National Broadband Network could swing election for Labor

Labor's National Broadband Network could swing the election in the government's favour, with the majority of Australians preferring the NBN over the Coalition's alternative proposal.

In an online poll from Compare Broadband, 63% of the 528 respondents to the question 'Which broadband policy do you prefer?' voted for Labor's $43 billion NBN, at 100Mbps for 93% of Australians.

Despite the hefty price tag and uncertainty over how the fibre optic network will benefit consumers, just 37% preferred the Coalition's $6.3 billion DSL, wireless and fibre solution, with at least 12Mbps for 97% of Australians.

As Federal election day draws closer, the government's NBN project has emerged as a key difference between the parties. The Coalition views the project as wasteful spending, while Labor believes a super-fast broadband network will transform Australian society.

Scott Kennedy, Compare Broadband's General Manager, said: "In a close race, broadband may be the issue that swings the election in the government's favour. Australians believe a high-speed network is going to be important to the country's future, but Labor still needs to persuade a third of us that $43 billion is a price worth paying."

The Coalition has proposed investing in a combination of technologies, including fibre optic, cable and wireless, to bring a minimum speed of 12Mbps to 97% of Australians. While some commentators have expressed disappointment with the proposal, others praised the Opposition for a modest plan that would improve broadband speeds for the majority of Australians.

Since the Coalition revealed plans for an upgrade to existing broadband infrastructure at a dramatically reduced cost to the taxpayer, Labor has been advertising the benefits of the fibre optic network, which is currently being trialed in Tasmania.

Labor has pledged to set up online consultations with GPs, allowing regional patients to see a doctor without leaving their home, while NBN Co chief Mike Quigley revealed last week that the NBN would be capable of internet speeds of up to 1Gbps, 100 times faster than originally believed.

Despite the high cost of the NBN, Labor appears to have captured the public's imagination with its vision of a digital economy. Broadband may be the gamble that wins the government this election.