Former NBN CEO joins Tony Windsor on campaign trail

Spruiks benefits of fibre in Tamworth

NBN’s original CEO, Mike Quigley, has joined independent candidate for New England, Tony Windsor, to spruik the potential benefits for regional Australia of returning to a fibre to the premises (FTTP) National Broadband Network rollout.

Quigley, who last week issued a strident defence of the original all-fibre vision of the NBN, joined Windsor today at an event in Tamworth.

Windsor announced in March that he would challenge sitting National Party MP and deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. The NBN was one of the key motivations for Windsor supporting Labor's minority government after the 2010 election. The independent MP retired from parliament in 2013.

When he announced he would stand in this year’s federal election, Windsor said his view of the NBN rollout remained that the government should “do it right and do it with fibre”.

Quigley said today at a press conference with Windsor that rolling out FTTP is a global trend and that very few places are continuing with a fibre to the node (FTTN) rollout. FTTN along with hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) are two of the key technologies being used in the government’s ‘multi-technology mix’ MTM NBN rollout.

Quigley said there had been a “huge miscalculation” by the Coalition, and that the rollout timeline and cost of an MTM network had been greater than expected.

“It is a great pity that what’s now being built is in fact the old technology,” the former NBN chief executive said.

“It’s not the right technology for the future. It’s going to have to be replaced – we don’t know when exactly but it’s not likely to be too long and we’re seeing speeds and capacities increasing at a tremendous rate in other places in the world and here in Australia.”

To support his arguments Quigley pointed to ABS Internet usage data and the projections of the recent edition of Cisco’s Virtual Networking Index.

“If people are concerned about productivity and efficiency and a good use of taxpayers’ dollars, continuing that original plan would have been the right use,” he said.

An NBN company with a full fibre network would have ended “generating a lot of cash” that could have been used to expand the fibre footprint event further to deliver better services.

“My view is it really truly is tens of billions of dollars that are going to have been wasted on the MTM, because that fibre to the node network is going to have to be upgraded,” he said.

Windsor repeated his argument that the debate over an all-FTTP network “has never been about cost” but instead about politics.

“We should never have divided the major parties on this crucial piece of infrastructure,” he said.

Windsor said that he blamed former prime minister Tony Abbott, who while in opposition had used the NBN as an opportunity to attack Labor. Windsor said that he believed if Malcolm Turnbull had been opposition leader at the time, there may have been “a consensus view” on the use of FTTP.

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