Broadband levy to subsidise regional NBN services

Scheme to subsidise broadband in regional areas to begin at $7 per service per month

The government has revealed details of a proposed scheme to help fund NBN’s so-called “non-commercial” services: The fixed wireless and satellite services that are used to deliver broadband services outside the National Broadband Network’s fixed-line footprint.

The government has opened a public consultation on legislation that will implement the Regional Broadband Scheme (RBS).

Delivering NBN’s satellite and fixed wireless services is expected to have a net cost of $9.8 billion over three decades, according to the government.

The RBS will involve a levy on so-called “superfast” (or “NBN-comparable”) fixed-line broadband services, beginning with a base charge $7.09 per service per month (a superfast service is defined as one capable of delivering a typical download speed of 25Mbps+).

The charge will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. On top of the base charge there will be an administrative fee, which will begin at $0.01266 per line per month.

The levy won’t apply to exchange-based DSL services, satellite broadband, fixed wireless or mobile broadband services.

The proposed legislation includes exemptions for organisations that have fewer than 2000 potentially chargeable services in a particular month. There is also an exemption for Telstra and Optus lines that are transitioning to the NBN.

The government estimates that the scheme will raise about $40 million from non-NBN networks in its first year of operation. NBN itself is expected to contribute 90 per cent of the funds under the scheme.

The government has also moved to introduce a Statutory Infrastructure Provider regime to guarantee access to high-speed broadband and changes to the competition framework governing superfast broadband networks.

The draft legislation is available online.

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