The Federal Opposition’s plan to dump the $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) if elected has raised the ire of Australian ISPs, who have labelled the decision “laughable”.
Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, proposed cutting a series of the Federal Government’s active ICT projects in his budget reply speech at the National Press Club in Canberra this week. He took the opportunity to reaffirm the Opposition’s commitment to axe the fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) NBN; a move, which it claims will save $24 million over four years.
Primus Telecom CEO, Ravi Bhatia, claimed the Opposition was misinformed and totally misunderstood the NBN situation.
“Consumers want it, businesses want it and the industry wants it,” he said. Tossing out the NBN will adversely impact the Coalition and fail to win over the public, Bhatia said.
“They are damaging their own credibility and are showing their ignorance,” he said. “I don’t think it will sway the public [to favour the Opposition]; I think people will view this as laughable.
“To come out with such a sweeping statement in a budget reply is amazing and ludicrous.”
Yet despite its public sentiment, Bhatia did not believe the Opposition would go through with scrapping the NBN. The view was shared by another Australian ISP, who declined to be named in this story for commercial reasons. It expects the Coalition would refocus or refine the scope of the NBN and continue to invest in broadband infrastructure.
“The issue is overly political at the moment due to the upcoming election and I think it’s disappointing,” the ISP’s representative said. “At the end of the day, consumers and the industry are looking for leadership from both sides of Government.
“We were really anticipating a bipartisan approach to solving some of these bottleneck issues clearly evident in the industry structure in Australia.”
Adam Internet managing director, Scott Hicks, was concerned the Opposition would stall progress of the NBN should it be elected into Government.
“It has taken such a long time to get from where we originally started, from fibre-to-the-node [FTTN] to now fibre-to-the-premise [FTTP], which is a better solution in the long term,” he said. “This really throws another spanner in the works and is a big worry [for us].”
According to Hicks, the Opposition’s disdain for fibre was unwarranted.
“Fibre is what everybody, globally, is rolling out to future-proof their countries with,” he said. “Everybody does it with Greenfield rollouts and it’s a no-brainer that it’s a more cost-effective solution.”
Telstra refused to comment on the topic. Optus was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
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