POWER PLAY: NBN Co Won't Be Messed With By State Governments

NBN Co has the power.

The company building the National Broadband Network won’t be messed with.

Image: Alex Wong/Getty

After NSW energy providers reportedly tried to overcharge NBN Co for access to overhead power poles for the last 12 months, the fibre company looks set to circumvent the energy provider and start installing fibre on the poles anyway using good, old Federal telecommunications legislation.

A bit of background first:

Back in October last year, Stephen Conroy went to war with the NSW Finance Minister, Greg Pearce, saying that the state was trying to extort the government by hiking up access rates to the power poles.

Conroy said that NSW was looking to charge NBN Co $140 per pole for access to the poles. Compare that to other states like Victoria that charge between $30 and $40 for access, and problems start to arise in the form of cost blowouts on an already expensive network deployment.

Why are the poles so important?

Well, NBN Co needs the power pole access to run overhead fibre cable for around a quarter of the National Broadband Network’s fibre-to-the-home footprint, so access to these poles around the country is vital.

NSW’s Pearce said that if NBN Co paid the rates it was proposing, the state would be $400 million out of pocket.

We’re now finding out via those newshounds at the AFR that negotiations between NBN Co and Ausgrid have broken down to the point that the fibre company plans to exercise Federal powers to force its fibre onto the pole.

Negotiations reportedly ended on March 20 without a result, and by using these powers, NBN Co reportedly only has to compensate Ausgrid for any losses it incurs during the work. Translation? No profit for you, Ausgrid.

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