The state of Knox’s broadband were front and centre at a Broadband Forum with Coalition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull hosted by Federal Member for Aston Alan Tudge MP. About 200 locals from across Knox attended the event to ask questions about the Coalition’s plan and express concerns over their current internet connection.
Mr Turnbull outlined the Coalition’s plan to address community concerns about blackspots in Rowville, Lysterfield and elsewhere.
Under the plan, all residents will have access to broadband with a download data rate of 25 to 50 megabits per second by 2016. This will increase to 50 to 100 megabits per second for almost all households and businesses by 2019.
The rollout would occur at a fraction of the cost of the Government’s plan, it would be done more quickly and would be more affordable to residents.
Under the Government’s NBN plan, residents could be waiting a decade a more. The vast majority of Knox, including all of Rowville and Lysterfield, is not listed to start installation in the next three years.
The current rollout of the NBN is 98% behind schedule.
Mr Turnbull responded to questions from Knox residents, particularly around the quality of services, the timing of upgrades under the NBN and the cost of broadband.
“By 2016 nobody will have speeds less than 25 megabits per second and in areas such as this one most people have will have speeds of 50 megabits per second or greater,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Users will be able to download four streams of HD video at the same time on our minimum speed of 25 megabits per second.”
Mr Turnbull also spoke about the Coalition’s commitment to keeping broadband and telephone services affordable. “The biggest barrier to internet access is not the technology the biggest barrier is lack of money,” he said. “Labor’s approach will make broadband more expensive – NBN Co is planning for average revenue per customer to treble by 2021.”
If the Government’s NBN price rises go ahead, broadband costs over the next ten years will rise twice as fast as electricity prices over the past decade. The Coalition has calculated that broadband prices under the Coalition policy will be at least $300 a year cheaper than under Labor.
Mr Turnbull also responded to questions about the key details of the Coalition plan:
- The state of the copper network. Mr Turnbull said the Coalition NBN will replace the majority of the copper network – the only remaining copper will be from the node to the home (at most 800 metres, and much shorter for most premises). If copper connections are not in good enough condition to support high speed broadband they will be replaced – but most of the existing network would meet the needs of residents and support the required download benchmarks of 25 megabits per second by 2016 and 50 megabits per second by 2019.
- Broadband blackspots. Mr Turnbull emphasized that under the Coalition substandard services due to blackspots such as those experienced by Rowville and Lysterfield residents would be rectified within three years. If necessary copper would be replaced with fibre. In general, blackspot areas would be prioritised.
- Future proofing the network. The Coalition’s NBN will ‘future proof’ the network by providing what is needed now but building in an upgrade path so future demand for further increases in bandwidth can be met quickly and inexpensively.
- Leveraging new technology to lift speeds. Mr Turnbull touched on the scope to use emerging technologies such as vectoring (a form of ‘noise cancellation’ on copper networks) to cost-effectively provide even more bandwidth. Vectoring is being used to provide 100 megabits per second over copper to forty million households in Germany.
Mr Tudge said the forum was an important step in the campaign for better internet services across Knox.
“My Biggest Survey showed that this is a hot topic in Knox and the turnout and level of discussion showed that today.”
“Broadband Internet in many parts of Knox is substandard and needs to be fixed as soon as possible,” Mr Tudge said.
“Our area may not be on the radar for Labor’s NBN any time soon, but the Coalition policy will ensure every household and business in the area has access to broadband with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second within the next three years.”