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The boss of the company building the $35.


9 billion national broadband network (NBN Co) says the recent deal with telecommunications giant Telstra will cut the costs and time to construct the scheme.

NBN Co Mike Quigley said the deal would avoid duplicating existing broadband infrastructure and reduce the disruption to local communities.

This would be of benefit to Australian taxpayers, Mr Quigley said.

On June 23, the government announced Telstra, the commonwealth and NBN Co had signed definitive agreements for the rollout of the scheme across Australia.

“We’ll certainly do it more cheaply, faster and with a lot less disruption to the community,” he told a joint committee on the National Broadband Network hearing in Canberra on Tuesday.

“It also shifted the ratio of aerial to underground deployment.

“We will be doing far more underground deployment than otherwise would have been.”

NBN Co plans to provide a fibre-optic cable network to 93 per cent of the population while the remaining seven per cent will have either fixed wireless or satellite broadband over the next decade.

Telstra will receive $11 billion to decommission its copper network, shift customers to the NBN, allow access to its cable ducts, exchanges, meet universal service obligations and retrain staff.

Fellow telco Optus reached an $800 million agreement with NBN Co to migrate customers to the network on the same day.

But Mr Quigley was unable to answer questions from committee member Paul Fletcher on the comparative cost of the deals.

Mr Fletcher, a director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Optus between 2000 to 2007, repeatedly asked what was the per customer valuation of the deals with Telstra and Optus.

“In the context of the two deals, we did everything we could to keep them as aligned as possible,” Mr Quigley said.

“You simply can’t pick a number out and another number out and compare them.

Mr Quigley said all the factors of the deals had to be assessed.

“One is for migration, the other is for decommission,” he said.

“One is for two types of technology, the other is for one type of technology.

“There is a whole bunch of commercial conditions, some of which I am not prepared to reveal because they are commercial deals with two external companies.”

As consumers were buying more mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, a fixed-line broadband network was required to provide the increase in data needs, Mr Quigley said.

Overseas telcos were trying to move more customers off their mobile networks despite increasing the availability of those services, Mr Quigley said.

“They are trying to get traffic off their mobile networks because the mobile networks are congesting,” he said.

“Why they are congesting is because of iPhones and iPads.

“What they are attempting to do is get traffic onto to fixed-line networks, on to, for example, fixed-line networks with wi-fi.”


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