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National Broadband Network - Developments and Analyses 2014 - Australia


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National Broadband Network - Developments and Analyses 2014 - Australia

After the September 2013 election in Australia, and with a new government in charge, a number of reviews were announced that will shape the future direction of the NBN. For a start, the Minister asked NBN Co to carry out its own review first, based on the original specifications of the NBN it being a majority FttP rollout.

This indicates that at a strategic level the NBN will most likely continue fairly smoothly. There will most certainly be changes made to the rollout but these could quite possibly be implemented by NBN Co itself, now that it has largely been relieved of the political pressure under which it had to operate during the period of severe attacks by the then Opposition, which started off with a policy to kill the NBN. At this stage at least the NBN now has bipartisan support.

Also, because of the likely continuation of the NBN many of the issues discussed below remain unchanged, and so will require the attention of the government, and/or will need to be taken into account in future policy developments. BuddeComm has already indicated support for certain changes to the NBN in relation to greenfield developments and multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and these issues will now receive significantly more attention than they have had in the past. Again, the comments and analyses made on these issues remain relevant under the new government.

The rollout has seen delays, but at this stage there are no indications that this will affect the longer-term outlook for completion of the project. The review will obviously shed more light on this, but so far the issues seem to be more one-off and/or resolvable for instance, by being more flexible in the use of technology, for example in MDUs.

A serious omission remains that there is no policy or information that takes into account the importance of the NBN for the digital economy, the opportunity to use it to increase digital productivity, and where this infrastructure fits in relation to e-business, e-health and e-education.

As iiNet so pointedly indicated, all these NBN decisions are made within a policy vacuum. Subsequent governments have failed to first establish the foundations for why we need an NBN and from a social and economic point of view what are we as a nation going to do with it.

There is still a misalignment between the social and economic benefits of the NBN and NBN Co's business plan. The new government wants to prioritise the underserved areas and is looking at other technologies to create some early wins. The question, however, is how much can be changed at this late stage and also whether it will really lower costs and speed up the rollout.

Australia is highly reliant on its income from natural resources and, like other resource-rich countries, it needs to diversify its economy. Interestingly, it is these resource-rich countries that are leading the rollout of FttP around the world. The main reason for those governments becoming involved in digital infrastructure is to increase their country's competitiveness and productivity in areas other than resources.

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. So far so good: FttP keeps being rolled out
3. NBN-related jobs increase by 248% since review
4. Competition in the telecoms industry is dwindling
5. Market-led demand for FttH is picking up
6. TPG highlights the fragile NBN environment
6.1 Market-led vs. Government intervention
6.2 You cannot unravel the NBN
6.3 The fragility of the wholesale-only model
6.4 NBN is a finely balanced exercise
6.5 TPG exposes weaknesses in NBN retail models
7. NBN assessment April 2014
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Reviewing the last few weeks
7.3 From reviews to leadership
7.4 Tension with the review commissions
7.5 The end goal will remain FttH
7.6 The NBN future looks bright
8. Is the government opening a NBN Pandora's box?
8.1 Pandora's Box
9. Aligning broadband and healthcare
10. Government reneges on election promises
11. Where is the economic plan for the post-manufacturing era?
12. No NBN cherry-picking another step in the right direction
13. NBN debate continues in a policy vacuum
14. Regional councils concerns over the NBN changes
15. Privatisation of NBN is not popular
16. The NBN will always remain in Beta.
17. Will the NBN be unravelled?
17.1 The delicate nature of a wholesale-only model
17.2 Structural separation allows for wholesale-only model
17.3 No demand for fibre-based services?
17.4 National digital productivity
18. Analysis of NBN 2.0
18.1 Two competing NBN offerings
18.2 The multi-technology NBN
18.3 Design and rollout problems
18.4 Contracts, negotiations and regulations
18.5 The execution
18.6 Current FttH plan requires simplification
18.7 So on to the next review in 2016?
18.8 Still missing a national vision
19. NBN Co given the opportunity to save the current NBN
20. Telstra's cashflow may suffer from NBN rollout delays
21. What PRISM, credit card hacking and Chromecast have to do with FttH
22. Retirement of NBN Co's first CEO
23. The pros and cons of vectoring
24. Will LTE steal the broadband revolution?
25. Multi Dwelling Unit broadband
26. Is the NBN Co business model flawed?
27. NBN telecoms or digital infrastructure a SAU question
28. Pilbara a lost NBN opportunity
29. NBN leadership or NBN procrastination
30. The Dutch Disease, broadband and the mining boom
31. Comparisons with broadband plans from AT&T and BT (separate report)
32. NBN could slash telecoms maintenance costs
33. Broadband demand-side management
34. The NBN and the opportunity for virtual' players
35. Will infrastructure constrain the digital entertainment market?
36. Will the half-built HFC disaster be repeated?
37. Four million households within reach of the NBN by 2015
38. Digital infrastructure essential to manage the transition to the e-world
39. Related reports

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