Labor's Plan to Improve the NBN

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Labor's Plan to Improve the NBN

A Shorten Labor Government will end six years of the Liberals' chaos with a responsible plan to improve the National Broadband Network (NBN).

We recognise that world class broadband infrastructure is critical to boosting productivity right across the economy and that it is not just a consumer good – it is an essential service.

We also recognise the need to make sure customer experience for households across Australia is a top priority.

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will implement a credible policy that will improve connectivity for households and businesses across the country.

LABOR’S PLAN:

If elected, a Shorten Labor Government will:

1. Get more elderly and low-income households connected: Labor will launch a landmark Digital Inclusion Drive to get more elderly and low-income households connected to the NBN, making our country more modern and more inclusive.

The Digital Inclusion Drive will be led by NBNCo and conducted over stages. The first stage will develop deep insights in collaboration with stakeholders, and the second stage will develop affordability measures and digital literacy initiatives to boost digital participation.

According to S&P Global, the top ten ranked countries have household broadband take-up rates ranging from nearly 100 per cent in Singapore and Switzerland, to 99 per cent in New Zealand, to 95 per cent in France and the United Kingdom. Yet in Australia, household adoption of broadband is at 86 per cent.

This presents and important and positive opportunity to help get more Australians online, and maximise the public benefit of the NBN.

2. Improve speeds and reliability for Fibre to the Node households: Labor will direct NBNCo to fix in-home cabling problems that degrade service quality for households on the copper NBN, this will benefit up to 750,000 households – at no cost to those affected.

This problem arises from high frequency NBN signals which cause interference and reduce connection quality to the household modem.

This measure will reduce dropouts and improve speeds for broadband services in up to 750,000 Fibre to the Node households who are identified as having a cabling problem.

A trial by NBNCo found that installing a signal splitter in identified households delivered an average speed improvement of 11 megabits per second, and improved reliability.

It currently costs Fibre to the Node households $150 to have an in-home wiring problem fixed. Under Labor, it will not cost anything. Consumers are our priority and we will get on with the job of improving their experience.

NBNCo will work in partnership with retail providers to deliver the program and arrange for a licensed technician to fix the problem with the consumers consent. The program will be funded by NBNCo through an increase in peak funding of up to $125 million.

3. Better protect small businesses and consumers against excessive NBN downtime: Labor will establish an NBN Service Guarantee to set service standards for fault repair and installations. This policy will better safeguard small businesses and consumers against unreasonable and excessive periods of NBN downtime.

Remedies will apply when service standards are not met, with stronger penalties to apply for issues which impact on small businesses. Downtime for small businesses isn’t just stressful – it costs money. Less downtime and greater accountability – that is what we want to deliver.

4. A responsible approach for targeted co-investment in fibre over the medium term. When it comes to delivering more fibre in the NBN there is no quick fix, and Labor will not make promises it can’t keep. To position for the future, Labor will direct NBNCo to undertake trials of fibre upgrades to validate costs and assess co-investment mechanisms to deliver targeted upgrades over the medium term. This initiative will be funded by NBNCo through an increase in its peak funding of up to $60 million.

5. Reviewing the economics of the NBN: The Liberals’ multi-technology mix has devastated the economics of the NBN. To understand the scope of challenges, Labor will commence an immediate review of the economics of the NBN.

The review will examine the implications of the multi-technology mix on NBNCo’s long-term cash flow position, capital structure, pricing evolution, options to grow revenue and reduce costs, and the capacity of NBNCo to co-invest in future infrastructure upgrades under a range of market scenarios.

The Liberals' record speaks for itself: Australia is ranked 59th in the world for broadband speeds according to the Speedtest Global Index, and the Liberals' delivery of the NBN is $21.4 billion over budget and four years behind schedule.

Consumers and taxpayers have every right to be angry with the Liberals for delivering a second-rate network that costs more and does less.

Australian households and businesses deserve a National Broadband Network that is affordable, delivers great value for money and is reliable.