Turnbull’s NBN will cost users $6000 per home to connect: Conroy

NBN Minister suggests going with the Opposition’s fibre-to-the-cabinet network will cost users more than fibre-to-the-home approach

Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy (left), signing the Arianespace contract with the NBN

Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy (left), signing the Arianespace contract with the NBN

Opposition shadow minister, Malcolm Turnbull, wants to charge Australians up to $6000 for Internet access, according to Minister for Broadband, Communications, and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, who attributed the amount to a released price schedule from BT.

Conroy said Turnbull conceded to this, since the shadow minister has spoken abour incorporating fibre-to-the-home into his fibre-to-the-cabinet network.

“Malcolm says phone BT [about the pricing], but BT has put out their price schedule and it’s up to $6000 per home to connect,” he said.

“That’s in the UK where the cabinets are closer than in Australia.”

For that reason, Conroy reiterates that the NBN is the “best future technology.”

While Turnbull and Federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott, may be saying that the NBN will cost users three times more than they are already paying, Conroy points to an ACAP consumer study that found Australians are paying the same or less for NBN.

“So we are delivering the same or cheaper, and it is future proof,” he said.

Conroy likens the situation with the NBN to building a one lane Sydney Harbour bridge in 1927 because “we don’t have the vision to build than just for today.

“There were only 10,000 cars registered back then and only a few hundred crossed it,” he said.

“But they build infrastructure in 1927 that they knew would be used be used for 100 years.”

Conroy said that is the choice facing the NBN today, whether it will be a network which will have to be upgraded.

“Fibre to the home is what we need today for the future,” he said.

“Not to go halfway and spend a lot more money again.”

French example

During the signing of the satellite deal between the NBN and Arianespace, Conroy revealed that the French government has decided fibre-to-the-home is the best technology and quoted from a newspaper article that the nation will “terminate copper.”

“I am very confident that we, after consulting many experts around the country, are making the right choice,” he said.

Conroy emphasised that the NBN strategy was not a spur of the moment decision.

“You have to remember, we went through a tender, we hired the best technology experts to advise us on the tender,” he said.

“They came back to us and said don’t do-fibre-to-the-cabinet, [instead] do fibre-to-the-home as it is the best long term solution.”

While it may be easy to “get excited about the dates and what is happening now,” Conroy’s recommendation to detractors was to go back and look at the results of that tender.

For one, the tender sought guidance from all of the pertinent experts and the Government itself considered the results for three months.

“It is fashionable to say it was all done on the back of a napkin on a plane, which was part of a beginning of a process, but we actually had three months where we examined all of the options,” Conroy said.

Apparently, every Government agency that had advice was approached, from the CSIRO to NICTA to “all of the agencies that employ engineers.”

“They all came back and said the same thing; if you want the best long term solution, then go fibre-to the-home,” Conroy said.

For that reason, Conroy said he is “very relaxed” with the way the NBN debate has evolved.

“Any serious test will show fibre-to-the-home is the best long term solution,” he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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