Labor's Australian Broadband Guarantee committments brought into question

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Labor's Australian Broadband Guarantee committments brought into question

NewSat’s announcement that its application for an Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) license was put on hold by the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy has raised a few questions about the former Government’s Broadband Guarantee initiative.

While the debate rages on whether or not there are enough adequate service providers with different types of technology in Australian rural areas, independent analyst Paul Budde believes the question people should be asking is what the Labor Government plans to do with the Australian Broadband Guarantee initiative. This question is also being raised by Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Bruce Billson who is calling on the Rudd Government to rule out the axing of the Australian Broadband Guarantee program..

The Australian Broadband Guarantee fund was established to address the future telecommunication needs of rural, regional and remote Australia.

“People across Australia are rightly concerned the Rudd Government is going to add the Broadband Guarantee program to a growing list of important initiatives that it is going to scrap,” he said. Uncertainty surrounding the program comes at a time when Labor has introduced a bill into parliament to allow the government to raid the $2 billion Communications Fund, plus its interest, to pay for a vague, city-centric fibre broadband proposal,” he said.

Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde doesn’t think the Government would go so far as to discontinue the initiative but believes questions need to be raised with Broadband Minister, Senator Conroy, about the future plans for ensuring adequate coverage to rural areas.

“I am surprised the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy put a stop to it, especially without having a new something in place as a safety net,” Budde said. “Questions to the Minister need to be raised and Senator Conroy should maintain the current form of initiative until a new one sets in."

Budde said if the Minister’s department wants to change and replace the Broadband Guarantee then that’s fine, but to stop it without having anything in place would be adverse in ensuring regional and rural areas get the coverage they need.

“Most of the time setting out new initiatives can take longer than two, four and even six months to get going, if the current scheme is be replaced by a new one, the Government doesn’t need to put things on hold, and therefore leave regional people in the dark,” he said.

Media calls to the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy and Senator’s Conroy’s office were not returned during the time of press.
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