Canberra Matters | Could change in government fix our broken broadband?

Over the Christmas holidays, like many from the coalfields, I love to go “up the Bay” as we affectionately call Port Stephens.

After six years, it seems the only thing that will fix the dismal National Broadband Network is a change in government says MP Meryl Swanson.

After six years, it seems the only thing that will fix the dismal National Broadband Network is a change in government says MP Meryl Swanson.

It’s one of my favourite parts of my electorate, and the world to be truthful.

One Friday night, we decided to get pizza at a local restaurant. When it came time to pay, the waitress had to pick up the EFTPOS machine and walk outside to try to get signal. I was stunned but not surprised, and thought about the amount of grief the NBN continues to cause right across my electorate.

From running a business, to a student trying to do their homework, or even just being able to enjoy something streamed on the tele – people are still completely frustrated by the their internet connection, or lack thereof.

Why? Because the National Broadband Network is broken.

One in 10 Australians connected to the NBN are not getting the speeds they are paying for. In 2017, complaints about the NBN alone increased by 204 per cent. A recent survey from finder.com.au found over one in three NBN users would switch back to their old-service if they could.

And it was recently revealed that there were 160,000 missed NBN appointments over 2017-18.

Yet nothing is being done to fix this mess. There are currently no meaningful remedies to make NBN accountable for missed appointments and customer downtime so we, the consumers, are paying the price for faults, downtime and poor service.

When Labor introduced the National Broadband Network NBN in 2007, it promised to provide technology that would put Australia’s broadband speeds in line with the rest of the developed world.

Twelve years and a Coalition Government later, Australia is ranked last out of 28 countries for broadband satisfaction, up to 54 per cent of homes in Australia are connected using the outdated fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology and the cost of the NBN has been $2 billion more than it was supposed to be.

Even telecommunications companies are crying out for change after Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald revealed “Telstra chief executive Andy Penn says a change of government could bring cheaper broadband by delivering savings to telecommunications companies, if Labor brought a ‘more sensible’ approach to the national broadband network.”

After six years, it seems the only thing that will fix the dismal National Broadband Network is a change in government.

Last year, Labor announced that if elected, it will establish a NBN service guarantee to create better standards and safeguards for consumers. Under the service guarantee, NBNCo will be subject to a financial penalty if reasonable service standards are not met for fault rectification and missed appointments. This policy is not to punish telecommunications providers, but to ensure there are strong incentives for them to provide better and more responsive service.

Less downtime, greater accountability and fewer missed appointments – that’s what we want to deliver and that’s what Australians deserve.

Our NBN service guarantee will tip the scales back to consumers and give NBNCo clear expectations – lift your game or you’ll face penalties. The National Broadband Network is a critical project for Australia’s future. We can’t afford not to get this right.

What does each technology mean?

FTTP or ‘Fibre to the Premises’ means fibre is connected all the way to your office or house. This is the most reliable and efficient NBN connection.

FTTC or ‘Fibre to the Curb’ uses a fibre connection almost all the way to your home, taking advantage of the existing copper wiring to complete the connection between your home and the curb.

FTTN or ‘Fibre to the Node’ has a fibre running to a mini-exchange or node near your premises, which is then connected from that point to your property through traditional copper line. This connection experiences the most drop outs, faults and complaints.

To find out what technology you have, visit www.nbnco.com.au.