Peak Tasmanian IT group slams both sides of politics, warning NBN rollout has slowed to a crawl

Peak Tasmanian IT lobby group TASICT has warned the rollout of the NBN has slowed to a crawl across Tasmania in its submission to the National Broadband Network inquiry.

In its submission TASICT says it remains supportive of the full fibre-to-the-premises network being rolled out to all 190,000 premises originally earmarked for connection.

However, it warns the project has been used “as a political tool” by all major state and federal parties, while key issues are ignored.

The report also notes increasing frustration from retail internet service providers about the technology that will eventually be used on the project, with an estimated 50% of appointments missed by contractors due to delays in rolling out the network.

“Prior to the 2013 Federal Election, TASICT lobbied for the completion of the existing fibre to the premises NBN rollout,” the submission states.

“Soon after it become clear the rollout was facing significant issues in Tasmania. By June 2013 the project was plagued by disputes between NBNco, Visionstream and its subcontractors as well as concerns over asbestos risks during remediation work.

“These issues were never dealt with by the government of the day. In fact, they were completely ignored and the rollout had almost stopped by September 2013.”

The submission claims less than 4000 new premises have been passed by the rollout since Visionstream announced plans to accelerate the rollout in December of last year.

“It was hoped these issues would be addressed by a new government and the rollout could get back on track. To date, that has not happened,” the submission states.

“TASICT believes the Tasmanian project has no realistic chance of being completed by the end of 2015, as previously promised. The first-mover NBN advantage once trumpeted as an economic saviour for Tasmania, is gone.”

An NBN Co spokesperson told StartupSmart it remains committed to the Tasmanian rollout.

“NBN Co and its construction partner in Tasmania have commitments to deliver fibre to as many premises this year as were passed in the previous five years of the project,” the spokesperson says.

“We are also improving our construction standards so homes are connected at the same time the fibre is being rolled out down the street.

“This change in approach, coupled with the incorporation into the network of existing infrastructure, such as Telstra’s copper, will enable more families to receive fast broadband sooner.

“Everyone in Tasmania will receive the NBN. But the rollout will be achieved by working together with construction crews, communities and the telecommunications industry, not by continuing to set heroic targets.”

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