Australian Budget 2013: Government scales back NBN advertising

Australian Budget 2013: Government scales back NBN advertising

Summary: The Australian government will expand local programs to promote the NBN, but controversial advertising for the project has been reduced from the last financial year.


The federal government will pump in AU$17.8 million to promote the National Broadband Network (NBN), and over AU$21.4 billion for the construction of the network over the next four years.

In the 2013-14 Budget released on Tuesday, the government announced that it would expand the Digital Local Government program, adding 14 new local councils that will be taking part in the program over the next two years at a cost of AU$5.7 million.

The program aims to help councils prepare for the rollout of the NBN in their local area, and each council can receive up to AU$375,000 to improve the delivery of services to residents using the NBN.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement that already, over 30 councils have secured funding as part of the original program.

An additional AU$7.2 million will be spent over the next three years as part of an expansion of the Digital Enterprise program that aims to train small businesses in how to get online. This program has already trained over 4,500 people, and the expansion will see 21 new services.

There will be a "virtual service" for remote Australia, and there will be 3,650 group training and 14,350 one-on-one sessions for 49,000 small businesses, Conroy said.

After spending AU$20 million in 2012-13 for advertising on the NBN, the government has scaled back its marketing efforts for the NBN to AU$4.9 million in 2013-14 "to continue to improve public understanding and provide updated information about the National Broadband Network".

According to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's Budget statement, AU$2.4 million will also be spent in 2013-14 to "maintain existing essential functions" for Australia's transition to the NBN. According to the department, this will ensure that the government can maintain oversight of the regulatory and operating environment of the NBN.

AU$2.5 million will also be spent to extend the satellite phone subsidy scheme out until June 30, 2014. The program provides phone access for 24,000 Australians who live or work in regional or remote Australia.

The government had previously not outlined whether it would extend this program, but Conroy said on Tuesday that it would review the scheme at the end of 2013 to see whether it needs to be extended further. He also said that NBN Co's fixed-wireless rollout would help improve mobile coverage, which in turn would reduce the need for the satellite phone program.

"With the rollout of NBN Co's fixed-wireless network, mobile carriers can use NBN Co's towers to improve their mobile coverage footprint. NBN Co has already agreed to reciprocal access arrangements with Telstra and Optus," he said.

Vodafone has also been in discussions with NBN Co about accessing its towers to improve its network coverage, and the Coalition has suggested that focusing on improving mobile coverage in regional Australia will form a key part of the Coalition's broadband policy.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will receive AU$26.6 million to restack the digital television channels to free up the spectrum to be used by mobile telecommunications companies to deliver 4G services. The government said the funding would cover previously unforeseen costs around the replacement of equipment and the decommissioning of high-powered transmission sites.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy said it will see decreases in funding over the next four years, as the Digital Productivity, ICT Centre of Excellence, and Satellite Phone programs are phased out or receive reduced funding.

As the government prepares to put legislation to parliament over mobile roaming charges, it will provide AU$1.3 million to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over the next four years to investigate wholesale and retail mobile roaming charges between Australia and New Zealand. The ACCC will produce an annual report on pricing changes, and the AU$1.3 million will be recovered through annual carrier licence charges.

The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs will also spend AU$9.9 million over the next four years to upgrade the Broadband for Seniors kiosks.

"This will ensure senior Australians continue to have access to the latest in information technology, and allow them to both remain socially connected over the internet and access the benefits offered by the National Broadband Network," the department said.

AU$5 million will also be spent to train seniors on cybersecurity issues.

NBN funding

The Budget has revealed that the delay to the National Broadband Network construction has pushed out equity funding for NBN Co further than expected.

The 2012-13 Budget forecast that NBN Co would receive equity funding in that financial year of AU$4.7 billion; instead, the government said it had only injected AU$2.6 billion into the government-owned entity.

This has meant that the funding requirements will be lower this year, but higher in the subsequent financial years.

The government has said it will fund NBN Co with AU$5.1 billion in 2013-14, before peaking at AU$6.3 billion in 2014-15, and then dropping to AU$5.3 billion in 2015-16, and AU$4.7 billion in 2016-17.

This will mean that total equity funding over the four years will be AU$21.4 billion of the total AU30.4 that the government has estimated it will inject into NBN Co.

The cost of termination of the contracts that NBN Co has entered into have been estimated to be AU$3.4 billion as of February 28.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU


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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  • Who'se going to say it

    The NBNCo delay has resulted in delayed money and therefore is much better option using Turnbull's NPV concept.

    So Mr Turnbull - waiting for you to congratulate the NBN on it's delays!
    • You don't understand NPV

      You're assuming costs won't rise with the delay.
      Richard Flude
  • this is puzzling

    we have told time and time again no taxpayers money is going to NBN Co.
    Blank Look
    • Sigh

      FFS... Government money doesn't just come from income taxes.
      • Confused

        "Government money doesn't just come from income taxes. "

        Not this govt anyway, borrowing towards $300b.

        Borrowed money is future tax revenue brought forward. It's taxpayers money - period.

        Previously you argued their ROI would pay back the taxpayer; given the tragedy that is NBNCo not surprising you've dropped that position.
        Richard Flude
        • The only thing stopping the payback

          would be the total collapse of the economy (not very likely when Labor has done such a good job with it so far with continued growth, low interest, a strong dollar, maintained AAA ratings, etc, etc, etc) ), or Joe Hockey screwing it up by carrying an "eleventy" when he shouldn't' (much more likely).
  • LOL (it's all we ever seem to do at you Dick)...

    Taxpayer money...LOL

    If built it will repay itself...

    Remember all you "libertarians (i.e. extreme right lunatics) telling us how we are ALL being forced onto the socialist government monopoly"...

    Stick to counting cars... goose
    • The more RS publishes to more ignorance exposed.

      RS doesn't know what a "libertarian" is. Your ignorance is amazing.

      Whose money is it if not taxpayers? Why does the taxpayer get equity in return? Where is this bizarre-o world you inhabit?

      Counting cars? You are a clown.
      Richard Flude
      • "RS doesn't know what a "libertarian" is."

        I know what a libertarian is Fluddy. Around here we call them lolbertarians. Hope that helps.

        Seriously Fluddy you sound really whiny for a libertarian.
        Hubert Cumberdale
  • Note repay itself...

    Never said taxpayers... yest another lie/strawman from Dick, who is unable to validate his masters second rate, ridiculous network and keeps going around in circles to deflect...

    • All government money is taxpayers money

      Regardless of source it comes from taxpayers, for it would otherwise be used to reduce our burden.

      Another amazing insight into the world according RS.
      Richard Flude
  • Reminder

    Labor FTTP NBN $30.7 Bill Govt input from Borrowings, $13Bill from Market Bonds
    LNP mainly FTTN GIMPCo with Govt subsidised Cherry Picking Competition
    $29.5Bill Govt input, Customer payment for crippleware FTTP ??? (330/80 best from an active FTTC Card - no 250/100, 500/200, 1000/400 high value plans available - upload is king).

    So similar Govt input (depending on Telstra Deal for copper), for second rate limted network hostage to the copper and the weather with high operational and maintenance costs.

    What for??
    Abel Adamski
    • NBNCo = Zero market bonds

      100% govt equity.

      Around 200k fibre connections 6 years after policy annouced, around 1/10th their original forecast. Billions spent.

      Funding reduced next year for political purposes and because the unbelievably slow rollout. Connecting per month what we were told they'd be connecting per day.

      It's done, time to move on.
      Richard Flude
      • "the unbelievably slow rollout."

        It's quite believable given the state of Australian companies, the delays caused by Telstra and Syntheo are exactly where they are behind. NBNCo is actually employing people directly in the NT to address that.

        But you already know all that, so your obviously just trying to create a "dramah" to suit your narrative, though your spin is based from reality, where you take it isn't.

        Do you act like this in your own business Richard?