Monday, 18 March 2019 14:42

Greens say they are committed to '21st century NBN'

By
Australian Greens digital rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John Australian Greens digital rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John

With the Federal Election inching nearer, the Australian Greens have expressed their commitment to "a 21st century NBN".

"The reality is that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to having access to reliable, affordable and high quality internet services," said Greens digital rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John.

"The Coalition's multi-technology mix has been a disaster that has left many people without reliable or affordable services, particularly in rural and regional areas."

He added: "Our commitment is to keep the NBN infrastructure publicly owned and ensure that the rollout of the NBN is finished using best choice technology, not the multi-technology mongrel that the Coalition will leave us with."

The Greens' policy document calls for "a forward-looking NBN that uses fibre to the premises, fibre to the curb, and 5G fixed wireless to prepare us for the future and bring us in line with the capabilities of other countries".

This phrasing leaves open the question of whether the existing FttN and HFC parts of the NBN should be upgraded to FttP or FttC.

The party is committed to keeping the NBN as a public asset. Labour and the Coalition have both expressed the intention of privatising NBN Co after the network is completed.

The policy document also calls for a review of NBN pricing structures (in part to "ensure affordable base-rate broadband packages are available to low income households"), the introduction of a $60 per quarter Federal Telecommunications Concession for DHS Health Care Card holders ("to help close the digital divide"), an update of the Telecommunications Protection Code, and additional powers for the Telecommunications Ombudsman.

ACCAN recently proposed that low-income families should have access to 50Mbps NBN plans with unlimited data at a wholesale price of $20 a month, which would equate to a retail price of around $30 a month.

Australians in regional, rural and remote areas get particular attention, with an unspecified measure to ensure they "can access enough data to meet their needs at a fair price", a "best available" choice of telecommunications technology with satellite as a last resort), an additional $100 million a year to extend the Mobile Black Spot Program, and a $1.8 million extension of the ACCC's broadband monitoring program to take in fixed wireless and satellite customers.

"Our promise is to make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians and ensure regional telecommunications are funded, fair and fit for purpose," said Senator Steele-John.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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