NBN will put Australia in a 'leadership position': Bill Morrow

The NBN will put Australia in a 'leadership position' as it will be the first continent with universal broadband of at least 25Mbps at all homes, according to the CEO.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) will put the nation in a "leadership position" worldwide, with CEO Bill Morrow also confident that the funding will remain at AU$49 billion with "no problem whatsoever".

This is despite providing the country an oft-criticised multi-technology mix (MTM) wherein fibre to the node (FttN), fibre to the basement (FttB), and fibre to the distribution point (FttDP) will reach 51 percent of premises; hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) will provide coverage to 24 percent; fixed wireless and satellite will reach 1 percent of premises; and pure fibre will provide just 17 percent of Australian premises with coverage.

"The really critical thing is: We've been making so much momentum and we're well on track to actually be the first continent to have a fully connected universal access broadband that has 25Mbps or better, and in fact on the speed I think it's important we all realise that 40 percent of the nation when we're done will have access to 1Gbps," Morrow said in an interview with ABC radio on Friday morning.

"That's better than we think any other nation will be at the year 2020, and then we'll of course always be upgrading according to consumer demand, we will not leave people behind, our country will be in a leadership position, we're going to keep it that way."

In the latest instalment of Akamai's State of the Internet report showed Australia's fixed-line broadband dropped to a ranking of 56th for peak speeds at 43.8Mbps, and came in 48th for average broadband speeds of 8.8Mbps.

NBN last week outlined the upgrade paths for each network technology that could see most parts of the MTM attain gigabit speeds over the next five years.

On its full-fibre network, users could be upgraded to Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology that would see them attain speeds of 1Gbps download and 400Mbps upload, while networks utilising copper for the last mile -- FttN, FttB, and FttDP -- would be upgraded to XG-FAST technology, with NBN last week also announcing a trial of XG-FAST with Nokia in hopes of reaching aggregate speeds of between 5Gbps and 8Gbps.

HFC networks, meanwhile, could use DOCSIS 3.1 -- currently due to be launched in the second half of 2017 -- to reach speeds of 1Gbps/100Mbps, while Full-Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 could reach up to 10/10Gbps.

Over NBN's fixed-wireless network, used in regional areas, NBN said it could use Carrier Channel Aggregation (CCA) combined with improved Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) beyond 2020 to possibly attain 1Gbps/100Mbps services.

Satellite, the broadband technology being used in the most remote areas of Australia, could grow to speeds of around 100/40Mbps through TPEP improvements, with additional satellite capacity to push this out even further in future.

"It is about making sure we provide a minimum performance level today with an upgrade path. This is vitally important," Morrow said last week.

In spite of the upgrade paths, and criticisms that only full fibre could provide high enough speeds in the future, nearly half of all NBN premises are still on 25/5Mbps.

Morrow on Friday also said he has "a high degree of confidence" that the NBN will cost AU$49 billion -- the bottom end of the peak funding range -- to roll out.

"We're quite confident of the numbers we've put together; I think it's important for everybody to realise we now have contracts in place to complete the entire build. This is the first time that we've had that, so we've removed much of the uncertainty," Morrow said.

"The amount of taxpayer equity that will be put into NBN is capped at AU$29.5 billion, the amount of peak funding that we'll use before we're operating cash-flow positive is AU$49 billion, we're on track with that and I have a high degree of confidence we'll meet that.

"I believe we're going to hit that with no problem whatsoever."

NBN last month revealed in its 2017 Corporate Plan a narrower peak funding range of between AU$48.6 billion and AU$54 billion, down from the AU$56 billion announced a year earlier.

NBN last month announced its FY16 results, revealing earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of negative AU$1.572 billion, a 39 percent increase from last year's negative AU$1.13 billion.

Revenue for the 12-month period was AU$421 million, a year-on-year increase of 157 percent from the AU$164 million announced in FY15.

Editorial standards