BY JORDAN FERMANIS
Last week the Australian Federal Police carried out a raid in Melbourne on shadow cabinet ministers and their staff to obtain documents pertaining to the NBN mess. The raid targeted: The Treasury Place office of former communications minister Stephen Conroy, then went to home of Andy Burn who works for Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare and then moved to a house in Brunswick believed to be the home of a Labor staffer.
In the wake of the revelations Bill Shorten described them as “unprecedented” and “extraordinary.”
The NBN disaster has been coming for a long time. Initial planning and construction of the NBN commenced under the first Rudd Labor government with the promise to rollout fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection nationally to reach 93 per cent of residents by June 2021.
As costs increased and the heavy burden of reconstructing new cabling nationally took longer than expected, the project was amended in 2013 by the Liberal party. The then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the NBN would be delivered using a ‘Multi-technology mix’. This new strategy focused on using existing copper cabling to deliver the NBN whilst also including FTTP and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) in an effort to curb spending.
Newcastle was one of the first regions in NSW to be given the green light to transfer to NBN. Mayfield resident Claire Charles describes her experience with the new NBN connection.
“We were under the old Labor scheme, we have the node just out the front,” Ms Charles said.
“I’ve found it to be super fast.”
“When I go into Facebook the videos just run straight away. There’s no loading. I was streaming on the computer yesterday afternoon and there was no buffering,” She said.
However even with a fast FTTN connection, the internet speed is determined by the plans that are offered by internet providers and are not determined solely by the NBN connection.
There is a lack of accountability as to who is at fault for slow internet speeds as the NBN is its own entity who then provides contracts to Optus, Telstra and other internet providers.
Claire Charles says that even her fast FTTN connection slows down because she is not on a fast enough plan.
“When internet traffic starts building we were running at 13.5 mega bits on a 25 mega bit plan,” she said.
That is half the speed the provider promised.
Ms Charles says she is aware that people outside of Mayfield are apprehensive about switching over after hearing about how slow copper speeds are.
“I know people that are very wary of going over to NBN after what they’ve heard about the new copper speeds,” Ms Charles said.
The reason the government’s new ‘multi-technology mix’ using copper cabling is not working is that the current state of copper cabling is in disrepair. The government is having to repair existing copper cabling first before installing NBN cabling.
Nearby to Mayfield is the suburb of Islington. Resident Michael Gormly told City Hub he is worried about receiving a copper connection after his suburb was earmarked as next in line to switch over to the NBN.
“The promise of the NBN from what I can see has not been fulfilled from Malcolm’s network. I’m, concerned about it because I’m next door to Mayfield, 200m away and I’ve got copper. And I’m going to have to change over to NBN through copper,” he said.
With the election not far away, the government will be hoping that the specifics of the new NBN copper roll out will be left unknown as the mismanagement of the project would serve as a pre-election curse.