Conroy confirms country areas to get NBN first

Communications Minister defends universal pricing and claims no cost increase will occur

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has confirmed the deal signed with the independent MPs includes focussing the National Broadband Network’s rollout on rural and regional areas first.

In an interview with ABC Radio, Conroy confirmed universal prices would be key to providing broadband to country users and he compared the offer to ATM services costing the same nationally.

“We’ll be talking to the team at (NBN Co) over the next few days about how we can redesign the roll out timetable,” he said. “So this is a question of a timetable about where they’ll start, rather than any increase in cost.

“It will mean that we’ll be focussed more regionally than we otherwise would have been.”

The Minister also used the interview to dispute claims the fractured nature of Parliament would become a roadblock to change.

“The Greens and the country independents have all indicated that they’re backing the single largest reform…and that is the National Broadband Network,” he said. “That's not a lot different to when you have to negotiate through the Senate.

“Being a Senator I've never been in a chamber that Labor has had a majority in.”