Budget '09: NBN study to cost $53.2 million

The government has committed to spending $53.2 million on its implementation study for the National Broadband Network.

The government has committed to spending $53.2 million on its implementation study for the National Broadband Network.

The study will look at engineering, commercial and structural issues facing the builder of the network and is set to be delivered to the government by early next year.

An unspecified amount of the funding will also be used to develop the regional and legislative framework for the network, as well as for initial work on the network in Tasmania and the regional blackspots program.

The creation of the National Broadband Network company has also been accounted for, with a spending allocation of $1.1 million.

The government also detailed the breakdown of its initial $4.7 billion investment in the network, which will be a $4.45 billion equity injection into the company and investment in the Tasmanian roll-out. The government allotted $30 million expenditure in 2008-2009, $750 million in 2009-2010 and $3.67 billion in 2010-11.

The regional backhaul spending of $250 million has been completely allotted within 2009-2010, confirming Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's intention to fast track the roll-out. Regional areas will receive $5 million over four years to support up to 12 regional coordinators to help local governments, community organisations and businesses to take up broadband in regional communities.

The government also committed to a $37 million spend to extend and upgrade the Australian Research and Education Network run by AARNet, comprising 38 Australian universities and the CSIRO.

The government has also taken some funding away, however, reducing funding to the Australian Broadband Guarantee by $23.1 million over three years.

"This reduction in funding recognises the greater availability of metro-comparable broadband services to residential and small business premises that now exists, and does not affect the level of financial assistance available to eligible residents or businesses," the budget said.

Optus's mobile broadband was recently ruled as being a metro comparable service. Optus' network now reaches 96 per cent of the population.

The government has also given the Australian Communications and Media Authority $23.4 million over four years to replan digital television to ensure efficient use of radio frequency spectrum. Many telecommunications carriers had been concerned about how the spectrum would be used in light of the spectrum needs for the successor for 3G, long-term evolution.

ACMA is, however, also facing cuts with plans to shut its Perth and Adelaide offices by consolidating their functions into other offices in the 2009-2010 year. Although the authority will receive $0.7 million to deal with the closures, the consolidation is expected to deliver $2.1 million in net savings over four years.