NBN Co has refused to commit to speed guarantees for broadband connection performance on its network, drawing strong criticism from a Senate committee.
Executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski told a Senate Select Committee hearing in Sydney today that he did not buy into questions "that demand [NBN Co] to guarantee anything".
"It's clear after four years of NBN that guarantees have lost currency," he said.
The comments were immediately seized upon as a broken promise of the Coalition government, which had put it firmly in NBN Co's hands to find a technical solution to deliver a minimum downlink of 25Mbps to all parts of Australia.
"I have a certain amount of sympathy for Mr Switkowski because he's been asked to do the impossible," Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said during a break in the hearings.
"There were promises and solemn commitments undertaken by [now Communications Minister] Mr Turnbull and [now Prime Minister] Mr Abbott during the election campaign that nobody could deliver.
"Now we're being told we shouldn't be bandying around words like 'guarantee'. These are election promises that were made that are being broken before our eyes."
Former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that by not backing the Coalition's pre-election minimum speed guarantees, "Mr Switkowski has delivered a broken promise as a Christmas present to every Australian today."
iTnews reported last week that the strategic review stated that internet speeds would no longer be guaranteed to the end user of the service — any guarantee from NBN Co would only stretch as far as the ISP.
Head of strategy and transformation, JB Rousselot, told the committee today that NBN Co would simply ensure it was not a bottleneck to the delivery of internet to end users.
It would be up to ISPs, customers and others in the internet delivery "chain" to also make sure they weren't bottlenecks, he indicated.