NBN Implementation Study released

Calls on Federal Government not to swap NBN equity for Telstra's assets

After a near endless wait for the Australian community and ISP industry, the Federal Government has released its $25 million NBN Implementation Study.

The study, commissioned in April 2009 amd containing 84 recommendations, concludes that the Federal Government’s objectives for the NBN can be implemented within the original $43 billion estimate of capital expenditure, by deploying a mix of fibre, wireless and satellite technologies.

The Study recommends that the NBN’s coverage objective be adjusted to take fibre to 93 percent of premises by the end of the eight year roll-out.

Another four percent of premises should be covered by a commercially-tendered fixed-wireless service delivering at least 12 Mpbs—and much greater speeds for many premises in the coverage area.

NBN Co should provide a wholesale Ka-band satellite service to ensure at least 12 Mbps is delivered to the remaining three percent of premises, and also to provide a coverage option to the four percent of premises within the fixed-wireless footprint.

The Study also details funding options for the NBN including a recommendation that the Federal Government not exchange equity in the NBN in exhcnage for the assets of other telcos – namely Telstra’s national fibre network.

“To implement its policy objectives and use its resources efficiently, Government should retain full ownership of NBN Co until roll-out is complete; this includes not issuing equity in return for vended-in assets,” the Study reads.

It also states that the peak Government funding requirement will be approximately $26 billion in Year six of the project.

“This would be a temporary funding need since subsequent to this peak, NBN Co is expected to be able to support private sector debt of up to $32 billion by year 15,” the Study reads.

In its recommendations for establishing a mandate for the NBN the Study states that the network should to provide wholesale-only FTTP coverage to 93 percent of Australian premises and wholesale-only satellite coverage to the remaining seven percent of premises.

A separate tender process should be run for a commercial operator to provide fixed-wireless service to premises in the 94th to 97th percentiles.

Another key recommendation is that the NBN Co should price its wholesale services to ensure affordable access to all end users and encourage take-up. According to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, prices for wholesale NBN would start at between $20 and $30 for basic broadband access and $30-35 per month for basic broadband 20Mbps plus voice service.

The Study also called for a high level of transparency from the NBN Co, an issue which has previously been raised by PIPE Network founder Beven Slattery.

“As future custodian of Australia’s predominant broadband platform, NBN Co should consider the needs of consumers, businesses, public institutions, service providers, employees, suppliers and other partners in designing and operating its network,” the Study reads. “This should include regular, transparent consultations with relevant stakeholders.”

Listen to the full speech by Senator Stephen Conroy and Senator Lindsay Tanner.

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