It now seems that the rewriting of the Telstra agreements with NBN Co may not be finalised this year, contrary to the federal government’s timetable.
Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, had initially said he expected the revised agreements, reflecting the government’s new Multi Technology Model for the NBN, to be finalised by the middle of 2014. But press reports now suggest that that date could blow out to early 2015.
Speaking after the Telstra Annual General Meeting on 15 October, Telstra CEO David Thodey told Fairfax Media that certain technical and regulatory issues still remained unresolved, including the question of whether TPG and other carriers were going to be allowed to compete with NBN Co.
Telstra has already indicated it would explore the possibility of undertaking its own Fibre-to-the-Basement roll-out if TPG was allowed to do so.
Thodey did suggest that Telstra wanted to get enough of the agreements in place to “allow NBN Co to build a sizeable FTTN network next year.”
That would be indeed welcome.
At present, uncertainty about the scope of the FTTN roll-out, the place of HFC in the total mix, and the role of Telstra in the implementation of the new NBN model is creating its own inefficiencies at workforce level.
Telstra continues to shed staff who could potentially be used in the roll-out. Meanwhile, uncertainty about skill demands discourages training.
It is in the interests of both workers in the industry and the project itself that a way forward be determined as quickly as possible.