The government is not taking enough risks with the NBN, writes the ABC’s Adam Goodes
The Federal Government has admitted it will not be able to keep up with demand for the NBN by 2026, despite an announcement last year of an extra $4 billion over two years.
The Coalition’s “NBN strategy” was a key part of the Government’s election platform.
It promised to deliver a “northern powerhouse” of new, affordable, fast broadband for the Northern Territory and Northern Territory-related industries by the middle of this decade.
However, the Coalition has admitted its “nanny state” NBN is not delivering the promised broadband, despite a recent report from the independent National Broadband Network Infrastructure Australia (NBNAI).
According to the report, the Government has not delivered enough fibre optic infrastructure to meet demand for “narrowband” broadband, with the average NBN customer receiving around half of the advertised speeds.
NBN Australia’s report shows there are still some 830,000 premises without fibre, with 1.6 million people without any broadband at all.
“The Government is making some progress in addressing the issue of underserved households in the Northern Territories,” a spokesman said.
He said the Government was “continuing to assess the impact of the rollout of fibre optic technology on the NT”.
“Our fibre optic project is now more than 20 years old and we will continue to invest in its performance,” the spokesman said, adding that the NT Government would also invest in “fibre optic broadband for communities and remote communities”.
Nbn Australia’s chief executive John Phelan said the NT has been waiting for more than a decade for fibre to deliver its promised speeds.
“The NT Government has consistently committed to its goal of delivering 100 per cent fibre to the premises by 2035, but we have been unable to deliver the fibre that we need to deliver that,” he said.
“We are now working with NBN Australia to build a better network, to build more fibre to ensure we get the most out of the NBN in all of the NT.”
Nbai said he was disappointed by the NT NBN report’s findings.
But he said the “Nordic model” would still deliver “the fastest, most reliable, reliable and affordable broadband network in Australia”.
He noted the Government had committed to deliver 1.5 gigabits per second (Gbps) of fibre to each premises by 2020, and had committed $4.5 billion over the next two years for that target.
Mr Phela said the Northern Territorians have been working to build the fastest and most reliable broadband network.
If the NT can meet the NT’s fibre requirement, it would be the fastest, easiest, cheapest and most affordable broadband in Australia, he said, noting the NT had the fastest network in the country.
Asked whether he would take NBN’s “nudge” for the NT to meet the target, Mr Phelas said: “I don’t know if I would take it, but I would certainly welcome it.”
He also rejected claims that NBN’s fibre speed was insufficient, saying the NBN’s rollout had already exceeded the NT government’s expectations.
According the NT Report, the NT achieved the fastest fibre speeds in the world, with an average of 10Gbps per second delivered in 2015.
While Mr Phamors “nuke” report did not include any mention of the Northern Tertiary Government’s NBN rollout, Mr Goodes was asked about the NBN being too slow.
‘I think we’re going to be very slow’ The NT NBN is already more than 40 per cent behind the Federal Government’s fibre target, and the NT-related industry is also struggling to meet its fibre requirements.
Despite the NT and Northern Territories-related government spending an extra 1.4 billion to $2.5bn to build fibre to 1.8 million premises, it is yet to reach the NT Fibre Co-ordination Group’s fibre capacity targets, and is only capable of providing 25 per cent of fibre requirements by 2020.
NT Fibre Minister Richard Marles said the Coalition was not taking the NT “naughty” by failing to meet fibre capacity.
“[It is] going to cost us a lot of money to get the NBN going,” Mr Marles told the ABC.
Labor has promised to build “nimble” fibre networks in the NT, which is expected to cost $2 billion.
As the Government seeks to ramp up its NBN rollout in the Territory, Labor will also be hoping to get rid of the “nasty old ways” of building the NBN.
Its own NBN Co CEO Mark Bailey has described the Government as “totally incompetent” and said the Territory would be “absolutely devastated” by its failure to deliver.
Liberal MP Greg Hunt told the House of Representatives the Government did not have the right attitude, with Mr Phemis “the most incompetent bureaucr