Labor pledges faster NBN for 1.5 million homes and businesses

An extra 1.5 million homes and businesses are set to have full-fibre NBN access if Labor wins the next federal election.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese speaks to the media during a press conference at Burwood Park in Sydney, Saturday, October 30, 2021. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has promised more than 10 million premises will have "world-class" internet speeds by 2025 under a Labor government. Source: AAP

Federal Labor has unveiled a $2.4 billion plan to extend fibre-to-the-home internet to an additional 1.5 million homes and businesses.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on Wednesday released the plan saying it would ensure 10 million Australian premises would have access to "world-leading" internet speeds by 2025.

"It's absurd that in the 21st century, we're left using technology in this country that is so far behind," he told reporters.

"[This] is about Australia being able to compete with the world in our globalised world that we live in."

Under the plan, households and businesses relying on copper wire for an internet connection will be given the option to switch to a fibre connection to the premise.

Labor says its proposal would result in 90 per cent of households and businesses gaining access to the connection.

It is estimated up to 660,000 premises in regional areas and 840,000 in the suburbs stand to benefit.

Labor pledges faster NBN under extension plan

The opposition pitch to improve internet access follows Australia being ranked 59th in the world for average broadband speed. 

"We are a G20 nation, we should be doing much, much better than that," Mr Albanese said.

"That's why we will set about repairing this government broken system of the National Broadband Network."

Under Labor’s original plan, unveiled by the Rudd government in 2009, the NBN was set to install fibre-optic cables to 93 per cent of homes and businesses, in an overhaul of the existing copper network. 

The plan was scaled back by the Abbott government in response to concerns the $37.4 billion price tag of this wholesale upgrade was too high.

The Coalition's replacement NBN plan involved a mixed approach utilising cables to a central node from which the existing copper network would service individual premises.

Labor has been critical of the government's decision to adopt the copper-based system.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher responded to the policy announcement saying the government has already put $4.5 billion toward ultra-fast broadband to eight million premises by 2023.

Mr Fletcher says Labor’s move to give people the choice to connect fibre to the home, rather than automatically connecting them, is an endorsement of the government’s existing approach.

He said the Coalition committed to raise the billions required from private investment raised by NBN Co, and has called on Labor to spell out how it will pay for its policy.

“Labor needs to explain how this will be funded – instead of offering murky comments referring to a ‘combination’ of funding sources,” he said in a statement. 

Australia's competition watchdog earlier this year flagged concerns about lower-than-expected internet speeds for customers on fibre-to-the-node connections under the existing copper network.

Published 17 November 2021 at 6:18am
By Anna Henderson
Source: SBS News