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Howard government fails suburban Australia on broadband.

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Senator Stephen Conroy Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology

Howard government fails suburban Australia on broadband

21 September 2006

Today’s announcement of the government’s Broadband Connect program ignores the thousands of Australians unable to access broadband or stuck with the ‘fraudband’ product currently prevailing in Australia.

This neglect is not surprising from a Minister who is so out of touch that she claimed that no one in metropolitan Australia was complaining about broadband.

This announcement provides not a single cent for the thousands of Australians in outer-metropolitan areas who are unable to access genuine broadband.

This program does nothing for the hundreds of thousands of Australians with access to nothing more than the ‘fraudband’ products currently available in Australia.

The fact remains that the Howard government has no plan to facilitate the roll out of high speed broadband in outer-metropolitan Australia.

The Howard government has no national vision for the roll out of world class broadband infrastructure in Australia.

The Howard government still refuses to fix the Australian telecommunications regulatory regime that has prevented the roll out of high speed broadband to Australians in outer-metropolitan Australia.

In contrast to the Howard government's complacency on broadband, Labor has been playing a leading role in the Australian telecommunications infrastructure debate.

In this year's budget reply, a Beazley Labor Government committed to improving regulatory settings to encourage private sector investment on a pro-competitive basis through a government/industry joint venture. Labor also committed to drawing on the $757 million Broadband Connect program and providing an equity injection from the $2 billion earmarked

for the Communications Fund to deliver the public funding of this partnership with the telecommunications sector.

Further information: Stephen Conroy on (02) 6277 3295 or Tim Watts, 0439 315848 21 September 2006

Australian Broadband - The Facts

As a result of ten years of Howard government infrastructure complacency:

• Australia is ranked 17th out of 30 countries surveyed by the OECD for take up of to 256kbps broadband. Despite growth off a low base, Australia's relative position did not change from the previous year.

• The World Economic Forum ranks Australia 25th in the world in terms of available internet bandwidth and Australia's 'Networked Readiness' at 15th and falling.

• A recent World Bank study confirms that Australia's average ADSL speeds of barely 1 mbps is one of the slowest in the world behind countries like Britain (13 mbps), France (8.4 mbps), Germany (6.85 mbps), Canada (6.8 mbps), United States (3.3 mbps).

• The Internet Industry Association is calling for 80% of Australians to have access to 10 mbps broadband by 2010 and that the only way we will get there is through "Significant and meaningful changes in attitude and leadership from the Government and policy makers."

• Publishing and Broadcasting Limited chair James Packer recently described Australia's broadband position as "embarrassing" and stated that there was a huge consumer demand for online video that is being held back by Australia's antiquated broadband infrastructure.

• The Fairfax submission to Senator Coonan's Media Reform Discussion Paper states that “the encouragement of broadband is a critical element in Australia’s overall media policy”. The submission goes on to say “internet speeds are slower and internet pricing is more expensive, than many other developed countries”.

• Fibre based broadband technology is taking off around the world with 52.4% growth in fibre connections in Korea last year (OECD). Japan already has 4.6 million fibre to the home broadband subscribers.

Further information: Stephen Conroy on (02) 6277 3295 or

Tim Watts, 0439 315848

21 September 2006