Tuesday, 10 August 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, my fellow Victorian senator Senator Hume. Can the minister advise the Senate how the Liberal and National government is supporting businesses in accessing cheaper and faster broadband, as part of our plan to chart Australia's way out of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I thank Senator Van for the question and for his enduring interest in the connectivity and connection of all Australians to the NBN. I am extraordinarily pleased to confirm that NBN Co will establish an additional 44 business fibre zones, providing access to ultrafast business-grade broadband at reduced prices for an additional 60,000 businesses in Australia. Following this announcement, NBN Co will have a network of 284 business fibre zones nationally. That will cover—
Senator O'Neill interjecting—
I will happily take the interjection. This government will not be lectured to by those opposite on the NBN. This government delivered the NBN efficiently and economically when Australians needed it the most. In fact, today there are over 11.97 million premises ready to connect, 99 per cent of Australian premises can now order an NBN service, more than 8.2 million premises have already connected to the NBN, and 75 per cent of homes and businesses are on 50 megabits, or higher, plans. In fact, following this announcement, NBN Co will have a network of 284 business fibre zones nationally, covering over 850,000 businesses. As well as extending the business fibre zones footprint, NBN Co is further discounting its already competitive wholesale prices for business-grade broadband in order to support more business access to dedicated business-grade fibre services. New and existing businesses within business fibre zones will benefit from further wholesale pricing reductions of up to 37 per cent and, for a business already in an NBN Co business fibre zone, this morning's announcement means savings of as much as $1,800 every year. Businesses within those business fibre zones will benefit from access to NBN Co's premium business-grade product, Enterprise Ethernet, at no up-front cost, as well as CBD-equivalent pricing, irrespective of where the business is located.
I am extremely pleased to welcome NBN Co's announcements of its strong connection performance and the financial results for 2020-21 financial year. As I said earlier, there are now nearly 12 million premises ready to connect to the NBN. There have been 930,000 new connections in the year, with a total of 8.2 million premises now connected. This represents around a 13 per cent increase on last year. Revenue has been growing as more households and more businesses are using the NBN for high-speed broadband. And it's extremely pleasing to see that 17 per cent of premises have chosen plans from their retailer that provide download speeds of 100 megabits per second or even higher. NBN Co is now generating positive operating earnings, as measured by EBITDA, measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation. It is in fact now $1.35 billion for the year, which is a turnaround of $2 billion— (Time expired)
NBN Co is now entering a new growth phase and is making new investments to provide even better broadband to all Australians. NBN Co is now focused on its $4.5 billion network investment plan to deliver gigabit capacity or capability on demand to 75 per cent of premises on the fixed line network as soon as 2023. In fact, by calendar-year end, the company plans to initiate a small-volume launch of fibre-to-the-node and fibre-to-the-premise upgrades, making up to 10,000 premises eligible to access the NBN Co's Home Ultrafast plan, which offers download speeds of up to one gigabit per second. It's forecast that 75 per cent of premises on the fixed line network, or around eight million premises, will be able to access the highest speed Home Ultrafast service as soon as 2023.