Tens of thousands of households in western Sydney are scheduled to have the National Broadband Network delivered to their homes over the next three years but the Coalition has promised to overhaul the policy if elected.
Despite a promise to scrap NBN Co, opposition communications and broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull attempted to ease fears western Sydney would fall behind under a Coalition government.
Speaking at a Western Sydney Business Connection function, Mr Turnbull was asked if the Coalition would reassess the broadband rollout to the western suburbs.
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“We are going to approach it in a business-like way,” Mr Turnbull answered.
“But that doesn’t mean we are going to stop the rollout that is already underway.
“We plan to prioritise areas of greatest need . . . and many parts of western Sydney affectively have no broadband service.”
But Mr Turnbull said the Coalition’s fibre-to-the-node policy would prioritise businesses, schools, and employment areas before homes.
“The places that need the biggest, fattest pipes are the ones that have most users,” he said.
“And the interesting thing, the curious thing, about the Labor plan . . . is that they have been totally focused on residential premises . . . but the biggest need is in business premises.
“If you prioritise residential areas as the greatest need and businesses as the biggest opportunity that is a much better approach, not only because it ramps up their productivity but because you’ve got more of a chance of getting them to pay you for it.”
The policy proposed by Mr Turnbull would deliver fibre to nodes located around the country, from which it would connect broadband to the old copper wire network.
His costings estimate the policy would be tens of billions of dollars cheaper than the NBN.
But speaking earlier in the week, Chifley MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband Ed Husic said the opposition’s policy was inferior.
“Predictions are that data will grow by 4300 per cent across the world,” Mr Husic told ABC radio. “What we're doing is building for that growth.
"Fibre is hands down the best way to get it . . . it's what will deliver the fastest speeds, it's what Google is rolling out overseas...and I think we can take a hint from them."
- Areas of Blacktown and Riverstone were turned on to the fibre-to-the-home broadband network this year;
- Construction has commenced in Marsden Park, Schofields and parts of Riverstone as well as further south in the Huntingwood-Eastern Creek industrial area;
- Under the government’s plan, construction is scheduled to start within one year in Toongabbie, Pemulwuy, Girraween and Castle Hill;
- Construction should start within three years in the Glenwood, Kellyville area as well as Parramatta and Northmead.