Fair access and pricing for NBN

17 Jul 2020

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is calling for fairer access and pricing for the National Broadband Network for rural consumers.

The NXT MP has seconded a motion from Independent Victorian MP Cathy McGowan, requesting a review of the NBN Co Fair Use Policy as it applied to satellite services to ensure equity for regional Australia.

“I would like to echo the concerns of (Ms McGowan) about the national broadband rollout. It is disadvantaging regional and rural communities,” Ms Sharkie said.

“If you are going to put rural people on satellite because it is cheaper for the government, it needs to be affordable for all.

“As people in regional areas, we should not be expected to pay more for internet services and receive a slower service simply because we live outside the metropolitan areas.

“The government really must look as this as an infrastructure project that must be thinking of the next 50 years and not just three years and a budget line.”

Ms Sharkie also criticised the rollout process, saying the NBN was the “number one” constituent complaint received by her staff when she first entered office after the 2016 election.

“Initially, we were receiving 30 calls a week about the NBN. This has petered out to around 10 calls a week,” she said.

“Residents and businesspeople were contacting us because they had no-one else to turn to.

“The NBN Co service providers and their subcontractors, from our communications, did not want to know about the problems. It was always somebody else's problem.”

Some of the Mayo complaints included a vet clinic that went without internet and a landline for weeks because someone damaged the line infrastructure underground but no-one would take responsibility for the problem.

There were also internet-based businesses in the Stirling district which thought they would be in line for fibre to the premises but were allocated satellite.

According to NBN figures provided to Ms Sharkie’s office, rollout areas in Aldinga, St Marys, Macclesfield, Onkaparinga, Port Elliot, Strathalbyn, Seaford and Yankalilla have 28,700 premises ready for fibre to the premises under the initial NBN Co plan.

About 16,300 of these premises are connected.

In the Reynella, Mt Barker, Birdwood, Stirling, Goolwa and Coromandel Valley areas there were 11,900 premises ready for service for fibre to the node with 4500 connected and 23,100 under construction.

The fixed wireless service had 5330 premises ready for service 1356 premises connected and 1890 premises under construction in the Yankalilla, Goolwa, Stirling, Onkaparinga, Port Elliot areas.

There were 4630 premises ready for service by the Sky Muster satellite.

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