Australian government amends NBN legislation to gain senate approval

24 Mar 2011

Australia’s communications minister Stephen Conroy has unveiled amendments to laws related to the country’s in-development National Broadband Network (NBN) with a view to securing Senate support for the legislation. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Federal Government has said that it will enhance competition by ensuring that the NBN will operate as an open-access, wholesale-only network, while private operators that roll out fixed line superfast broadband networks will also be required to provide access to those companies which seek it.

Despite the changes to the under-discussion regulation opposition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull claimed that NBN Co, the public-private company set up to oversee the construction and running of the NBN, would still have the scope to offer certain services directly to larger corporate customers. ‘It will have the consequence, in terms of large corporates and government agencies, that NBN Co will basically supplant telcos such as Telstra and Optus,’ Turnbull noted, adding: ‘It would mean that the private sector telcos would run a very real risk of being limited to the small business and residential markets.’

The government, it is understood, had hoped to see the new legislation passed this week, before parliament takes a six-week break, but the changes to the bill – which run for some 23 pages – mean that this may no longer be possible.

Australia, NBN Co