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NBN to confirm more construction delays, but analysts say Coalition win no threat

Engel Schmidl /

The National Broadband Network is falling behind and has suffered a number of construction delays, chief executive Mike Quigley is expected to confirm in front of Parliament later tonight.

But experts say this doesn’t necessarily increase the chances the whole project will be scrapped if the Coalition takes power next year.

“There are plenty of reasons why the NBN is delayed,” Telsyte senior consulting manager Chris Coughlan told SmartCompany this morning.

“However, it’ll still take an entire term of government for anyone to unwind anything they’ve done with regard to construction so far.”

The National Broadband Network Company was contacted this morning, but no reply was available prior to publication.

The Australian Financial Review‘s report on Quigley’s expected statement followed earlier revelations by Quigley that the company had been facing delays for some time. He said last week the construction rollout was having difficulties getting fibre into remote areas and greenfield developments.

Even last year, Quigley said the rollout was “several months” behind due to regulatory and commercial obligations.

”We have got certain areas that we are right on [time] in what we expected to do in terms of the technology and the trials and all others,” he said at the time.

The NBN released a detailed rollout plan earlier this year, showing which suburbs could expect to be connected over the next 36 months. But now, the AFR claims Quigley will speak in front of Parliament tonight and say the project faces construction delays.

The head of the project is also expected to announce delays in the rollout schedule.

These delays will no doubt fuel the Coalition’s criticism, but Coughlan says some of the setbacks ought to be expected.

“Some delays were announced a few weeks back, but the biggest impact we’ve seen is the 18-month obligation for Telstra to disconnect copper.”

“In the meantime, connections to the NBN haven’t started on a full-scale and it’s getting delayed further.”

But Coughlan says this won’t necessarily make it easier for the Coalition to disband the NBN, which it has promised to do if it wins power next year.

“The NBN will still have a lot of assets, and is a humongous liability to Telstra with regard to its performance. And that needs to be sorted out.”

“Legislation will need to be rewritten. There is a tonne of bureaucracy that needs to be sorted out and, in the end, they’re probably not going to kill it. At the most, the NBN Co. could be wrapped into a separate access company, and that would be the payoff.”

“Over the long-term, it’s definitely going to take them an entire term of government to unwind things.”

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