Following its victory in the 2007 elections, the Rudd Labor government called for private companies to offer proposals to build a nationwide super-fast broadband network.
There were six submissions in total, including one from Telstra that was excluded for not complying with the application requirements.
The Telstra application was in fact a half-submission, doing its best to dance around the potential issue of structural separation, where the government would force Telstra to split its wholesale and retail arms into two businesses.
In the end though, none of the applications met the government's requirements. More of an issue was the timing - in the middle of 2009, the world had just hit the Global Financial Crisis, and none of the companies that had submitted a proposal could raise the necessary capital to fund the project.
What's more, the government discovered that should it go ahead and build a Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) network - as was being pitched at the time as a more affordable approach to the NBN - it would end up having to pay Telstra between $15-20 billion in compensation to access the copper wires connecting the node to each home.
This fact more than anything else spurred the government to create its own solution to the issue of nationwide broadband, in the form of the NBN.
The launch of the NBN
In April 2009, the Government formally announced its plans to bypass Telstra's copper network entirely by building a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network, and supplementing it with additional fixed wireless and satellite services for remote customers.
To build the network, the government established NBNCo, and announced a trial deployment of the network in Tasmania. Before the dust had even settled from announcement, NBNCo had kicked off the hard part of building the Tasmanian network, starting work on July 1 2009.
In March 2010, NBN Co announced the first five mainland sites to have the NBN built. Armidale, Kiama Downs and Minnamurra, Brunswick, Aitkenvale and Mundingburra and Willunga - five sites totalling approximately 14,000 homes - had the NBN rollout commence in 2010.
In July 2010, the second stage of the NBN rollout was announced, adding 14 towns across the country to the national network. Work commenced in this second stage rollout the following month, in August 2010.
The first mainland NBN service was officially switched on in Armidale on May 18, 2011. Since then, services have gone live all around the country, with 32,295 premises passed by fibre as of September 2012.
Continuing the rollout
In March 2012, NBN Co announced its three year rollout plan for its FTTP network. The plan outlined the plans to construct the fibre network in over 1500 communities and past 3.5 million homes between now and June 2015.
To coincide with the announcement, NBNCo released an interactive map detailing what areas will be getting what level of NBN within that initial three year rollout period.
NBNCo has stated that it plans to complete the construction of its fixed wireless and satellite services by 2015, while the fibre component will continue to be built until 2021.
Problems with the contractors signed up to build the network has seen some significant delays in the networks construction, although the rollout is still continuing.
In May 2013, just four months out from a federal election, NBNCo expanded its three year rollout plan, adding an additional 1.3 million premises to its construction plans.
Should the Labor government retain power after the election, more than 4.85 premises will have been passed by the NBN by the middle of 2016, provided construction remains on schedule.
Telstra, Optus and the ACCC
The NBN was initially conceived as a way to work around Telstra's monopoly of copper telecommunications infrastructure.
Yet as part of the NBN construction process, NBNCo and Telstra formed an agreement that involved the leasing of Telstra exchanges, ducts and pipes and currently unused fibre infrastructure to the NBN.
This arrangement, worth more than $9 billion to Telstra's bottom line, ensured that NBNCo would be the only wholesaler of fibre broadband in Australia, while getting Telstra to migrate its customers away from its copper network and onto the fibre one.
Similarly, an agreement with Optus worth about $800 million will see the telco switch off its HFC network and move to the NBN.
After some initial caution about potential anti-competitive behaviours, the ACCC approved both the Telstra and Optus deals, allowing NBNCo to speed up its planned rollout by using Telstra's infrastructure.