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CANBERRA, AAP – Estimates of Australian taxpayers saving up to $19 billion if fibre to the premises broadband had been built have been dismissed as “hypothetical” by NBN Co.

A 2013 review of the National Broadband Network set out an option for a “radically designed FTTP” rollout, a company spokesperson told AAP.

“The hypothetical savings of that approach were clearly outlined in the 2013 strategic review and were never hidden,” the spokesperson said.

Labor on Monday accused the government of deceiving Australians about the cost of the intended network, leaving the country with a legacy of a substandard and unequal NBN.

“For nearly a decade, the Liberals have claimed Labor’s original fibre rollout would have cost $72 billion,” shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland said.

“The government’s own secret figures show a full-fibre rollout to 93 per cent of Australians could have been delivered for nearly $53 billion.”

NBN Co said it followed the government’s statement of expectations issued in 2016 and had achieved its objective to deliver access up to high-speed broadband as quickly as possible at least cost to taxpayers.

“Completing the initial build of the network on time was a very important part of meeting the challenges of COVID-19,” the NBN Co spokesperson said.

“If the company had not rolled out the network with the speed and purpose it had, using all available technologies, millions of premises throughout Australia may have languished on ADSL speeds of 8Mbps, on average, or endured lockdown with no internet service at all.”

NBN Co is investing $4.5 billion to give 75 per cent of homes and businesses on the fixed line network the highest peak wholesale speed tiers of 500 megabits per second to one gigabits per second by 2023.