Conroy vs Coonan: The war of words wages on

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Conroy vs Coonan: The war of words wages on

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, has hit out at the Government's $1 billion fixed wireless broadband network scheme, claiming it offers 50 percent less coverage than promised.

During his Tasmanian visit today, Conroy accused the Government of misleading the Australian public on its broadband plan claiming the Coalition Government failed to exhibit topographical constraints in original maps that were sent constituents.

“These disclaimers were not included when various Government MPs mailed out the maps of their electorates to constituents, fraudulently misleading Australians,’ Conroy said. “The Howard Government assumed the earth was flat in the broadband coverage maps they released on June 18. They ignored critical issues, including the fact that wireless broadband does not transmit through hills and mountains.

In contrast, Conroy said Labor’s maps take into account that the Government’s wireless broadband requires line of sight transmission.

Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan announced the new national high speed wholesale network initiative, earlier in June 2007.

OPEL, the $958 million joint venture between Optus and rural group Elders, will use a new 12 Mbps state of the art wireless (WiMAX) technology, ensuring regional Australia gets a network that will be world’s best practice, according to Coonan in her original statement.

In other news, Coonan has also accused the Labor Party of inadequacies in its broadband policy claiming the Labor Party is unable to run government tenders citing yesterday's announcement of plans to complete broadband tender within six months of the election.

“This would be a new record for any government tender let alone one that involves nearly $5 billion in taxpayer money and the most significant telecommunications regulatory amendments in 11 years,” Coonan said.

“It would be impossible to complete [everything] in less than six months. The ACCC wholesale price setting process alone takes at least six months and generally much longer if there are any appeals.”

Last week, the Senators battled over the OECD's latest broadband rankings after Conroy accused the Government of interfering with figures provided to the OECD.


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