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shaking up broadband? « Previous | |Next »
June 6, 2007

So political pressure has seen the Howard Government willing to lessen the regulatory regime for the telecommunications industry. It has backtracked from its opposition to big changes to laws that regulate how the owner of the broadband network must share access with competitors. This backtracking is meant to be the political circuit-breaker. Does this mean turning to Telstra to broadband the nation?


There will be an expert panel to consider and then to assess the competing fibre projects, presumably from Telstra and the G-9 group. The ACCC will remain a key player in the process, as it should, since it represents consumer interest.

Fibre connects the exchanges and there is little reason to assess the need for a fibre-to-node network. Broadband is not akin to a cargo cult, even if some economists have questioned the link between broadband and increased productivity.

The government's plan is all about regaining momentum on telecommunications--being seen to do something that is proactive, given Telstra's capital strike. The ALP is way ahead on this and its plan to replace the aging copper fixed line has broad industry support. The Howard Government has really made a mess of telecommunications --- did not separate Telstra into public infrastructure and retail services delivery firm--and most of the fuss about the lack of competition and Telstra's anti-competitive behaviour has its source in that policy failure.

Turning to a expert panel to assess the tenders is a step in the right direction and to be applauded, as it prevents Telstra from trying to cut a backroom deal with the Howard Government. The Howard Government must have been very tempted to cut a deal with the devil at the crossroads. Telstra really desires is control of the fibre network to exchange, street corner and the home. This would entrench its monopoly power as fibre to household would make its competitor's infrastructure obsolete.

The political spin from Costello is all about allowing private companies to built the network and not the government as proposed by the ALP. Its spin because the Howard Government is increasing the amount of public money to help build new telecommunications networks in regional areas.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:32 AM | | Comments (10)


I had hopes that this type of thing would of worked well in the bush given that the power lines were already in place and it would of solved telephone issues too.
Not sure where the system is at now in terms of technology and costing. I haven't heard much mention of it lately

I'd read that the trials were not going all that well. I reckon the technology has been decided its fibre-to-node because it has the speed needed for the 21st century.

One issue is about getting a fair access price to the network for Telstra's competitors, whilst another is getting high broadband speed between the exchange and household or business.

What happened with the satellite network. Was that not fast enough? That was going to be the future at one stage.

Satellite is used by some businesses in regional areas of SA--eg., by the wineries along the Limestone Coast. It is expensive and it is often slow. But it is much better than what Telstra offers in regional SA, which is close to nothing.

What is needed is a smart telecommunications company, such as Internode, to come up with better and smarter alternatives.

Internode, for instance, is in the process of creating a wireless network for the York Peninsula and the Coorong region.

This kind of regional broadband network depends on public subsidies under the Commonmwealth's Broadband Connect program. All new installations in regional South Australia are on hold because the Howard Government's withdrawal of the subsidy for the capital cots of installation.

You can see why they need to make a political recovery vis-a-vis the ALP. Their efforts have been poor to date. They are behind the 8 ball.

The data speeds from satellite can be good, but the response time is poor - the signal has to travel long distances.

Wireless networks look to be the thing for end user connectivity - except that anyone that uses one will tell you they are quite flakey.

Nothing beats a physical link as yet.

Well it's good that the deadlock between Telstra and the ACCC over a national fibre broadband network is broken. About time.

Will this lead to some movement, competition and innovation? A next generation of superfast broadband?

Or, alternatively, will it lead to one player (Telstra) gaining too much advantage and so able to exercise its power through price and a curtailment of the ACCC's power.

I hope for the first but I fear the second, especially when I hear Phil Burgess, Telstra's motormouth, talk.

Bigbob, my broadband is wDSL. I have an antenna on my roof which has a line of site to a tower in town where the ISP is located. It isnt any more flakey than a physical internet connection.

I'm not sure what 'flakey' means in terms of wireless broadband. Can you elaborate?

The reason why I say that Internode, is a smart telecommunications company that is coming up with better and smarter alternatives is that the company is moving to wireless Adelaide city. I find that innovative.

The first step is a series of wireless hotspots around the city. They are available free of charge until full commercial launch.

Of course, this works best for those of us working and living in the inner city. But there is no reason why this kind of network could not be developed in Hobart and Launceston with support from the local councils and the state government. Or other regional towns in Australia.

I appreciate that wireless broadband is not commercially viable in some areas (eg., Kangaroo Island in SA), but it would be so in the above urban areas, as well as the prime tourist spots in Tasmania.

Flakey as in unreliable.

The hardware is prone to dropping in and out - my laptop (using internal and external wireless modems) has intermittent problems. I know that many other users suffer through the issues.

I haven't used a permanent link like Cam's - these seem quite good.

are you in a position to have a permanent link? Is that option offered? If not, is that an indication of how far Australia lags?