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Act on NBN inquiry: MP

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October 12, 2017

Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan is urging all regional MPs to act on an NBN inquiry report to give rural and regional people world-class internet.

Benalla is one of only a limited number of regional areas in Victoria selected for the initial roll out of NBN Fibre to the Curb technology (FTTC), which is due to start this year.

As the name suggests FTTC will bring fast broadband services to local roads and streets, home and business owners will then need to arrange connection via an approved distributor.

With connections from the curb to properties likely to incorporate existing copper wires, the reality for many users is that their NBN broadband may not be much quicker than ADSL.

However, before internet speeds are addressed, the main issue is to ensure the roll out in regional Victoria is successful.

Ms McGowan’s call to action follows the release of the first report from the Joint Standing Committee inquiring into the NBN rollout.

‘‘The inquiry has been an opportunity to take real action on NBN,’’ Ms McGowan, who is a member of the committee, said.

‘‘The first report is out and it has some good things in it, including a recommendation to set up a reference group to support the rollout in regional and remote Australia.’’

Other recommendations cover data allowances for the SkyMuster communications satellite, which delivers NBN to rural and regional areas, and improving NBN’s complaints process.

While the national inquiry unfolds, Ms McGowan has organised a meeting in November with the Indi Telecommunications Action Group and NBN.

This follows a meeting with NBN chief executive officer Bill Morrow in September, which discussed working more closely with local councils.

‘‘This was an incredibly successful approach for addressing mobile phone blackspots and now ITAG will tackle NBN problems,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘The inquiry process revealed huge gaps in the rollout for regional Australia.

‘‘The many submissions from Indi and the hearing in Wodonga revealed the biggest concerns locally are around delays and faults in installation, slow and limited downloads, and the complaints process.’’

The concerns are reflected in the recommendations, which Ms McGowan worked on closely with the committee.

‘‘There has been a really good understanding among committee members that this has to be done better,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘As an independent voice I have been able to work effectively across party lines to help regional people influence a major national infrastructure project.’’

Ms McGowan said a hearing of the inquiry into regional development and decentralisation in Wodonga on October 12 would be another chance to highlight the issue.

‘‘Effective regional development will rely on world class internet,’’ Ms McGowan said.

People who are having issues with the NBN rollout should contact their retail service provider in the first instance.

●The report can be downloaded from www.cathymcgowan.com.au/tele—communications

The NBN has a help line 1800687626 and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman can be phoned on 1800062058.

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