Parliamentary committee rejects Tassie FTTP push

A Coalition chaired parliamentary committee has recommended against passing legislation that would enforce the use of fibre-to-the-premises for the Tasmanian rollout of the National Broadband Network.

Labor Senator Anne Urquhart introduced the National Broadband Network Companies Amendment (Tasmania) Bill 2014 in the Senate in March. The bill amended the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011 to require NBN Co to use FTTP for the Tasmanian fixed line rollout.

The Senate referred the bill to a committee, which tabled its report yesterday.

The committee's majority report states that the bill would "unnecessarily restrict NBN Co" in the roll out of the NBN in the island state.

"It would remove flexibility to deliver broadband upgrades sooner, at a lower cost for taxpayers and at a more affordable price for consumers... there are also conceptual and implementation challenges as well as a range of technical issues arising from the proposed amendments. The committee considers that the proposed amendments contained in the bill are deeply flawed."

As a result, the report recommended the bill not be passed.

A dissenting report by Labor senators endorsed the bill, stating: "Nothing in the submissions by NBN Co or the Department of Communications provides a reason why Minister Turnbull’s commitment to the people of Tasmania to rollout the FTTP NBN as contracted cannot be fulfilled."

The meaning of a pre-election commitment by Malcolm Turnbull, now the communications minister, to honour existing contracts relating to the rollout of the broadband network in Tasmania, has been a source of confusion in the state.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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