NBN roll out rolls on

TONY EASTLEY: More Australians are about to get a look at the country’s largest infrastructure project as the National Broadband Network is rolled out in more centres.

Work on the NBN will start in Coffs Harbour this month and in Toowoomba and Gunghalin in the ACT in October.

Work will begin in Aspley and Goodna in Queensland and Riverstone in New South Wales before the end of the year.

The Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is here speaking to reporter Stephen Dziedzic.

STEPHEN CONROY: Well, these second release sites the work will commence this month and it’s estimated that the average time from start to finish is around 12 months, so we will see 50,000 new premises with NBN connections within 12 months.

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: We’re in very early days here but why is the take-up so slow in the two mainland sites that are already operating? More than 6,000 homes are connected in Armidale and Kiama but there are less than 50 active customers reportedly at this stage.

STEPHEN CONROY: Well as we stated when we announced the activation there was a limited trial taking place and we were aiming for a small number of trial customers.

It’s not open to everybody who wants to use it at the moment being able to use it.

But again I repeat – the Telstra deal means we are decommissioning – disconnecting the copper network.

If you want a fixed line it will be a piece of NBN fibre.

This argument about take-ups will be completely irrelevant once the Telstra shareholders vote.

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: The Opposition’s been pointing to breakthroughs in wireless technology that have got a bit of media attention.

It says that it shows the importance of being technology-agnostic.

Are you relying too heavily on fibre technology?

STEPHEN CONROY: Not at all. The key to every telecommunications network around the world is fibre.

The technology that has been talked about recently is in the very early stages and we continue to maintain that wireless and fibre networks are entirely complementary, not competing, as Malcolm Turnbull has spent the first half of the year pretending.

You’ve all have heard Malcolm say over the last six months that wireless is the way, wireless is the future.

Well, why is he now announcing a fibre to the node build of his broadband policy? That’s completely inconsistent.

Malcolm Turnbull should come clean today at the Press Club and tell people: what’s his policy going to cost, how is he going to fund it, where is the money coming from and how is he going to compensate Telstra for the billions of dollars of potential compensation when he builds a fibre to the node network and cuts Telstra’s copper.

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, speaking to Stephen Dziedzic.

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