Tasmanians miss out on all-fibre NBN

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Tasmanians miss out on all-fibre NBN

Update: Contracts don't specify FTTP, Switkowski says.

NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski has revealed not all Tasmanian premises will receive fibre under the new-look national broadband network.

Visionstream won a $300 million contract with NBN Co in March last year to connect 200,000 Tasmanian homes and businesses to the NBN within four years.

It accelerated its rollout work in December last year after allegedly slowing construction progress over disagreements about pay rates. The company and NBN Co attempted to re-negotiate rates late last year.

But NBN Co today revealed the contract held by Visionstream does not specify the type of technology to be used in the rollout.

The Coalition’s new multi-technology mix model, delivered under communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, favours the “most economically efficient technology” - selected from fibre-to-the-home, fibre-to-the-node, HFC, wireless or satellite - to connect customers.

"Obviously in the previous model, the infrastructure was going to be an all-fibre infrastructure," Switkowski told ABC Hobart radio this morning.

"Post the election and post the strategic review, we've now agreed on a multi-technology model where we'll seek to use an existing copper network where we can. So this year it remains all fibre, at the end of this year it will be a mixture."

A decision on which technology would be most appropriate for Tasmania is currently under discussion, Switkowski said. NBN Co has been contacted for comment.

Shadow communications minister Jason Clare said Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had broken a pre-election promise to the Tasmanian people that it would honour existing fibre-to-the-premise contracts.

"Tasmanians went to the polls in September last year thinking that regardless of the election result, all homes and businesses in the state would get superfast fibre-to-the-premises broadband and not a second rate copper network," Clare said in a statement.

"That has now been shattered by this broken promise."

The Tasmanian government late last year put forward a proposal to complete the state's NBN fibre rollout aerially, via the power pole network of Aurora Energy. The state was spurred into action after the Coalition cut 41,900 premises from the planned FTTP footprint late in October.

The proposal was "well-received" by NBN Co, claimed Aurora Energy earlier this month, which presented the organisation with an updated aerial cabling plan it first came up with in 2009.

Update 3:18pm: An NBN Co spokesperson said the Visionstream does specify 'fibre' as the technology to be used in the rollout, but similarly contains enough flexibility to reflect changes in technology as well as in price or volumes.

"That is important in a project of this magnitude and complexity and which never been attempted before. It is this adaptability that will allow NBN Co to meet its commitment to delivering high-speed broadband to Tasmanians sooner and at less cost," the spokesperson said.

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