TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Sending the wrong NBN message

The current political debate on the NBN is mired in miscommunication and a misplaced focus on costs rather than the benefits of the network.

Technology Spectator

With the NBN inching closer to reality it’s regrettable that our politicians seem unable to agree on some fundamental principles in relation to Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure.  These principles are:

– Optical fibre offers the ultimate in fixed line performance, and all other technologies converge on FTTP as they are pushed to their performance limits;

– Australia needs a long-term vision and strategy for replacing as much of its fixed-line networks as practical with optical fibre – how we get there, when we get there, who does what can be the focal point of debates; Labour’s NBN initiative is one approach for delivering the end-result; we have yet to see a comprehensive Coalition plan

– Some of Australia’s existing infrastructure (for example, where there are short copper loops or high-speed HFC networks) is quite capable of meeting needs well into the future with just modest upgrades;  these areas need not be a priority for fibre replacement;

– Fixed line connectivity will always carry the bulk of the traffic, but broadband wireless connectivity is become equally important, and for some Australians, is sufficient to meet all of their needs.

In the period between 2005 and 2007 both the coalition government and the Labor opposition (as they were at that time) were talking about an investment of around $5 billion in broadband networks for regional Australia. I supported both these initiatives. The details were different but on a high level they would deliver much needed network improvements.

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