Labor claims HFC halt could add $790m to NBN bill

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Labor claims HFC halt could add $790m to NBN bill

The Australian Labor Party has come out swinging against the Turnbull government in response to the news that NBN Co will pause its rollout of the hybrid fibre coaxial network over poor customer experience.

The delay could impact funding by up to $790 million, according to a joint statement from Michelle Rowland, the shadow minister for communications, and Jim Chalmers, shadow finance minister.

The opposition MPs used data from NBN's own corporate plan that indicated a seven-month delay in the HFC activations profile would have a $1 billion impact on rollout funding – a cost confirmed by NBN Co in Senate Estimates in February.

"Based on the figures signed off by the NBN board, these delays could impact funding by between $420 and $790 million," read the ALP statement.

"The question for Malcolm Turnbull is this: what impact will this latest delay to the HFC rollout have on funding for the NBN? Just how much taxpayer’s money is being wasted by this latest failure?"

Yesterday, communications minister Mitch Fifield stood by the stalled NBN HFC network rollout, claiming its problems could “absolutely be fixed” and the technology won’t need to be scrapped.

Speaking on ABC Radio National, Fifield called HFC a “terrific technology” that “can get gigabit speeds”.

“There’s no problem that’s been identified that can’t be fixed, and they will be fixed,” he said.

NBN Co yesterday announced it would pause all new orders over the hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network until at least June 2018 as it works to improve the quality of service for internet service providers and end users.

NBN Co's corporate plan calls for nearly three million premises to ultimately be served by HFC access technology.

Currently, one million premises are "ready to connect" and 370,000 have been connected already. NBN has been adding an average of nearly 80,000 new premises each month.

NBN Co will honour any the roughly 50,000 HFC orders currently in the queue, NBN chief executive Bill Morrow told Sky News

NBN claimed it would still hit its target to connect eight million active end users and deliver "a fully connected continent by the year 2020".

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