Communications Minister Stephen Conroy confirmed today that the National Broadband Network NBN would reach speeds of up 1Gbps, ten times faster than the originally announced speeds of up to 100Mbps.
Conroy said he had only found out about the 1GB speeds yesterday when NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley called him last night. Quigley will make further announcements regarding the faster speeds at a lunch time conference in Sydney today.
The announcement was made at the official NBN launch this morning at Midway Point in Hobart, Tasmania, one of the first townships to receive the NBN, as part of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's campaign trail. The official launch was a chance to differentiate Labor from the Coalition -- which has vowed to bin the NBN if elected.
Conroy stated that when a consumer purchases speeds of 50Mbps or 100Mbps that is what they will get consistently -- that those speeds represent a consistent rate and not peak speeds. The fast speeds quoted are what the consumer will get and not just "standing under the tower and you are in a lab -- it's what you get".
When was asked how many were using the NBN right now, Conroy responded with "the NBN guy said" that there were 70 NBN customers with hundreds more waiting to come online.
He couldn't put an exact figure on how much had been spent on the NBN so far. However, he did say the first stage was under budget.
Conroy made light of his dishwasher comment where he said that a smart dishwasher can turn itself on at 3AM and bid for lower power costs to operate -- although he did repeat the idea and stated that such a smart dishwasher could not do that on wireless technology. He also stated that HD video conferencing, that was demoed at the launch, was not possible via the wireless technology being promoted by the Coalition.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that Australia cannot sit back and let countries like build similar infrastructure and get the advantage -- "Singapore, Korea and Japan have the benefits of this technology," she said.
Gillard said that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott "wants to shun the technology" and that he did not understand the NBN and that his thinking limited to only that of downloading music and movies. Gillard- said it showed how "it showed how little he understands modern health care and education".
Gillard said, "The NBN is infinitely superior to anything the coalition has to offer".
The Prime Minister was asked if she was not a tech head either, a reference made about when Abbott said he was not a tech head. Gillard sharply said that"‘that"s not the point" and the debate with Mr Abbott is with his design to scrap the NBN is he was elected.
Gillard reminisced about how her mum told her when she was 15 or 16 that a girl needs to learn to type to get a job, so her Mum taught her how to type on a typewriter. She also pointed out that back in those day they had a fixed line telephone that went "ring ring".
The Prime Minister said how foolish it would be to say the old typewriter and fixed line phone is good enough and imagine secretaries were still stuck in the days of typewriters. She said if you say "good enough" then you are “condemning Australia".
After the first round of talks Gillard and Conroy pushed a button which then launched a video of an animated earth with "online" written across it -- then morphing into the NBN Tasmania logo. Gillard had said she was “very much looking forward to pushing that button”.