Opposition broadband policy will create integration dramas

Observers flag potential serious issues with integration on a hybrid infrastructure after Opposition reveal policy

The Opposition’s decision to rely on a mix of technologies to deliver faster broadband infrastructure as part of its recently-announced policy could create major integration headaches for both telecommunications and ICT companies.

In comparison to the Federal Government’s fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN) the Opposition has announced it will let the market decide what technologies it will roll out while also funding a fibre backbone, telephone exchange upgrades and unspecified wireless technology networks.

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) CEO, Ian Birks, who earlier in the day published an open letter criticising all parties for a lack of focus on ICT in the election discourse, said fibre is a “future proof investment”.

“The hybrid, HFC wireless solution the Opposition have tabled is obviously going to be significantly cheaper,” he said. “But it is not as future proof and that is the critical issue.

“The degree of interoperability issues that could be created by that kind of approach means you could end up having different styles of solutions in different geographic regions and a degree of issues with how they work together. So it is one of the things that needs to be sorted through.”

Birks was quickly joined by telecommunications provider, Tecloinabox, in blasting the plan.

In a statement, Telcoinabox managing director, Damian Kay, echoed concerns the Opposition’s policy was not future proof and said it was “destined for integration dramas”.

“Having a ‘mish mash’ of technologies ranging from upgraded copper, wireless, HFC and fibre will make integration impossible. This is not a future proof solution. We need to roll out a scalable and upgradable core infrastructure as far as is economically feasible and then deploy wireless and/or satellite at the fringe of the network as well as complementing in the middle (hotspots),” Kay said.

“The demand for data is exponentially growing month by month, year by year. Upgrading aging copper is a waste of time. We might as well stay in the dark ages.”

The long-awaited policy has been severely criticised from many corners in the industry and it is yet to be in the public for 24 hours.

The Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC) was quick to say the policy will not provide greater competition and will make the market “worse”.

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”.

It was also panned by renowned analyst, Paul Budde, who said it would take Australia to the bottom of the international telecommunications rankings.

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Tags Federal Election 2010Liberal PartyCoalitionNational Broadband Commission (NBC)tony smithbroadband

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