ADDING to growing doubts over the roll-out of the Rudd Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania, a new wireless network has raised fears over how many people will sign up to the NBN.

Liberal Senator Stephen Parry said today the news that Optus plans to build more than 60 new communications towers across Tasmania puts a further dent in the prospects of the NBN being a commercial success.

“Optus intends to install most of those 60-plus towers over the next 12 months, with council approval already secured for five towers,’’ Senator Parry said.

“This is great news for Tasmanians, providing added competition to the existing Telstra fixed line and wireless services, but it is bad news for the NBN.

“Given the massive taxpayer-funded investment, the Rudd Government must ensure the NBN is a commercial success to justify the expenditure and that means signing up end-users in significant numbers.’’

Senator Parry said the Coalition had warned the Rudd Government that the uptake of wireless services had grown exponentially in recent years, but it seemed to be oblivious to the trend.

“We also exposed in Senate Estimates last month the woeful lack of planning by the Labor Government in rolling out the NBN in Tasmania, which puts in doubt its timelines,’’ he said.

Senator Parry said the questions that should be asked of the Rudd and Bartlett Labor governments are:

· What will NBN customers pay a month and how many customers must be signed up for the NBN to be viable?

· Will either government pick up the tab and provide ongoing subsidies if the NBN fails to be a commercial success?

· How many taxpayers’ dollars has the Rudd Government already committed to the NBN rollout in Tasmania?
Senator Stephen Parry Chief Opposition Whip in the Senate Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate