July 31, 2012
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy says the national broadband network's latest business plan will tell a "pleasing story".
The NBN operating plan, to be released later this week, is expected to detail the extent of delays in its rollout, update figures on the take-up of services and revise financial forecasts.
The plan comes as Telstra shares on Monday hit a high of $4 for the first time in four years, which analysts credited to greater regulatory certainty and its role in the NBN.
Senator Conroy said it could already be expected the plan would show a nine-month lag in the rollout, due to a longer than expected negotiation period with Telstra.
Paul Fletcher, Federal MP for Bradfield and member of the Joint Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, told IT Pro last week he believed the rollout was "well behind time and getting more and more delayed".
Flecther said the Opposition was convinced the project was already "a year behind", despite the fact it's only 18-months into the rollout.
"That in turn delays when the revenue comes in," Fletcher said.
Senator Conroy, however, indicated the business plan update would bring good news.
"I'm not going to pre-empt the release later this week but I think there's a very pleasing story to come from that," he told ABC Television.
He said the NBN had locked in a range of contracts including construction.
"The key that Australians need to understand is this has always been a nine- to 10-year project ... to do over 12 million homes," he said.
"It's not a quick fix for one election, it is about ... a nation-building piece of infrastructure."
The NBN is designed to provide high-speed broadband delivered by optic fibre to 93 per cent of premises, with the remainder connected by fixed wireless or satellite services.
The $36 billion project was originally scheduled to cost $43 billion and be completed by 2021. Fletcher said it will be completed later and will cost closer to $50 billion. However, despite initial blank opposition to the concept, the Coalition now says it won't cancel the NBN rollout, but aim to deliver better broadband infrastructure faster and cheaper through the use of other technologies.
AAP with Lia Timson