Australia’s Coalition government has formally opted to move away from the original plan for the National Broadband Network (NBN), under which the bulk of the country was to have been connected via fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. According to The Australian, the Abbott government has issued new instructions to NBN Co, the company overseeing the project, with communications minister Malcolm Turnbull and finance minister Mathias Cormann said to have handed down a new statement of expectations to its board which cement the revised ‘optimised multi-technology mix’ plan.
As such, in contrast to Labor’s model, which proposed connecting 93% of Australians via FTTP, the new plans will see such technology connecting just 26% of premises by 2020, while a further 44% will be served by fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), and the remaining 30% of households getting a service via hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) infrastructure. Using this mixed technology approach, the government has said it anticipates that 91% of Australians in the fixed line rollout area will be able to get downlink speeds of up to 50Mbps by 2019. Meanwhile, NBN Co has also reportedly been directed to prioritise those areas which currently receive poor broadband services.
Commenting on the development, the government was cited as saying: ‘This statement of expectations provides NBN Co with flexibility and discretion in operational, technology and network design decisions, within the constraints of a public equity capital limit of AUD29.5 billion (USD27.4 billion).’