AUSTRALIA’S NBN plans are a disaster.
The country’s largest network operator is spending millions of dollars on new fibre optic networks to replace the ageing copper network that is the backbone of the country’s economy and the nation’s communications infrastructure.
The cost has soared to almost $70 billion over the past decade, according to government figures.
The NBN Co chief executive, Michael McCormack, says the cost of maintaining the network is now “the second highest in the world” as the cost per gigabyte of data is $3.50.
But the rollout of the network was originally supposed to be completed in 2020, but it’s now being delayed until 2025.
A massive rollout is also under way in Australia’s largest cities, including Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.
The rollout will be completed over the next three years, and the NBN Co is aiming to have 100 per cent of the population connected to it by 2025.
But despite this, it will still take years to achieve this target.
AUSTRAC is calling for a different approach, which calls for the Federal Government to allow the company to roll out the NBN at a cost that is affordable to the average household.
The Australian Financial Group’s Andrew MacDougall says the government should instead support a new NBN that is “a lot cheaper”.
“It’s the government’s responsibility to decide what happens on the NBN,” Mr MacDougal said.
“It has to be fair to all of those people who are paying for it, and to those who aren’t paying for the NBN, and should do it in a way that is fair.”
He said that should involve not just the Government funding the rollout, but also “further investment in fibre, but a lot more investment in the fibre itself, so that it’s better able to handle the load of traffic that the NBN has to manage”.
He said it should also include “some type of incentive for NBN Co to build more fibre in the future”.
“The fact that the Government is allowing NBN Co so much money to go into NBN Co, they need to look at the fact that they are taking money away from the NBN and that they should be able to look after the infrastructure in Australia.”
Mr MacDougal says the NBN should be re-named to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or FTTN, which are similar to NBN Co’s traditional copper network.
“The idea of fibre to the node is to allow fibre to be used on any copper cable, and that would be FTTN,” he said.
The Federal Government will release its plan for a “fibre to fibre” network later this year.
But in a statement on Monday, NBN Co said the company had not received the government plan, and it would not release it until after the end of the year.
“NBN Co will be releasing the FTTNSA by the end, but the FttN network will not be ready until the end the year,” the statement said.
But Mr McCormack says the company is in “very early stages” of the rollout and will not say whether it will launch in 2021 or 2022.
He said the rollout was already “in the early stages”, but added that “the real challenge for NBN is that there is a lot of infrastructure involved, and a lot will be left to the NBN Company to manage and deliver”.
Mr McCormacks comments come after former NBN Co boss Tony Burke resigned from the company earlier this month.
The company’s chairman, David White, also stepped down.
Mr White said in his resignation letter to the company’s board that the company needed to make changes to its “unbelievably complex” rollout.
“I have decided that I cannot continue to lead the NBN company,” he wrote.
“And while I am unable to make a public statement, I will be making further comment on this issue in due course.”
“Numerous technical challenges and a lack of communication between management and board members, has caused considerable unhappiness within the company,” Mr White wrote.
NBN Co has previously said that the cost to operate the network will be “a small fraction” of what it will cost to build a fibre-to-the-node network.