The chief executive of the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co), Mike Quigley, has admitted that the company's announcement of one-gigabit-per-second services on the NBN was in response to media criticism after Google's one gigabit US network had been announced.
"The reason we announced one gigabit was simply because when the government said you've got to provide at least 100Mbps, Google at the time made an announcement that they were providing 1 gigabit in the US. And suddenly we went from a situation facing [those] in the media saying 'what on earth does anyone need 100 megs for?' to saying 'this is already redundant, it is already out of date, you can't do one gig'," he told a Parliamentary inquiry into the benefits of the NBN in Sydney this morning.
"So we went out immediately with a press release that said, 'in fact we can do one gig, we were planning to do one gig, we just hadn't spoken about it yet but here it is, this technology can do one gig. It will come in a later product release'."
Quigley said that the 1Gbps product release will be outed within six or twelve months of the release of the basic packages on the NBN.
Quigley initially made the announcement that NBN Co had planned to offer 1Gbps services in March 2010, shortly after Google had announced its own Fiber For Communities program, delivering broadband services in the US.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy then re-announced the 1Gbps plans in the course of the 2010 Federal Election campaign. Despite the heated debate between Labor and the Coalition at the time over broadband policies, Quigley said that it wasn't an election stunt but rather an appropriate piece of information to release to the industry.
Quigley also told the committee today that the company is in the "final stages" of negotiations with Telstra for its $11 billion deal to lease infrastructure, decommission the existing copper network and move Telstra customers onto the NBN.
NBN Co will not be seeking to overbuild existing fibre networks such as those provided by AARNet, according to Quigley, but he said that in cases where there is just one fibre network offered in an area that wasn't offering wholesale access, then NBN Co may seek to roll-out to that area.
The Parliamentary inquiry will today hear from the likes of Chinese network technology company Huawei, as well as Optus, the Communications Alliance, the Australian Telecommunications User Group and Intel-GE Care Innovations, all discussing the potential benefits of the Federal Government's $37.5 billion broadband project.