back to article Nice NBN rival you built there. What a shame if someone taxed it

Australia's government has floated the idea that operators of broadband networks should pay a monthly levy to fund the National Broadband Network's loss-making wireless and satellite operations in remote areas. Dubbed the “Regional Broadband Scheme” (RBS), the plan would see carriers that offer broadband services capable at …

  1. TReko

    User pays?

    >Nobody begrudges regional Australia solid communications services.

    At $7 charge, users soon will.

    If you live far away from infrastructure, you should have to pay for the privilege.

    Similarly, no one expects rural Australians to subsidise things like parking which or houses which cost more in the cities.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: User pays?

      If you live far away from infrastructure, you should have to pay for the privilege.
      The Git lives 3 km from the telephone exchange and is on FW because he's remote. The Gitling lives 3 km from a different telephone exchange (in the city) and has FTTN. I get 10 Mb/s and the Gitling gets 40 Mb/s. The Git has to pay several times as much per GB as the Gitling. I'd say it's a case of rural dwellers subsidising city dwellers.

    2. joed

      Re: User pays?

      "If you live far away from infrastructure, you should have to pay for the privilege." - Or maybe you live there because you don't give a ... about "necessities" of "civilized" life. Legislated "choice" is the worst kind.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: User pays?

        Or maybe you live there because you don't give a ... about "necessities" of "civilized" life.
        Franklin has two gourmet restaurants, a wine and cider bar that also serves food, a gourmet fish and chippie, two pubs for them that prefers counter meals, a post office, a hairdresser, a ships chandler, a wooden boat building school, a river with lots of fish, and the bowls club has a bar as well. I couldn't wish for better company than the local denizens and I can certainly live with the nearest supermarket and the gourmet Japanese restaurant being 10 minutes drive away.

        You townies sure are good for a laugh :-)

  2. Faceless Man

    Or another idea

    Keep the charge, but waive it for companies that provide equivalent (or better) rural services to the NBN. Motivate them to build out infrastructure in the places that are more expensive to get to.

    Or, another crazy idea, renationalise the communications infrastructure complete with a full functional separation of Telstra, and don't then put it up for sale after the government has spent all the money on it. Keep it as a national asset, maintained by the government, and charge access fees to re-sellers to offset the cost of maintenance...

    1. mathew42

      Re: Or another idea

      The challenge with providing rural services is backhaul. When only one company (Telstra) services a town the backhaul is ridiculously expensive. The problem competitors face is that the moment they start planning backhaul to a town, Telstra offer discount pricing on long term contracts and discount pricing further when the backhaul goes live. Even with the discounts Telstra still make a profit, just a smaller one.

      1. Faceless Man


        Which is another argument for either nationalising the infrastructure, or at least stopping Telstra from pulling that kind of stunt. It's almost the definition of Monopolistic Behaviour.

      2. raytaylor

        Re: Or another idea

        THIS ^^^^

        I have seen backhaul quotes from telstra to an exchange in a remote town of 50 houses being upwards of $1000 per month for 10mbits

    2. mark 177

      Re: Or another idea

      Er, hang on, isn't NBN already a nationalised company? Or have I got it wrong?

  3. Winkypop Silver badge

    A $7 charge

    .....soon becomes $8.45......then $9.50......then $15.......

    Government budget wonks never allow a tax to rest.

  4. Phil Kingston

    How about they just divert the cash that's going to be used for the metadata retention to subsidize the rurals? Everyone wins.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The gov. squanders much more than $40e+6 on perks, 'consultants', 'reports', ...

  6. pro-logic


    Maybe I'm missing something here.

    Isn't/wasn't the entire point of starting a monopoly provider for broadband called "The National Broadband Network" that this "National Broadband Network" could due to it's size, and by virtue of it having 100% of the market, since it's a monopoly, be able to cross-subsidise services to the entire country, yet maintain the same prices regardless of where in Australia one happens to be?

    If so, why 'tax' everybody on the NBN, since the purpose of the 'tax' is supposed to be already built into the day to day costs of the NBN.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Whaaa...?

      It's just a money go round. The "tax"is really the built in cross subsidy amount and gets around the problem of tpg et al cherry picking the profitable high density rollout sites and leaving NBN to do the less profitable and loss making sites.

      In principle it makes sense but I'm not convinced they have thought it through (law of unintended consequences). Will tpg just spit out a new 24.999Mbps fibre plan to sit just below the cut off point? Will Telstra or Vodafone provide faster services than the cut off point but be exempt because they're not fibre? Of course they will.

      1. pro-logic

        Re: Whaaa...?

        I suppose my main issue with this is that NBN itself would be taxed.

        I would be less annoying if this 'tax' resulted is a corresponding lowering of the NBN wholesale prices. This obviously won't happen. If it's possible to charge for the same thing twice, the government will work out how to do it.

        If they're trying to prevent cherry picking wouldn't it be simpler to make it a "Internet not delivered by NBN tax" tax.

        Since 25 Mbps is achievable on 3/4G I would assume this pretty much impacts every mobile phone (cell phone for our American readers) bill too.

        1. Adam 1

          Re: Whaaa...?

          > wouldn't it be simpler to make it a "Internet not delivered by NBN tax" tax.

          Simpler maybe but politically unpalatable. It makes it impossible to not look like your trying to ruin a business model. To be honest, I'd rather they funded it from general revenue. It is useful infrastructure with a long shelf life* and will add to GDP and hence future revenues, plus borrowing is still at an excellent rate.

          *FTTP, not the crappy FTTN half arsed obsolete before it's finished crap.

          > would assume this pretty much impacts every mobile phone (cell phone for our American readers) bill too.

          No. It won't impact mobile. From the linked proposal:

          "... which will require all eligible fixed-line superfast broadband networks to make a proportionate contribution to the long-term cost of these services"

          4G isn't fixed line.

          1. mathew42

            Re: Whaaa...?

            The Liberals have shown true skill in adjusting the NBN settings to support their arguments that fast speeds are not required by most people and wireless is a viable solution.

            - Cutting the CVC price means that AVC revenue has to make a greater share of NBNCo revenue. The impact of this is that faster plans are more expensive reducing take-up of faster speeds.

            - Imposing a tax on fixed connections makes wireless connections more competitive

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. nannystate

    Subsidising a gov funded organisation?!?!

    How many times do we have to pay for this second rate NBN white elephant? Try selling the overlapping NBN network and using that to fund regional services. Better yet use the cash to subsidise a private sector build. Here's to 10 years since Telstra was blocked from building a FTTN network using private sector money.

    1. mathew42

      Re: Subsidising a gov funded organisation?!?!

      The only reason that Telstra wanted to build a FTTN network is that other providers were selling a cheaper, faster and more reliable service by installing DSLAMs in exchanges. Telstra's FTTN plan was intended to restore Telstra's monopoly profits by disconnecting the copper from exchanges stranding competitor's DSLAMs.

      1. nannystate

        Re: Subsidising a gov funded organisation?!?!

        10 years ago my property in suburban Sydney had no available broadband service. Today it still has no available broadband service. Third party scabs installing DSLAM equipment in Telstra exchanges has not and never will increase the footprint of available broadband services. If Telstra had gone ahead with FTTN at least there would be uniform coverage with obvious blackspots that could be subsidised. In the name of competition we have stopped anyone from competing.

    2. johnbloggs

      Re: Subsidising a gov funded organisation?!?!

      Reasonably, this could only be justified as being the first step in ditching the white elephant. Enshrine the cross subsidy on the books as a component of the AVC charge, prior to a future loss making float of the HFC/FTTN/FTTP component of the entity - "semi-viable NBNco" to the unwitting shareholding public.

      It is the JNR infrastructure development model.

      1. nannystate

        Re: Subsidising a gov funded organisation?!?!

        The cross subsidy will give Telstra a financial incentive to buy the NBN. As the biggest retail provider, their subsidy payment to NBN would net out if they owned the NBN. Telstra will then be able to offer retail services subsidy free. Meanwhile the tax on their competitors will continue.

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