NBN Co has hit back at claims consumers in NSW would be forced to pay $400 million for the National Broadband Network (NBN), stating the NSW government would benefit from the NBN.
Mike Quigley, CEO at NBN CO, said running fibre cables on electricity poles will bring in revenue for NSW, but the NSW government is trying to negotiate higher prices for access to their electrical poles than other states in Australia.
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"That's unfair to taxpayers," he said. "Sharing infrastructure is meant to save taxpayers money. It avoids us having to build more of it. It allows us to roll out the NBN more quickly. And it lessens disruption to communities."
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, also hit back at the claims, stating it was "an absurd and ridiculous claim".
Instead, Conroy said the Barry O'Farrell government was attempting to gouge Australian taxpayers.
"Every other state and territory has finalised sensible commercial arrangements with NBN Co for access to power poles, but the NSW government wants to charge almost six times as much," Conroy said.
"NBN Co has negotiated in good faith with the NSW government for almost two years, but from the moment Barry O'Farrell became Premier, they have been frustrated at every turn."
If NBN Co were to accept the prices the NSW government is asking for, it would add an additional $175 million to the cost of the network, Conroy said.
Conroy said NBN Co would also cover all design, preparation and installation costs.
"NBN Co is prepared to use Commonwealth powers to gain access to the poles it needs now to continue the rollout to the areas of Gosford, Long Jetty and Lidcombe, until sensible commercial arrangements can be finalised with the relevant utilities," Conroy said.
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