Time for Labor to deliver on its high speed broadband promises

Australia has the sixth largest number of Web sites in the world

Despite the Labor Party's decisive win in Saturday's federal election Australia's broadband problems remain with the incoming government tasked with implementing two different networks.

While the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is yet to announce his Cabinet including who will be appointed to the IT and telecommunications portfolio, the Labor Party made it clear during the election campaign that it would jointly integrate the Optus-Elders wireless network, which was officially approved by the previous government, with its own multi-billion dollar Fibre-to-the-Node network.

The network will operate on shared spectrum, and will employ a mix of technology including ADSL2, WiMax and wireless mesh networks in densely populated areas.

However, industry is already expressing fears the government's broadband plans could fail.

Hostworks managing director, Marty Gauvin, said Australia's ability to compete internationally continues to be hindered by a broadband infrastructure likely to fail the "fast Internet" promises made during the election.

Gauvin, whose company guarantees the performance of some of Australia's most successful online businesses, said the election-driven political debate about "last mile" broadband overlooked a bigger problem.

"We just don't have the backbone capacity to handle demand," he said.

"The critical issue is not how fast it goes into people's houses: It is how fast it runs across the country and the speed of backbone data links for commercial service providers like Hostworks."

Gauvin has spent three months trying to get a 10-gigabit data link from either Telstra or Optus, with both telco's claiming it's not ready yet.

"As a nation, we need to think about broadband more comprehensively than just the end points. If the incoming Government succeeds in fulfilling its broadband vision, it will create a massive online gridlock," he said.

Hostworks Asia-Pacific customers include the Compass Group, Network Ten, SBS, SEEK, Ticketek and Wotif.com.

Gauvin said Australia has the sixth largest number of Web sites in the world, and that is on an absolute basis, not per capita.

"For Australia, the problem is that we have more Web sites per capita than anyone else in the world, but we don't have the capacity to support them," he said.

"If you do the maths, our infrastructure has a backbone capacity of 16 kilobits for each Web site. The truth is that nobody visits more than 95 per cent of those sites.

"If Australia wants to succeed internationally as the online economy evolves, we need to start thinking much more innovatively. As well as building the infrastructure to support the online population we want, we need strategies to aggregate our online content to make it much more accessible and compelling."

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