Australia: NBN Update No. 2

This article is part of a series: Click NBN Update No. 1 for the previous article.


Welcome to the second edition of Deacons' National Broadband Network Update. We discuss, among other things:

  • Mike Quigley's first major public presentation about the NBN, including technical offering and how NBNCo. will select vendors for the build, the systems and the equipment;
  • the response to the Bill which seeks to achieve the separation of Telstra; and
  • the latest on the headquarters for NBNCo.

To access the first edition, click here.

Industry briefing by Mike Quigley

  • Mike Quigley, Executive Chair of NBNCo. recently addressed the Communications Alliance Industry Connection Forum and presented on the plans for the first six months of NBNCo.
  • Mr Quigley noted that he expects the following to be well underway or completed by NBNCo. in the next six months:

    • the design of the wholesale product offering and the design of the network, including selection of the technology
    • the tender processes, discussions with customers on the pricing architecture and obtaining a carrier licence, and
    • the start of the planning of the roll-out schedule and design of the business support and operational support systems.
  • He said that NBNCo. intends to provide a layer two bitstream service (which can carry different types of traffic) delivered to a battery backed-up outdoor unit at the home and accessed by service providers at capital city points of interconnect.
  • There still appears to be no firm direction on the pricing policies of NBNCo.'s wholesale offering. Mr Quigley stated that pricing for the network is a complex issue and NBNCo. has not received guidance from its shareholder – the Federal Government. This was in response to a question relating to an earlier statement by Senator Conroy that the "ambition is that there will be the same wholesale price for every household for the same speed across satellite, wireless and fibre".
  • In relation to vendor selection, Mr Quigley stated that he expects different processes for the acquisition of equipment, systems and build:

    • Equipment will likely be acquired through a process with an expression of interest, a short-listing stage which will then come down to two primary vendors. The two chosen vendors will be expected to resolve compatibility and interoperability issues between their products
    • Systems will likely be acquired from a single vendor
    • The build phase may involve multiple prime contractors with probable sub-contractors.
  • Mr Quigley also encouraged interested participants to go through industry representative bodies rather than contact him directly.

Potential regulation – Competition and Consumer Safeguards Bill

  • Following the tabling of the new legislation relating to the structural or functional separation of Telstra (Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009), Telstra recently made submissions to a Senate Committee on the Bill.
  • In its submissions, Telstra argued that the proposed new legislation would harm competition and impede the roll out of the NBN. Telstra also submitted that the government should delay the Bill until Telstra completes discussions with the government over the NBN and the completion of the NBN Implementation Study.
  • The Liberal and National parties have indicated they will oppose the Bill, preferring that it be deferred until the NBN Implementation Study is completed next year.

Potential regulation – Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures—Network Information) Bill 2009

  • Similar to the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Measures No. 1) Bill 2009, this Bill will amend the Telecommunications Act to require telecommunications carriers and other utilities to provide confidential information to the Commonwealth for purposes related to the planning and roll-out of the NBN, including the NBN Implementation Study.

Mike Quigley's authority to acquire assets for the NBN

  • Senator Conroy informed a Senate Estimates hearing that Mr Quigley currently has the authority and capacity to acquire assets related to the NBN and did not have to wait for the outcome of the NBN Implementation Study.

New appointments to NBNCo.

  • Gary McLaren (ex-lead consultant for Australia's National Broadband Network project for Communications Alliance) as Chief Technology Officer.
  • Steve Christian (ex Managing Director of Networks for SingTel Optus) as Head of Network Operations.


  • The first open tender of the NBN process, relating to the supply of optical backhaul fibre in NBN Tasmania, was recently awarded to Corning Cable Systems. The initial delivery is expected to provide transmission to homes in Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point.

Location of NBNCo. Headquarters

  • At this stage, it appears that NBNCo will not set up headquarters in a single location. Reports suggest that NBNCo. has offices operating in New South Wales, Victoria and Hobart carrying out different functions.
  • NBNCo. has not yet decided the location of its Network Operations Centre.

Still waiting on

  • The announcement of the winners of the $250 million tender to fill the backhaul black spots connecting regional centres. This is expected by the end of the month.
  • The Senate committee report on the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill 2009. This is expected within the next two weeks.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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This article is part of a series: Click NBN Update No. 1 for the previous article.
This article is part of a series: Click NBN Update No.3: NBN Legislation & more for the next article.
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