The Government’s preference for a predominantly fibre National Broadband Network (NBN) is incorrectly making wireless Internet look like an inferior technology in the eyes of those that sit outside of the fibre footprint, according to Smartnet director, James Kelaher.
He was speaking at a Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications hearing on the NBN in Brisbane.
Smartnet is a technology advisory company that identifies itself as a NBN supporter.
The current NBN model aims to connect 93 per cent of premises with fibre while the remainder 7 per cent will be serviced by wireless or satellite.
But the Government’s fervent push for a fibre NBN, exacerbated by the Opposition’s commitment to discredit the network, damages the reputation of alternative NBN technologies, Kelaher said.
“At the moment, too much of the narrative I see is delegitimising the wireless because the technology challenges the economic model of fibre,” he said.
“It would be a much better position for the nation would be to see what we can do to make sure as many people are connected as quickly as possible at the lowest possible cost.”
While Kelaher supported high-speed broadband backhaul through fibre, he warned the Government should be wary of not making wireless and satellite Internet look “second-rate” next to fibre.
He is particularly concerned that this is the stream of thought for residents of premises earmarked for alternative broadband technologies.
“Currently the message out there is they are the unlucky ones and I don’t think it is a good message nor do I think it is an accurate message,” Kelaher said. “… The reason this whole project started was because people were unhappy with the level of ADSL access they have.
“If they’re forced to wait through a complicated process of laying fibre to their home, to find out they are in the 7 per cent category, it will disenfranchise a lot of people we set out to help.”
He also claimed the Government may have underestimated the demand for mobile broadband and the increasing desire for consumers to connect to the Internet through wireless means.
At the same parliamentary hearing, Smartnet, said the NBN lacked a unified governance structure.