NBN deployment is too sluggish for Victoria’s Coalition Government, according to Technology Minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips.
“The rollout of the NBN is failing to keep pace with demand for high-speed broadband services in Victoria,” Rich-Phillips said after releasing a Deloitte broadband report commissioned by the state government.
The comments about the Labor Party’s broadband build came days after NBN Co announced higher-than-expected costs for the national network.
The Deloitte report (PDF) found 350,000 Victorian households and businesses want faster broadband than is currently available, an increase of 63 per cent over two years. “Much of this unmet demand is a result of the void created in private sector broadband investment since the Commonwealth Labor Government decided to build its own broadband network,” Rich-Phillips said.
“It’s clear the Commonwealth’s rollout plan is not hitting areas where there is strong demand for services or those areas that would benefit most from adequate services,” he said. “Delays in the NBN rollout have resulted in much lower coverage of third wave broadband and have exacerbated unmet demand for these services.”
Rich-Phillips complained that rural Victoria was at a digitial disadvantage compared to metro Melbourne. “Regional centres like Ararat, Benalla, Echuca, Hamilton, Mildura, Portland, Sale, Swan Hill, Wangaratta and Warrnambool have strong demand for high-speed broadband yet are missing out on early access to the NBN and some are unlikely to receive it for another nine years,” he said.
The Deloitte report said Victoria was well covered by slower broadband services.
“Ongoing ADSL infrastructure development means almost all inhabited areas of the State can now access at least 256Kbps services, with unmet demand for broadband at speeds of up to 8Mbps falling to just 12,723 premises state-wide.
“A challenge in the future lies in the extension of faster services,” the report read. “In 2011, ADSL+ and equivalent broadband services had reached 92.8 per cent of households and 92.1 per cent of businesses, representing growth of more than twenty percentage points in coverage compared with two years previously. However, coverage for services above the 50Mbps download speed mark remains low.”
The NBN will bring speeds faster than 50Mbps to Victoria, Deloitte said. “However, it is estimated that two-thirds of households and businesses in Victoria will not have access to the NBN by 2016, meaning levels of unmet demand will be high.”
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