NBN To Mix It Up: Turnbull

Written by Oonagh Reidy     10/04/2014 | 10:29 | Category: INDUSTRY

NBN will be built using mixed technologies, but where's the cost/benefit analysis?

NBN To Mix It Up: TurnbullNBN will be built using mixed technologies, to save time and money.

Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull and Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, this week announced a new Statement of Expectations issued to NBN Co, which orders National Broadband Network to be built using "optimised multi-technology model". 

Speeds will be 25 Mbps to all premises and 50 Mbps to 90 per cent of fixed line premises. The Liberals had promised minimum broadband speeds of 25 Mbps to all homes by 2016. 

The multi-technologies include fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the premises (FTTP), hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC), fixed wireless and satellite, rather than the mainly FTTP plan advocated by predecessors Labor. 

However, it depends on the completion of negotiations with Telstra, owners of the copper network, Turnbull admitted.

The multi-technology model will save the NBN Co $32 billion and deliver broadband upgrades sooner, and at a lower cost for taxpayers and users. 

Areas in need of broadband upgrades will be delivered two years sooner than under the previous plan, say the ministers. NBN Co will determine which technologies are most cost-effective and should be utilised on an area-by-area basis, taking into account existing infrastructure, population density and demand for high speed.  

However, no cost/benefit analysis has been yet completed on the new multi-technology plan, which has been heavily criticized, with many declaring on Twitter that the NBN is dead.  

The cost/benefit analysis is due by the end of June. 

"The multi-technology mix NBN will make use of existing infrastructure where this is economically beneficial and consistent with its broadband quality and speed objectives," according to Turnbull and Cormann.  

The updated statement confirms the recommendations made by the NBN Co in its Strategic Review. Turnbull insists the approach is designed to give NBN Co flexibility in terms of technologies used. 

"This approach is consistent with the Government's policy objectives of providing download rates (and proportionate upload rates) of at least 25 Mbps to all premises and 50 Mbps to 90 per cent of fixed line premises as soon as possible," according to the statement.

The statement comes just days after the NBN Co's new CEO Bill Murrow, was sworn in as the new boss of the government-owned broadband company.  

'Unhelpful Surprises' 

Speaking at a CommsDay Summit held this week, Minister Turnbull admitted: "I don't want to overstate our progress since September. There's an immense amount of work yet to be done. 

"NBN Co's board and management need to transform the company's culture and capabilities, settle new deals with Telstra and Optus, and resolve the many unhelpful surprises we've found inside NBN Co." 

NBN Co will shortly finalise the second phase of its Strategic Review, focused on the 'last 7 per cent' - the 1 million Australian premises where it is most costly to provide broadband. In most cases will be served by satellite or fixed wireless. 

Government's investment in the NBN will be capped at $29.5 billion, with the balance of the $41 bn project, funded by the private sector.