Budget 2011: NBN cleans up on funding

Summary:The Federal Government will invest a further $35.6 million in funding for programs around the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as part of this year's Federal Budget, and has said that it believes it will spend $3.09 billion on the project in the next financial year off-budget.

The Federal Government will invest a further $35.6 million in funding for programs around the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as part of this year's Federal Budget, and has said that it believes it will spend $3.09 billion on the project in the next financial year off-budget.

Over five years, $34.4 million will go directly to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). Part of that funding will go to support the finalisation of the $11 billion deal between Telstra and the government that will see Telstra lease its ducts and pipes to NBN Co, decommission its copper network and move customers onto the NBN.

The funding will also go to DBCDE to establish the new Universal Service Obligation company (USO Co), as well as the establishment of an information service for consumers and small businesses to inform them about the roll-out of the NBN and to support their migration to the new fibre network.

This portion of the funding will also cover the interim satellite service operations as part of the USO obligations, and will go to fund specialists who will determine whether a particular premise is adequately served by non-NBN fibre providers before NBN Co rolls out the network to that premise.

Meanwhile, $1.2 million over the next five years will go to the Department of Finance and Deregulation to oversee the new USO Co entity.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will receive an additional $7.2 million over the next four years so that the authority can develop and implement network standards and codes for the NBN.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will receive $5.6 million to ensure that there is adequate competition on the NBN, and to monitor the backhaul provided to the NBN Co points of interconnect by other wholesalers to ensure that prices remain the same across Australia.

The parliament will also require an additional $2.1 million in funding over the next four years to support the new Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network established after the 2010 Federal Election and chaired by Independent MP Rob Oakeshott. The committee's first meeting will be on Monday.

The Attorney-General's Department has also allocated $4 million over four years for legal aid commissions and community legal services organisations to utilise the NBN to provide legal assistance to people in regional and rural areas of Australia. The aim of the initiative is to reduce the amount of litigation by providing people with better access to legal services in order to resolve legal problems before they reach the courts.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has, however, canned the Vocational Education Broadband Network. The program was designed to provide vocational education and training institutions with high speed broadband services; however, the government has said that the NBN will provide this function instead. The government expects to save $78.4 million over three years by cancelling this project.

Funding for the construction and roll-out of the NBN itself is not included in the budget; however, the government expects to inject $3.09 billion into the project in the next financial year, and a total of $20.6 billion over the next four years. The government's total investment in the project has been put at $27.5 billion.

Spectrum auction funding

In preparation for the auction of the 700MHz and the 2.5GHz spectrum bands as a result of the digital dividend, the government will spend $8.3 million over the next three years in order to plan, value the spectrum, develop licensing framework and prepare for the auction itself.

See ZDNet Australia's complete coverage of the budget.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government : AU, NBN

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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