States could share National Broadband Network headquarters
The headquarters for the National Broadband Network may be located across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria instead of one location, it was revealed to a Parliamentary committee yesterday.
If true, the decision would deliver a blow to the states which have spent millions on creating new research facilities in an attempt to the win the Federal Government's bidding process.
Queensland's ICT Minister Robert Schwarten said there is a possibility for the headquarters to be located in several states, after discussing the matter with NBN Co. executive chairman Mike Quigley.
"The head office may need not be a traditional head office with a suite of professional services in the one place. Mr Quigley said the headquarters could be decentralised across the major capital cities," Schwarten said.
Schwarten's comment comes after he has campaigned for the headquarters to be located in his home state of Queensland, while Premier Anna Bligh has promised the creation of a centre for broadband research to help the state's chances.
Schwarten also pointed out that the National Computer Emergency Response Team is located in Queensland.
Victorian Premier John Brumby has launched a similar venture of his own, with the Government providing $2 million for the opening of a broadband research centre located at Melbourne University.
NSW Premier John Rees has lobbied for his state on the grounds it has the largest number of information communication technology professionals.
The rights to host the NBN headquarters would deliver a boost to employment and funding, with about 500 direct and thousands of indirect jobs expected to be created from the venture, as well as significant revenue from payroll taxes.
The winner will be revealed by the yet-to-be announced NBN Co. board. The Government is expected to divulge the names of the board members shortly, after last-minute negotiations delayed the announcement from last week.
Meanwhile, there are signs the NBN could cost the Government much less than the expected $43 billion price tag.
Art Price, chief executive of Axia NetMedia, which was one of the original bidders for the construction of the NBN, told a Senate committee yesterday that the network could charge similar rates to Telstra and still make a viable financial return.
Price said the part of the network that connects fibre exchange nodes to homes and business locations could be built for $20 billion. The second part, "a community interconnect grid" to help connect separate towns, would cost between $5 billion to $7 billion.
He also dismissed claims that charges for the network would have to remain high in order for the network to be financially viable.
"This can be done for as little as $60 a month - not what I have seen quoted as $150 to $200."