Telco consultant Justin Jameson has given NBN Co a 30 percent chance of pulling off a complete fibre rollout due to Labor's chances of returning to power at the next election.
Jameson - CEO of Venture Consulting and a co-author of a review of the NBN's impact [pdf] - believed the most likely scenario was a half-built network with coverage of between 30 and 50 percent of Australian homes.
He put a 60 percent chance on that outcome being realised.
“In the worst scenario you can probably see the fibre assets being sold back to Telstra and recreate a certain quasi regulated provider we have now but with a different mix of assets,” he said.
“The implication of that is the closer we get to the NBN actually becoming a reality, the further away it seems."
Because the NBN build schedule is ten years or more against the three-year electoral cycle, the prospects of an effective roll-out are reduced, Jameson said.
Jameson said that lingering uncertainty over whether the NBN would be completed meant that the industry was more focused on regulatory and policy issues than future marketing strategy.
He said that shed light on why retail ISPs to date had demonstrated a diverse approach to retail prices on the NBN.
“It’s because they are talking about the product equivalent of vaporware,” Jameson said.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a $200 product or a $20 product. The number of customers they are going to serve this product to over a two year time frame is tiny. So there’s plenty of time to adjust their products and pricing.”
Jameson said that in the next 12-18 months that debate over NBN transition mechanisms would continue to be important.
“If I had one piece of advice to the incumbent players, it would be to focus 80 percent of their efforts on this area," he said.