Doorstop - NBN Forum with Ken Wyatt MP > Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria

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11-October-2017

 

NBN Forum with Ken Wyatt MP

Wattle Grove Perth
5 October 2017

4:15pm

 

Text Box: Subject: NBN

E & OE

 

JOURNALIST:

Minister you were talking about fifty percent of Australia at the moment connected to the NBN.  Can you just give us those stats about three quarters and then hundred percent and when that is going to happen.

FIFIELD:

The good news is more than fifty percent of the nation can now access the NBN.  By the middle of next year it will be three quarters of the country, and the project will be done and dusted by 2020.  Which is a good six to eight years sooner than would have been the case under the approach of our predecessors.

JOURNALIST:

This really is one of the great infrastructure projects, for IT anyway, of this generation.

FIFIELD:

This is a mammoth project. It is up there with the Snowy Mountains Scheme.  We are effectively doing over the course of five or six years what it took the PMG and Telecom about seventy years to do.  We’re building a completely new network and switching the entire nation across to it.

JOURNALIST:

That is not something you do often I guess, switching a whole country to a new network.

FIFIELD:

This is really the first time we have shifted an entire nation to a new telecommunications network.  And, understandably, there will be some issues when you do that.  But the overwhelming experience that people have on the NBN is a good one.

JOURNALIST:

Can you guarantee that people’s speeds will be better once the NBN is here than what they currently have at the moment.

FIFIELD:

People are going to have good, fast speeds that are better than the old network.  There is a minimum mandate that there be speed of 25mbps.  Ninety percent of the fixed line network will be able to access speeds of 50 mbps.  And large sections of the network will be able to reach speeds of 100mbps.

JOURNALIST:

And that is up there with world best speeds is it?

FIFIELD:

Australia will have a fast broadband network that will be the envy of the world.

JOURNALIST:

Can you talk us through, if you have issues with your NBN you don’t deal with the NBN, people think it is one in the same but it’s not.

FIFIELD:

NBN is a wholesaler.  The point of contact for consumers is their retail service provider.  Be that Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG or one of a hundred other retail service providers.  They are the ones that you have the relationship with.

JOURNALIST:

So if you have a go an issue with your NBN you still have to deal with them, don’t try and call the NBN.

FIFIELD:

Call NBN is you want to know when NBN is coming to your neighbourhood.  Call NBN if you have a monitored medical alarm, or an un monitored medical alarm, and you want to be registered to make sure you have a seamless transition.  But otherwise your retail service provider is who you contact in relation to your account, for your billing and for faults.

JOURNALIST:

There are a number of things that could affect your internet speed within your house that is not connected to the cable.  Could you talk us through thick walls, your router and that sort of thing?

FIFIELD:

There are a number of issues that can affect speed.  Having the right modem is one of them.  Making sure you have the correct wiring inside your house is another.  Also making sure that you have purchased the product that is right for you from your retailer is important to do.  And the retailers themselves have to make sure that they are purchasing enough capacity from NBN to service the customers they have.

JOURNALIST:

On that are the retailers promising more than they can deliver at the moment.  Selling you 100mbps and you are getting 13 mbps.

FIFIELD:

It’s incumbent upon the retailers to sell to customers what it is that they have advertised.  We have tasked the ACCC to embed 4000 probes in premises around the country so they can report on the speeds that people are actually getting from their retailers.  The ACCC has also given clear and strong guidelines to retailers as to how they should advertise clearly so that consumers are well informed before they buy.

JOURNALIST:

Is it somewhat of a land grab of these providers, where they are trying to get as many customers as possible whilst not buying enough capacity, so they are coming undone. Is that what we are seeing?

FIFIELD:

Retailers obviously are seeking to maximise their market share.  What retailers should do is to not only compete on the basis of price, they should also seek to compete on the basis of quality.  And the ACCC is looking very closely at retailers to make sure that they are delivering what it is that they have promised.

JOURNALIST:

Overall are the comments you get from people about the NBN are good?

FIFIELD:

Overwhelmingly the experience that people have on the NBN is good.  That’s the feedback that I get.  NBN itself gets things right on about nine out of ten occasions the first time.  But there will always be issues when you are moving the entire country to a brand new network.  We want to minimise those issues and NBN and retailers are working hard on that.

JOURNALIST:

So you don’t think that people’s expectations are just too high for what they think can be achieve by the NBN.

FIFIELD:

People understandably have high expectations when Government is allocating $49 billion to a project. We want Australians to have a good experience. NBN and the retailers want Australians to have a good experience as well. And we are all working hard to make sure that is the case.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think that some retailers are deliberately misleading consumers about the speeds that they can actually achieve. Advertising 100mbps when on average they are not going to get that much.

FIFIELD:

Retailers need to be clear in their advertising and the ACCC has given very clear guidance to retailers as to how they should do that.

JOURNALIST:

What is this coexisting?  You have got the eighteen months to switch over coexisting between previous and what is to come, and how does that slow speeds down

FIFIELD:

There is an eighteen month window in which people have the opportunity to migrate from the old network to the NBN network.  During that eighteen months of coexistence you have the NBN operating alongside the ADSL. And so that can affect speeds for that period of coexistence.  But once that period is concluded then those issues are resolved.

JOURNALIST:

During that period could your current connections drop download speeds during this coexistence.

FIFIELD:

During the coexistence period it can be the case that you won’t have the full benefit of the speeds that the network is capable of until that coexistence period has concluded.

JOURNALIST:

So you could have effectively have eighteen months of pain.

FIFIELD:

During the coexistence period there can be an impact on speeds because you have essentially got two networks operating side by side and that is resolved at the end of that coexistence period.

JOURNALIST:

Why does it have to be so long why can’t it come down to six months or something.

FIFIELD:

Eighteen months is a window to enable people to shop around, to look for the retail service provider that is right for them. It also recognises that people will want to take some time in moving across to a new network.  We don’t want to force people in a tight timeframe to do that.  We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to cross in an orderly way.

JOURNALIST:

By 2020 when this is all finished how many premises would have been migrated to the NBN.

FIFIELD:

There are about eleven million premises in the nation all of which will have access to the NBN.  The take up rate is about seventy five percent which is pretty much in accord with the pre NBN world where about seventy five percent of people have landlines.

JOURNALIST:

So just to reiterate if there are issues with your connection it is very often not with the cabling it’s to do with your house or issues with your provider. Is that correct.

FIFIELD:

That’s right, if you are having issues with speed talk to your retail service provider and they will work you through whether you might have a modem issue, whether you might have an issue with your in house wiring, or whether the product that you have is the right one for you.

JOURNALIST:

Just on the cabling, for a long period of time we are still going to have to copper from the cabinet or the node to your house.  Does using copper slow speeds?

FIFIELD:

The approach that we are taking is one that is common in the United States and common in Europe.  And that’s you use the technology in any given area to see it rolled out the fastest and at lowest cost.  So sometimes that is using the old pay TV HFC cable, something its fibre to the premises in a greenfield’s development, sometimes its fibre to the node where there is copper for that last connection from the node to your home.  You can get, and this is the basis of fibre to the node, fast broadband on fibre to the node.  Average speeds on fibre to the node part of the network are about 70 mbps at the moment.  So they are good speeds.

JOURNALIST:

But then do we lose some speeds when it becomes node to house.

FIFIELD:

The interesting thing is eighty three percent of people are purchasing speed packages of 25 mbps or less.  And that really doesn’t vary between the fibre to the node part of the network of fibre to the premises part of the network.

JOURNALIST:

So a 100 mbps is superfast so I guess that is for people who are big gamers or big corporations, Joe Blow won’t use that.

FIFIELD:

Most people don’t need 100 mbps and that has been borne out by the fact that eighty three percent of people are purchasing packages of 25 mbps or less.  To watch high definition Netflix you need about 5 mbps.  So this is a fast broadband network.  It’s fit for purpose.  And it will meet the needs that people have.

ENDS