The National Broadband Network (NBN) will be delivered cheaper and sooner, according to Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, after an $11 billion deal was struck between the government and Telstra to sell its copper and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks to NBN Co.
The new contract between the Coalition government and Telstra replaces the previous agreement the telco signed with the former Labor government.
It is understood to be more than 2000 pages in length and will see Australians connected to the NBN through a range of different technologies, allowing the NBN Co to build fibre-to-the-node connections using Telstra’s copper and HFC network.
Turnbull said the new agreement ensures the project will be completed much sooner and at much less cost.
“This is a win-win for Australia,” Turnbull said during a press conference today.
“Around the world networks of this kind are invariably being built by the incumbent telecommunications company.
“This agreement gives NBN Co the flexibility to choose the right access technology.”
NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said the new agreement would allow the company to “shave years off the NBN rollout schedule”, while adding almost 30 times as many new users.
“In the last six years, we connected 300,000 users. In the next six years, we want to scale up to 8 million users,” he said.
Morrow added “there’ll no longer be the need for gardens to be dug up… or driveways broken apart” because the new deal uses existing copper networks to secure fibre-to-the-node connections.
Telstra chief executive David Thodey said it was unlikely there would be adjustments to Telstra’s progressive disconnection of premises and said the transfer of ownership of copper and HFC networks to NBN Co would occur sooner than expected.
“Connectivity is what will transform the economy,” Thodey said.
Thodey said the new deal would not need a shareholder vote, given the value of the agreement remains unchanged from the contract approved by investors in 2011, adding that existing shareholder protections had been retained and new shareholder safeguards had been negotiated.
However, Turnbull said it was “inconceivable” any government would get 75 percent of the way through the project and then stop.
While emphasising “the important thing is to get it built”, Turnbull added “many millions of dollars that cannot be recovered” had been wasted through the previous Labor government’s “rushed” introduction of the NBN.
“The time frame to complete under the old model was so great, one would be very doubtful… that it would ever be created at all,” Turnbull said.
The new agreement remains subject to regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
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