Should anyone compete against the NBN?

TPG has created a dilemma for the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. They want to deliver fibre to the basement to 500,000 premises, before NBNCo gets there. Turnbull’s conservative stance probably supports their endeavours, but he has inherited a business model that demands every skerrick of revenue it can muster. He can’t afford to lose so many subscriptions from the NBNCo balance sheet. So what should he do?

Perhaps it’s all bluff and bravado. As Phil Dobbie discusses in this week’s CrossTalk podcast, the rollout is a big risk for TPG. Even though they will be asking for exclusive access in the apartments they service, telecommunications regulations suggest there’s nothing to stop someone else coming along and plugging customers into their networks. Sadly, such a move would wreck broadband speeds for everyone in the block. Does the Minister need to legislate to protect us from the detrimental effects of competition?

In new housing estates the question is more straightforward. Does NBNCo really need to play any role here? Can’t it be left to private enterprise? All it takes is a change to the promise that everyone will be connected for free. If you can afford to buy a new house, surely you can afford to pay for someone to hook you up. After all, you’ll be getting faster speeds than anyone else.

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