JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

NBN hearing: homes and business in broadband limbo

Date

Mahesh Sharma

Tasmania was the first state to receive the NBN, but thousands of premises are yet to be connected.

Tasmania was the first state to receive the NBN, but thousands of premises are yet to be connected.

Up to 4000 Tasmanian home and businesses could be thrown into a broadband blackspot when their local copper connections are switched off on May 23.

It follows claims from Senator Stephen Conroy that the Coalition government has axed fibre connections to 60,000 homes and businesses in the state when the rollout maps were revised by the incoming Coalition Government in October.

At a senate committee hearing on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Hobart on Tuesday, Digital Tasmania (DigiTas) spokesperson John Dalton said that plans to deactivate six towns’ copper services within 16 weeks would digitally isolate 4000 homes, or approximately 50 per cent of premises, which still don’t have access to fibre.

Tasmania was the first state to connect to the NBN in 2010.

‘‘Across those six towns, approximately 50 per cent of premises don’t currently have an active NBN connection – that's approximately 4000 premises that only have 16 weeks in order to connect before the cut off date," Dalton said.

He said the number could be higher as in some cases, such as that of St Helens, only 30 per cent of premises had an active NBN connection.

About half of the homes and businesses in those were connected to the NBN over the past two years, but for the remainder the rate of connections could be further delayed by additional factors, including landlord co-operation, heritage building issues, and even contractors missing appointments.

"Due to low awareness of the copper switch off, as well as other difficulties and delays, the May 23 date is unrealistic and likely to cause damage to the NBN rollout."

At the hearing, Senator Stephen Conroy claimed that since the Coalition government was elected last year, 60,000 homes and businesses have been removed from the maps detailing the planned rollout of fibre connectivity.

Dalton was unable to confirm this figure as the rollout maps had become "maps of uncertainty."

"Who knows what will happen? We don’t. We would love to see the government stand by its commitment to continue with construction as originally proposed, we’d like to see the maps leap back up in coverage."

Tasmanian Senator Lin Thorp also made an impassioned plea for Tasmania to continue to capitalise on its first-mover advantage of the NBN rollout.

"I can see a window here still, even if the rest of Australia misses out. The NBN review still holds the intention of about 26 per cent getting fibre-to-the-premises, and we can still be part of that and get what we were originally promised, and still get it by 2015," Ms Thorp said.

Referring to mentions of Secret Lab, a Hobart-based game and app developer that has epitomised the digital opportunity for start-ups, Ms Thorp invited Mr Dalton to explain the economic opportunity the NBN brought to the state.

"We think it’s a once in a generation, once in a lifetime, opportunity to help Tasmania transform its economy to be less dependent on resources, or on any one section of the economy," Mr Dalton said.

"We want the opportunity to transform ourselves to be leaders and be able to operate with confidence on the world stage knowing our size and remoteness are no disadvantage.

"We want Tasmanians only to be constrained by their ingenuity and creativity, rather than by the technology available."

Dean Winter, executive officer of TasICT, told the hearing "NBN providers are reporting to me and to the business community that they are having incredible difficulties obtaining connection – in some cases it requires significant intervention to achieve connection whatsoever".

Mr Winter said the average waiting time was three months, with the worse case scenario being 13 months. He said one media printing business that had finished one ADSL contract last year could not be connected by another ADSL provider because NBN had passed its premises. The business was was still without a fixed connection, having to make do with wireless broadband dongles, he said.

Mr Dalton told the hearing DigiTas was very concerned information about the rollout had been redacted from the NBN Strategic Review released in December, including "considerable details" of construction and connections by lead contractor VisionStream.

"We don’t believe it’s conducive to open and honest debate," he said.

18 comments so far

  • Think this is a big stuff up wait till gets to mainland.

    Commenter
    HoppyPete
    Location
    Wenty
    Date and time
    February 04, 2014, 4:01PM
    • The stuff up was rolling it out in the State with the lowest education standards, the lowest percentage of working people and the state most dependent on welfare.
      The only way you will get innovation there is if it gets imported from other states and why would anyone move to Australia's hill-billy state other than to retire.

      Commenter
      Zjonn
      Date and time
      February 05, 2014, 1:22PM
  • NBN = No Blppdy Nodes

    Commenter
    bb
    Location
    Western Vic
    Date and time
    February 04, 2014, 5:15PM
    • Signing up for high speed broadband is not a problem but getting it is another. I have 3 families that I am helping to get online, so far we have waited 6 months for connection and information from the internet provider today, suggests, it may be another 3 months before the issue delaying the connection is resolved.
      The issue is the fibre cable has been run along the power poles. To date the internet provider, the telecommunications ombudsman and our local federal member have been unable to help.
      We are not in an isolated area, we are within 2 kilometres of the launceston city centre.
      Fibre has been run on the power poles in many streets here in Launceston and the 3 families I am involved with are not alone.

      Commenter
      DaMidge
      Location
      Launceston Tasmania
      Date and time
      February 04, 2014, 7:42PM
      • There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to trying to get connected to the NBN even when it is available. The Coalition's non policy only fuels the uncertainty and confusion because poorly informed people are all too ready to tell anyone the worse, just because they don't know what is going on.

        If you want to see how the NBN will change aspects of our lives, take a look at www.binsskipswastenadrecycling.com.au Here is a small business that is working to help automate a business back water, the waste industry. The product is a hosted business application that will drive automation in the bulk waste industry. This industry is composed of over a thousand or more small, medium and large businesses. Bins Skips Waste and Recycling provides a solution that allows residential and commercial bulk waste customers to easily find a choice of services in their suburbs.

        The business behind the application is a small start-up company based on the NSW central coast. The application doesn't need lots of bandwidth, but it does need a reliable internet connection. The current copper network is not reliable, as it has not been properly maintained for 10-years or more.

        Access to the NBN will improve the companies ability to interact with their customers and suppliers, both via their on-line application and VOIP phone services.

        Accelerating the roll-out of the NBN will encourage more small businesses to create new opportunities not only in Tasmania but everywhere across Australia. Having the Coalitions hootch-potch policy is only frustrating the growth of the technology industries in this country. When will they wake up and get a go forward policy for us.

        Commenter
        Wouldbe NBN User
        Date and time
        February 04, 2014, 7:57PM
        • You know I hate the entire concept of Turnbull's MTM Fraudband and the way it has stuffed the NBN plan completely and costing more money for a second rate product. I also feel sorry for everyone that will not end up with FTTP, which will no doubt include myself. But looking back Tasmanians negotiated a dirty backroom deal to have the NBN start there first and were the prime reason the NBN looked bad from the getgo because take up rates were almost non existent. Yet here they are now whining and carrying on like they are more special than the rest of the country and feel entitled to have FTTP through the entire state. Well boo hoo to Tasmania, you want all the best stuff but don't want to use it. No sympathy from me when Turnbull starts rolling FTTN out down there.

          Commenter
          TuffGuy
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          February 04, 2014, 9:36PM
          • Tasmania's population of 500,000 accounts for about 3% of Australians. Its also a very defined geographical area (being an island and all) with really only two major towns. Yes it was obviously decided early on to make Tasmania fully NBN as soon as possible, but it hasn't been hugely prioritised in the rollout .Each state is (was) getting connected at roughly the same pace, Tasmania just has a lot less people to get connected and so finishes first.

            Commenter
            Peter
            Location
            Oz
            Date and time
            February 05, 2014, 8:50AM
          • TuffGuy - you got it in one. Didn't Tasmania do a similar dodgy deal when Senator Harradine was still around with similar disastrous results? Launceston Broadband Project I think it was called lol.

            Commenter
            Max
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            February 05, 2014, 12:17PM
        • This is just the beginning of the sufferings under the wastefully expensive Coalition National Fraudband Network.

          Commenter
          Alistair
          Date and time
          February 04, 2014, 9:49PM
          • So Australia is open for business unless that business is online or needs the internet. Ideology & spite trump community, or business, well-being.

            Commenter
            Pollyanna
            Date and time
            February 05, 2014, 12:45AM

            More comments

            Make a comment

            You are logged in as [Logout]

            All information entered below may be published.

            Error: Please enter your screen name.

            Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

            Error: Please enter your comment.

            Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

            Post to

            You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

            Thank you

            Your comment has been submitted for approval.

            Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

            Featured advertisers