What does a re-elected Coalition government mean for the National Broadband Network?

Australia’s internet connectivity received a slightly favourable shift in the recent Akamai ratings – moving up to 48th based on the average speed of connection, and up to 56th based on average peak speed of connection. This may be partly attributable to the increase in the National Broadband Network (NBN) deployment rates.

As of June 23, NBN Co has passed 2.7 million subscribers. NBN Co has more than doubled its fixed-line connectivity compared to its deployment update in June 2015. It also gained an instant ~400,000 subscribers via the activation of its Sky Muster 1 Satellite service.

NBN policy is unlikely to change with the return of the Turnbull Coalition government, and NBN Co will need to build up its momentum in rapidly converting the planned 875,000 subscribers.

AAP/Lukas Coch

NBN Co and the government maintain that it may be possible to offer comparable services to fibre to the node (FTTN) using the latest copper technology options, but these have so far have only been realised under laboratory conditions. NBN Co launching its second Sky Muster Satellite later this year will significantly expand its satellite broadband offerings.

NBN Co faces a major challenge in how to finance the rest of the deployment given the end of government investment. This has left it scrambling to find alternative funding sources to keep the deployment on track. It remains unclear whether the government will reconsider alternative mechanisms to deal with the capped funding.

The government also needs to direct its attention to customer experience to ensure that broadband market design under the NBN policy is working well to lift and enhance competition and that customers are getting equitable access to broadband regardless of their location.

This article was originally published 10 July 2016 in The Conversation.