NBN service plans won't cost consumers more: Conroy

Senator responds to Tony Abbott’s speech on costly NBN plans

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Senator Stephen Conroy has slammed Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments that National Broadband Network (NBN) services could cost consumers more than current ADSL plans, saying Abbott was “plain wrong” “and that he should “check his facts.”

The minister for broadband, communications and the digital economy said in a statement that Abbott had misled the public in his speech to Parliament by saying that NBN services could be three times higher than what they currently pay for existing ADSL plans.

"Why spend $50 billion on a National Broadband Network so customers can subsequently spend almost three times their current monthly fee for speeds they might not need?" Abbott said.

“Why dig up every street when fibre to the node could more swiftly and more affordably deliver 21st century broadband? “And why put so much into the NBN when the same investment could more than duplicate the Pacific Highway, Sydney’s M5 and the road between Hobart and Launceston; build Sydney’s M4 East, the Melbourne Metro, and Brisbane’s Cross City Rail plus upgrade Perth Airport and still leave about $10 billion for faster broadband?”

Conroy said that prices for NBN plans released to date are cheaper than, or equivalent to, existing ADSL plans, but with much improved quality of service.

"Internet service providers such as Skymesh are offering NBN services from $29.95 per month while Exetel’s entry-level plan costs $35.00 per month," he said. “A number of other retail providers, including Optus, offer NBN services starting from $39.95 and $49.95 per month. Thanks to the NBN, competition between retail providers is increasing,” Conroy said. “Tony Abbott should check his facts before delivering a national address in the Australian Parliament.” Conroy also responded to Abbott's comment that investing in the NBN should be replaced by additional spending on roads.

“Mr Abbott clearly doesn’t understand that the NBN is classified by international accounting standards as an equity investment rather than a budget expense,” he said. “The equity investment in the NBN cannot simply be shifted to pay for more roads, unless those roads are being run by a government business making a return.”

He added that the Government has a $36 billion infrastructure and investment program, including $3.6 billion announced in the 2012-13 Budget to complete the duplication of the Pacific Highway by 2016.

Earlier this month, Conroy hit back at statements by Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and Broadband, Malcolm Turnbull, that the Labor government “cooked” the books for the Budget 2012-13 by shifting $1.5 billion worth of expenses forward from 2012-13 to 2011-12, including a lump sum payment of $421 million to Telstra to the current financial year.

“Inducements provided to Telstra for its deal with NBN Co have been brought forward as lump sums totalling $421 million to be paid out before June 30,” Turnbull said at the time.

Conroy said that the payment to Telstra was part of $11 billion definitive agreements made on 7 March 2012 with NBN Co giving the final go-ahead for Telstra's structural separation and use of its network assets in the NBN.

“There is nothing new about these payments nor can they be described as having been ‘brought forward’,” he said.

Turnbull also said that the NBN price tag had risen by as much as $400 million. He said this was evident in the government's broadband spending which is forecast to hit $484 million in the 2012-13 Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) portfolio budget compared to $57 million in the 2011-12 DBCDE portfolio budget.

“The sum Australian taxpayers are being forced to invest in the NBN between July 2011 and June 2014 has apparently blown out by $400 million, even though the NBN is at least a year behind schedule in its rollout,” Turnbull said.

“Yet the network only has 5000 or so customers currently using its fibre network, compared to the 137,000 projected by June 2012 in NBN Co’s corporate plan.”

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Gordon Drennan


ABS figures show broadband has been steadily getting cheaper and faster. NBN prices start at about the mid range price of existing services, and NBN prices will go up but its speed won't. Not unless you pay more. The more years pass the more NBN will cost over what ADSL through the existing copper would have cost them. Yes, it will be faster, but that's only a benefit to people who want/need faster. To the majority of people who are quite well served by 8 or 6 or even the 2-3 Mb/s that is all downloaded video clips need the NBN is just an additional cost.



@1 Gordon, you sound a little confused. You rightly say that, like all tech products, broadband has been getting faster and cheaper.

Then you assert that 'NBN prices will go up but its speed won't.' That flies in the face of all past experience - even when Telstra had a virtual monopoly, they improved their services (a bit) over time, and reduced their charges (a bit).

Since the expected life of NBN will be well over fifty years, it would be surprising if their nominal charges did not increase somewhat over that time, but in real terms (purchasing power), they will certainly decline just like every other tech product.

Paul Rees (SkyMesh)


"To the majority of people who are quite well served by 8 or 6 or even the 2-3 Mb/s that is all downloaded video clips need the NBN is just an additional cost."

That's just not true. With NBN Fibre you don't need a copper telephone line. Instead of paying $29.95 per month for Telstra Line Rental, you can pay $10 per month (or less) for VoIP over fibre that gives you better quality than a copper line and all the functionality.

If your needs are basic, you can have a $29.95 NBN Fibre service and a $10 VoIP service. And the VoIP service gives you calls to any landline in Australia for 10 cents untimed, and very affordable overseas calls.

That's like paying $29.95 for your Telstra landline and trying to get a broadband service for an extra $10.

Are the "majority of people" paying more than $10 for their broadband right now? I don't think so.

Abel Adamski


Unfortunately The Coalitions comments as reported and even this article and the comments are diverting the focus off the reality of what the Labor NBN is. The NBN is a Universal National communications Network that due to the nature of FTTP enables business grade from residential up if chosen due to high upload capacity and tier choice. The Coalition version only provides that option to selected fortunate areas. The peasants get FTTN which is baubles and beads, pathetic upload preventing future upgrades and genuine teleworking in an evolving business environment. Basically Scarcely any of the Labor NBN benefits with the primary benefit being downloads, movies and porn really. Strange Abbot is pushing so hard for a crippled NBN that appears to be designed for Porn rather than Nation building. Then again he did consider priestly vows didn't he ???

Abel Adamski


Conroy has done well getting us here, however he is allowing Abbott, Turnbull and The Cult of Murdoch to control the public perception of the NBN being for downloads and the home user, yes they will benefit greatly , but as a side benefit. Admittedly it is not what the proponents of the NBN and the benefits say, it is what is reported and what the Media commentators say. The Liberal NBN really is just class warfare, suppress the peasants, don't give them an opportunity to threaten establishment profits with innovation, but keep them happy with some movies and porn.

Abel Adamski


To the editors of Computerworld, it would be of value, both in relation to the subject of the NBN with all that entails as infrastructure and Looking at Australia's Technological history since WW1, especially since WW2. WW2 was the first war truly decided by technology, Colonial Empires were dissolving and we were in an area where new nations were being born. We had the worlds best prop driven plane (Wirraway) but superseded by jets. The CSIRO and Universities were very effective and we were among world leaders in computers, the worlds Third real supercomputer (CSIRAC). But the Government of the day cut funding as a CBA determined there was no value and no conceivable use of that science. Post the transistor, the CSIRO and Uni's sought funding from the government for a semiconductor/integrated circuit research development and manufacturing facility to be located in WA and headed up by the university of WA. At the time we had an agricultural boom providing food and wool to the nations that had been ravaged by war. Russia was a major customer, now is one of the worlds major food exporters, those ravaged nations rebuilt their agriculture. All predictable. It was not just electronics but what that research and technology and innovation community would have meant for our manufacturing and technology and our ability to help our new neighbours grow with mutually beneficial industries. I don't blame the pollies and business leaders they were the risk averse conservatives that did not risk themselves in the wars that gained control of Australia, and here we go again with the to be incoming government crippling us once again

Abel Adamski


Please read the following item



@4-7 Abel Adamski - please shut the fsck up.

This is a computing forum, it you want to blither politics go to a TV station. Leave us alone.



I have an 100 Mbps cable service...it has made ZERO difference to my productivity, well being or educational attainments.

In fact as I had to go from a small, well run, caring ISP to Australia's largest telco whose end-to-end network is subject to massive peak loading...I have overall a POORER quality of Internet experience and much worse customer support.

Yeah the NBN will solve all your problems, just as one size fits all..FAIL.

Abel Adamski


Llama with respect .
The subject is both ideological and political, it should not be but is.
Ignorance is a poor basis for a technological society

That is Cable for you (a shared spectrum medium with up to 100 users sharing the spectrum configured for BB, also with relatively low shared upload)
Best used for cable TV and domestic use such as facebook and emails.
Hope you were not influenced in your decision by FUD from politicians or vested media interests



I is easy to make claims, and only time will tell. By then, we have wasted another $50 BILLION!!!

Richard Ure


Abel Adamski makes a good point. Who saw the iPad coming and its rapid adoption? And who can say that a similarly radical application won't be found for its capacity to transmit data over the life of the NBN?

Abel Adamski


Fei, Wasted $50Mill, believe that I have some gold bricks going cheap.
Maybe not a killer app, but consider the possibilities inherent with a ubiquitous Srandardised business capable connection available to 93% of premises. Once in the early days of the internet we had dialup modems which were effectively portable, DSL and ISDN tethered that computer. Now ISP's such as AusBBS using Nextgen could in the future offer portable/temporary/short term business capable broadband from any part of Australia (Wireless and satellite have the same customer interface). Have router will travel. Our society is changing, more of the workforce is casual and temporary and move dwellings chasing work, the fixed option such as DSL whatever the flavour or HFC require installation and appropriate modems and 1 or 2 year contracts.

The implications for business, research projects, writing that thesis or novel, even just getting that news story in, as well as the "domestic user"

Realistically impractical with the Coalitions model as stated at this time, cheap and nasty limits your options, choice and the competition

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