The prospect of the Coalition taking charge of Australia’s broadband future is now less of a concern for iiNet chief, Michael Malone.
While the previous directive of the Coalition to “demolish the National Broadband Network (NBN)” should it come into power had worried Malone greatly, recent comments from Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, have instilled some hope.
“I don’t want to be complacent, but I’m becoming less concerned for the NBN now,” Malone told ARN. “The argument around the NBN has become more nuanced, particularly in the last few weeks and months, so whichever government builds it, I think we are going to have ubiquitous high-speed and affordable broadband.
“There will be some level of separation of wholesale from retail and that, for me, is what we want to achieve.”
Labor has seen a sharp decline in popularity in recent months leading to speculation the Coalition may have a better chance of winning the next Federal election which takes places before the completion of the NBN.
The timeline for rolling out the $36 million network spans 10 years.
At a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) lunch in Sydney this week, Turnbull outlined the Coalition’s plans to get their version of the NBN out faster and cheaper than Labor.
Should the Coalition seize power, the plan would be to use a mixture of copper, fibre and wireless technologies. Their objective aligns with Labor’s goal of delivering NBN to places where broadband is needed most first.
Malone preferred Labor’s NBN but did not discredit the Coalition’s proposal.
“At least it’s not demolishing it,” he said. “Under either government, it appears we will have a world where every Australian gets broadband and iiNet’s challenge then is how to get people do use it more.”
Alluding to the over-saturation of the ADSL2+ market, Malone said ISPs need to work even harder to attract customers.
“The time of accumulating as many customers as possible is over; if it’s not over for everybody it is in its final stages,” he said. “We now have to win every new customer from somebody else so that will play out over the next two years.
“The real game for the next 10 years is figuring out what else customers would do with the Internet.”