Government locks down $2 billion Communications Fund

Labor refused access to fund proceeds for its own network

Labor's Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) broadband plans have been jeopardized by a federal government move to lock down the $2 billion Communications Fund, which was set to be financial backbone of the opposition's network.

National ICT minister Helen Coonan said the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Protecting Services for Rural and Regional Australia into the Future) Bill is designed to preserve the funds for allocation to regional broadband initiatives.

The bill, which passed through the senate this week, will restrict a Labor government to spending only the interest earned from the fund's investments - up to $400 million every three years.

The Opposition's FttN network is based on Telstra's 2005 proposal, which has been fully costed at $8 billion of government and private funds and will be rolled out over five years.

The network will use $4.7 billion of public funding derived from the Communications Fund and the Future Fund's 17 percent stake in Telstra.

"Labor has committed to drain the entire $2 billion from the Communications Fund, rob the bush of its ongoing funding, and squander it on a commercially viable network in metropolitan areas which the industry has already publicly stated it can build without any taxpayer funds," Coonan said.

"Under the Australia Connected program, Australia will soon have multiple high speed broadband networks including, WiMAX, ADSL2+ and following the completion of the competitive assessment process, another high speed broadband network, likely to be fibre.

"Labor's proposed broadband network is estimated to only reach around 75 per cent of the population, leaving 25 per cent of Australians, all in rural and regional areas, stranded without access to high speed broadband and without the Communications Fund to provide for any future service upgrades."

In a twist, Shadow Minister for Communications and IT, Stephen Conroy, this week said an opposition government will jointly build and integrate the government-backed OPEL WiMAX network, with its own national Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network.

Conroy said a Labor government will "welcome any commercial interest" in linking the OPEL network with its proposed national FttN network, confirming the opposition's promise to honour the contract if it is signed before the election.

The Optus-Elders WiMAX network was officially approved this week by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) for construction across regional Australia by June 2009.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Darren Pauli

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?