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Should the NBN be Sold? And if the NBN is sold what Next for the consumer?


Unless a Royal Commission is likely to produce useful outcomes, there is no point. What benefit could a Royal Commission into the NBN deliver, except perhaps some heads on platters? Even that seems highly unlikely to me - those who benefited from the downgrading of the NBN are not silly enough to sully their hands directly.

As for a Royal Commission into Privatisation, that makes a lot more sense. It should be asked to look at the long term costs and (cough) benefits of the sale or outsourcing of public goods and services, as well as how these decisions have been made and whether taxpayers have received value for money. It might also consider the operations of the ‘Productivity’ Commission, and tying of Commonwealth payments to state/territory asset divestments.

Maybe a Royal Commission into Smaller Government could also be formed, looking again at long term costs and (cough) benefits to the taxpayer. A Royal Commission into the Regionalisation of the Commonwealth Government, looking in particular to the move of the APVMA into its minister’s electorate?

The current government was keen to institute inquiries into behaviour of unions on construction sites, but ignored the behaviour of builders and approvers - that’s worth looking into.

The real question with all of these potential royal commissions is whether any government has the will to dig into the sins of the past - which include their own.


It appears we may all now have the answer to that question?

Given both my future NBN options have zero reliance for speed of the NBN on any in house wiring, it seems a rather hollow offer?

There are obviously few votes for labour in the regional areas, where the Fixed Wireless and Satellite customers of the NBN are mostly concentrated. Apologies to those unlucky near city customers who have been backfilled with wireless or worse!


Looks like the Greens are closer to what Australia needs than either of the majors.
The party is committed to keeping the NBN as a public asset.
Given the lead-times though, perhaps they should be planning for a 22nd century network.


Interesting commentary that the ALP is also committed to selling the NBN?

Politics aside the options of upgrading FTTN at least on a trial basis are in the previously linked ALP policy release.

I wonder how many Australians would prefer irrespective of the makeup of the next Federal Government an independent and thorough review of the state of the NBN before it is sold?

And if we would all demand the opportunity to vote on that decision with full knowledge of the legacy?

Sale of the NBN is already buried in the policy of the departing Government. It is also written into the NBN’s future deliverables?

It also appears likely that the sale will exclude all opportunity for average Australians to purchase a share of the NBN. Although most lemons tend to leave a sour taste in the mouth. Telstra T2 anyone?


It looks to me like too much of NBN connectivity has already been left to the private sector. The problems seem to stem from trying to shoehorn competition in where it doesn’t work.


Perhaps not really on-topic, but I don’t consider it worth a new thread. For those who don’t know, Paul Budde is one of the most credible voices in Australian telecommunications.

Aussie Broadband and the NBN Experience

What inspired this topic?

Is there any genuine community support for the future sale of the NBN? It appears there is not much of an argument to do so.

Commentary such as that by Budde serves to demonstrate the extent of the failure of the NBN project to deliver equitably and fairly.

To date there are few independent sources outside the NBN Co itself that are able to support any argument for the future sale of the NBN?

The ACCC and Telstra may be noted exceptions! Although they may have different objectives to the community in general.

There is an article written amazingly for The Australian - Business Spectator, by Mark Gregory - January 11, 2016. It explores many of the issues facing the NBN and the potential way forward. One closing prediction is still very topical:

In 2020 the NBN debate will have moved on from discussion about the second-rate fixed access network that now exists in Australia to one of how to sell off the NBN so that we can try yet again to fix the telecommunications market.

Unfortunately, based on the current track record of successive governments, the one that exists in 2020 is unlikely to have the determination to unravel the legislative and regulatory nightmare that will exist.

The crystal ball more than three years on is very accurate in nearly all respects except one. The extinction of a Turnbull lead government.


I have heard no actual argument for the NBN’s sale from anyone, anywhere. None. Nothing. It appears that our politicians think it’s a done deal, and nothing we say or do can change that (much like the sell-off of all our other assets without our consultation).

Selling a monopoly will simply put us back twenty years to Telstra’s almost total control of telephony.

I find it incredible that The ‘Australian’ - whose owner (a US citizen) was instrumental in dismantling a proper NBN, according to Kevin Rudd - is now criticising the outcome!


I believe it was the fact that eventual sale of the NBN is the policy of both major parties.

The argument seems to be that, if they’re going to sell it, then the expenditure isn’t included in the budget.

This article is particularly informative:

Because the ALP was forever afraid of budget deficits, the NBN was set up to be eventually sold at a profit. As such it could be deemed an investment and spending on it was “off-budget”.

The government’s objective for the national broadband network was not to give Australians a world-class internet with speeds and prices equivalent or better than the rest of the world, which in turn would provide the country with infrastructure that would set us up for the next 100 years.

As the NBN’s own corporate plan puts it, “nbn’s key objective is to ensure all Australians have access to fast broadband as soon as possible, at affordable prices, and at least cost”.

But what is fast? Well, senator Fifield made it clear that it was 25Mps, as that was the speed recommended to download Netflix. He said “everyone will have access to speeds of at least 25Mbps” and “two-thirds of premises will have access to 100Mbps”.

When your objective is only to provide everyone with an internet that allows them to download Netflix, then that is what you deliver.

But in the end it still comes back to policy objectives.

If your objective is an internet that is good enough to download Netflix in 2018, you can ignore what the requirements will be in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time, and you can also overlook the crucial issues of upload speeds that are vital for businesses.

If your objective is also to somehow make a profit from it all, then you try to do it as cheaply as possible by using sub-par technology such as FTTN rather than FTTH or FTTC (to the curb), , and under a structure that has people being either unable to afford plans with faster speeds or to access them.

And then to justify your objective, you claim that being unable to afford something is a matter of “choice” and proof that faster speeds are not needed.

I’ll end with a graph from my own blog post:


It’s a historical piece from 2016 prior to even the last Federal Election. It is still incredible that it got through the paper’s system back then. More so that it is searchable on line and appears under the banner of the same paper. The author as I read it has captured the scope of the key issues with any sale of the NBN and presented them very directly. It says why it should not be sold and why the NBN not being sold is an unlikely outcome.

Mainly because the NBN is no longer near the top of the agenda for either of the two major parties.

It may suffice to suggest privatisation of the NBN which also holds the future of communications and media distribution nationally is no more sustainable than a 100% privatisation of national health care and all public hospital services.

Anything more I could say becomes overtly partisan, with cynical overtones.