NBN Reneges on Direct Fibre Promise for Tasmania

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Monday, February 17th, 2014
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Contrary to prior expectations, Tasmanians have been informed that most households in the state will not receive direct fibre connections under the NBN.

The Coalition said during the Federal election that it would honour existing NBN contracts, which meant that many Tasmanians could look forward to direct fibre connections to their households, unlike their compatriots on the mainland where a copper solution would be chief means of delivery.

Following a review of the state’s rollout plans by NBN Co, however, Tasmanians have been informed that most of them will not receive direct fibre as expected.

Ziggy Zwitkowski

Ziggy Zwitkowski

NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Zwitkowski said the existing contracts do not specify the type of technology which would be used to connect 200,000 homes in Tasmania, which means the company is under no obligation to provide direct fibre connections.

Zwitkowski¬†said that following a strategic review, NBN Co has decided to opt for a multi-technology model which will “seek to use [the] existing copper network where it can.”

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has expressed outrage at the decision and called for a full fibre-to-the-home model to still be implemented.

Speaking to ABC Radio, Giddings decried the decision as “absolutely appalling,” and called it a “broken promise from the Federal Government in relation to the NBN.”

Despite widespread disappointment at the Coalition’s decision to use Telstra’s existing copper network as the primary delivery system for the NBN, Zwitowski had defended the plan, stating that the benefits of fibre versus copper are debatable.

He claimed an upgraded copper network would be capable of providing a speed and quality of service which would satisfy the needs of more than 99 per cent of users in the country.

He also pointed to technological advances which can be expected over the next decade as  further improving the quality of service delivery via copper.

According to Zwitkowski, while current copper speeds of 50 megabits per second may leave much to be desired for some users, advances in technology over the next five years should be able to double this rate.

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