The Federal Government has announced that it will establish a new company to build and operate a new National Broadband Network. The company will invest up to $A43 billion over eight years to fund the rollout and ongoing operations of the fibre to the premises (FTTP) network.
Speaking at the 4th annual conference of the FTTH Council Asia–Pacific, Minister for Broadband and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy has called the project the single largest nation-building infrastructure project in Australian history. He said that the proposed project would create 25,000 jobs in Australia for each year of the eight year build – peaking at 37,000.
The Government’s objective is to achieve 90 per cent coverage of the FTTP network, with remaining coverage to be delivered through wireless and satellite technologies, within the $43 billion. Initial advice to the Government is that this objective is achievable, but this estimate will be subject to an implementation study.
The Government has commenced work to begin the implementation study to determine the operating arrangements, ways to attract private sector investment, and detailed network design, including an investigation of appropriate technologies and options for trenchless installation networks. The implementation study is due for completion in early 2010 and, once completed, should provide greater clarity on the locations where each of the proposed technologies will be available. The intention is for the rollout to be as unobtrusive as possible. The Government intends to use overhead fibre cables where practicable.Article continues below…
The Government intends to expedite rollout of fibre optic networks across Australia and will introduce legislative amendments to facilitate this.
The Government is seeking to reduce the costs of deploying fibre optic networks to the home and workplace by:
* Allowing optical fibre to be rolled out overhead on existing poles; * Allowing telecommunications carriers access to poles, ducts and pipes of other utilities, where technically feasible, for installing fibre optic infrastructure; and * Improving access to information about the location and availability of poles, ducts and pipes.
The National Broadband Network implementation study will tackle major considerations such as:
* future take-up rates, * exactly how many homes and businesses will be passed or connected, * the mix of aerial versus underground rollouts, * the location, indoors or outdoors, of customer equipment; * the quality of existing assets, such as the ability of deployed optical fibre to support backhaul speeds of 10 gigabits per second; or even 40 gigabits per second, and, * the design and specification of access services on the FTTP network.
If the NBN goes ahead, the rollout will require both overhead and underground installation. This could mean another boom period for trenchless installation methods across Australia.