SATELLITE DEAL – MORE WASTEFUL NBN SPENDING
The Coalition and Labor both agree on the need for wireless and satellite services capable of providing high quality broadband to Australians in regional and remote areas.
The Howard Government’s OPEL plan offered exactly such services – and people in remote areas of the nation would already have better broadband if Labor hadn’t cancelled OPEL in 2008.
But every announcement by NBN Co so far has involved it spending excessively, and today’s satellite announcement is no different.
There is enough capacity on private satellites already in orbit or scheduled for launch for the NBN to deliver broadband to the 200,000 or so premises in remote Australia without building its own.
When these two NBN satellites are launched, there will be huge spare capacity on them. Once again, the NBN is investing more than is needed to achieve its mission. Once again, the incentive will be for this giant new Government monopoly to intrude into other markets, and undermine existing private sector providers.
At the expected cost of $1 billion to build, launch and operate two satellites built from scratch, NBN Co is spending over $10,000 for each of the 106,000 households its Corporate Plan says will be using satellite broadband in 2021. That does not even account for the other costs required for the satellite portion of the NBN, such as installing receivers at remote premises.
Today’s decision is not only wasteful, it is late. According to the NBN Co Corporate Plan, it should have chosen its satellite strategy by July 2011 – eight months ago.
Labor’s rhetoric on broadband is strident, but its record in office is shameful.
The real question Senator Conroy and Mr Quigley should have answered today is why the NBN’s fibre network was not extended to a single new home or business across Australia in the entire second half of 2011.
And why, after four years of Labor government, only 4000 Australian households are connected to the NBN Kevin Rudd promised in 2007.