Federal Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, who is determined to get his own way over the roll out of a National Broadband Network, claims he will legislate to force people onto the network irrelevant of the cost to the nation.
Under pressure from Opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull, Conroy, who is determined to lumber all Australians with a $43 billion plus bill to achieve his objectives says he will take action if the states and territories don’t make connections mandatory.
There is already speculation that consumers will lose their fixed line connections if they do not sign up to the NBN when Telstra hand over their copper line network to the NBN Co.
Conroy has admitted that the current copper line service currently used to deliver ADSL and phone connectivity will be turned off as each home and business is connected to the NBN.
Senator Conroy has said that he intends to make it compulsory to connect to the NBN when it rolled out into Australian suburbs.
The Fairfax Media reported Conroy saying: “We are working our way through the issues with the states and … we ultimately would consider, if we can’t reach settlement, mandating it through the Federal Parliament. But we prefer to be engaged with the states,” Senator Conroy said.
The problem for Conroy is that before the roll out of the NBN is completed in several States, the Governments of Queensland, NSW and potentially Victoria could fall to the Liberal Coalition, who is teaming up with WA ,could make life difficult for Conroy.
Fairfax Media said: “[We’ve been] having a conversation with the states for over 12 months on this very issue,” he said. “This is not a new issue. Malcolm Turnbull might have discovered it recently but it has actually been on the agenda. And we’ve actually been saying for quite some considerable time: as we disconnect the copper we’ll be connecting the fibre.”
Analysts estimate that it will cost a minimum of $300 to connect each and every house in Australia.
Speaking on the ABC Lateline show, Conroy said that there should be no increase in price to a person “who’s sitting there, they don’t have broadband, all they want to do is pick up the phone and make a phone call. So there should be no change in their circumstances.”
Asked by Lateline presenter Tony Jones if he could guarantee that, Conroy said: “Well I believe that the pricing which we’ll see in a few weeks will demonstrate that that is absolutely going to be the case.”