So people ask me all the time how I think the NBN game will play out. Now that Telstra is officially out, it is not that hard to see. But let me give a precise timeline.
- Prior to Feb 2009: Telstra will announce a substantial upgrade to its cable network (getting us to 100Mbps+) completed prior to the end of 2009.
- March 2009: The NBN preferred tender is announced. That consortium will immediately claim that because Telstra has high speed services running past 2.5m homes (or will very soon), that their previous bid needs to be revised — with, of course, greater government contribution. The government puts forward proposed legislative and regulatory regimes for Telstra’s copper network.
- April 2009: Telstra launches first stage of legal action on proposed regulatory regime or constitutionality of proposed legislation.
- May 2009: Following negotiations, the NBN project is announced to commence immediately. The government vows to fight Telstra in the Courts and is confident of victory.
- June 2009: Telstra announced that its fixed line upgrades ($25 billion spent thusfar) mean that it now has fibre to the node passing 60 percent of the population. Announces that network will be switched on in 2010 so long as regulatory issues are sorted out.
- The preferred NBN bidder balks at construction at this point and announces delays until there is regulatory certainty.
- December 2009: The NBN project is yet to lay single line.
Of course, it might not play out that way but I thought I’d have fun with year-out futurology. One way of avoiding it is for the government to go with a big bang that by-passes Telstra completely and is happy to take it on as a competitive rival.