David Ramli and Ruth Liew
Australia’s telecommunications companies urged Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to release his plans for the national broadband network so they can plan their investments.
M2 Telecommunications owns the internet service provider Dodo. Its chief executive, Geoff Horth, said the company would like to know how the Coalition planned to change the NBN once the 60-day review being run by NBN Co is finished.
“We had some pretty well-formed plans for what we were going to do with the NBN in the next 12 months and we’ve had to partly put those on hold,” he said. “If there’s uncertainty around the deployment models and time frames around NBN, it makes it difficult to deploy equipment because you don’t know if or when that stuff is going to get bypassed.“It’s not in anyone’s interests for the industry to be in a period of limbo, so the shorter that is, the better we’ll all be.”
iiNet chief technology officer John Lindsay said the NBN changes would influence significant investments.
“We would love to have a nice clear road map going forward and, unfortunately, there isn’t one, so we’re in a holding pattern,” he said.
He accepted the Coalition would need time to make its changes. Mr Turnbull appointed former Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski as NBN Co executive chairman on Thursday.
NBN Co’s board will also formalise a timetable for detailed negotiations with Telstra. The $ 11.2 billion deal, which took more than two years to negotiate, gives NBN Co rental access to the huge network of underground pits and ducts that contain Telstra’s phone network.
The Coalition government will now need to buy and use Telstra’s copper network to build its fibre-to-the-node system.
Outgoing NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley told staff in an email on Thursday that adding fibre-to-the-node technology as an option would “allow the NBN to be built more quickly and at less cost to the taxpayer”.
Mr Switkowski will launch a series of reviews into the $ 20.4 billion NBN to change the network’s rollout to fit the Coalition’s plans while staying on as the chairman of Queensland-based insurance giant, Suncorp Group.
The Australian Financial Review