The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has likened the National Broadband Network (NBN) to the Apple iPhone, saying it’s impossible to know all the applications that will use the high-speed connectivity engine before it is built.
Speaking during day two of the Realising Our Broadband Future forum, Conroy told delegates the NBN would enable applications that had not yet been imagined.
“The iPhone is an enabling platform in the mobile market in the same way as the NBN will be an enabling platform for Australia in the years and decades ahead,” he said.
Conroy said that the 85,000 downloads available from the App Store were applications that nobody would have imagined when the iPhone was first developed and innovation would no doubt continue.
“Should Apple have waited for all these applications to be developed before it built the platform?” he asked the audience. “Or could it be the case that without the enabling platform, none of these applications would ever have been developed at all?”
Conroy outlined some discussions from day one of the forum, saying they provided a “refreshing insight” into Australia’s digital economy. He also argued that the NBN would have flow-on benefits in other areas such as health, education, water management energy efficiency and regional infrastructure.
“The National Broadband Network will be Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open access, high-speed broadband platform,” he said. “The network will operate on an arms-length basis from Government and we remain confident it will operate on a commercial basis.”
The NBN could be considered utility infrastructure, he said, earning a utility-style rate of return, rather than those generally earned by and expected from a vertically-integrated operator. He was clearly talking about Telstra.
“While we remain confident of the commercial operating basis for the NBN, the benefits of the investment will be significantly broader,” he said. “It will support a new competitive communications market that will unleash innovation and development.”
A competitive wholesale broadband network would resolve the “economic blockage”.
“In fact, a number of retail service providers – iiNet, Internode, Primus and Macquarie Telecom – have already indicated that they aim to take advantage of these networks to enter underserved markets.”