More than a decade ago, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian proposed a “National Broadband Plan”, one that would have required NBN Co to provide a high-speed broadband network in every state and territory.
The state had already had the most advanced broadband network at the time and NBN Co was already spending tens of millions of dollars on infrastructure to support the rollout of the NBN.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing this plan come into fruition, but we’ve got to have a very high-level discussion about what we can afford,” Ms Berejic said in an interview last year.
The plan would have also provided for a federal role in managing the rollout and a “comprehensive and integrated approach” to the rollout, she said.
Ms Berejilian’s comments are consistent with NBN Co’s stance that its $5.6 billion plan would be completed by 2021.
“The NSW Government will have a plan to get the NBN to 100 per cent of its potential capacity by 2021,” NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow told the ABC last year, saying the project would deliver “a much higher quality of service than anyone else on the planet”.
But Mr Morrow also acknowledged that the company had to start from scratch.
“We are not going to be able to do that because we’ve not got the resources to build and deliver the network that we think is going to deliver the greatest level of service to the most people,” he said.
The new state-of-the-art fibre network in South Australia, which was announced on February 5, is due to open by the end of 2020, and is expected to be the most expensive in the country.
NBN Co is spending $5 billion on a fibre network that will run from South Australia’s town of South Yarra to Perth.
Picture: Simon Sandys Source: Supplied It’s a high cost to build the network, particularly considering that the state is already the only Australian state to have its own NBN network.
It’s also not yet clear how much money NBN Co will have to spend on maintaining and upgrading the network.
While NSW has already completed the most modern NBN network, NBN Co said that its network would be upgraded to the highest standard and be able run for 25 years.
“There will be no upgrade fees or capital charges on our network,” NBN CFO Michael Sneddon said in March.
“And there will be a range of upgrade options that will be available to the customer, which includes new fibre technology and a number of other new technologies.”
The new fibre network will also have the most extensive copper and fibre-to-the cabinet-level installation, and will be able support more than 150,000 homes.
The company is also looking at extending its network to rural and remote areas.
But, while there will always be room for improvement, NBN CTO David Rilling said that the project’s cost was in line with what other state and territories were already spending on their NBN projects.
“NSW is now at the very beginning of the National Broadband Project and there is no reason why we cannot build the highest quality network in Australia for the future,” Mr Rilling told the Federal Government’s Digital Australia Summit in November.
“That is why we are continuing to build our network across NSW and the other states and territories across the country.”
While the state’s $5-billion NBN project is expected in 2021, the rollout is still likely to be delayed until 2021, due to its location.
“NBN Co is working hard to get this project done in time, and we are in discussions with the State Government about the rollout options in 2021,” Mr Morrow said.
“This is a very challenging project and we want to make sure that we are able to get it completed as quickly as possible.”