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 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

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?