NBN Co to fire 10% of staff as Australian competition rises

NBN Co to fire 10% of staff as Australian competition rises

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Australia’s state-owned wholesale last-mile company NBN Co is firing 10% of its staff as the fixed market has stalled.

The company – NBN stands for “National Broadband Network” – is increasingly turning to 4G and 5G fixed wireless to deliver broadband to homes and businesses.

In the past few months the company has signed deals with both Nokia and Ericsson to roll out fixed wireless services.

At the same time a report on the NBN market by the regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), shows the residential broadband market flattened in the last quarter of 2022.

Paul Budde, an Australian consultant closely involved with the original NBN plan 15 years ago, said overnight that the company is “facing increased competitive pressure from the other players in the market”.

The Australian Financial Review cited “a fight with Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom and Vocus over wholesale costs”, and said CEO Stephen Rue had told NBN Co staff that the company would make 10% of its staff, 500 people, redundant.

But Budde pointed to the increased costs the NBN is incurring because of what he called a “convoluted and inferior approach” to technology.

The original NBN plan called for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) for most Australians, but the Labor government of the time, led by Julia Gillard, lost the 2013 election to the right-wing Liberal Party, led by Tony Abbot.

The Abbot government scaled down the NBN project, ordering what the company called a multi-technology mix (MTM) – effectively fibre to the cabinet, then copper into the premises.

Budde said overnight that NBN Co is “now paying the price as reality is hitting”. He added that “senior telecoms engineers and others had warned them against taking this convoluted and inferior approach”.

NBN Co is heavily promoting fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), which means abandoning the copper and the mixed technology approach of a few years ago.

He quoted National Party MP Tony Windsor – the National Party is in coalition with the Liberals – who said in 2010: “Do it once, do it right, do it with fibre.”

Budde said: “Over the last decade those who made the MTM decisions didn’t want to backflip and for political reasons kept supporting them. As we have seen for many years the services are not up to scratch and on top of that there are the high costs involved in the convoluted politically motivated infrastructure process.”

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