NBN Co has announced plans to upgrade millions of its fixed line connections to full fibre in a new $3.5 billion investment.
The network provider said the upgrades would see 75 percent of fixed line premises gaining access to broadband speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second, with upgrades to fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the curb (FTTC) and hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) connections.
The upgrades are part of the network provider’s larger investment of $4.5 billion, which includes the $700 million announced yesterday to make business-grade fibre services more affordable and accessible, and an additional $300 million of co-investment funding for NBN Co to partner with governments and local councils to find ways to improve broadband services in regional Australia.
FTTN connections will see fibre “taken deeper into neighbourhoods” and HFC will also get capacity upgrades to achieve gigabit speeds. FTTC connections meanwhile will be upgraded to consistently deliver 100Mbps speeds and enable on-demand access to G.Fast capability to boost speeds to up to 1 Gbps.
More details on the upgrades are expected to be included in the NBN Co 2020-21 Corporate Plan, scheduled to release today.
Communications minister Paul Fletcher said this was “the right time” for the network upgrade, defending the 2013 plan as a way to get the network rolled out “as quickly as possible”.
“The 2013 decision by the Coalition to roll out the NBN quickly, then phase upgrades around emerging demand, has served Australia well. It meant the NBN was available to almost all Australians when COVID-19 hit, giving us high speed home connectivity when we needed it most,” he said.
“And it means NBN Co is now well placed to invest in Australia’s broadband infrastructure to meet Australians’ growing appetite for faster speeds.”
Fletcher also said the investment is estimated to create 25,000 new jobs across the country over the next two years, including the direct creation of 16,600 jobs in industries such as construction, engineering, project management, transport and retail trade among others.
The $4.5 billion investment will be financed through NBN Co borrowing from private debt markets, and is aided by the refinancing of the existing $19.5 billion Commonwealth Government loan by 2024.
Finance minister Mathias Cormann said, “This is a major infrastructure investment which will bring immediate demand stimulation, with some 25,000 new jobs over the next two years. Longer term it is estimated to increase Australia’s GDP by $6.4 billion per annum by 2024. Around $1.5 billion of this additional economic activity is estimated to flow to regional Australia annually.”
“NBN Co’s network upgrades will enable millions of Australian homes across the country to access ultra-fast broadband by 2023. The Government is also prioritising regional connectivity through the $300 million co-investment fund that enables NBN Co to partner with governments and local councils to deliver technology upgrades, particularly in fixed wireless and satellite areas.”