The NBN: a timeline

From OPEL to NBN in 19 months

  • July 2008: The government [[artnid:251856|Calls|new]] for industry submissions on the NBN regulatory environment.
  • Mid to late 2008: Debate rages over the need for a fibre-to-the-home network that removes the copper last mile; wholesale access; and structural separation of the NBN operator. Debate harks back to the decision of Kim Beazley, then communications minister under the Hawke government, to give the public telecommunications infrastructure to a privatised Telstra.
  • Credit: Dreamstime
    September 2007: Former communications minister, Helen Coonan, [[artnid:194048|announces|new]] the $1.9 billion OPEL network to roll out WiMAX to regional Australia. The network, announced a week before the election policy cut-off, would be supported with an expansion of ADSL infrastructure. Coonan says a national fibre network is not viable and claims it could cost up to $50 billion and take decades to deploy.
  • December 2008: Telstra is [[artnid:270911|eliminated|new]] from the NBN tender process for submitting a non-compliant bid.
  • April 2008: The government [[artnid:212139|issues|new]] a request for proposals to be in by July. A gag order is issued for all bidders, and the minister himself, but heated debate continues within the industry. Some critics argue the "open and transparent" tender is anything but and call for the process to be open to public scrutiny. The industry regulator and an expert panel are recruited to work out regulatory issues and assess bids.
  • June-December 2008: Tenderers are revealed including Axia NetMedia, the shadowy Acacia consortium, Optus-backed Terria, Telstra, TransACT and the Tasmanian government.
  • May 2008: The government [[artnid:217140|delays|new]] the NBN tender deadline by 12 weeks after pressure from bidders to provide information on Telstra and PIPE Networks infrastructure crucial to proposal formulation. Tenderers must pay a $5 million bond to access the data.
  • November 2007: The Labor party led by Kevin Rudd [[artnid:198181|wins|new]] the federal election, with future communications minister Stephen Conroy's ambitious $4.5 billion national fibre network winning over many in the telecommunications industry and general public.
  • April 2009: In a [[artnid:298376|shock announcement|new]], the government says it will establish a public company which will invest $43 billion to build the wholesale-only NBN. It will be built over eight years and provide up to 100Mpbs to 98 per cent of the population.
  • What next?
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