Committee told rural areas need first access to NBN

A joint parliamentary committee on the National Broadband Network (NBN) has heard the project will create competition in the telecommunications market and will help rural Australia, but it should be rolled out to areas with poor internet access first.

The committee, chaired by independent federal MP Rob Oakeshott, met in Sydney to discuss the rollout of the fibre-optic technology.

Alun Davies, who is helping co-ordinate the rollout in regional NSW, says the NBN will be a ‘game-changer’ for rural Australians.

“It links up Australia for the future … it really just puts regional Australia on the map,” he told the committee.

Matthew Lobb, Vodafone’s general manager of public policy, told the committee the NBN would create greater competition in the telecommunications market.

“Globally, Vodafone is quite an active fixed line player … but Australia has not been an attractive fixed line market because of the dominance of Telstra,” Lobb said.

“The recent reforms and the NBN have changed our thinking in that regard,” he said.

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network CEO Teresa Corbin told the committee the NBN should first be rolled out in areas where existing internet services were poor.

“So obviously, [the network is] in support of rural and regional consumers getting services first and also in support of metropolitan … black holes getting addressed as soon as possible,” Corbin said.

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