Where did the NBN go wrong?

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is already hitting roadblocks. There’s a chance it could all derail. So when did it start to unravel?

The recent troubles with contractors can be expected. If you run a government monopoly you’ll never get the best price from suppliers. They’ll always overcharge, particularly if there is high risk involved. This, in itself, could be an argument against a centralised approach to the build of the NBN.

So, what choice did we have? Well, one approach was the government’s initial attempt to fund a private build of a Fibre to the Node (FttN) network. If Telstra had played ball and submitted a reasonable tender document, would we now all have faster broadband?

Perhaps, but many argue that any approach is dependent on the structural separation of Telstra. If that need was so obvious, why has it taken so much time and two governments to finally reach that conclusion? What was stopping the Howard government from splitting Telstra up before selling it off?

And what part did Sol Trujillo play in all of this? Is the NBN actually his legacy; a parting gift for Telstra shareholders and Australian taxpayers? Did he create a situation that left the government with very little choice?

You might be a big fan of the government’s approach, but you’d have to admit that it would be a different story if Telstra was already separated, Sol Trujillo had stayed at home and Stephen Conroy had been more consultative in his approach.

In this week’s program, Liberal MP Paul Fletcher helps us look back at the NBN soap opera, with the help of sound bites from previous editions of Twisted Wire.

First published on ZDNet

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