Huawei calls out $51b NBN failure

Aimee Chanthadavong
Senior Reporter

Huawei Australia chief technology officer David Soldani has delivered a blistering assessment of Australia’s national broadband roll-out, hammering both the federal government and NBN Co as architects of the $51 billion failure.

“Australia has somehow managed to invest $51 billion on a network that can’t even deliver 50Mbps to around one million of its fixed-broadband end-user premises,” he said during the 5G Business Summit in Sydney on Tuesday.

“In fact, the actual cost of the NBN is much higher than that, given that reports suggest that NBN Co is paying Telstra around $100 billion in subscriber migration and lease payments over the coming years.

“We have spent around $10,000 for every activated premises on the NBN Fixed Wireless network and yet hundreds of sites are only delivering 6Mbps or less at peak-time to end-users – worse speeds than many were getting on old ADSL services.”

Mr Soldani also criticised the government’s management of NBN, pointing out how the company has not been held accountable for any scrutiny.

“Indeed, rather than the Federal Government ask serious questions about how they may be culpable for what has gone wrong with NBN Fixed Wireless they have actually delivered them an even bigger role in delivering our crucial 5G infrastructure by excluding Huawei from the 5G market,” he said.

During the Huawei platinum-sponsored event, Mr Soldani took the opportunity to subtly suggest that government should introduce alternative models and suppliers, such as Huawei, to facilitate 5G fixed wireless services.

“Firstly, let’s stop pretending that NBN Co can do this whole thing by itself – we now know that it can’t. There is simply no more money in the pot. That’s it,” Soldani said.

“We know that in these outer-suburban and regional areas that the mobile operators have plenty of spare spectrum available because there is very low population densities in those areas.

“So, using the hugely successful Mobile Blackspot program as a template why not encourage the mobile network operators to extend their regional networks and use that available spectrum to deliver 5G Fixed Wireless services to consumers?

“Alternatively, we could look to take a leaf out of what has been happening in Victoria where the state government and local council have collaborated to deliver a contract to private operators to deliver high-speed Fixed Wireless services of up to 1Gbps to regional end-users.”

Mr Soldani’s criticism comes following the federal government’s decision to ban Huawei from participating in the NBN and 5G in Australia on the grounds of national security. Others including Japan and Vietnam have also joined in on this global push-back against the Chinese telecommunications company.

The Trump administration took it a step further, banning US companies from providing software services or hardware to Huawei, the world’s second largest supplier of mobile phones behind Samsung and the third largest in Australia.

Meanwhile, others like New Zealand insist they have not imposed a ban on Huawei but have just merely blocked the company. Then there’s Canada suggesting China’s involvement in 5G is still under review.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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