Asked if they had any doubts Australia needed a significant upgrade to its existing networks from technology and competition view points, seven of the country’s leading ICT analysts have given mixed responses.
On the technology side of the question, four of the analysts – Buddecomm analyst, Paul Budde; Frost & Sullivan ICT practice senior research manager, Phil Harpur; Layer 10 founder and telco analyst, Paul Brooks; and IDC telecommunications program manager, David Cannon – unequivocally stated the country’s network needed an upgrade.
“I have no doubt that Australia's communication networks do and will need a significant upgrade by the time the NBN will be rolled out,” IDC’s Cannon stated in his response.
Layer 10’s Brooks agreed and said Australia’s networks were in need of an “evolutionary upgrade”.
“The current network based on copper loops was designed and continues to be deployed with conventional analog telephony as the primary service, and high speed data transmission is a relatively recent requirement that has been bolted on to the predominantly voice infrastructure,” Brooks said in his response. “Technology advances with higher and higher capacity flavours of DSL have helped the copper network service demand. However, we have pretty much wrung out the maximum performance from metallic wires, and any further increases in speed come at the expense of a corresponding decrease in distance and service area.
“Changing the underlying medium from metal wires to glass fibres provides vast increases in both information rate and distance. Really this is just the next stage of evolution – over the past three or four decades it was the long-haul and inter-exchange network that was upgraded from copper to optical fibre, and now it is the access network's turn to be upgraded in a similar way.”
However, the remaining three analysts were more cautious in their answers. Gartner enterprise communications applications research vice-president, Geoff Johnson, declined to give a response and said the analyst firm did not make “social judgments” like this, but rather gave “business advice”.