AUSTRALIA is looking to use its $15 billion-plus investment to build its own network of high-speed broadband lines, a move that could have implications for other countries looking to build high-capacity broadband networks.
In Australia, the National Broadband Network (NBN) is the largest broadband project in the world.
Its rollout has been largely completed in the last year, but a series of technical issues have delayed its roll-out, with delays on other projects.
Australia is a leader in the use of FTTN lines, which are essentially fixed-wireless networks that can deliver speeds up to 30 times faster than ADSL networks.
The National Broadpath’s first line is in the northern state of New South Wales.
But in January, the federal government announced it would not be able to pay back the $1.7 billion it had pledged to build the network.
Instead, the government is asking for an additional $1 billion from private investors and other sources to pay for the NBN’s future rollout, including new lines.
The NBN is set to be rolled out across most of Australia in 2021, but it will be rolled-out only on the existing copper networks, which have been in place for decades.NBNCo says it needs $150 billion to fund its network of 1.2 billion kilometres of fibre-optic cable.
It has pledged to cover the network’s cost through tolls, and it is also investing $150 million a month in the network by 2019, up from $25 million a year ago.
The project is estimated to cost about $30 billion.
The National Broadhead Network will be the first fibre-based network in Australia.
It is currently in operation in the state of South Australia, and the state’s Labor government is currently considering rolling it out to other parts of the country.
Nathan Burt, CEO of NBNCo, told the ABC the network would be built using copper wire, rather than fiber-optics.
“The copper network is the safest way to go to build a fibre-reconnection system,” he said.
“It has the shortest cable and it can handle a lot more traffic, which is what’s required.”
The NBN has said it has a high confidence that it can deliver the network in 2021.
But some analysts say the rollout could be delayed due to other issues, including technical glitches.
In January, NBNCo said that while the rollout was proceeding smoothly, it was unable to pay any back on a $1bn bond that it had given to the company, which would have been required to repay any funds it had already made to the NBN.
NBN Co has said that the bond would be paid back within 10 years, but the bond is not a guarantee.
“NBN has paid a high degree of interest on its debt obligations to date,” NBNCo chief executive Bill Morrow told the National Press Club.
“We are very confident we can deliver on that commitment and we intend to continue to do so.”
The NBN Co website says the network is being built using $5 billion in taxpayer-funded infrastructure, including $1 million from the National Infrastructure Investment Fund, and $500 million from a $3.5 billion concessional loan from the Australian Taxation Office.
“The NBN will deliver high-bandwidth and high-value services for Australians,” the website says.
“To that end, NBN is investing a record amount of funding to build Australia’s first high-performing, high-technology network.”
Read more about Australia’s rollout of the NBN here: