Enormous progress took place during 2011 and all major elements are now in place – the NBN legislation, the regulatory framework, the agreements with Telstra and Optus, and the business plan of NBN Co. There are a few outstanding issues but these are minor in comparison with the achievements to date, and all signs indicate that the issues in relation to the structural separation undertakings of Telstra, plus the transition regulations for ADSL wholesale, will be resolved in early 2012. Obviously new issues will arise and solutions to existing problems will need to be finetuned, but there is consensus that, with the assistance of the ACCC, this will be possible within the current framework.
The major threat to the plan remains the lack of clear and comprehensive polices from the opposition, but with so many issues now finally sorted out it would make no sense to scrap the plan and start from scratch. Some of the key issues mentioned by the opposition, such as the use of FttN and HFC, can easily be solved. The cost benefit analysis remains another hot issue, but the government is starting to deliver on its trans-sector initiatives, with significant policy decisions and initiatives in the areas of e-health and smart grids. These pilots will supply good information on the various aspects of the social and economic benefits of the NBN.
After all the work that was done between 2005 and 2011, 2012 will be the year when we will see the first results in relation to uptake, new applications and innovations, and further investments from the private sector in the broader context of the digital economy.
This report analyses and discusses some of the key policy and strategy issues that are currently being considered in both political and industry circles.