Just a couple of days out from the election, Malcolm Turnbull’s started to offer a few more snippets of information regarding the Coalition’s NBN plans.
In an article in The Australian, it’s stated that the Coalition would be re-prioritising its NBN rollout plans “to those most in need, rather than to the most commercially viable installations” — although I’ve got to admit I’m not sure how that differs from the current FTTP NBN rollout plan — but that the transition could take up to a year to transition away from FTTP to FTTN.
“What we said is we’ll honour all contracts but if there hasn’t been any agreement or any signature then there isn’t a contract.”
It’s also fairly clear that part of that prioritisation involves getting private enterprise on board and allowing them to “cherry pick” the more profitable areas — which in theory should allow coverage over those areas that are more commercially viable.
“We think the object of policy is to ensure that everybody gets very fast broadband as soon as possible … we’re not going to prevent competition with the NBN, we think that’s something that certainly shouldn’t be obstructed as long as the competitors are common carriers and are providing a wholesale service.”
I’m sure it’s no coincidence that he made the statement while in a privately engineered FTTN enabled apartment block in Sydney’s Erskineville, because it shows off his usage case in the most positive light possible. That’s politics for you, though; the reality for any kind of fibre installation is that apartment blocks are always going to be an infrastructure challenge. Then again, the history of Australian telecommunications suggests that this kind of cherry picking is exactly what the existing players have always done, ignoring the less profitable areas entirely.
That aside, there’s really one thing that stands out for me from this particular interview, and that’s the idea that it’ll take a year to “transition” from the FTTP plan. The Coalition’s stated policy at launch was that they’d get a 25Mbps minimum (download) network up and running by the end of their first term of government. If it’s going to take a year to transition off FTTP planning, what does that mean for that schedule?