Industry groups have joined forces to stop the national broadband network (NBN) project turning into another insulation batts debacle.
In a rush to take advantage of the government’s roofing insulation scheme, unqualified workers were hired to do dangerous technical work. The lack of training was later blamed for multiple house fires and four electrocutions.
To avoid a repeat of this the cabling industry has created a database of qualified technicians “to ensure that we don’t have cowboys running amok”, chief executive of International Copper Association Australia [ICAA], John Fennell, said. He expects that after the NBN rollout consumers would want to have more internet-enabled devices and services installed around their houses.
“If you are going to roll out a national initiative like the NBN you have got to make sure that the people doing [rewiring] are absolutely accredited and they do the work according to an industry standard,” Mr Fennell told Fairfax Media at the launch of the new website on Friday.
While NBN Co was responsible for the quality of work on its infrastructure, there was a concern that ordinary consumers would not know how to find one of the 65,000 technicians qualified to install broadband connections inside consumer houses or to integrate medical and safety alarms with fibre-optic cable.
The new registeredcablers.com.au website means Australians can find someone to install smart-wiring as easily as finding a plumber or electrician. It would also make up for the lack of technical information provided to consumers by NBN Co, the company charged with rolling out the NBN, which was set up as a wholesale-only company, Mr Fennell said.
The website was funded by the ICAA and five national training and accreditation bodies. It was endorsed by the communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Cablers must sign themselves up to a searchable database, and there were plans to allow consumers to rate or review cablers.