The progress of the National Broadband Network has effectively been confirmed, with two bills introduced into Parliament today setting out the regulatory framework.
The future of the NBN hung in the balance before key crossbench senator Steve Fielding confirmed he would back the multibillion dollar project.
The two bills introduced are the National Broadband Network Companies Bill 2010, and the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, says the legislation is crucial to ensuring the NBN operates as an open-access, wholesale-only network to support retail-level competition for Australian consumers.
“High speed broadband is fast becoming a critical utility service, and the NBN will become a vehicle for a raft of initiatives in fields such as health, education and business,” Conroy says.
“The Government consulted widely in developing the NBN legislative framework and the bills introduced today take account of feedback received from two public consultation processes, as well as a number of recommendations made by the Implementation Study and the Senate Select Committee.”
John Stanton, chief executive of the Communications Alliance, says the NBN Co Business Case Summary provides a “credible roadmap” for the deployment of the network throughout Australia.
“[However] there are still some bid dependencies such as the POI decision, to be finalised, and the fact that important details such as pricing are not yet disclosed,” Stanton says.
“The plan points to a period of intensive engagement between industry and NBN Co throughout 2011 to test, trial and perfect the processes needed for service providers to connect to the network and start providing a full range of high-speed services to Australian customers.”
A spokesperson for the Council of Small Business of Australia says the opportunities for small businesses in Australia’s broadband future are limitless.
“The NBN will help small businesses by promoting workplace flexibility, which in turn will provide savings for businesses and better work-life balance for staff,” she says.
Other benefits for small businesses include improvement of access to capital and markets, and improvement of business processes over digital or online networks.
This can enhance internal business functions as well as business-to-business relationships, customer relationships and services.
According to the COSBOA spokesperson, broadband is an “enabler of innovation”.
“The possibilities for what small businesses will be able to deliver with high-speed broadband are mind-blowing,” she says.
“Start-ups will emerge more quickly and easily take advantage of new and niche market opportunities.”