NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley isn't fazed by the Victorian Government's decision to reject an 'opt-out' policy which would have seen every premise in the state receive fast broadband by default.
The decision by the new Coalition State Government — confirmed as policy in late December — runs contrary to the wishes of Federal Labor and even other State Liberal Parties such as the one in Tasmania, which have supported the notion that the NBN should be connected by default to every available premise.
Under the so-called 'opt-out' policy, residents would have to actively choose not to have the fibre or wireless infrastructure installed to their homes — although it wouldn't force them to actually pay for broadband services from an internet service provider. Now Victorians will have to actively say yes to having the infrastructure installed.
Asked whether he was disappointed by the state's decision, Quigley replied: "Not at all."
He said he didn't expect the opt-in policy would harm adoption in Victoria. "Frankly," the NBN Co supremo explained, "People will make their own decision about whether they want to take on a service or not."
One factor which may spur adoption of the NBN is the gradual shutdown of Telstra's copper network and hybrid-fibre coaxial network for broadband services, which will leave many Victorians without broadband at all unless they choose a wireless broadband service or sign up to the NBN.
"If we were to consummate the deal with Telstra — if that happens — as we know, progressively, over time, the copper network will be retired and will be replaced with a fibre network," said Quigley. "So, people will then have the option of will they make that transition or not."
Most of the other states have not formally taken a stance on whether they will support the opt-out approach backed by Federal Labor or not. But Quigley said he didn't anticipate any operational difficulties for NBN Co if some did and some didn't.
"We had not anticipated that we have necessarily have a uniform environment in every state. We expected it to be different," said Quigley. "We don't expect it to cause any difficulties."
"We don't expect the states in Australia to throw barriers up," he said. "So far, what we've seen from most of the states is a keenness to get on and do the job. In fact, we're lobbied very heavily by different shires all over the place, who want us to come there first."
"That's the biggest issue we've got at the moment — people want us to get there sooner," he said.