Thursday, 04 May 2017 23:42

Labor claims ‘botched’ NBN rollout leaves emergency services without satellite coverage Featured

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Two federal Labor shadow ministers have slammed the NBN Co over a "botched" rollout which they say has left emergency services in a remote part of Western Australia without satellite communications services.

According to the Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland and the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones, a working satellite servicing areas of the Kimberley region in Western Australia was turned off without any NBN service in place to provide coverage.

The pair issued a joint statement on Thursday, in which they said the “bungled” NBN satellite rollout had left remote communities and users with no service, including remote emergency services operators.

They said two remote bases of emergency service operator HeliSpirit, based in Kununurra in Western Australia, were left without crucial Internet connectivity and with no replacement service under the NBN rollout.

Rowland and Jones said the lack of service has left HeliSpirit’s medivac and search and rescue operations at risk, because their aircraft cannot operate safely without Internet service.

According to them, HeliSpirit had requested NBN connections be made eight months prior to the former satellite being switched off, but still NBN Co had not connected them.

The Labor Party has written to the Minister for Communications, Mitch Fifield, seeking an urgent explanation and issued a reminder that it has been calling for an independent review into the NBN satellite service to make sure more consumers don’t have the same coverage problems that HeliSpirit have faced.

Echoing industry comments, including repeated concerns by Internet Australia that the NBN and its current mix of technology will result in an “inferior’ NBN, Rowland and Jones said rural and regional customers deserved better than the “inferior service" the Turnbull Government was rolling out.

“This issue is yet another example of the failure of Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN. Now his stuff-up is impacting on emergency services,” the statement said, while pointing out that the reported Kimberley problem came just days after “NBN Co claimed that NBN satellite service reliability has been massively improved”.

“Malcolm Turnbull has a terrible record of backflips and spin on NBN satellites. In opposition he opposed them, in government he’s applauded them and now he has bungled their implementation.

“Once again we see Malcolm Turnbull’s botched rollout of his second-rate NBN is leaving consumers with poor service.

“Labor has been calling for an independent review into the NBN satellite service to make sure more consumers don’t have the same coverage problems that HeliSpirit has faced.

“Australia needs a National Broadband Network that is truly national and serves all of Australia’s communities, both urban and regional,” Rowland and Jones concluded.


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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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