Seven of Australia’s leading ICT analysts are split on whether the public discourse around the Federal Government’s planned National Broadband Network (NBN) is lacking.
In response to the question, “Is the public discourse around the NBN lacking?”, three of the analysts contended NBN conversations have not delved into the services to be delivered on the network enough, two claimed there is an incomplete view of the business plan and the role of NBNco, while the remaining two said there were no problems.
The analysts’ responses come as part of an ARN survey covering five areas – the economic and social benefits against cost; alternatives to a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network; status of existing networks; the NBNco arrangements; and the public discourse on the NBN – the analysts agreed FttP was the best choice.
(The analysts’ responses have been detailed in a series of articles. See yesterday’s article on whether the analysts thought the choice of a public/private company – NBNco – to rollout the NBN was the right move.)
Frost & Sullivan ICT practice senior research manager, Phil Harpur, was joined by Ovum principal consultant, Leith Campbell and Layer 10 founder and telco analyst, Paul Brooks in expressing the view a better understanding was needed of the kinds of services to be delivered over the NBN.
“The key public concern is around who is going to pay for the massive investment needed and is it really worth it,” he said. “However, it is difficult for Australians to have a true grasp of the concepts around the long terms benefits without any real exposure of the types of applications found on such a network, this of course will only make them more skeptical.”
LaLayer 10’s Brooks added most of the talk in public media has been around the underlying speeds and who will be the winners / losers in the “government funding feeding-frenzy”.
“There has been surprisingly little debate or analysis about the nature of services to be delivered over the network,” he said. “How much delay will be allowed for? How will telephony be carried? Will Internet services have quality guarantees? Will the NBN still work when the power fails? How long will it take to install a service or fix a service if it breaks? Will one house be able to access multiple different pay TV services and multiple ISPs at the same time? And the really big question of what sort of services can be delivered to - and what compromises will need to be tolerated by - the 10 per cent of population outside the footprint of the FttP portion of the NBN?
“These to me are much bigger questions than whether the cables should be overhead or underground, yet that is currently the major topic of discussion in the public media.”
Meanwhile, IDC telecommunications program manager, David Cannon and Gartner enterprise communications applications research vice-president, Geoff Johnson, both said there was a fragmented view of the business plan involved and the role of the NBN.