29 Mar 2011
The Australian government has passed key National Broadband Network amendments through parliament – but not without conceding to changes that could raise the cost of the project.
After a spirited debate, the house of representatives yesterday passed the government's motions, ABC News reported.
The amendments include provisions which communications minister Stephen Conroy said were aimed at ensuring NBN Co will operate on a wholesale-only, open and equivalent access basis.
The federal opposition, which opposed the motions on Monday, had earlier this month claimed that the government was attempting to open the door for NBN Co to offer retail services directly to some large companies.
Despite the resistance from the opposition, the motions passed after independent MPs agreed to vote for them in exchange for guarantees that pricing for entry-level services would be equivalent in regional as well as metro areas, Business Spectator said.
The government stopped short of approving a motion from an independent that would make prices equivalent across all speeds, and across both fiber and the wireless technologies that will be used to provide connectivity for the more remote areas.
Yet independent MP Rob Oakeshott said the government had given him a written guarantee that prices for future broadband technologies would be the same for both segments, so the compromise could well increase the cost of the project.
Fortunately for the government, it has secured last-minute support for the changes from Optus, Australia's second largest operator. As a result talks with the operator over a Telstra-style deal to migrate its HFC customers to the NBN are back on, IDG reported.