Local, Independant and Effective

Question Without Notice - Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull - NBN satellite service in Indi

Posted December 05, 2014


CATHY McGOWAN (Indi) (14:24): My question is to the Minister for Communications. We have been pleased to have announcements recently on fixed and wireless internet. My question is about the NBN long-term satellite service. Can the minister tell us when it will be made available for households and businesses, particularly in Indi but also other areas of Australia, and how will the download and upload speeds compare with other NBN delivery technologies?

MALCOLM TURNBULL (Wentworth—Minister for Communications) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for her question and note that she said that Wangaratta is included in the 18-month rollout plan for fibre to the node, and there are thousands of her constituents either with access to the fixed wireless network or who shortly will have access because construction of those towers is underway. In Indi there are about 1,000 premises accessing the interim satellite solution.

This was a $300 million catastrophe of mismanagement by the Labor Party. They spent $300 million on an Interim Satellite Service, which has ended up giving about 40,000 Australians access to dial-up speeds only. It was promised on the basis there would be six megabits per second download speed. Under the Howard government, which was a Liberal-National government that knew how to manage things like this, there was a requirement on the retail service providers, under the Australian Broadband Guarantee, that
they had to ensure users could get 65 per cent of peak speeds at least 85 per cent of the time.

There was no such requirement under Labor's hopelessly mismanaged scheme. The consequence has been, as I said, over $300 
million was spent, and a quarter of a million people were told that they would have access to the service and there was only ever capacity for 45,000 to 48,000 at best, and customers are only getting dial-up speeds. That is a truly wasteful exercise of mismanagement, classic Labor Party stuff. The long-term satellites will be launched in the latter part of next year. We expect that customers will be able to purchase plans from late 2015 or early 2016.

The highest speed tiers will be 25 megabits per second down, five megabits per second up. A great deal of work is going into planning the way in which the spectrum is managed so as to ensure that we do not have the same problems with the long-term satellites that we had with the interim satellite.

The honourable member may have regard to a discussion paper that the NBN Co recently put out—this is going to be a very, very
important part of the program. The coalition does not believe that the government should have been involved in a project of this size at all, but the one part of Australia where there is need for government involvement is in regional and remote communities and that, of course, is where satellite and fixed wireless services are going to be available.

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