Turnbull urged to end uncertainty over jobs, investment
The telecommunications industry has called on Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be quick and decisive as he considers what to do with the national broadband network.
With no more information likely to emerge about the infrastructure project until about Christmas — when a 60-day review is completed — there were questions about jobs and investment at the annual CommsDay industry conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Mr Turnbull supplied a five-minute video to the conference, reassuring the audience that existing national broadband network roll out work would continue. He also said he would reduce industry regulation, without going into details.
There were potentially thousands of jobs at risk in the sector if the government was too slow deciding how to proceed with the rest of the roll out, according to the managing director of Alcatel-Lucent in Australia, Sean O'Halloran.
He estimated about 20,000 people were involved in the industry surrounding the roll out.
He said loss of momentum would lead to job losses.
"It will have a significant impact," Mr O'Halloran said.
He praised both the Labor and Coalition governments for making broadband a national concern but said the issue had become very political.
"Network technology or design really shouldn't be the concern of the customers," he said.
"Consumers shouldn't care about nodes, ducts and pits and all the different options."
Mr O'Halloran said Alcatel-Lucent was supportive of node technology based on existing copper wires, a new business avenue the company has built in recent years due to demand from European operators.
Meanwhile, the chief technology officer at iiNet, John Lindsay, said he supported a quick roll out, particularly for people who still cannot access a reliable broadband service.
He said it cost iiNet $24 per line less each month to service a regional customer on the national broadband network than through Telstra and that iiNet had the biggest market share of the network with 20,000 customers, including internode customers.
"We do like the economics of the NBN. We like its performance and we definitely like its reliability," Mr Lindsay said.
However, he noted there was a lack of information about what the new government would do and how it would affect competition and existing infrastructure investments.