Telstra’s involvement in Australia’s next generation broadband network project will shave A$7 billion (€5.1 billion) from construction costs, a business plan released today reveals.
The first hard figures on the project reveal the total cost of constructing the network will be A$35.7 billion, the bulk of which – A$27.1 billion – will come out of the public purse, with the remainder paid for by NBN Co, the government-owned firm established to run the network.
Telstra will receive A$14 billion in cash payments from NBN Co over the next 30 years to cover its involvement, the plan revealed.
NBN plans to conclude negotiations with Telstra on decommissioning copper lines by December, with a view to starting trials of the network in the Spring.
The government was forced to reveal the business plan by independent senator Nick Xenophon, who insisted on seeing the details before voting on legislation clearing Telstra’s involvement in the project, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Xenophon estimated the network would cost A$5.5 billion more to construct without Telstra’s input, and refused to vote on a bill covering the separation of the incumbent without more information, The Australian said.
Splitting Telstra’s retail arm from the rest of the company is a key condition of the government’s plan to offer Telstra A$11 billion for its copper ducts and infrastructure, and have Telstra sign on as an NBN customer.
The opposition Coalition said today it might drop objections to the legislation if the government agrees to submit to a cost-benefit inquiry by next May.