Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has ruled out selling the national broadband network to Telstra when the rollout of the $51 billion project is finished.

Telstra raised the prospect of acquiring the network or striking a deal with the government over the network last year.

Mr Fletcher pointed to safeguards within existing laws preventing a retail telco like Telstra from owning the network, saying the measures were good public policy.

“A clear feature of the policy structure is that NBN cannot be owned by a vertically integrated telco,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“In other words, somebody who delivers retail telecommunications services cannot own NBN. That’s baked into the legislation.”


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Mr Fletcher, who took over the communications portfolio after the coalition was re-elected in May, said the government needed to ensure the owner of a wholesale network did not also supply retail services.

“I don’t see any scenario in which the very clear legislative restriction on the NBN being owned by a company which is also a retailer of telecommunications services is changed,” he told the newspapers.

“I don’t see any prospect of that restriction being changed.”

The rollout of the NBN is expected to be completed next year, but Mr Fletcher said the government was still “quite some way” from looking at any change of ownership to the taxpayer-funded network.

He said pricing would be left up to NBN Co as the organisation reviews what it charges retail providers, with a focus on how to attract people yet to sign up.