Political power role in NBN rollout rejected

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Political power role in NBN rollout rejected

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THE company charged with rolling out the NBN has insisted the regions not covered by the $36 billion project were overlooked for engineering reasons – not political ones.

While NBN Co boss Mike Quigley yesterday conceded his company had received “some instructions and directives” from the government, he denied they were political.

“(The government’s instructions were) to get a good balance between regional and metro Australia, to get a balance across the states and to make sure we finish Tasmania by 2015,” Mr Quigley said.

The initial rollout of the NBN will cover 3.5 million homes and businesses in 1500 towns and suburbs across Australia by June 2015. That figure includes 71 Labor seats, 61 coalition electorates and all six crossbench seats.

The comments come after the government was yesterday accused of pork barrelling, after a Daily Telegraph analysis of the newly unveiled three-year rollout revealed coalition seats were being ignored.

In the Sydney region, 64.7 per cent of rollout sites were located in federal ALP seats – compared with only 35.3 per cent of LNP seats.

Pressure has mounted on the embattled company to explain why key targets were altered. The company had originally said it would pass 4.2 million homes by June 2015, before downgrading that target on Thursday to 3.5 million.

Fat Prophets senior telco analyst Greg Fraser said the government and NBN Co had to explain the discrepancy.

“When they first rolled out, they said the network would pass 4.2 million premises and connect to 2.6 million by June 2015 – that’s been reduced to 3.5 million under way or completed and there’s no explanation why,” Mr Fraser said.

“There needs to be some targets for the number of homes that will sign up.”

NBN Co last night declined to comment.

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