Government makes initial investment in National Broadband Network

Friday, 22 May, 2009

According to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, the Budget re-affirmed the Australian government's commitment to progressing the establishment of a wholesale only, open access National Broadband Network.

Senator Conroy said: “The Australian government understands that access to affordable, fast broadband is increasingly essential to the way Australians communicate and do business. That’s why the government has established a new company to build and operate a new superfast National Broadband Network.”

The company established by the government will invest up to $43 billion over eight years to build the National Broadband Network (NBN), but significant private sector investment is also anticipated. In the longer term, the government intends to sell down its interests.

“The government is making an initial investment in the network of $4.7 billion,” Senator Conroy said. “The government will remain the majority shareholder of the company. The private sector is already expressing substantial initial interest in investing in the company.”

The government's objective for the NBN is to achieve 90% fibre to the premises (FTTP) coverage to deliver speeds of up to 100 Mbps to consumers. The remaining coverage is to be provided through wireless and satellite technologies, offering speeds of 12 Mbps or more.

“The government regards the National Broadband Network as a priority investment in infrastructure for Australia's future and is working to implement this initiative quickly and thoroughly,” Senator Conroy concluded.

Since announcing the initiative on 7 April:

  • the national broadband network company has been established;
  • negotiations have occurred with the Tasmanian government to commence an early rollout of an FTTP network and next-generation wireless service in Tasmania as early as July 2009;
  • formal consultation has been undertaken with stakeholders on priority broadband blackspots;
  • work has started on an implementation study which will report to the government in early 2010 on the operating arrangements for the NBN company;
  • consultation has started on legislative amendments to implement the commitment to require greenfield developments to use FTTP technology from July 2010;
  • consultation has started on legislative reforms to make the existing regulatory framework work more effectively.
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