Go to top of page

The Project – Channel Ten Treasury Gardens

E & OE

GORGI COGHLAN:

Welcome back to The Project, Minister. A lot of people at home right now are really disappointed with the NBN. So why have you failed to deliver the speed you promised us?

FIFIELD:

Well, the good news about the NBN is that it's on track. It’s on budget. And it's on time. Yes, with a project of this magnitude, when you're trying to switch 11 million premises to a new network, there will be some teething problems.

But we're absolutely committed to, and will deliver, what we promised. Which is that 90 per cent of the NBN fixed-line network would be able to have speeds of at least 50 megabits per second. Absolutely committed to the guaranteed mandate of a minimum of 25 megabits per second across the network. These are good speeds. And they’re speeds that can meet the needs that people have in their homes and in their businesses.

HAMISH MACDONALD:

Senator, there is more to that promise, though. Because we were also told that there’s a top speed of 100 megabits per second – that’s the figure that’s been used very regularly by your government. And NBN Australia’s been forced to admit that only a quarter of fibre to the node customers will ever get that much.

FIFIELD:

Hamish, our commitment has always been that there would be a minimum mandated speed of 25 megabits per second across the network regardless of technology. That will be delivered. We've always promised that 90 per cent of premises in the fixed-line network would be able to get speeds of 50 megabits per second. And that's absolutely the case.

And you mentioned, in particular, the fibre-to-the-node part of the network. Yes, it’s true, that 25 per cent of premises will be able to get 100 megabits per second. But 80 per cent of premises on the fibre to the node part of the network will be able to get speeds of 50 megabits per second or more. So we’re absolutely delivering on what we promised, and I should point out…

HAMISH MACDONALD: 

If you’re doing such a great job with the NBN Minister, why do you think so many people are disappointed? Why have you got so many unhappy customers?

FIFIELD: 

I think it’s partly an issue of expectations. That people are getting to understand that on the NBN that there's a range of different products that you can purchase from your retailers at different price points. And people are finding out what is the right product for the needs that they have. Now, I should point out, and I think a number of you on the panel would enjoy Netflix, maybe even a bit of Netflix and chill on occasion...

(Laughter)

To watch high definition Netflix at home you only need 5 megabits per second. So, I think one of the issues is people don't necessarily understand what it is they need to meet their needs. As I say, you only need 5 megabits per second to watch high definition Netflix at home.

GRETEL KILLEEN:

But Minister, when we were first presented with this NBN proposal it wasn’t just about meeting our needs, it was about looking into the future. And we were going to have world-class infrastructure with global innovators. Are we to give up on that dream and just be happy watching Netflix?

FIFIELD:

Look we’re absolutely going to have a network that is fit-for-purpose and fit for the needs that we have and that can be upgraded as the need requires into the future. What you got to bear in mind, I think, is that the approach that we’re taking, the multi-technology mix, using the technology that will see the NBN rolled out fastest and at lowest cost is actually what’s done in the United States. It's what's done in France. It's what's done in Germany. This is the common approach.

And what we have with this approach is an NBN that will be completed by 2020, which is six to eight years sooner than would have been the case under our predecessors and at $30 billion less cost. But, and this is really the kicker, the approach that we're taking will see internet bills $500 a year less than they would have been under the approach of the Australian Labor Party.

GORGI COGHLAN:

Well, Minister Fifield, enjoy the Crown tonight, and thanks so much for your time.

(Laughter)

FIFIELD:

Good to be with you.

[ends]

Media contact:

Geraldine Mitchell | 0407 280 476 | Geraldine.Mitchell [at] communications.gov.au.