Interview with Will Goodings and David Penberthy
FIVEaa Breakfast Adelaide
7 June 2018
E & OE
As is our next guest, the Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, in town to launch some research regarding the impacts and benefits of the NBN for South Australia.
Minister, good morning to you.
Good to be with you, Will and Dave.
Great to have you here, Minister. Now, before we get into the nuts and bolts of today’s announcement, can I just get you to give us a – because I was just saying to you off air I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to technology, I haven’t even got the NBN on at my place yet, and neither has Will. But in terms of South Australia, what’s the landscape like now for the NBN? What’s the take up been like, what are the speeds like, are you happy with the way it’s working?
It’s a good story in South Australia. More than 64 per cent of South Australians can now access the NBN. In numbers, that means about 540,000 people can switch on. About 300,000 people have done so already. The reason there aren’t more is because there’s an 18-month window that people have to transfer to the NBN after it becomes available in their area. But it will all be done and dusted by 2020, which is six to eight years sooner than would have been the case under our predecessors.
For the people like me – which I guess is, what, one-third based on those figures of the South Australians who don’t have it – should we worry, or is the white NBN van going to come down my street at some point and pop a letter in my letterbox saying: don’t worry, you’re going to have a chance to get on it?
No need to worry at all. Everyone in the state will get the NBN. As I say, 64 per cent of people can already access it. You will get something in the letterbox telling you that the NBN is coming to town. But you don’t need to panic, you’ve got time to make a choice in terms of the retail service provider that’s best for you. And you’ve got 18 months to make that transition.
Is there a separate question about whether I’m actually going to need it, though? Because are there new sort of interrupter businesses that are emerging that sort of say: well, you don’t need the NBN because we can stick this saucer on your roof, and you can go it alone. Is that a problem for the NBN business model?
Well, technology is always evolving. And you’ll hear people talking about the challenge that mobile might provide to NBN. At the moment the data that you download on your mobile devices – be it an iPad, be it a phone – is much more expensive than the data that you access through the NBN. So, NBN will continue to be competitive, but mobile devices are a great supplement. But you always need a fibre backbone to support a mobile network.
There’s a couple of companies that are based and founded here in Adelaide; NuSkope, and Uniti Wireless, and it feels anecdotally that their penetration is particularly great here. Has that been shown up in the research that you’re launching today?
The research that we’re launching demonstrates that there is an NBN effect. That nationwide in 2017, NBN has already added a billion dollars to the economy. By 2021, NBN will be adding $10 billion a year to the economy. In South Australia, what the research shows is that by 2021, the NBN will have helped to support the creation of more than 3500 new businesses, and will have helped support the creation of more than 26,000 jobs. So, there really is an NBN effect that’s starting.
There is a segment that’s run regularly on our morning program, with Leon Byner, where Jill Bottrall from NBN Co comes on and fields questions from people. That segment just about melts the switchboard down with people who have concerns about the quality of the service, intermittent service, speeds that were promised that aren’t anywhere near achieved. Do you have concerns about the way in which the service is being delivered in South Australia?
NBN, I think it’s important to recognise, we’re essentially trying to do, with the rollout, what it took the PMG and Telecom and Telstra the best part of 70 years to do. And that is to establish a brand new network. NBN is doing that in the space of about seven or eight years. So obviously when you’re migrating the entire nation to a new network, there will be issues. But the good news is that most of those have been addressed.
About six months ago, you probably were hearing a lot about congestion issues on the NBN. NBN have changed their pricing, the pricing that they offer to the retail service providers. And that’s enabled the retailers to purchase the capacity that they need to, and that they should have been purchasing, to service their customers. So, congestion issues have essentially been eliminated. So, the experience of the overwhelming majority of people on the NBN is a good one.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, thanks for coming in, and enjoy your time here today in Adelaide.
Great. Good to be with you guys.
Authorised by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Liberal Party of Australia, Parliament House, Canberra.