Despite the explosive take-up of broadband in Australia over the past two years, a whitepaper released by KPMG and Alcatel asserts that a lack of regulatory certainty and unwillingness by the government to pursue a nationwide rollout of next generation broadband infrastructure will severely damage the future economy.
The paper, titled Fostering investment in broadband infrastructure - the need for regulatory certainty, reviews different regulatory frameworks for next generation broadband investment from eight international markets and draws upon their adaptability to the Australian landscape.
The analysis revealed five policy and regulatory levers at work: government subsidy and/or incentives; safe harbour; access price certainty; selective deployment based on return of investment; and vertical disaggregation.
However, regardless of which proposed framework best suits Australia, the lack of regulatory certainty in place to encourage players in the space is serving as a disincentive for investors willing to foot the estimated $20 billion bill needed for a nationwide rollout.
With Australia sitting at 17th in household broadband penetration amongst OECD countries, the paper calls for Australian policy makers, regulators and the telecommunications industry to come together and formulate a plan that sees through the deployment of a next generation infrastructure network.
KPMG director of information, communications and entertainment, Malcolm Alder, said the white paper's main role was to propose several alternative methods relevant to Australian needs rather than a definitive solution.
"If change doesn't start now, Australia risks a decrease in productivity and a loss of business and talent relative to international trading peers who are more advanced in broadband," he said.
KPMG is holding a forum with industry players in May to develop a stakeholder broadband group and to discuss strategies to further the development of next generation broadband infrastructure.
"Anyone who adds their voice to the debate about the importance of next generation broadband will be doing a positive thing. We really want to drum up support and start debate on this issue so it can be addressed sooner," Alder said.