NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley isn’t fazed by the Victorian Government’s decision to reject the ‘opt-out’ policy which would have seen every premise in the state receive fast broadband by default, noting today Australians could make their own decision to sign up to his company’s planned new network or not.
The decision of the new Coalition State Government — confirmed as policy in late December — runs contrary to the wishes of Federal Labor and even other State Liberal Parties such as the one in Tasmania, which have supported the notion that the NBN should be connected by default to every available premise.
Under the so-called ‘opt-out’ policy, residents would have to actively choose not to have the fibre or wireless infrastructure installed — although it wouldn’t force them to actually pay for broadband services from an ISP. Now Victorians will have to actively choose to receive the infrastructure to start with.
Asked today whether he was disappointed by the state’s decision, Quigley replied: “Not at all.” And, he said, he didn’t expect the opt-in policy would harm adoption in Victoria. “Frankly,” the NBN Co supremo added, “People will make their own decision about whether they want to take on a service or not.”
One factor which may spur adoption of the NBN is the gradual shutdown of Telstra’s copper network and HFC cable network for broadband services, which will leave many Victorians without broadband at all — unless they choose a wireless broadband services or sign up to the NBN.
“If we were to consummate the deal with Telstra — if that happens — as we know, progressively, over time, the copper network will be retired and will be replaced with a fibre network,” said Quigley today. “So, people will then have the option of, will they make that transition or not.”
Most of the other states have not formally taken a stance on whether they will support the opt-out approach backed by Federal Labor or not. But Quigley said he didn’t anticipate any operational difficulties for NBN Co if some did and some didn’t — resulting in what might be described as a patchwork effect.
“We had not anticipated that we have necessarily have a uniform environment in every state — we expected it to be different,” said Quigley. “We don’t expect it to cause any difficulties.” In fact, according to the NBN chief, one of his company’s greatest problems at the moment was actually fighting suitors off.
“We don’t expect the states in Australia to throw barriers up,” he said. “So far, what we’ve seen from most of the states is a keenness to get on and do the job. In fact, we’re lobbied very heavily by different shires all over the place, who want us to come there first.”
“That’s the biggest issue we’ve got at the moment — people want us to get there sooner,” he said.
Video credit: Delimiter