Michelle Rowland, the Shadow Minister for Communications, says at a minimum, the government should take fibre “deeper into the network to provide consumers with a faster and more reliable connection”.
Labor’s demand for a scale back of copper in favour of fibre comes with a call for the government to also reject the 2018 NBN corporate plan for the network build, scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Controversy over the NBN build has been raging over a number of years with concerns raised by industry players and interest groups about the rollout, the technology mix being used, poor speeds and services over the NBN.
“For this reason, at several key junctures since the 2016 election, Labor has afforded the government the necessary breathing room to retreat from FttN and, at a minimum, scale-up FttC.
“However, when the NBN Co chief executive (Bill Morrow) was recently asked how many FttC premises beyond one million would be committed to in the 2018 corporate plan he said: 'I'll make it easy on you. There's nothing that we are submitting in the plan that takes it above the million'.
“This short-sighted proposal crosses a red line, and Labor’s patience is at an end,” Rowland says.
And, according to Rowland, the constraints on changing the NBN technology-mix are considerable for the next Labor Government, adding that “from Opposition, our immediate task is to limit the damage by calling for fibre to be taken deeper into the network where it remains feasible”.
“This won’t fix the NBN but it will salvage something better for those households, guarantee better speeds and modestly improve the long-term economics of the NBN," Rowland claims.
“Further, Labor has become aware that NBN Co has been pulling some FttN premises already in the design phase and replanning them for FttC.
“This is no surprise given the sustained pressure by consumers and broadband advocates, in addition to NBNCo revealing that six per cent of FttN consumers cannot achieve speeds of 25Mbps, and 35%t cannot achieve 50Mbps.
“There were 1.4 million FTTN premises in a design pipeline as of 8 June, and the data indicates a further half a million FttN premises are not in either design or construction.
“Time-limited opportunities exist and they should not be wasted.
"The government needs to end its face-saving charade and take the necessary steps to scale up fibre for consumers.
"Should Malcolm Turnbull continue to lock households into copper, Labor will ensure he pays the price in affected suburbs across the nation."