NBN restructure sees fixed wireless and satellite moved into new business unit

The new regional and remote business unit to control all aspects of NBN on those technology types.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia has announced it is creating a new business unit that will take charge of the fixed wireless and satellite footprints.

The unit will be headed by Gavin Williams, who will be handed the title of chief development officer, regional and remote. He was previously the executive general manager for products at NBN. Williams will report to CEO Stephen Rue.

"Today's announcement forms part of our evolution as a business, sharpening our focus on becoming a full-scale, service delivery organisation, centred on customer experience," Rue said.

NBN noted the new unit was a recommendation in the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, which had also called on NBN to allow and contribute to co-investment for area-switch technology choice upgrades.

"A number of state and local governments are interested in co-contributing to technology upgrades in rural and remote areas. Under NBN Co's current Technology Choice model, the company appears to charge the applicant the full incremental costs of the technology upgrade where an existing NBN service, such as satellite, is already available in the area," the report said.

"Given NBN Co's commitments to upgrading its regional networks, it makes sense to move to a co-investment model that could harness other sources of funding to bring forward scheduled upgrades or to enable unscheduled upgrades in areas that are a priority for the co-investors."

At the same time on Thursday, NBN announced it had also switched on business satellite services, which the company said was aimed at medium and large businesses, as well as government users.

"The Business NBN Satellite Service is a welcome addition to NBN Co's regional product offering and helps meet the needs of regional, remote, and rural based enterprises with large network capacity requirements so they can remain competitive nationally and globally," Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said.

"The Business NBN Satellite Service will include a Virtual ISP service which allows for high-data consumption, and an IoT solution which can connect devices such as water pumps and sensors in remote 'non-addressable' locations."

A recent report on complaints issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found satellite was the least complained about technology.

The level of maturity of a particular NBN access technology type impacted the complaints ratio, ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said on Monday.

Fibre-to-the-curb received the highest number of complaints at 475 per 10,000 services, followed by HFC, fibre-to-the-basement, fixed wireless, fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-premise, and finally satellite technology.

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