And, in a post-election speech, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull did say the government would pursue all of its election policies.

The government’s commitment to FttN followed vigorous opposition and concern voiced by residents and businesses on Tassie’s west coast region to the original plan to deliver the NBN over its SkyMuster satellite service.

Businesses, in particular, were concerned that network speeds delivered by the satellite service would be inadequate to meet their needs.

NBN Co announced on Monday the network rollout had hit a major construction milestone with over half of Tasmanian homes and premises now able to connect to services over the NBN.

The company said that a major construction surge this year and the recent launch of the SkyMuster satellite service had together “pushed Tasmania over the milestone”.

According to Kelly, the construction effort in Tasmania is at its “highest activity level of the build so far. We are connecting more premises than ever before, and doing it more quickly than ever”.

“Most communities in Tasmania will see some form of activity from the nbn during 2016.”

In a statement issued on Monday, NBN Cosaid that as of 30 June, 162,472 premises in Tasmania could connect to services over the NBN network across all technology platforms.

“The availability of SkyMuster satellite services has put another 17,000 Tasmanian premises on the NBN network map. Taken together it means that around 58% of the NBN network is finished in Tasmania, with the remainder now either in planning or active construction,” the statement said.

“So far, 77,810 Tasmanian premises have (actually) connected to services over the NBN network – a 96% growth on the same time last year.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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