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Government sets parameters for NBN, despite ongoing reviews

The Government has updated its Statement of Expectations for the NBN, calling for a quicker and less expensive rollout.

Australia's national broadband network is now set to officially incorporate a mixture of technologies, including fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), with the Federal Government issuing an updated Statement of Expectations to NBN Co.

(Credit: NBN Co.)

The Statement calls on NBN Co to "deliver broadband upgrades sooner, at less cost for taxpayers and more affordably for consumers," thereby delivering on the recommendations the company made as part of a strategic review released in December 2013.

The new Statement of Expectations replaces one previously released in September last year, and stipulates a "multi-technology approach" towards the network, according to the Federal Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull.

"The multi-technology model will save the NBN Co $32 billion in delivering badly needed broadband upgrades throughout the country," he said. "This approach is consistent with the Government's policy objectives of providing download rates (and proportionate upload rates) of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to all premises and 50 Mbps to 90 per cent of fixed line premises as soon as possible.

"The technologies to be used in completing the NBN include fibre to the node/basement/ distribution point (FTTN/FTTB/FTTdp), fibre to the premises (FTTP), hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC), fixed wireless and satellite.

"NBN Co will also prioritise areas identified as poorly served by the Government's Broadband Availability and Quality Report to the extent commercially and operationally feasible," he said, adding that these areas would "on average, receive upgrades two years sooner than would otherwise be the case".

The Federal Government has capped its investment in the NBN at $29.5 billion, with the expectation that the private sector will chip in the remaining $41 billion.

Although the Coalition has outlined its expectations for the NBN, a number of reviews into the NBN and NBN Co are still ongoing. In recent months, the Department of Communications has announced individual reviews to interrogate NBN Co's costs, structure, commercial prospects and strategic plans, and the "public policy process" which led to the NBN, both of which are yet to report their findings.

ZDNet reported that Turnbull appeared at the CommsDay Summit in Sydney today, saying there were material problems with the NBN project as it stands.

"The project as planned would not be able to service an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 premises outside the fixed line footprint," he said. "Those plans understated the growth in houses outside the fixed line footprint."