The Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) has accused Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull of “wasteful duplication” over his commitment to a new trial of overhead electricity infrastructure to deliver a fibre-to-the-premise NBN in Tasmania.
The union said 17,500 Tasmanian homes had already been connected to the NBN using above ground electricity poles and wires, with communities including Deloraine, George Town, Scottsdale, Smithton, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna.
Speaking to CIO Australia, David Mier, national NBN construction and project officer at the CEPU said that NBN Co had conducted trails in Sorell and Triabunna in Tasmania. He also said Visionstream had been recently doing work above ground in Launceston.
Mier described the latest commitment to a trial as “window dressing” for the forthcoming Tasmanian state election in two weeks.
“There are towns and suburbs where it’s already up and running and the fibre goes direct to the premise not to the node at the end of each street,” he said.
The CEPU also accused Turnbull of attempting to divert political pressure from Tasmanian Liberal leader Will Hodgman over the issue, rather than providing a firm commitment to the electorate.
CEPU Tasmanian Branch state organiser Emma Gill said Tasmanians already know that the above ground electricity network was an effective, affordable and realistic way of delivering broadband services to Tasmanians.
“Mr Turnbull knows this, but instead of committing to using this proven technology he is proposing yet another trial, which is simply wasting time and money,” Gill said.
The CEPU’s Mier said the union had long advocated that a fibre-to-the-premise NBN – delivered using publicly-owned power poles – was far better than Mr Turnbull’s fibre-to-the-node system, which relies on the crumbling copper network.
“We know this technique works, because it’s been successfully trialled in Tasmania and South Australia,” Mier said.
“We also know that this technique allows higher speeds at a lower cost than the Coalition’s preferred fibre-to-the-node model.
“All we need is a commitment from Mr Turnbull to use this proven technology and every Tasmanian community can receive access to the same high speed NBN, rather than the Coalition’s substandard alternative,” he said.