• Staff writer

NBN not good enough says Albanese as Australia sinks to 60th on global index for internet speed

Australia’s internet is on average slower than Bulgaria, Moldova and New Zealand said Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese on a visit to the Blue Mountains yesterday where he also talked about Hawkesbury’s problems with the NBN. Mr Albanese was with Macquarie MP Susan Templeman who said NBN had not meant better communications for the Hawkesbury.

“I've had hundreds and hundreds of constituents have NBN boxes blow out in just in the last few weeks,” said Ms Templeman. “In fact, some people have had up to six boxes blown by storms. Even when people have unplugged the power, when they've turned the power back on, something's happened and the box has been blown. “So this is a real issue that requires a technical solution. But it's a symptom of an unreliable NBN. And that makes working from home really hard. It makes studying from home really hard. And over the summer, it makes having kids at home without communication really hard. I'm very pleased, to have Anthony Albanese here to listen to the day-to-day concerns that we face in the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury.” Mr Albanese said using a fibre to the curb system – which most but not all Hawkesbury residents have – was a cut-price system which so often did not deliver.

“The NBN problem starts with the fact that the Government in 2013 stopped the rollout of Fibre To The Premise and moved to its mixed model that had a copper base system at the end of it, which was out-dated before it began,” Mr Albanese said. “If you want to look at the direct impact, you just have to go up to Windsor, a place where I, as Communications Minister, turned on the NBN with Fibre To The Premise. Windsor has first-rate broadband. The rest of the Blue Mountains here, as Susan has said, not only have problems with internet speeds that aren't up to scratch, they have problems with regard to safety and reliability.

"And in bushfire-prone areas, this is a particular problem. It's one that the NBN has to fix. And it's one that the Government have to accept responsibility for fixing as well. “The Government made an announcement in its Budget of an additional $4.5bn to go back and retrofit Fibre To The Premise. And I would have thought that bushfire-affected areas should be a priority there of making sure that they get 21st century technology, which, of course, all Australian businesses and homes should have.

"Australia, in the latest figures, is ranked 60th in the world for NBN speeds, less than a third of what our neighbours in Singapore have. This is holding back our economy, holding back businesses, but also having a direct impact on families.” Ms Templeman said NBN had not meant a better and more reliable communication system in the Hawkesbury, not least because of the numbers of failing NBN boxes in the home.

"It affects areas in the Hawkesbury like Bowen Mountain, so it's a big issue. And on a week like this, where it's very stormy, it's absolutely top of mind. On my own team, three of my staff have experienced this. We speak from experience, but more importantly, the hundreds of emails, comments on Facebook, phone calls from my constituents, telling me this NBN Fibre To The Curb system is not running reliably for them. It is a really huge issue."

The cost of the NBN is now at $57bn, which is just under $30bn more than the Coalition said it would cost when they announced the change from fibre to the premises to the less expensive mixed fibre to the curb system.

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