Decision to ditch all-fibre NBN about politics, not cost: Windsor

Political fight over fibre to the home “one of the great tragedies” of the NBN rollout

Former independent MP Tony Windsor has said that the conflict over the technology used to underpin the National Broadband Network is about politics not the cost of a fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout.

After the 2010 federal election, Windsor along with fellow independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott backed a Labor minority government, with the rollout of a fibre to the premises NBN a key issue in the decision.

“Do it once, do it right, and do it with fibre,” Windsor told ABC’s Q&A last night.

Windsor announced in March that he would return to politics to challenge Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce in his former seat of New England. Joyce also appeared on last night’s Q&A, which was filmed in Tamworth.

Making his announcement, Windsor confirmed he continued to back an FTTP NBN rollout.

“This is the infrastructure of this century,” Windsor said last night. “It delivers to our kids. It delivers in terms of our health. It delivers in terms of education and business.”

“It isn’t about cost; it never has been about cost,” Windsor said. “It has always been about politics. Because one side decided to go for the top standard, the other side had to oppose it. And that’s one of the great tragedies of this issue.”

Joyce, who was also a panel member on Q&A, said that overwhelmingly NBN end users had only opted for 25 megabit per second services rather than higher speed options and claimed that an FTTP rollout would cost $30 billion more and take six to eight years longer to roll out.

Under the current NBN rollout plan, FTTP will be used to connect only a minority of premises (although it currently comprises the majority of active services on the NBN). The majority of households will be connected with fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building (FTTB) or hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC).

Labor, the original architect of the FTTP rollout, has yet to outline the broadband policy it will take to the election. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has said that his party will push for “a greater proportion of fibre”, hinting at potentially ditching the current FTTN rollout in favour of fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp).

Labor hasn't mentioned the use of HFC or FTTB, which would seem to indicate that it may continue to be part of the rollout under a Shorten government.

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