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The National Broadband Network (NBN) was designed as a wholesale network: access to it is sold by dozens of providers. But the news today that TPG and iiNet are planning a merger underscores a stark reality: you’re almost certainly going to end up buying your NBN broadband access from one of just three providers — and for customers, that sucks.
The rules around the NBN have moved rapidly over Christmas. On December 14, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, released new rules requiring all providers of high-speed broadband services to be vertically separated. These rules were aimed at TPG, which was rolling out fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) in urban apartment buildings. FTTB would compete against the NBN and potentially undermine the ability of the NBN to use high city prices to subsidise the bush.
A key element of the multi-technology mix (MTM) approach to the National Broadband Network is making use of the existing pay TV cable (HFC) network. With the agreements to acquire those networks from Telstra and Optus finalised earlier this week, NBN Co has now set a somewhat firmer timetable for when it will start offering services on that network.
Yesterday, NBN Co announced that it had successfully renegotiated its $11 billion deal with Telstra to acquire its existing copper network, as well as setting up contracts to buy and continue using the cable (HFC) networks owned by Telstra and Optus. While we’re seeing lots of high-fiving going on about the deal and how it might speed up the rollout of the National Broadband Network, there are still lots of uncertainties — especially in terms of when consumers will actually get to enjoy the fruits of these arrangements.
The list of new places that will gain access to the National Broadband Network (NBN) over the next 18 months that was released today makes interesting reading. One of the most interesting aspects? All the reasons why the revised deadlines might not be met.