Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield responds to criticism of the NBN rollout across Indi

FOCUS: Sentor Mitch Fifield says the Coalition has deliberately prioritised underserved areas and regional Australia in the NBN rollout. He has written a column for The Border Mail in response to criticism of the rollout.
FOCUS: Sentor Mitch Fifield says the Coalition has deliberately prioritised underserved areas and regional Australia in the NBN rollout. He has written a column for The Border Mail in response to criticism of the rollout.

Regional Australia is in the midst of the Coalition’s massive investment in regional communications infrastructure, the likes of which has never been seen before.

Reliable communications underpin safety, and in many cases livelihoods, in regional Australia. And it is an area where the Coalition government has heavily invested in just over three years in government.

Coalition policies will see 38 mobile phone towers built in Indi alone – in black spots that had until now been left in the too-hard basket. The Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government didn’t spend a single dollar on mobile black spots in its six years.

In contrast, the Coalition has committed $220 million in Commonwealth funds to the Mobile Black Spot Program. This is delivering new or improved mobile coverage to over 4400 mobile black spots in regional Australia. It’s a similar story with the NBN. More than 56,000 premises – homes and businesses – in Indi are now able to connect to the NBN.

This government has deliberately prioritised underserved areas and regional Australia in the NBN rollout. Today, 70 per cent of premises covered by the NBN are in regional and non-metro areas.

Outside the major cities, more than two-thirds of premises are receiving NBN’s fixed-line upgrades, and this is supplemented by fixed wireless and satellite in low-density and remote areas. Together these technologies are delivering broadband to hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and farms which previously had to rely on limited or non-existent connectivity.

Fixed wireless services can offer speeds of up to 50 Mbps – faster than ADSL2+ services in cities – and are now available to 480,000 premises nationally, including almost 16,000 homes and businesses in Indi.

And the Coalition is keeping phone and internet services more affordable than it otherwise would have been under Labor’s gold-plated NBN rollout. That gold-plated plan would have seen typical home internet bills increase by more than $500 a year.

The NBN rollout is a national project in the most literal sense. It runs down every street and reaches into every home and business across Australia. Right now, around 30,000 homes are being hooked up to the network every single week.

Some connection issues during the changeover will be inevitable – they run at about nine complaints for every 10,000 connections – and NBN co and the retail providers are constantly learning from these issues.

This government is switching on two new mobile base stations every week, and connecting tens of thousands of homes to high-speed affordable broadband in regional Australia. The mobile black spot program and the NBN are major investments that only a Coalition Government have ever dared to deliver at the same time.