NBN switch a turnoff

NEARLY 3000 inner-city Fremantle businesses and residents who thought they were getting an upgrade to fibre to the curb (FTTC) broadband can stop cheering—it was just a “data error”.

For several months NBN Co’s rollout map has shown a large swathe of central Freo being upgraded to the superior FTTC, but a week or so ago much of it seemed to get a downgrade to the much-maligned fibre to the node (FTTN).

NBN Co says the earlier map was just a mistake.

“NBN Co is aware of a data error on our website that resulted in the incorrect technology being published for parts of Freo,” an anonymous statement from the company read.

“The issue has been rectified and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Freo’s West End will still receive FTTC courtesy of Fremantle council arguing that it doesn’t want the ubiquitous green nodes spoiling the heritage streetscape.

But the issue has left Federal Labor MP Josh Wilson fuming. He sat on a telecommunications committee looking into the rollout of the National Broadband Network and says the model is flawed.

“Choosing 19th century copper wire technology for most of the NBN network was a mistake that will result in substandard broadband at a time when Australia needs to be at the cutting-edge.  Since 2013 Australia has dropped from 30th to 54th on the international broadband rankings, even though we have the 13th largest economy,” Mr Wilson said.

“It appears that Fremantle will be getting less fibre than was originally planned, at a time when the Turnbull government should be enabling the NBN to deliver more fibre.

“The wider Fremantle community has a tradition of innovation and creativity that will be stifled if the broadband network is sub-par at the point of delivery.

“Copper-wire broadband is limited to low, capped speeds and will likely mean that the NBN fast becomes both a technological and economic basket case.”

But NBN Co says that’s not the case, and the FTTN model has allowed them to connect thousands more houses than would have been possible at this point under Labor’s more expensive fibre to the home model.

“Fibre to the node technology is an important components of the multi-technology model which has enabled us to vastly accelerate the rollout and adoption of the NBN access network,” the company’s statement said.

“It is able to provide average wholesale download speeds of about 70Mbps. This is approximately 10 times faster than average ADSL speeds in Australia.”

by STEVE GRANT

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