Labor to ‘deliver fibre-based broadband’, says Albanese

Labor MP Anthony Albanese criticises ‘copper-based system’ being rolled out by the Coalition government

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese has criticised the Coalition’s handling of the National Broadband Network and said that Labor “proposes to deliver fibre-based broadband” in contrast to the “copper-based system” being rolled out by the government.

The original vision of the NBN under Labor was for fibre to the premises (FTTP) to be used as the key fixed-line component in the rollout. Under the Coalition NBN has been instructed to pursue a ‘multi-technology mix’ (MTM) network.

FTTP is now slated to be used for a minority of the fixed-line rollout, with the bulk of homes connected using fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building (FTTB) and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC).

“The former Labor Government proposed delivering high-speed broadband via fibre to the home or business premises at no cost to the individual,” Albanese said in remarks prepared for last night's Eddie Graham Address in Wagga Wagga.

“In the 21st century, high-speed broadband should be seen as an essential service, like water or electricity,” the Labor MP said.

Under the Coalition government, costs and the rollout timeline for the MTM NBN have blown out, Albanese said. In response to leaked documents that the MP said showed the failures of the rollout, the Australian Federal Police were called in, leading to raids on a Labor Senator’s office and Labor staffers’ homes.

“The NBN leak led to a raid and search of the home of a Labor staffer which started about 11pm and continued until after 5am,” Albanese said.

The MP contrasted the treatment of the NBN leaks to leaks involving the government’s budget and documents from Cabinet’s National Security Committee, which did not led to the same dramatic scenes.

Labor is yet to reveal the full details of the NBN policy it will take to the election. However, Albanese’s remarks about “fibre-based broadband” dovetail with comments by Labor leader Bill Shorten today that hinted the party is preparing to unveil a policy that may see it largely dump FTTN in favour of fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp). FTTdp involves connecting end user premises with significantly shorter lengths of copper.

“What we will do is we will have a greater proportion of fibre in our solution on NBN,” Shorten said during an interview with ABC Radio. “We’re not going to rip up everything the Liberals have done,” he said.

The NBN under a Labor government would have “much more fibre,” Shorten said. The opposition leader added that Labor is not satisfied that “just sending it to the node is a sufficient solution”.

Shadow communications minister Jason Clare has also previously hinted that Labor may be willing to embrace FTTdp as a component of the NBN rollout.

Labor has yet to make any comments relating to the use of HFC, which is currently earmarked to be a significant portion of the fixed-line rollout.

Albanese also used his address to criticise how the government has handled [[artnid:600383|the mobile blackspot program.”

“Of the 499 mobile towers funded in round one of the mobile blackspot program, as of May 21, only 21 had actually been activated,” he said. “And of those 499, 416 are in Coalition electorates.”

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Rohan Pearce

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