Coalition To Roll Out NBN Broadband Faster Than Rudd

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If the Coalition wins the coming election – set for Saturday September 7 by PM Kevin Rudd yesterday – a review of plans for the National Broadband Network will be the new government’s most important task in its first 100 days of office, Coalition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said at the weekend.

Under Turnbull’s plans, the eventual NBN rollout would be accelerated as he moves the emphasis from fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) technology to fibre-to-the node (FttN).

Speaking at a debate about the future of the NBN – ahead of Rudd’s announcement of the election date yesterday – Turnbull stressed that a Coalition government would honour existing contracts with NBN Co as well as pushing forward with its goal to accelerate the rollout.

He said a Coalition government would roll out fibre-to-the-home (FttH) technology where it was “economically feasible” to do so. But he added that the NBN review would be the new government’s most important task in its first 100 days.

“If money and time were no object, I would certainly do fibre-to-the-home,” Turnbull said. “We will do it in greenfield developments where the cost of pulling fibre cable is not materially different than copper – of course you’d do that. (And) anywhere there is demand for it.”

However it seems likely that in the event of a Coalition win, the current rollout would slow as Turnbull seeks to renegotiate existing contracts and re-schedule the rollout to accommodate the change to FttN.

The Coalition would also be seeking to renegotiate the arrangements struck between NBN Co and Telstra, which could also see the rollout put on hold.

– Regardless of which party wins the election, finding a new leader for the NBN rollout will be a major concern for the new government, following the announcement by incumbent Mike Quigley of his intention to resign

. Technically it is up to NBN Co, not the government, to choose its new CEO – it is understood to already have enlisted corporate headhunter Egon Zehnder to find a candidate – but the practicalities of the situation, particularly should the Coalition win office and change the rollout direction, suggest Canberra would be seeking a major say.  
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