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NBN: Australia’s $43 billion iPhone

NBN: Australia’s $43 billion iPhone

The NBN, like the iPhone, will spur an applications boom, says communications minister Stephen Conroy

Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy

Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy

The National Broadband Network (National Broadband Network) will provide an iPhone-like boom in online applications and services when complete, Federal Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has said.

“Who would have thought just two years ago that 70,000 or so applications would be available on the iPhone?” Conroy said, speaking on ABC television’s Inside Business at the weekend.

“It's just a platform and the reason it's such a popular platform is because it gives you access to this extraordinary, blossoming and growing set of applications and that's how I see the NBN; a nice simple utility- style piece of infrastructure, a platform that unleashes Australia's innovation and dynamism and attracts international capital coming into Australia to develop those opportunities for the rest of the world.”

(Help us track the NBN's progress here.)

Commenting on the legislative separation of Telstra, Conroy suggested that Telstra may be able to access the 4G spectrum as well as keep its 50 per cent stake in Foxtel and its cable, which delivers the subscription television service, if it structurally separated.

“If we do receive an acceptable form of structural separation put forward by Telstra that the ACCC and myself tick off on, then we would consider not proceeding with those other two options [the sale of its Foxtel stake and Foxtel delivery cable sale],” Conroy said.

“But at this stage… it's important to realise we've already begun to engage in a very constructive dialogue with Telstra, the new management and leadership of Telstra have demonstrated a willingness to talk.”

The comments follow criticisms from Shadow Communications Minister, Nick Minchin, that blocking Telstra’s access to the 4G spectrum if it did not structurally separate, "defied logic”.

“Any move by the Government to deprive a business of competing in a market where its competitors have the majority of the market share defies logic,” he said in a statement.

“Senator Conroy [is] unable to provide any explanation as to the rationale behind this proposed measure. Nor [is] he able to say how much taxpayers would lose through spectrum auctions if Telstra was prevented from participating.”

Commenting further on the structurally separation, Conroy said that despite being a potential buyer of Telstra assets, the Government’s legislation did effectively turn Telstra into a forced seller.

“They can stay exactly as they are or they can choose to go down the path of the fibre future and into the exciting new mobile spectrum, which will becoming available in the next few years, so they are able to participate in the most exciting and innovative sector that they possibly can — but that's Telstra's choice,” he said.

As reported by Computerworld, the move to structurally separate Telstra was an attempt to “prop up” the government's $43 billion NBN, according to Minchin.

“Without Telstra’s assets, expertise and customer base the project simply cannot be viable and probably will never get built,” Minchin said at the time.

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Tags Stephen Conroystructural separationnational broadband networknick minchinfoxtelTelstraNBN

More about ABC NetworksABC NetworksAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionetworkFoxtelTelstra Corporation

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