NBN two years on: Key milestones so far

A retrospective of the project and its milestones

As it reaches the second anniversary of the announcement of the National Broadband Network, Computerworld Australia looks back through time to the key milestones of the NBN so far, to provide a reminder of how far the network has come.

7 April, 2009 - National Broadband Network announced

The Federal Government announces the National Broadband Network (NBN), a $43 billion project aimed at delivering fibre-to-the-home technology to 90 per cent of Australian premises and guaranteed bandwidth speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), with fixed wireless and satellite technologies covering the last ten per cent of the population.

The network is set to be run by NBN Co, a wholesale-only government business enterprise charged with building, maintaining and onselling the network. Then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims the network would provide 25,000 jobs every year during the eight-year build of the network and will add $37 billion to the GDP.

ISPs praise the announcement, which replaces NBN Mark I, a $4.7 billion fibre-to-the-node network initially planned for construction by private parties. None of the tenders submitted to government during 2008 were deemed suitable.

23 April, 2009 - Regional Broadband Blackspot Program announced

Complementing the revamped NBN plan is a $250 million program to roll out up to 6000 kilometres of fibre between those Australian regional centres deemed blackspots. The tender is ultimately awarded to Leighton Holdings subsidiary Nextgen networks.

At the time of the NBN announcement’s two-year anniversary, the program is past the halfway mark with fibre backhaul completed to Geraldton in Western Australia and Victor Harbor in South Australia. Fibre rollout to Broken Hill, Darwin and Emerald are also underway.

As well as the NBN, global projects such as the Square Kilometre Array telescope initiative are set to benefit from the project.

16 July, 2009 - Tasmania gains first looks at NBN

Federal and state governments establish Tasmanian NBN Co (TNBN Co), a joint venture between NBN Co and state-government owned utility Aurora Energy to build and maintain the Tasmanian leg of the NBN as a first test site of the wider national project, aimed primarily at providing fibre services to 200,000 premises on the island.

The joint venture with Aurora Energy is ultimately canned in favour of a wholly owned Tasmanian subsidiary under NBN Co.

27 July, 2009 - Quigley gets his share

NBN Co is officially born with its first employee, former Alcatel chief operating officer Mike Quigley, getting the head honcho role at the network wholesaler. Quigley is shortly followed by former Alcatel colleague Jean-Pascal Beaufret as chief financial officer, as well as compatriots from the likes of Telstra, Qantas, Optus, AAPT and notably, former Queensland politician Mike Kaiser in the $450,000-a-year government relations role.

15 September, 2009 - Government begins legislative trek

Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, introduces the first of several pieces of legislation to Parliament surrounding the structure and operations of an Australian telecommunications sector under the NBN. The first bill is aimed squarely at what many have claimed was the entire motive of the national network: Separating Telstra. The bill would undergo intense argument from both sides of politics and would ultimately face countless delays that forced eventual passing of the bill back more than a year.

Under the final legislation, which would be amended multiple times to satisfy the incumbent telco and other contractual arrangements, Telstra would be forced to structurally separate its wholesale and retail arms, removing its monopoly on the telco market and forcing a cultural change within the company championed by chief executive, David Thodey.

21 October, 2009 - Second Tasmanian sites revealed

The Federal Government reveals a second set of sites to be constructed in Tasmania as part of testing under the NBN. The seven new locations would also receive fibre technology and guaranteed speeds of 100Mbps, but on its two-year anniversary - and despite claimed successes at the first round of sites - construction has gone quiet.

Next: 2010

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