Stephen Jones MP and Fiona Phillips hosted an NBN Forum in Moruya 17th March, 2017
Above: Fiona Phillips introducing Stephen Jones MP
Fiona Phillips, the recently re-endorsed Labor candidate for Gilmore, opened the forum saying how pleased and proud she was to nominated and, though the next Federal election might still be a way off she was keen to engage with the community and question the actions of the present Gilmore member Ann Sudmalis and the coalition government. Stephen Jones, speaking as the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications , opened the session stating that the NBN seriously matters to regional Australia.
“Why it matters and why getting it right the first time is a very important issue for the rollout because what is being offered is a quick and cheap “fix” that will see a substandard quality of service delivered to Eurobodalla residents and businesses”. “The gap between those in the city and those in regional Australia is getting bigger”. “The gap in incomes, in life expectancy, in infrastructure maintenance, renewal and provision are steadily growing” “Labor normally looks at Health, Education and Employment as the big issues as these levers are important however one area that must also be focused on is National broadband. The default position for everything now is the net – we pay on the net, we learn about services on offer from the net and we are directed more and more to go to the net by government agencies. “In education there are continuing developments in the provision of specific learning tools that require all activity to be via the net, video, audio and file exchange.” “In education the net is the new norm of a wide provision of services and courses that are available across the nation however more and more we come to realise these are not available to regional Australia because of poor internet speeds” “GPs with good speeds can do conference calls with city specialists benefiting patients with local aftercare. “All of this works if we have the right platform in place and Labor conceived of a network that connected everyone – equally. Malcolm Turnbull decided he needed to campaign against this and revised the option to now be Fibre to the Node rather than Fibre to the Premise. The problem here is that in regional Australia the old telephony system is failing. Old copper wires running from over stacked exchanges that are both degraded and with limitations”.
There is a new technology available that is being rolled out in the city where a thin optical fibre is fed through existing Telstra lines from the NODE to the KERBSIDE outside of your premise. This rollout though is selective and at the discretion of the contract. The decision to roll it out in such a way as to have Fibre to the PREMISE, Fiber to the KERBSIDE, Fibre to the NODE and then NBN wifi and NBN Skymuster satellite means that within any community there will be those who have a good service and those who don’t. This will no doubt have an influence on the decisions people make of where to live and how much to pay for a property or business. With a rollout down a street or through a suburb it is proposed to provide TO the NODE for some and To the KERBSIDE for others. It is widely accepted that if you live more than a kilometer away from the node then the signal running over your old copper line will still be poor even if you are connected to the NBN and that the improvement over current ADSL will be marginal at best. Others are saying that it should not be a distance of more than 500m. What side of the street would you prefer to live on. If Fiber to the KERB is good enough for those in the city it should be good enough for residents of Denhams Beach, Tuross Head, Moruya and Surfside that are scheduled for NBN rollout shortly.” “In a town like Moruya it is vital that we get this right for the growth of the regions. The Telstra CEO said they would not be spending on improvements to exchanges. In the last rains the whole of the Moruya CBD was compromised requiring businesses to divert their online activity via their mobile serves which comes at considerable expense.
When asked for a comment from the floor about the comment made by Ann Sudmalis, Liberal MP for Gilmore “Towns like Nowra and Kiama suffered a lot of disruption to homes, driveways, paths and businesses as a result of the failed Labor all-fibre rollout. It was not the roll out made in heaven” Mr Jones replied “Anyone experiencing the new rollout of the NBN probably has a different opinion to Ann. You could find someone disappointed who had their lawn or driveway dug up. Works require equipment however at the end of the day a quality service is delivered.” A member of the audience offered that the NBN wireless signal doesn’t reach his house and that he has been advised that the ADSL will be decommissioned. As he lives in Surf Beach he is not eligible for NBN via Skymuster and his only option will be to access the net y mobile phone. Paul Bradstreet raised the question of minimum speeds asking what is an acceptable minimum speed as there was a disparity between the speeds offered and those delivered for both NBN and ADSL. “The ACCC is looking closely at this however there is always an out in the fine print of your contract. They might offer packages with speeds of 50Mb or 100Mb but they simply can’t deliver. Basically you have to call your provider as it is your provider that can’t deliver the service you are paying for. They buy units of capacity of service and spread it over their client base in an area. If there are a few clits everyone gets more but as they fill their quota everyone gets less – they need to buy more units but they work at being forced into doing so.” Stephen explained that exchanges were now already full and that Telstra was trying to do a Top Hat fix by hanging more racks off an already overstretched system. He learnt from the room that the Mystery Bay tower had limitations of service to those in the area and that the new Tilba tower was long overdue and that the service proposed for Bingi was inadequate. Of interest to the forum meeting was Stephen’s insistence that no-one should waive their Universal Service Obligation rights that ensure faulty phone lines are repaired within set timeframes. However, it is important to note that if there is a sustained power failure, even with the USO there is no guarantee of ongoing communication being available . The gathering was told that Telstra has an obligation to provide a basic telephone service across the country called the Universal Services Obligation and that communication companies pay a levy to maintain this system for all with the provision of landlines, phone boxes and essential service provision. The room discussed the many local mobile blackspots in the South East and were advised that over 10,000 have been identified in a register across the country and with an estimate of 1 million dollars per tower the bill would be $10 billion. As the meeting wrapped up Mr Jones was asked what the community might now be able to do to request Fibre to the KERBSIDE for all in the proposed rollout of the NBN into Eurobodalla. He suggested individuals and business chambers raise it with Council so that Council could than raise it with the Federal member. Another option was to sign petitions to be presented to the Federal Member. The key thing is to do it as soon as possible. The last question of the day was “Can Labor undo the NBN mess?” Stephen answered with the advice “It will be far easier to sort out the mess now then to do a retrofit”
Above: Stephen Jones MP For those unable to attend the forum a copy of the NBN Fact Sheet that was handed out on the day can be found here The Beagle would like to thank you to Stephen Jones for presenting at the Forum and for providing the factsheet for distribution. If any one has any questions they would like addressed you can contact Stephen via the contatct details on his website www.stephenjones.org.au