Stephen Conroy, the former Communications Minister, has been replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. His appointment comes as spin doctors at the National Broadband Network get set to mount a fear campaign against those who refuse to switch to the NBN fibre network.
Letters are set to be delivered to objectors, warning that they face being cut off from their landline phones and broadband.
Those who use a mobile phone to connect to a website or make phone calls won’t be affected, as this service is delivered by Telstra’s 4G network.
NBN management claims that apartment blocks whose body corporates have refused access are “a problem”.
The Australian newspaper reports that NBN Co expects that “frustrated premises” — where property owners consciously refuse to let it connect them to the fibre optic cabling, or where there is a legal hurdle — will be a “necessary challenge to overcome as part of the rollout”.
About one-third of the premises to receive fibre are expected to be apartments, office blocks and industrial complexes.
However, the rollout for these so-called multi-dwelling units (MDUs) has been problematic.
“The adverse consequences of refusing to allow NBN Co, or its delivery partner, to install infrastructure which enables the premises to become NBN serviceable include . . . if residents want to keep making phone calls and accessing the internet using one of these landline services, they will need to switch their service to the NBN,” NBN Co head of regulatory affairs and industry analysis Caroline Lovell was quoted in The Australian as saying.
NBN Co made the comments in a letter last week to the competition watchdog in order to back a proposal by Telstra that would prevent the telco from supplying new copper and cable services to “frustrated premises” in areas that are considered “NBN serviceable” — rather than wait until the lines are physically disconnected, which could be several months later.