NBN Co is preparing a case for more government funding

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The National Broadband Network is trying to secure up to $ 1 billion in additional funding from the federal government to improve its fixed wireless services ahead of the next federal election.

NBN Co executives are working on a business case to government which, if successful, would allow it to improve services in regional areas.

Industry sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the pitch was in its early stages, said NBN Co was considering options such as buying spectrum or moving some homes to fixed wireless to the fixed line part of the NBN to improve the quality of service.

NBN Co is considering asking the government for more money to improve coverage in regional areas.Credit:Pierre Braig

“As you would expect, NBN Co is still in discussions with the government about continued optimization of the network to meet future demand,” said a spokesperson for NBN Co.

The federal government has invested billions in addressing poor connectivity issues in regional and rural Australia, with net losses from NBN’s regional networks (fixed wireless and satellite) reaching nearly $ 10 billion over their lifetime. of life. Of the 416,378 “ready to connect” satellite homes, only 112,879 premises are connected. Of the 634,166 fixed wireless homes “ready to connect”, 367,725 are activated.

The fixed wireless portion of the NBN provides internet to homes through mobile towers and receivers connected to buildings. It is mainly offered to residents of regional areas or what NBN Co describes as “outside the metro” areas.

Sources close to NBN Co’s plans said the network wanted to get between $ 600 billion and $ 1 billion from the government. The money, if approved, would allow NBN Co to switch some fixed wireless connections to a fixed line and improve other parts of the service through spectrum allocation or additional equipment.

Telstra, Optus and TPG have invested millions of dollars in purchasing spectrum that allows them to provide 5G services. It is not clear whether NBN Co would get a government rebate to acquire more spectrum, as it did in previous years. A final decision on funding is expected to be approved by Cabinet.

The deployment of the NBN cost $ 51 billion – $ 29.5 billion in taxpayer equity, $ 19.5 billion in debt financing from the Commonwealth government. NBN Co is due to replace the government loan with private financing by June 2024 and has spent the last few years raising debts in private markets to repay them.

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