Earlier this week, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke on Sydney radio about the progress of the NBN: it was late, too costly, and the world is going wireless. It was a more meek Turnbull who turned up at the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network, to discuss with NBN Co executives the progress of the network.
It was running late, but the goal posts have moved somewhat. NBN Co said that things are now on track. They have 575,000 premises passed and the run rate and cost per premises are achievable, based on latest figures and international comparisons. Yes, the cost of IT support systems have increased, but nowhere near to the extent that Paul Fletcher suggested. And no, they won’t pay what the NSW government wants to hang fibre from their electricity polls, because the price was extreme.
All in all, the NBN Co group did a pretty good job of demonstrating that they know what they’re doing and they’re getting on with it.
The weak spot was their approach to multi-dwelling premises. As you’ll hear in this week’s Twisted Wire podcast, there’s still a bit of work to be done. What happens, for example, if the body corporate refuses to allow for the deployment of fibre throughout the building? Turnbull suggested a cabinet in the premises, connected to existing internal wiring, but Quigley said that that’s not his brief from the government. It’s fibre to the premises, or nothing at all.
Listen in for a half hour summary of a two hour hearing — and spot the difference between the demonstrative Turnbull on Sydney radio and his more conciliatory alter-ego who confronts Quigley in person.