Australia - National Broadband Network - Introduction and Overview


Australia’s NBN had a long gestation, and since being implemented in 2012 it has undergone significant changes in its business plan and architecture. These changes were wrought by the change of government following the election in September 2013. The December 2013 strategic review of the NBN and the company responsible for building the network, established a new framework. Instead of 93% of the population being covered by FttH, the new architecture has called for a hybrid network incorporating FttH and FttN, utilising existing DSL and HFC plant.

Overall, the development of the NBN reflected a serious response to the poor quality of Australia’s broadband infrastructure, by comparison with advanced economies globally. It was clear that government intervention was required to rectify this dire situation, a concept supported in the early years of the century by the Liberal government and the Labour opposition. Telstra’s aggressive determination to maintain its monopoly obliged the government to develop measures which led to company’s structural separation. Concurrently, and stimulated by the economic conditions brought on by the GFC, in 2009 the government changed its broadband infrastructure plan from a regional to a national focus. This was linked to the development of the digital economy, which would support policies relating to e-commerce, e-health, e-education and smart grid infrastructure. These were all aimed at utilising the NBN for a myriad of purposes beyond broadband.

Between 2009 and 2012, NBN Co designed the architecture of the national network. Legislation and contracts were completed in 2012 and shortly afterwards the rollout started, based on a three year plan that was costed at $36 billion, including a government investment of $27 billion. The election of the Coalition government in 2013 resulted in the key strategic review. As a result the FttH plan was abandoned and instead a so called Multi Mix Technology (MTM) solution was introduced. This will see the continuing use of both the copper and the HFC networks.

This report provides an overview of the project since its inception in 2007, as well as an insight into the steps that have been taken subsequently.

Companies mentioned

Companies mentioned in this report include – NBN Co, Telstra.

Hot topics and technologies mentioned

Hot topics and technologies mentioned in this report include – Fibre, NBN, infrastructure, FttH, FttN, government, private sector, social and economic benefits, analysis of the NBN Co strategic review..

Table of Contents

  • 1. Synopsis
  • 2. General overview of original the plan
  • 3. How Australia got its NBN
  • 4. National interest utility
  • 5. NBN national infrastructure, not just telecomms
  • 6. Economic reforms
    • 6.1 Fundamental change to the economy
    • 6.2 Business modelling - the key to success of the NBN
      • 6.2.1 Sector-based cost benefit analysis
      • 6.2.2 Infrastructure model, not telco model
      • 6.2.3 Business modelling process
      • 6.2.4 Strategic and implementation responsibilities
    • 6.3 NBN 2.0 – Multi mix technology – outcomes strategic review 2013
    • 6.4 Analysis of the multi-technology NBN
  • 7. NBN Co’s official MTM technology strategy
  • 8. Why wireless broadband is no alternative to FttH
  • 9. Related reports
  • Table 1 – Roll-out predictions at the end of the project
  • Exhibit 1- Trans-sector vs Cross-sector
  • Exhibit 2 – Economic benefits of broadband – overview of surveys

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Broadband Fixed
Digital Media
Regulations & Government Policies
Strategies & Analyses (Industry & Markets)

Number of pages 12

Status Archived

Last updated 19 Mar 2014
Update History

Analyst: Paul Budde

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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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