Fibre mandate gets Senate Committee green light

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Fibre mandate gets Senate Committee green light

Liberal participants not happy.

Liberal Party senators have recommended that debate of the Government's proposed fibre mandate in new housing estates be blocked despite a Senate Committee recommendation that the bill be passed.

The committee was made up of three Labor senators, two Liberals and Scott Ludlam from the Australian Greens.

Queensland Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald was listed outside the membership as a "participant".

The committee recommended the fibre mandate bill be passed but that the Government clarify, among other things, the role NBN Co might play in deploying fibre in greenfields estates.

iTnews has previously reported that the Government and NBN Co were awaiting clarification from each other on the issue. The NBN Implementation Study, released last week, advised that NBN Co ought to be the sole provider of fibre to new housing estates.

The Senate committee advised that fibre was "the fixed-line telecommunications technology of the future and therefore the most appropriate telecommunications infrastructure to be deployed in new developments that are, or will be, within the NBN's 'fibre footprint'."

"The committee agrees with the Government's policy that where fixed-line telecommunications infrastructure is installed in new developments, it should be optical fibre or fibre-ready facilities and not outdated copper infrastructure," it said.

"The committee also understands that, as a result of Telstra's decision not to deploy copper to any new development, the question of whether fibre or copper should be deployed in new developments is a moot one: fibre will, in the future, be the only alternative regardless.

"The committee considers that these developments provide even more impetus for the bill."

Liberal Senators involved in the committee, however, recommended that debate on the bill be "postponed" until, among other things, the Government issued a formal response to the $25m NBN implementation study and "reduced the scope of the bill" so housing developers were only responsible for paying for the 'pit and pipe' - not the rollout of fibre.

"[The Government should ensure] that neither the bill nor any subordinate instruments require or effectively force developers to pay for the installation of fibre in greenfields estates (which costs developers would pass onto homebuyers)," the Senators said in response.

"The bill nor any subordinate legislation [should not] unduly impact first home buyers, young families and housing affordability generally."

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