Coalition to outline its broadband policy before next Federal election

The Federal Opposition has committed itself to outlining an alternative policy to the Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) before the next election.

In a joint statement panning the announcement of an $11 billion deal between Telstra (ASX: TLS), NBN Co and the Federal Government outlining the telco’s role in the NBN, the Liberals restated their intention to scrap the project and intimated they would rely on the private sector.

“Labor's ill-conceived plan will risk billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to recreate a government-owned telecommunications network with any services years away,” shadow communications minister, Tony Smith, and shadow finance minister, Andrew Robb, said in the statement.

“The Coalition does not believe that it is the role of government to force taxpayers to spend billions of dollars to build and or buy businesses in areas where the private sector is able to perform the role.”

Since losing power the Liberals have steadfastly refused to provide an alternative policy to the NBN or outline how it would restructure the industry to enable greater competition.

Instead it has called the NBN a “reckless and risky adventure” and despite industry consensus to the contrary described the choice of a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout as a “technology gamble”.

Additionally, it has attempted to criticise the government for not having yet connected any customers to the NBN, claiming any new services are “years away” and that consumers will “inevitably pay significantly more than they currently do to use the network”.

To date no substantial evidence has been presented by any Opposition minister to outline why consumers will pay more or to show how a Liberal government that scraps the NBN would be able to deliver “faster broadband” any quicker or cheaper than the existing plan.

Further, it has not acknowledged that the private sector has so far failed to deliver a ubiquitous and scalable broadband network.

Yet, in the wake of the Telstra and NBN Co deal, which is being viewed as a win for the government and the NBN generally, the Liberals said they would now release an alternative policy.

“Prior to the next election the Coalition will outline a responsible alternative policy to deliver fast, reliable and affordable broadband. Our policy will be responsible and deliverable,” the statement from Smith and Robb said.

“It will ensure those in under-served broadband areas receive a better service as quickly as possible and promote the broader commercial rollout of faster broadband more generally.”

Requests for comment from Smith went unanswered at the time of publication.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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