Australia's planned National Broadband Network (NBN) expects, over a decade, to build a fiber-based broadband access network providing 93 percent of Australian homes and small businesses with 100 Mbps service. Some locations will be served by wireless or satellite services that will operate at 12 Mbps. Fixed wireless will be used to supply service to about four percent of locations, while satellite is used to deliver service to about three percent of locations.
In total, about 13 million connections will be supplied.
"Retail pricing structure for fiber products is based around bundled (cheap or free) voice, fast broadband access and multi-channel TV," the NBN plan suggests. That little tidbit largely reflects the prevailing view that voice communications, though still a huge part of the overall value proposition, will not be the revenue driver for the network. Some might wonder about the relative contribution of multi-channel TV, over the medium or longer term, as well.
Of course, since the NBN will only supply wholesale access and transport, the specific retail plans will be determined by the retail providers themselves. Some may elect not to provide any one of the potential constituent services. Also, the NBN and its retail partners will continue to compete in a market with existing cable competition and expected growing competition from mobile networks as well.
One might guess, based on prior instances of robust wholesale regimes, that Telstra's current 70-percent-plus share of voice, and nearly-70-percent share of fixed broadband, could drop to about 40 percent, as already is the case in the wireless services domain. Market share of about 40 percent for fixed services would be consistent with other markets where robust wholesale competition is possible.
Some idea of the "retail pricing floor" can be gleaned from planned NBN pricing. Wholesale prices for a single 12 Mbps circuit are set at $24. A retail service provider will add operating, sales and capital costs to derive retail pricing. Other prices include wholesale charges of $27 for a 25 Mbps service with 10 Mbps return; $30 for a 25/20 service and $34 for a 50/20 access; $38 for 100/40 service.
Wholesale pricing for a 250/100 plan will cost $70; $100 a month will buy a 500/200 service and $150 is the wholesale price per month for a 1 Gbps/400 Mbps service. The charges intentionally are designed to encourage wholesale partners to buy and retail services running at 100 Mbps.
The NBN also will sell symmetrical services with guaranteed quality of service (committed information rates).
NBN Co will "provide a layer two bitstream service only, using a GPON (gigabit passive optical etwork) architecture. The company is not preparing for the provision of layer one services, layer one unbundling, functional or structural separation. Retail partners will not be able to buy "dark fiber," in other words.
Wholesale products will be sold supporting downstream bandwidths of 12 Mbps, 25 Mbps, 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 250 Mbps, 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps, with upstream bandwidths ranging from 1 Mbps up to 400 Mbps. The NBN also will offer wholesale voice capabilities.
The NBN will add video streaming delivery, but will not supply the rest of the video infrastructure. Also planned are features to support multi-location enterprises and 1 Gbps virtual LAN services, as well as protected diverse-routing services.
The entire fiber network will take 9.5 years to build, assuming no materials or labor delays, and is projected to cost $36 billion. Revenues to 2020 are expected to be about $21 billion and operating costs are expected to run about $22 billion through 2020. The Australian government is contributing R27.5 billion, with debt financing of about $13 billion. The internal rate of return is expected to be seven percent.
For Telstra, the stakes are high, as Telstra will essentially be out of the infrastructure business, and purchase access and transport services from the NBN. Telstra also will divest its cable network customers as well.
You can read the full report here
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