House of Representatives Committees


| Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network

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Preliminary Pages

Chair’s Foreword

This is the fifth and final review report of the joint oversight committee of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the NBN Co for the 43rd Parliament.

For all the challenges of the largest infrastructure build in our nation’s history, as well as the policy risks to manage at the September 2013 election, Australians can now be confident the NBN will be completed in some form.  It will make a big difference in many lives.  It will strengthen our economy.  It will promote our cultural identity in a flattening global culture.  Overall, it will create opportunity and deliver equity for all Australians.

The NBN remains on track to deliver a rate of return to the taxpayer of over 7% per annum.  The NBN, in its current form, assists greatly in delivering industry restructuring in telecommunications, which many have identified as an historic problem in Australia. And, on the politics of the moment, part of this upgrade is Telstra Management and shareholders improving their ‘pits and pipes’, including removing asbestos from old infrastructure -and may they do that safely.

By building the NBN, we can unlock this even more than the current cultural boom allows.  We promote Australian culture to the world.  We show respect to sectors like education as our second biggest export market and invite it to grow. We play to our strengths by unlocking entrepreneurship as a nation. 

The NBN delivers ubiquity.  This means the wholesale platform being built does not discriminate by location.  Wherever you live and in no matter what style of residence you live in (farm or flat), the speed, reliability and wholesale pricing will have equivalence.  The principle of consumer equity is finally alive in Australian telecommunications.

All of this is before we explore personal and business benefit of improved speed and reliability with a technology that is open to faster and faster speeds.

It is human capacity, not the technology’s capacity that holds us back on even faster transfers of data.  Once built, the advancement of speed is an exciting challenge for the innovators.

I make particular reference to the excellent report commissioned by Google titled Culture Boom: How Digital Media Are Invigorating Australia which can be found at: http://google-au.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/australias-cultural-boom.html#!/2012/03/australias-cultural-boom.html.

The cultural boom happening in Australia today, contributing $26 billion per year in export value to our economy is important and should not be dismissed as merely a platform to access episodes of the television series ‘Game of Thrones’. It is an export market. As the report identifies, more Americans are digesting Australian content than Australians are today -with existing poor telecommunications. What an opportunity to promote Australia and expand our export economy by getting this build right.

I have personally done what I can to see the NBN completed to the best standard possible.  It is, in my view, real nation-building.  I invite the 44th Parliament and its NBN oversight committee, to commit to doing likewise.

As this is the final report, can I thank all 60 committee members, in particular, the 15 voting members.  We have all got to know each other better through some difficult, but important policy discussions.

And finally, I also thank the Secretariat.  I have often watched them and wondered what they are really thinking when committee members (including me) drift off track, ask the silly question, or demonstrate forgetfulness.

The Secretariat has been a group of quality professionals and the engine room of true oversight.  On behalf of all committee members, I sincerely thank them.

Robert Oakeshott MP

Chair

 

Committee Membership

 

Chair

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP

 

Deputy Chair

Mr Ed Husic (from 14.5.2013)

Mr Rob Mitchell MP (from 14.3.2012 to 14.5.2013)

 

Members

Mr Paul Fletcher MP

Senator Simon Birmingham

 

Mr Luke Hartsuyker MP

Senator Doug Cameron

 

Hon Sussan Ley MP

Senator Alex Gallacher (from 16.3.2012)

 

Ms Michelle Rowland MP (until 21.11.2011 then from 14.8.2012)

Senator Scott Ludlam

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald

 

Mr Mike Symon MP

Senator Dean Smith (from 10.9.2012)

 

Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Senator the Hon Lin Thorp (from 21.6. 2012)

Participating Members

 

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz

Senator Barnaby Joyce

 

Senator Chris Back

Senator Helen Kroger

 

Senator Cory Bernardi

Senator Sue Lines (from 16.5.2013)

 

Senator Catryna Bilyk (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Gavin Marshall (from 24.3.2011)

 

Senator Mark Bishop (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Brett Mason

 

Senator the Hon Ronald Boswell

Senator Anne McEwan (from 24.3.2011)

 

Senator Sue Boyce

Senator Claire Moore (from 24.3.2011)

 

Senator the Hon George Brandis SC

Senator Fiona Nash

 

Senator Carol Brown (from 21.6.2012)

Mr Paul Neville MP (from 10.5.2011)

 

Senator David Bushby

Senator Michaelia Cash

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck

Senator Mathias Cormann

Senator Trish Crossin (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Alan Eggleston

Senator the Hon John Faulkner(from 24.3.2011)

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Senator Mitch Fifield

Senator Mark Furner (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Bill Heffernan

Senator Gary Humphries

Senator the Hon David Johnston

 

Senator Stephen Parry

Senator Marise Payne

Senator Helen Polley (from 24.3.2011)

Senator Louise Pratt (from 24.3.2011)

Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson

Senator Scott Ryan

Senator Anne Ruston (from 12.9.2012)

Hon Bruce Scott MP (from 26.5.2011)

Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO (from 12.9.2012)

Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

 (from 16.3.2012)

Senator Glenn Sterle (from 24.3.2011)

 Senator John Williams

 Senator Nick Xenophon

Committee Secretariat

 

A/g Committee Secretary

Mr Peter Banson

Inquiry Secretaries

Ms Stephanie Mikac

Dr Kate Sullivan

Terms of Reference

The resolution of appointment establishing the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network was passed by the House of Representatives on 1 March 2011 and by the Senate on 3 March 2011 and provides:

(1)               That a Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network be appointed to inquire into and report on the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN);

(2)               That every six months, commencing 31 August 2011, until the NBN is complete and operational, the committee provide progress reports to both Houses of Parliament and to shareholder Ministers on:

(a)                The rollout of the NBN, including in relation to the Government’s objective for NBN Co Limited (NBN Co) to:

                                             (i)                    connect 93 per cent of Australian homes, schools and businesses with fibre-to-the premises technology providing broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, with a minimum fibre coverage obligation of 90 per cent of Australian premises; and

                                          (ii)                    service all remaining premises by a combination of next-generation fixed wireless and satellite technologies providing peak speeds of at least 12 megabits per second;

(b)               The achievement of take-up targets (including premises passed and covered and services activated) as set out in NBN Co’s Corporate Plan released on 20 December 2010 as revised from time to time;

(c)                Network rollout performance including service levels and faults;

(d)               The effectiveness of NBN Co in meeting its obligations as set out in its Stakeholder Charter;

(e)                NBN Co’s strategy for engaging with consumers and handling complaints;

(f)                 NBN Co’s risk management processes; and

(g)               Any other matter pertaining to the NBN rollout that the committee considers relevant.

List of abbreviations

  ABG

Australian Broadband Guarantee

  ACCAN

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

  ACCC

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

  ACMA

Australian Communications and Media Authority

  ASQA

Australian Skills and Qualification Authority

  CEO

Chief Executive Officer

  DBCDE

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

  DSLAM

Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer

  FSAM

Fibre Serving Area Modules

  FTTN

Fibre-to-the-Node

  FTTP

Fibre-to-the-Premise

  GBE

Government Business Enterprise

  GNAF

Geo Coded National Address File

  HFC

Hybrid Fibre Coaxial

  ISS

Interim Satellite Service

  ITU

International Telecommunications Union

  JCNBN

Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network

  KPI

Key Performance Indicator

  LTSS

Long Term Satellite Service

  MCP

MDU Cabling Partner

  MDU

Multi-Dwelling Unit

  NBN Co

NBN Co Limited

  NSW

New South Wales

  NT

Northern Territory

  RDA

Regional Development Australia

  RFD

Telstra Retraining Funding Deed

  RSP

Retail Service Provider

  SDU

Single Dwelling Unit

  SAU

Special Access Undertaking

  VDSL

Very High Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line

  WBA

Wholesale Broadband Agreement

  WuW

Work Under Way


Recommendations

2       Performance Reporting and Regulatory Issues

Recommendation 1

The committee recommends the Government task the NBN Co Limited to update its Corporate Plan 2012-2015 to prepare strategies to minimise risk in any policy changes that may reasonably be expected to occur in the 2012-2015 period.

3       Regional and Remote Issues

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends the NBN Co Limited revised Corporate Plan and the six-monthly Shareholder Ministers’ Performance Reports to the committee include further information on the National Broadband Network fibre rollout in regional Australia.

Recommendation 3

The committee recommends NBN Co Limited and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy closely monitor the current rate of Interim Satellite Service (ISS) activations and, prior to the customer cap on the ISS being reached:

  • consult with relevant stakeholders and the Australian community on options for establishing cost efficient arrangements to ensure that education, health and local government facilities in rural and remote communities and other individuals determined to be most in need of access to the ISS are still able to access the service; and

  • consider increasing the customer cap on the ISS, if additional satellite capacity becomes available at a competitive cost.

    4       Additional Issues

    Recommendation 4

    The committee recommends that the Government continue considering investor interest in the National Broadband Network and the optimum capital structure for the NBN Co Limited.

    Recommendation 5

    The committee recommends that the NBN Co Limited continue to:

  • work with contractors to ensure sufficient mobilisation of skilled labour to meet National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout targets;

  • update NBN workforce modelling data to assist with communicating and planning for changing NBN training needs and workforce demand; and

  • encourage the participation of local recruitment firms and the local construction industry in the NBN rollout.

     

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