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Australia - National Broadband Network - Developments and Analyses 2016

By mid 2016 over two million premises were able to connect to the NBN so far most of them have access to the original NBN, three-quarters have access to FttH, the remainder to wireless and satellite networks. The revised rollout of the so-called multi-mix technology (DSL and HFC) started in earnest in 2016.

After the Coalition Government won the 2016 federal elections, any debate about changes to the underlying infrastructure as the roll out of the multi-mix-technology (MTM) is now getting too far advanced. However, the NBN company has indicated that it does have a road map towards providing fibre deeper into the residential network.

Apart from another two-year delay due to the political changes to the NBN - and more than doubling of the costs, there still is also significant uncertainties about the MTM rollout. There are lots of unknowns in this process and overseas FttN experience shows that it is not all plain sailing and in many cases large-scale replacement of old infrastructure will be required. At the same time rolling out fibre has become significantly cheaper, especially when done by new companies, as is the case in the USA, France, the Netherlands and a number of other players in Northern and Eastern Europe. Most countries skip an MTM rollout and go straight into FttH.

As there are several telcos willing to skip the MTM and go straight into fibre networks competition is arriving in some of the multi-dwelling units (MDUs) in metropolitan areas of the large cities. Competition is heavily restricted through regulation and the complex and expensive NBN wholesale offerings for smaller platers. Companies are therefore eager to look at how to bypass the NBN and as such compete with the national broadband network company. Advances in wireless technology especially in comparison to what a second rate NBN can deliver will also see more people opting for wireless access.

While the government in mid-2015 revived some of the digital economy strategies that were put in place between 2009-2013 there is still no holistic approach to services such as e-health and e-education. Interestingly we do see cities developing their own strategies around the concept of smart cities. When the government announced its innovation policy it did not mention the important role the NBN can play here.

Companies covered in this report include:

NBN Co; Telekom Deutschland; Belgacom; Telekom Austria; Fastweb; Swisscom; Strata Community Australia (SCA); Telstra; Optus; AusBBS; iiNet; Internode; TPG; and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

1. Synopsis
2. The NBN in mid-2016
3. Political Developments
3.1 The Labor plan back to more FttP
3.2 Can we please have a rethink of the NBN soon after the election?
3.3 The fibre witch-hunt
3.4 NBN critical for a modern economy and society
3.5 Beyond the good and evil of the NBN
3.6 Telstra - the ongoing winner in the NBN changes
3.7 Climate change how reliable are our telecoms networks?
3.8 Should taxpayers pay for a NBN based on MTM?
3.9 Has Malcolm Turnbull lost his opportunity for change?
4. How to save the NBN
4.1 FttH business model is gaining strength
4.2 Simplification of FttH
4.3 No mentioning of the NBN in the context of the Digital Economy
4.4 My Republic on the NBN
5. The NBN company
5.1 Building Australia's white elephant cheap buy for white knight Telstra
5.2 Current NBN business model is flawed
5.3 How independent is NBN Co?
5.4 NBN Co threat to proper broadband competition
6. Technology Issues
6.1 NBN company needs support to pursue FTTdp
6.2 FttH cheaper than upgrading the HFC networks
6.3 Australia bucking the global trend by increasing copper
6.4 The NBN it should all be about capacity
6.5 The difference between FttH and FttP
6.6 Why Australia needs a Fibre-to-the-Premises policy
6.7 Market-led demand for FttH is picking up
6.8 Appealing to the professional code of our NBN engineers
7. Competition Issues
7.1 Flawed NBN structure undermines competition
7.2 Government regulations should not stop Australia from getting better broadband
7.3 Open up the metropolitan NBN market to competition
7.4 Competition in the telecoms industry is dwindling
7.5 TPG highlights the fragile NBN environment
7.5.1 Market-led vs. Government intervention
7.5.2 You cannot unravel the NBN
7.5.3 The fragility of the wholesale-only model
7.5.4 NBN is a finely balanced exercise
7.5.5 TPG exposes weaknesses in NBN retail models
8. Other Issues
8.1 NBN critical in developing Australia's first smart cities
8.2 Broadband services in rural Australia worse than was thought
8.3 Content the next regulatory war zone
8.4 NBN-related jobs increase by 248% since review
9. Related reports
Table 1 Homes connected to fibre 2005 - 2010
Exhibit 1 Can grid power keep the internet alive?

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