File pictureFrom July 1, getting the National Broadband Network could cost some Illawarra residents as much as $300 while others will get it for free.
Connecting to the NBN was free, but the federal government has decided to introduce a one-off $300 fee to NBN Co from July 1, after previously planning it to start on March 1.
“The charge only relates to new connections to new premises in new developments, not NBN connections to established premises,” a Department of Communications spokesman said.
“The July 1 date will provide the development and communications sectors with more time to adjust. From July 1, NBN Co will charge retail service providers. It will be up to retail service providers if and how they pass on the charge.”
The government has also introduced a $600 fee per home and $400 per apartment to developers for providing the NBN infrastructure in the building phase.
While this is now in force, the government will not collect any money until the second half of 2015.
“The government is introducing charges for telecommunications infrastructure in new developments to facilitate competition, which will promote long-term efficiency in the servicing of new developments,” the spokesman said.
“It should be noted that charging developers, who directly benefit from the deployment of essential infrastructure, is consistent with the approach of other utilities, such as water, electricity and gas providers.”
None of the charges will be retroactive.
Labor member for Throsby Stephen Jones feels the full cost of both the $600 developer fee and the $300 provider charge will ultimately be passed onto the homeowner.
Mr Jones claimed these charges were unfair as homeowners didn’t really have a choice as to whether they wanted to connect to the NBN.
“The copper network is being switched off and the NBN is being switched on,” he said.
“You’ve got no choice and the government is passing the cost onto the households.
“Labor took the view that this was something we need to do and we’ll absorb the cost of connection fees into the project.
“The new government is taking a different view and they’re passing the cost onto the consumer.”
Mr Jones expressed concerns the charges could create haves and have-nots.
“There is a risk it will create a digital divide,” Mr Jones said.
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