'NBN effect' to boost economy by billions

Outgoing NBN CEO Bill Morrow will address the National Press Club on Tuesday.
Outgoing NBN CEO Bill Morrow will address the National Press Club on Tuesday.

The national broadband network is seizing on research showing its effect on the economy will grow to more than $10 billion a year by the end of the rollout.

Outgoing chief executive Bill Morrow will share the results of the commissioned work by AlphaBeta when he addresses the National Press Club on Tuesday.

The findings show the NBN generated an additional $1.2 billion of economic activity in 2017, through helping create new jobs and businesses, as well as boosting productivity.

"This is exciting because it excludes the economic stimulus of the NBN rollout itself," Mr Morrow will say, citing the exclusion of capital investment, financing and the workers needed to build the network.

"By the end of the rollout, this 'NBN-effect' is predicted to have multiplied to $10.4 billion a year," Mr Morrow will add, noting the creation of 31,000 extra jobs.

AlphaBeta used figures from the 2016 census, an Ipsos poll of 3500 people and compared areas where the NBN rollout is 90 per cent complete to those with less than 10 per cent.

Its director Andrew Charlton says Australians are now taking advantage of the investment in broadband infrastructure.

"This research shows they are starting to use the NBN to get jobs, start businesses and work from home," he told AAP.

"That effect will continue into the future."

Mr Morrow is also due to reveal a rise in self-employed female entrepreneurs as a result of the rollout.

"NBN-connected women are becoming self-employed at twice the overall rate of self-employment growth in NBN areas," he will say.

"If this trend continues, up to 52,200 additional Australian women will be self-employed by the end of the roll out due to the 'NBN effect'."

But Mr Morrow, who announced earlier this month that he would step down at the end of the year after nearly five years at the helm, is still expected to face tough questions about the rollout and technology choices.

The latest Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman report shows complaints about NBN services grew in the last six months of last year more than 200 per cent on the same time in 2016.

More than 14,000 complaints were recorded about service quality, while 8757 were regarding delays in establishing a connection.

"This indicates the consumer experience is still not meeting expectations for all," Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

Mr Morrow last week admitted to a Senate committee scrapping the rollout of the network using pay TV cables (hybrid-fibre coaxial or HFC) and replacing it with fibre-to-the-curb was one option he presented to the communications minister during a briefing about two years ago.

But he denied it was a "proposal".

The rollout via HFC will slowly recommence later this month after it was paused.

Australian Associated Press