Thursday 18 November 2010
Hansard of the Legislative Council

National Broadband Network
Mr FINCH (Question) - Madam President, my question is to the honourable Leader and is in three parts. Is the Government monitoring the needs and concerns of Tasmanian communities as the National Broadband Network is established? Is it aware that many residents will miss out on high-speed broadband and will lose landline telephone services after 2014? Is the Government aware that residents, like those at Dilston in the Tamar Valley in the member for Windermere's electorate, will have to make do with patchy and much slower wireless services, although less than 10 minutes from central Launceston?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question. The NBN is a Commonwealth Government project and the Commonwealth has responsibility for telecommunications. In April 2009, the Commonwealth Government announced it would establish a new company, NBN Co, to build a $43 billion national fibre to the premises and next-generation wireless network, starting immediately in Tasmania. The decision to start is testament to the quality of the Tasmanian Government's NBN bid and to the extensive work done over the last few years, both by the Government and its telecommunications partner, Aurora Energy, to address Tasmania's telecommunication challenges. Tasmania was chosen for the NBN pilot project because we were ready to make it happen. We will soon have some of the best fixed consumer broadband infrastructure in the world. The project is a major initiative for Tasmania.

The needs and concerns of the Tasmanian community are at the heart of the Government's interests in this project. The Tasmanian Government is paying close attention to the progress of the rollout and is duly responding to the issues and concerns of the community as they arise. The Government receives regular feedback through a number of channels from the community including residents in stage 1 towns where the rollout has already been completed, as well as those outside of the fibre footprint. Where appropriate, the Government is acting to address those concerns. As always, the Government encourages community members to express any concerns they have through contact with their local member.

Approximately 200 000 premises in Tasmania are expected to be connected through the rollout. This represents a very large proportion of Tasmanian homes and businesses. Other areas will be covered by wireless or satellite services offering at least 12 megabits per second, which is a very high speed compared to that which many premises are able to obtain now.

While the NBN fibre network is intended to replace Telstra's ageing copper wire infrastructure in the long term, the timing and detail of any action to pull out or decommission existing copper infrastructure is a decision for Telstra and the Commonwealth Government to make. Optic fibre can support fixed-line telephony as well as high-speed broadband, adding value over and above the capability of existing infrastructure. Safeguarding access to basic telecommunication services is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. The Tasmanian Government maintains a strong interest in this issue and, along with NBN Co, Telstra and other involved parties, will be monitoring the associated technical and consumer developments.

Maximum possible coverage for Tasmanians was a major factor in the fibre to the premises footprint design. However, NBN Co needs to be realistic and responsible in determining where, when and which infrastructure is rolled out. There are financial and logistical factors to take into consideration, which means that some areas will not be inside the fibre footprint. These areas are not being ignored. They will receive new wireless or satellite services which will provide speeds as fast as those that many city people experience now with a potential to deliver speeds more than eight times faster than this in the future.

NBN Co has published information on the coverage of fibre to premises and wireless networks plus locations and time frames for the next stages of the rollout. This is available at