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Australia – Communications Industry Predictions 2014.

29 January, 2014

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Australia – TMT

 

The National Broadband Network (NBN) 

 

Without doubt, the biggest feature on the Australian communications landscape in the year ahead will be the effect a change of government to a Liberal (conservative) government on 7 September 2013 has on the NBN. The NBN was the previous government’s ‘Fibre to the Home’ broadband plan and Australia’s biggest infrastructure project. The new PM Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated prior to the election to revisit the NBN rollout plan would be a policy objective and the new government has appointed a new Board to the NBN and undertaken a strategic review of it – the new Board is now seeking to develop a plan to give effect to the strategic review. The new government has stated that it will seek to reprioritise underserved areas and use a greater mix of technologies to keep costs down.

 

Mobile Network Coverage 

 

Australia is by most measures a huge land mass with a relatively small population to service and mobile phone coverage has been a challenge, particularly for the challenger carriers Vodafone and Optus – with Telstra historically holding a significant coverage advantage. The challenger carriers have suffered from the classic problems of allocating the correct spend to attract the most customers and risking poorer coverage in more remote areas. In particular, Vodafone will seek to regain customer support in 2014 having invested to lift its network standard through significant infill and a network sharing project with Optus. 

 

There is also significant movement in the cheaper pre-paid SIM-only market where something of a price war erupted leading to some consolidation and fallout with one of the significant wholesale intermediaries (ISP One) collapsing in August last year. ISP One supplied to Aldi Mobile and Kogan Mobile and customers still face an uncertain future. Prepaid SIMs have traditionally been an area where getting the right regulation, particularly around identity, has been a challenge and it may be that 2014 sees some modernisation of the current and largely ineffective identity checking system.

 

Bird-&-bird-blue

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Marcus Vaas, Partner, Bird & Bird
marcus.vass@twobirds.com

 

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