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Labor silent on broadband guarantee.



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Fri, 29th February 2008 LABOR SILENT ON BROADBAND GUARANTEE

The Hon Bruce Billson MP Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Bruce Billson is calling on the Rudd Government to rule out the axing of the Australian Broadband Guarantee program.

The program is a targeted, $163 million initiative, which was implemented by the previous government to provide Australia-wide access to affordable broadband services comparable with metropolitan areas.

Under the program internet service providers must offer customers reliable services that are comparable to metro services in relation to speed, data usage and price. The program was also established to counter remaining broadband blackspots in metropolitan or rural Australia.

It features a $2,750 subsidy scheme to assist people in remote and blackspot areas to access fast satellite broadband. Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy has remained absolutely silent on the future of the program which is scheduled to end on June 30, 2008.

People across Australia are rightly concerned the Rudd Government is going to add the Broadband Guarantee program to a growing list of important initiatives that it is going to scrap.

Uncertainty surrounding the program comes at a time when Labor has introduced a bill into parliament to allow the government to raid the $2 billion Communications Fund, plus its interest, to pay for a vague, city-centric fibre broadband proposal.

The fund was set up to address the future telecommunications needs of rural, regional and remote Australia - not just broadband issues.

If Labor's razor gang winds up the Broadband Guarantee program Australians in rural and broadband blackspot areas will be left stranded.