Coalition-chaired NBN joint standing committee formed

The committee will report to both the House of Reps and the Senate on the progress, uptake, and benefits of the NBN, as well as the broadband infrastructure's global ranking.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The Australian government has passed the motion to form a Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network (NBN), which will report to both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the progress of the rollout until it is complete.

Specifically, the committee will report on the rollout progress; utilisation of the NBN in connected areas; opportunities for social and economic benefits; Australia's global ranking in residential broadband infrastructure; rates of activation; user demand; usage patterns; any impediments to NBN uptake; characteristics of the market, industry, or regulation that could be impeding the costliness and efficiency of the rollout; and any other relevant matters.

The joint standing committee's 17 members will be made up of: Four members of the House of Reps nominated by the government whip; four members of the House of Reps nominated by the opposition whip; one non-aligned member of the House of Reps; three senators nominated by the leader of the government in the Senate; three senators nominated by the leader of the opposition in the Senate; one senator nominated by the leader of the Greens Party in the Senate; and one Senator nominated by minority or independent senators.

The committee will be chaired by the government, with an opposition member to serve as its deputy.

The NBN is slated to be completed by 2020, and is expected to provide 17 percent of Australian premises with fibre to the premises (FttP); 51 percent with fibre to the node (FttN), fibre to the basement (FttB), and fibre to the distribution point (FttDP); 24 percent with hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC); and 1 percent with fixed wireless and satellite.

Australia's most recent broadband ranking saw its fixed-line broadband drop down to 56th place for peak speeds of 43.8Mbps, and 48th for average broadband speeds of 8.8Mbps, according to Akamai's State of the Internet report.

Despite this, NBN CEO Bill Morrow last week claimed that the NBN rollout will put the nation in a "leadership position" worldwide, as it will become "the first continent to have a fully connected universal access broadband that has 25Mbps or better".

NBN has also emphasised the upgrade paths for each network technology that could see most parts of the MTM attain gigabit speeds over the next five years.

The New Zealand government, meanwhile, is rolling out the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network through telecommunications operator Chorus, providing 80 percent of the population with FttP, with gigabit speeds being delivered significantly sooner -- from next month.

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