The Tasmanian Government is preparing to make joining the National Broadband Network an opt-out rather than opt-in process. It is aiming to become the first state in Australia to do so.
According to a statement released by Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, the State Government has gotten legal advice that it can legislate to allow NBN Co to enter businesses and homes unless actively asked not to do so.
If successful, the move will lead to all households and businesses in the NBN-connected parts of Tasmania being automatically connected unless the property owners fill in a form to refuse.
The statement also claimed around 50 per cent of the households that were able to get wired into the NBN free of charge chose to do so. A spokesperson for NBN Co said existing services would not be removed or stopped.
“So far, the Tasmanian NBN roll-out has followed an “opt-in” model, because of legal issues about entering an owner’s property, to connect optic fibre, without their active consent,” the statement said.
“I’m now convinced that an opt-out model is the most practical and efficient way to ensure all Tasmanians can innovate and prosper in the new digital economy,” Bartlett added in the statement.
But Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, saw a different spin on the measure and claimed the State’s move proved the NBN depended on deleting rival technologies.
“The Tasmanian Government’s push…confirms that the business plan of the NBN depends on compulsion,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “If Australian consumers want a fixed line for telephony or Internet access, they are going to have to use NBN’s line – like it or not.”
But Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said the move made sense and did not have any obvious negatives attached.
“It’s only a negative in the sense of if you don’t want it you’ll have to say so,” he said. “People do retain a choice in whether they get it or not so I think that’s acceptable.
“For the health of the NBN it’s a good move and I’m not surprised they’re doing it.”
A spokesperson for Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, agreed and said it would enable a faster rollout and would not force people to pick a specific service provider.
“It will enable faster and more efficient rollout of the network and minimise inconvenience to landowners,” they claimed in a statement.