A leading telecommunications analyst has slammed the Federal Opposition's broadband policy announced today as lacking vision and leadership.
Buddecom director, Paul Budde, said the Liberal’s plan to scrap the fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN) in favour of investing in backhaul, upgrading existing telephone exchanges and rolling out wireless networks, would leave Australia at the bottom of the international telecommunications heap.
“My major complaint is it lacks a vision, it lacks a strategic national plan,” Budde said. “It’s a bit of everything – a bit here and a bit there. Unless you have a real vision and a plan then it will be very difficult to bring all the elements together. Some of the elements in that policy we can work with. But it is little bits an pieces rather than a plan.
“What makes them think that now they can come up with a bag full of unrelated goodies, throw it on the table and that this time it will work? They tried for a decade to come up with facilities based competition and they were never able to do that. So what do they believe in that now suddenly makes it possible?"
As reported by Computerworld Australia a A Coalition Government would spend up to $6.25 billion of public and private funding on an alternate broadband policy.
The funding will be directed at providing 97 per cent of Australians with a minimum peak speed of 12 megabits per second (Mbps). The remaining three per cent will have access to satellite access at an as-yet-undisclosed speed.
The broadband plan composes four separate aspects:
- $2.75 billion of public funding and an additional $750 million private funding on building an open access, optical fibre backhaul network;
- $750 million on “fixed broadband optimisation” with a focus on upgrading telephone exchanges without existing ADSL2+ capabilities;
- $1 billion public grant funding and additional, undisclosed private funding for building a wireless network for rural and regional areas;
- and $1 billion on building a metropolitan wireless network focussed on outer metropolitan areas.
“It really looks like a step backwards from where they were in 2007, rather than a step forward,” Budde said, while adding the plan would give Telstra the upper hand in the market.
“Once again, we had more than a decade of that previous sort of policy with [former Telstra CEO] Sol Trujillo. I mean, do we want that back? If you are going to put Telstra totally back in charge do we want to go back to that situation? I don’t think it is good for anybody.”
Budde said Telstra had already made a “mental change” to move in other directions and could have used the opportunity of the NBN to move forward, as indicated in an $11 billion deal that included the incumbent telco migrating its voice and broadband customers to NBN Co, while decommissioning its copper network and cable broadband service.
“But that will be cut off by the Opposition again. It totally lacks vision,” Budde said.
“We tried this for ten years and it brought us to the bottom of the heap and we started to climb out of it with trying to change things. That obviously takes time and we are now at the point where we start seeing slow but steady improvement with Tassie and the release sites and things like that. So you start seeing that over the next 12 months people start getting high speed, real affordable broadband.
"We had a very difficult three years but positioned ourselves in the right direction. Now we throw back three years again. We were at the bottom of the heap then and of course the rest of the world has moved on. So we will be further behind then we were when the Coalition left government.”
Budde also criticised the Opposition’s failure to include the concept of ubiquity – where every premise has the ability to receive the same level of broadband service – in its policy.
“If you have a bit of vision you would see these sorts of applications are going to come, and they are going to be enormously beneficial for the Australian economy. Because it is going to create an enormous amount of cost savings that are confirmed by the OECD, the World Bank – they are the leading economic organisations in the world and they are all indicating there are great economic benefits to come,” he said.
“Why on earth is the Australian Opposition thinking it knows better?”