The Federal Opposition’s broadband policy will not provide greater competition and will make the market “worse”, according to the Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC).
In the wake of the broadband policy announcement, CCC spokesperson, David Forman, said the Coalition's focus on the HFC network that “runs past 2.5 million homes” in its plan was “very, very troubling”.
“The CCC members generally have been unable to do the things they want to do in order to compete because the structure of the industry means that Telstra has an incentive and an ability to discriminate against them,” Forman told Computerworld Australia.
“This [policy] does nothing to change that. One thing that is troubling people already tremendously is the emphasis on the HFC network, because not only does Telstra own the dominant HFC network but there is no competitive access to that at all. So that is a very, very troubling aspect of it.”
The Coalition, today, said it would spend up to $6.25 billion of public and private funding on an alternate broadband policy to the Government’s National Broadband Network.
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.
In announcing the plan, shadow communications minister, Tony Smith, repeatedly claimed the Coalition would bring greater competition to the market. A claim Forman strongly refuted.
“It falls at the first competition hurdle for us because it does nothing about structural reform of the last mile,” he said. “In fact, it probably makes things worse. The policy that they have announced are things that have been tried as ways to overcome those problems in the past and have not.
"The CCC published a document outlining the four pillars that we said needed to underpin anybody’s policy and it doesn’t meet those. It ignores structure and they explicitly said they wouldn’t be doing anything about the structure of Telstra. Until you do that you get stuck in the same old guinea pig in a spinning wheel world that we have been in since 1991.”
The plan, less than 24 hours old, has already been panned by several industry observers including renowned analyst, Paul Budde, who said it would take Australia to the bottom of the international telecommunications rankings.