A federal government announcement of a further $4.5 billion investment to bring faster NBN speeds to Tasmanian families has been slammed by Labor senator Helen Polley.
The investment will rollout faster fibre to the premise technology to more properties, replacing the existing copper connections to many households and businesses across the state.
The federal government estimates the project will create 25,000 jobs overall, with 16,600 created across industries such as construction, engineering and project management.
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Liberal senator Wendy Askew has welcomed the upgrade to the existing system, with Launceston being one of the first areas able to access premium-grade NBN business fibre services at no upfront cost to service providers.
“Businesses in Northern Tasmania will be able to grow and find new markets here and across the world, as well as increase their productivity through high-speed fibre broadband,” Senator Askew said.
“The coronavirus pandemic has increased our reliance on digital technologies from allowing businesses to keep running, but also to contact loved ones… so this announcement strengthens the infrastructure we’ve come to rely on.”
TasICT chief executive officer Steve Adermann said hundreds of businesses can expect to migrate to faster speeds with higher bandwidth and 24-7 support.
“It’s great that businesses outside the mainland capital city centres will be able to access to CBD zone wholesale prices for the first time with potential annual savings of more than $1000,” Mr Adermann said.
But Senator Polley said the upgrade would not be necessary if the Liberal government stuck to Labor’s plan to roll out fibre to all premises, rather than using a combination of fibre and the pre-existing copper network.
The Liberals have always denied the capability of the NBN like conspiracy theorists deny the moon landing.
Senator Helen Polley
“The Liberals have always denied the capability of the NBN like conspiracy theorists deny the moon landing,” she said.
“The Liberals did not listen and have been lying to Australians about the NBN for the past 10 years.
“After spending $51 billion on inferior technology… it proves that not only was the original plan better – it was cheaper too.
“Even more jobs could have been saved during COVID-19 if people had access to a faster NBN.”
TasCOSS chief executive officer Adrienne Picone said access to high speed internet will assist many Tasmanian businesses and families, but barriers for low income Tasmanians remain.
“ABS data shows that areas of highest socio-economic disadvantage in Tasmania have much lower levels of internet access, in some areas of the North and North-West up to 30 per cent of houses don’t have access to the internet,” she said.
“We call on the federal government to prioritise consumers alongside business when it comes to the NBN by choosing to provide essential service concessions to those living on low incomes.”
In Question Time on Wednesday, Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson said the state government is pleased by the announcement.
“If we can help both residential customers and business customers seize their opportunities to get better productivity and business opportunities to land that contract and get that job through better internet connectivity, we will be there,” he said.
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