Leftist authoritarianism never stops: "Buy our product or else!"
The Al Capones of politics
THE Gillard government and the key providers of the NBN are still working out how to ensure basic phone services to those people who do not sign up to it. In Tasmania, official estimates forecast that just 16 to 25 per cent of premises passed by the NBN rollout would subscribe. This prompted the state government to switch to an "opt-out" model, where homes and businesses would be automatically connected to the service unless they refused.
Last night, the government revealed that those wanting to retain a fixed-line telephone service in their home would be forced to connect to the NBN.
A spokeswoman for Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy said people living within the planned NBN fibre footprint - which is the 93 per cent of premises that would be covered by the network - must have fibre connected to their homes through the NBN if they want to maintain a fixed-line telephone connection.
"Anyone who has a fixed-line phone service will continue to have a fixed-line phone service," the spokeswoman said. But before a home owner can choose a telecommunications provider for their fixed telephone line they must opt in to the NBN network. The situation facing people within the NBN footprint who refuse to connect to the network remains unclear and is still subject to talks between the NBN Co, the government and Telstra.
Currently, Telstra has a universal service obligation requiring it to ensure basic telephone services are available to all Australians on an equitable basis, no matter where they live. Under Telstra's $11bn deal with the NBN Co, the telco would be relieved of that obligation, which would be transferred to the NBN Co for the areas covered by the fibre network.
That deal would see Telstra gradually shut down its ageing copper network - currently the main way of providing fixed-line telephone services - and "migrate" (transfer) customers to the new broadband network.
A spokeswoman for the NBN Co said yesterday there had been "detailed discussions" over several months about a "range of complex issues". "Those discussions are continuing and include issues such as migration," she said.
While Senator Conroy's office last night pointed to the implementation study into the NBN as proof the NBN Co could develop a "strong and viable business case", concerns have lingered that the project might need shoring up. While Tasmania has chosen an opt-out model, NSW and Victoria have ruled out a similar move. But this issue has sparked intense debate.
Last night, iiNet managing director Michael Malone said other states would need to follow Tasmania's lead in order to shore up the viability of the NBN project.
With an opt-in model, Mr Malone warned, "complacency means people don't opt in". "It's going to be very difficult to get the take-up rates that are needed, and also very expensive because technicians will need to keep coming back to do the houses that missed out the first time around," Mr Malone said.
Paul Broad, the head of the nation's third-biggest telco, AAPT, sounded a note of caution about forcing people into the project. He asked: "If people were forced on to it, what are they going to be charged?" He pointed to Sydney's Cross City Tunnel, where the NSW [Leftist] government initially adopted measures aimed at pushing motorists away from alternative routes and into the tunnel.