30 November | Hamilton Spectator

Internet access in Hamilton was raised in Federal Parliament last week as an example of substandard connection speeds available in regional areas.

Senator Raff Ciccone on Wednesday raised the issue in the context of lockdowns and more people working from home.

“As the last two years of rolling lockdowns across Australia have shown, access to a reliable, high quality internet connection is essential,” he said.

“Now it’s not a luxury, it’s a utility and it’s important that we get it right.

“Yet what we have seen from the government is failure after failure and, as is so often the case the Coalition is neglecting regional areas which have been impacted the worst. “There is no getting away from the fact that the Liberal and National parties have left regional Australia behind, where over 1.8 million homes have been dudded with copperbased fibre-to-the-node. 

“For instance, in the electorate of Wannon, in Warrnambool just over 400 homes enjoy a fibre-to-the-premise connection— that’s compared to over 15,000 that are on the government’s low-rent fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) scheme. In Hamilton, a nearby town, not a single home has fibre-to-the-premise, not even one.” A search on the NBN Co website confirms this but also mentions another option – the expensive business Enterprise Ethernet connection with speeds of up to 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) is offered in Hamilton, Coleraine and Heywood, but not Dunkeld, Penshurst nor Cavendish. Globally, Australia is well down on fixed internet connections, with Ookla’s Speedtest tool placing it 54th in the world with an average speed of 51.89 Mbps, below the average of 56.09 Mbps. The fastest speed in the world is for those living in Singapore, getting a whopping 188.11 Mbps. Australia does better with mobile internet speeds, placing 10th in the world at 79.24 Mbps, well above the global average of 28.61 Mbps. The fastest place in the world for mobile internet is United Arab Emirates, with 130.19 Mbps. 

The results would appear to reflect the low population density of Australia compared with some countries that score well with fixed connection internet, but Sen Ciccone said regional residents deserved better. “While the Morrison-Joyce Government continues to leave regional Australians behind, Labor has a plan,” he said.

“A plan to deliver them the same high quality internet access that those who live in metropolitan areas often take for granted.

“Our plan will deliver regional Australians the broadband that they deserve and need by providing full-fibre access to almost two million homes by the year 2025.

“This is a significant investment in the future growth potential and network resilience of our regions, as well as for small businesses. An investment that will deliver 12,000 jobs for construction workers, engineers, and project managers, in our regions and in our suburbs. “It’s clear the Liberals and Nationals cannot be trusted when it comes to modern technology.”

Read the story on the Hamilton Spectator website.