Australia - National Broadband Network - Analysis - 2011

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Last updated: 23 Feb 2012 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 15

Analyst: Paul Budde

Synopsis

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.

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As you know, I have resigned from the Labor Ministry and have decided not to re-contest the seat of Charlton at the next election – both for personal reasons.

Before leaving Parliament, I particularly wish to record my thanks to you for your generous and constructive participation in the deliberations that generated significant economic policy reforms for the Australian community. Continuous economic transformation is a key challenge that faces all Governments.

The development of sound public policy should always be contestable. Ultimately, good and equitable outcomes are not concessions to any particular interest group, but the careful balancing of interests to create the greatest possible benefit for the nation. You have contributed to that, and I sincerely thank you for it.

Greg Combet, Former Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation

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