NBNCo chief executive Mike Quigley has told a Senate Select Committee that it is too early to confirm whether wholesale prices for the National Broadband Network (NBN) will be the same across the country.
“We won’t be setting pricing policies in the company on the basis of quotes: We’ll be having discussions with the shareholders around those sorts of issues, as you would expect us to,” Quigley told the Committee in a public hearing.
Quigley also said the issue of pricing was extremely complex and that he has yet to receive any pricing directives from the Government, which is at this stage the company’s sole shareholder.
The NBNco chief’s statements at the public hearing appears to contradict a prior statement from Minister for Broadband Stephen Conroy, in which he said that the aim of the NBN was to provide “the same wholesale price for every household for the same speed across satellite, wireless and fibre-to-the-node”.
According to Conroy, any averaged prices would result from using the lower wholesale costs and higher profits from metropolitan services to subsidise steeper rural prices.
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Quigley was also quizzed on the potential for providers to shirk NBN broadband in metropolitan areas in favour of de-averaged and cheaper high-speed internet from current providers such as Telstra.
“This is exactly the issue, that balancing act, which we need to address. If we’re going to serve those rural and remote communities that are not so attractive to serve, you have to balance that. As I said, it’s a very complex picture at the moment,” Quigley said.
As part of his opening remarks, Quigley said his objectives included providing high speed internet right across the country, with 90 per cent as fibre-to-the-premises, and the other 10 per cent being wireless at a minimum speed of 12mbps.
He also said while NBNCo had a rough idea of where the 10 per cent lay, they had not yet done specific studies of their own, relying mostly on various external studies.