Labor backs govt regional NBN commitment, promises to go further


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

The federal Opposition has backed the Coalition’s $480 million regional internet commitment but pledged to go further and fix inefficiencies in the NBN’s satellite service.

Shadow Communications minister Michelle Rowland on Monday pledged that if Labor wins the upcoming federal election, it will work with NBN Co to look at feasibility options to reduce congestion on several SkyMuster beams, which Labor says are limiting the performance of the entire 94 satellite beams for the service.

The Opposition is hopeful that fixing these capacity constraints will push monthly data allowances on Sky Muster for remote and regional users to 100 gigabytes or more.

Michelle Rowland: Shadow communications minister

The announcement comes just days after the Coalition set aside $480 million to upgrade telecommunications infrastructure in regional Australia and increase data limits which are available through Sky Muster. NBN Co will also be providing $270 million to the project, which is expected to take two years.

The federal government said this will lead to speeds of up to 100 megabits per second at 750,000 premises thanks to the upgraded coverage.

Ms Rowland said that Labor backs this plan and would continue with it if it forms government in May.

“Labor welcomes recent proposals to boost fixed wireless and satellite, and will implement the plan,” the Labor statement said.

Labor is going to the federal election with a consolidated $3.2 billion investment in the NBN, Ms Rowland said.

This includes an expansion of full-fibre access for 1.5 million homes and businesses, upgrades to fixed-wireless to reach speeds of 100mbps for all users, extra coverage of fixed-wireless to a further 120,000 currently satellite-only premises and a boost to the data allowance of Sky Muster customers.

Ms Rowland said that under a Labor government, 80 per cent of Australians living in regional and remote areas will have access to internet speeds of 100mbps or quicker by late 2025. This number is currently at just 33 per cent.

“An Albanese Labor government will provide a significant boost to fixed-wireless speeds and satellite data allowances. We will also push fibre much deeper into regional Australia, benefitting up to a further 660,000 homes and businesses,” Ms Rowland said.

“Regional Australia will have better broadband under Labor.”

Ms Rowland also slammed the Coalition’s handling of the NBN.

“For nearly a decade, the Liberal and Nationals’ oversight of the NBN has been a masterclass in technological incompetence and financial mismanagement,” she said.

Announcing the Coalition’s plan for the NBN in regional Australia, Minister for Regional Communications Bridget McKenzie said the improvements would help to bridge the digital divide in Australia, and that more announcements will come during the upcoming election campaign.

“The NBN is a critical part of our national infrastructure and economy, enabling employment, connecting families, and supporting business,” Senator McKenzie said.

“This investment provides a comprehensive response to recommendation six of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review, and is one part of a suite of measures we will announce as part of the Liberal and National government’s response to the review in coming weeks.”

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1 Comment
  1. Enzo Fable 9 months ago
    Reply

    Anything is better than nothing, eh? Labor has no choice but to accept the morsels this Government offers.

    Labor’s offering appears significantly greater and more like getting back to what the original NBN intended. It reverses the retrograde change that the Abbott/Turnbull invoked. Will NATs/LNP voters continue to blindly vote as they customarily and normally do for mediocrity and go through another round of constant complaints and little action?

    One must ask where the $4B allocation to the Regional Communications Department, when Ms McKenzie was appointed with great fanfare, went to. Was anything spent?

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