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Australia - National Broadband Network - Policies and Regulations

Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

The process that led to the NBN started around 2005 and became a key government policy in 2007. Its visionary aspect attracted the attention of many governments around the world, including the Obama Administration and the European Union; and it became a catalyst for the UN Commission for Broadband.

The project has made progress ever since, often against significant odds. Extensive discussions took place between the government and the industry from 2007 to 2009, and these led to the plan on which the current NBN is based. The all-important legislation passed through parliament in 2011 and in that same year Telstra agreed to its structural separation. NBN Co launched its business plan in late 2010 and began to roll out test sites in Tasmania and on the mainland. With the next 30 sites announced the rollout is now well and truly underway.

The government has also embarked on an ambitious digital economy plan, closely linked to the rollout of the NBN, but questions continue to be raised about the social and economic benefits. This is not covered in any serious detail in either the current legislation or the NBN Co business plan, and it therefore remains the major political controversy, an unsolved policy issue that will need to be addressed in 2012 in order for the NBN to be a watertight plan.

In this report we provide an overview of the key policies, as well as the regulatory framework and telecommunications reforms. We also analyse the various policy and regulatory issues and provide an update of funding arrangements for the NBN rollout.

1. Synopsis
2. Regulatory Framework
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Bills passed House of Reps
2.3 Key elements of the Companies Bill
2.3.1 Restrictions on the business operations of NBN companies
2.3.2 Commonwealth ownership and privatisation
2.4 Key elements of the Access Bill
2.4.1 Provision of services
2.4.2 Standard access obligations
2.5 The key points of the NBN amendments
2.5.1 National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2011
2.5.2 Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures – Access Arrangements) Bill 2011
2.6 Impact of the amendments
2.7 Total review of the Special Access Undertakings
3. Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network
4. Regional Telecommunications Policies
5. Regulatory reforms for the transition period
5.1 Introduction of regulatory instruments
5.2 Regulatory instruments - analysis
5.3 Final Access Determinations for fixed line telecommunications
5.4 Layer 2 bitstream on non-NBN Co networks
6. Government to fund NBN voice migration
7. Budget funding for the National Broadband Network
7.1 Administrative and regulatory support
7.2 Funding planned until 2016
7.3 Funding for The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE)
7.4 Funding for the ACCC and ACMA
8. Telstra Structural Separation Undertaking
8.1 Telstra’s initial undertaking
8.2 Migration Plan
8.3 The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) involvement in the NBN
8.4 Telstra’s Structural Separation Undertaking
8.5 Universal Service Obligations
8.5.1 Universal service reform legislation for the NBN
8.5.2 Telecommunications Universal Services Management Agency
9. Sale of NBN Co
10. Special access for smart utility services
11. Other reports
List of Tables
Table 1 – NBN budgeted and actual expenditure – 2008 - 2015
Exhibit 1 - Key elements of Telstras SSU

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