Turnbull's NBN policy will not be fully costed

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has conceded that the Coalition will not reveal a fully-costed NBN policy prior to the next Australian Federal election.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has conceded that the Coalition will not reveal a fully-costed National Broadband Network (NBN) policy prior to the next Australian Federal election, because NBN Co has not disclosed the full cost of the existing contracts.

This morning, the Coalition is launching a broadband survey, which Turnbull has said will be open over the next few months and used to determine the existing broadband speeds across the country.

The survey asks for address details, connection type and the person's satisfaction with the service across a number of factors, including upload speed and download speed, as well as what the person uses the connection for, whether that be for streaming video content, uploading files or using BitTorrent. The survey then conducts a speed test on the connection to determine the actual speeds a person is obtaining.

Turnbull said that should the Coalition form government after the 2013 Federal Election, the NBN will be rolled out faster, cheaper and more affordable to consumers, because in many areas, the NBN will be switched to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network, instead of the current fibre-to-the-premise (FttP) network. This would avoid much of the needed construction costs and time.

But despite the promise, Turnbull can't say exactly how much cheaper his plan would be. Speaking on ABC's AM program this morning, Turnbull said that he will only be able to provide an estimate of the cost of his proposal.

"Our policy will be costed in the sense that we can provide very hard, reliable estimates of the relative cost of our approach, but we are not in a position to provide an alternative, if you like, to the NBN Co's corporate plan, because we simply don't access the contractual information," he said.

"We don't know the extent to which they have made commitments, or the terms on which those commitments are made."

Turnbull also said that because NBN Co had to revise its corporate plan earlier this year, from the original 2010 plan, it could not be relied on for accurate costing.

However, there were a number of factors that NBN Co stated as being the reason for the increase in the capital expenditure required for the NBN, up from AU$35.9 billion to AU$37.4 billion. These reasons included an agreement with Optus to shut down its hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks, an increase from 14 to 121 points of interconnect and expected upgrades to the satellite and fixed-wireless network.

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