Australia - National Broadband Network - Policies and Regulations
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 plans announced now covering half the population, the rollout is now well and truly underway.
During a heavily politicised period between 2010-2013 NBN Co had to operate in an environment where they had many constraints and constant diversions of management time and energy into non-productive activity. During that time the then Opposition threatened to kill the NBN. However, gradually this policy was softened and when they did win the elections in 2013, the new government issued an initial statement that gives NBN Co the opportunity to continue with the current FttH plans.
The previous government had also embarked on an ambitious National Digital Strategy 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 now need to be addressed by the new government 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.
We start the report with the new situation as it evolved after the September 2013 elections.