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|CONROY’S FIXED LINE DILEMMA||Email this page||Back|
|Tuesday, October 20, 2009||Printer Friendly Version|
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy faces a serious dilemma after promising that everyone who currently receives a fixed line telecommunications service will continue to do so even if Telstra’s copper network is shut down.
Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Nick Minchin said the Government’s key objective was to force the closure of the existing copper network, to eliminate competition against its $43 billion NBN.
The problem for Senator Conroy is that under the NBN, 90 per cent of premises have been promised a fixed fibre to the premise service, while the remaining 10 per cent or 2.2 million people will be served by wireless or satellite.
Despite this, when pressed at Senate Estimates, Senator Conroy categorically stated: “Everyone who receives a fixed line service, through a variety of policy mechanisms, will continue to receive one.”
“If the Government achieves its objective of getting Telstra to shut down its copper network, so it doesn’t compete with the NBN, the big question is who will be responsible for providing fixed line services in those parts of the country that will not get fixed fibre under the NBN?” Senator Minchin asked.
“While Senator Conroy will be held to his promise, the onus is on him to explain how this will be delivered. For example, will the NBN company be required to run three networks; fibre, wireless and satellite as well as copper?”
“And who will be responsible for delivering retail services under the Universal Service Obligation (USO), if Telstra no longer owns a network and the NBN company is only permitted to operate as a wholesale business?” Senator Minchin asked.
“Senator Conroy clearly hasn’t thought this issue through and this is yet another example of how ill-conceived Labor’s NBN proposal is,” Senator Minchin said.