Australia - National Broadband Network - Developments and Analyses 2014


After the September 2013 election in Australia, and with a new government in charge, a number of reviews were announced that will shape the future direction of the NBN. For a start, the Minister asked NBN Co to carry out its own review first, based on the original specifications of the NBN – it being a majority FttP rollout.

This indicates that at a strategic level the NBN will most likely continue fairly smoothly. There will most certainly be changes made to the rollout but these could quite possibly be implemented by NBN Co itself, now that it has largely been relieved of the political pressure under which it had to operate during the period of severe attacks by the then Opposition, which started off with a policy to kill the NBN. At this stage at least the NBN now has bipartisan support.

Also, because of the likely continuation of the NBN many of the issues discussed below remain unchanged, and so will require the attention of the government, and/or will need to be taken into account in future policy developments. BuddeComm has already indicated support for certain changes to the NBN in relation to greenfield developments and multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and these issues will now receive significantly more attention than they have had in the past. Again, the comments and analyses made on these issues remain relevant under the new government.

The rollout has seen delays, but at this stage there are no indications that this will affect the longer-term outlook for completion of the project. The review will obviously shed more light on this, but so far the issues seem to be more one-off and/or resolvable – for instance, by being more flexible in the use of technology, for example in MDUs.

A serious omission remains – that there is no policy or information that takes into account the importance of the NBN for the digital economy, the opportunity to use it to increase digital productivity, and where this infrastructure fits in relation to e-business, e-health and e-education.

As iiNet so pointedly indicated, all these NBN decisions are made within a policy vacuum. Subsequent governments have failed to first establish the foundations for why we need an NBN and from a social and economic point of view what are we as a nation going to do with it.

There is still a misalignment between the social and economic benefits of the NBN and NBN Co’s business plan. The new government wants to prioritise the underserved areas and is looking at other technologies to create some early wins. The question, however, is how much can be changed at this late stage – and also whether it will really lower costs and speed up the rollout.

Australia is highly reliant on its income from natural resources and, like other resource-rich countries, it needs to diversify its economy. Interestingly, it is these resource-rich countries that are leading the rollout of FttP around the world. The main reason for those governments becoming involved in digital infrastructure is to increase their country’s competitiveness and productivity in areas other than resources.

Companies covered in this report include:

NBN Co; Telekom Deutschland; Belgacom; Telekom Austria; Fastweb; Swisscom; Strata Community Australia (SCA); Telstra; Optus; AusBBS; iiNet; Internode; TPG; and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. Latest NBN Developments- September 2014
    • 2.1 FttP – Rest of the world is wrong but Australia is right?
    • 2.2 If people don’t need NBN speeds, what about their computers?
    • 2.3 Let’s get on with the NBN
  • 3. NBN assessment April 2014
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Reviewing the last few weeks
    • 3.3 From reviews to leadership
    • 3.4 Tension with the review commissions
    • 3.5 The end goal will remain FttH
    • 3.6 The NBN future looks bright
  • 4. Is the government opening a NBN Pandora’s box?
    • 4.1 Pandora’s Box
  • 5. Aligning broadband and healthcare
  • 6. Government reneges on election promises
  • 7. Where is the economic plan for the post-manufacturing era?
  • 8. NBN debate continues in a policy vacuum
  • 9. Regional councils concerns over the NBN changes
  • 10. Privatisation of NBN is not popular
  • 11. The NBN will always remain in Beta.
  • 12. Will the NBN be unravelled?
    • 12.1 The delicate nature of a wholesale-only model
    • 12.2 Structural separation allows for wholesale-only model
    • 12.3 No demand for fibre-based services?
    • 12.4 National digital productivity
  • 13. Analysis of NBN 2.0
    • 13.1 Two competing NBN offerings
    • 13.2 The multi-technology NBN
    • 13.3 Design and rollout problems
    • 13.4 Contracts, negotiations and regulations
    • 13.5 The execution
    • 13.6 Current FttH plan requires simplification
    • 13.7 So on to the next review in 2016?
    • 13.8 Still missing – a national vision
  • 14. Telstra’s cashflow may suffer from NBN rollout delays
  • 15. What PRISM, credit card hacking and Chromecast have to do with FttH
  • 16. The pros and cons of vectoring
  • 17. Will LTE steal the broadband revolution?
  • 18. Multi Dwelling Unit broadband
  • 19. Is the NBN Co business model flawed?
  • 20. NBN – telecoms or digital infrastructure – a SAU question
  • 21. Pilbara – a lost NBN opportunity
  • 22. NBN leadership or NBN procrastination
  • 23. The Dutch Disease, broadband and the mining boom
  • 24. NBN could slash telecoms maintenance costs
  • 25. Broadband demand-side management
  • 26. The NBN and the opportunity for ‘virtual’ players
  • 27. Will infrastructure constrain the digital entertainment market?
  • 28. Will the half-built HFC disaster be repeated?
  • 29. Four million households within reach of the NBN by 2015
  • 30. Digital infrastructure essential to manage the transition to the e-world
  • 31. Related reports

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Number of pages 41

Status Archived

Last updated 28 May 2015
Update History

Analyst: Paul Budde

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