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More critics of Labor's sham broadband proposal.

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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Media Release

Media Contact Frank Peppard: 0417 061 969

177/07 Wednesday 31 October 2007

More critics of Labor’s sham broadband proposal

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan said today Labor had been embarrassed by drawing attention to a report that was highly critical of their own broadband proposal.

“The Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) has attacked Labor’s broadband proposal saying ‘it is hard to justify the use of taxpayer’s money to build a network that the private sector - in this case Telstra - was desperate to build itself’.

“Both Telstra and the G9 have well developed and highly commercial fibre broadband proposals and they have each taken out full page advertisements this year saying:

“Telstra needs no money from Canberra to build a world-leading broadband network.” - Telstra full page ad, 6 May 2007

“The G9 plan does not require taxpayer funds. It will be independently financed.” - G9 full page ad, 7 May 2007

“Even these industry ads failed to sway Labor from its promise to spend the Coalition’s $2 billion regional Communications Fund on a commercial metropolitan network.

The IPA is also highly critical of Labor’s plan to re-create the conflict of interest between regulator and owner in telecommunication. The IPA said: ‘Bringing the Government back into the telecommunications market is no solution.’

Mr Rudd has also made a fundamental error by picking just one technology - fibre - which only works if you live within 1.5kms from your local telephone exchange or node. This means that one in four Australians will not get high speed broadband under Labor.

“The fact is that you need a mix of technologies to cover Australia’s vast landmass and the Coalition’s broadband network involves a mix of next generation technologies, including WiMAX wireless, ADSL2+ and fibre,” Senator Coonan said.

Only last week Optus’ head of technology, Peter Ferris, said Labor’s fibre plan could not possibly cover 98 per cent of the population as claimed by Mr Rudd.

“There is no single technology solution to cover a country the size of Australia… A nationwide plan will have all sorts of different technologies,” Mr Ferris said.

“The Coalition will extend high speed broadband to 99 per cent of the population within two years at retail prices of between $35 and $60 per month. The remaining 1 per cent of the population will receive a $2750 satellite broadband subsidy.

“Contrast this with Labor’s broadband proposal which will miss one in four households, cost families upwards of $100 per month, and won’t be available until 2013,” Senator Coonan said.