The national broadband argument and what's on offer has come a long way since first put it on the political stage in 2007. At that time, the government promised to spend $4.7 billion on a network that would deliver and guarantee just 12Mbps.
Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said what the Coalition is now promising to deliver in terms of the footprint of the network and speeds available, is way beyond what Labor was promising in 2007.
But Labor is also talking way beyond its original numbers. Now the Coalition has finally put forward its NBN plans, consumers and businesses have a choice to make.
“We have two really attractive offers as far as the industry and consumer is concerned. What has changed from 2007 until now is that internationally, a consensus was reached that something has to be done about broadband. I don’t think that existed in 2007,” he said.
“It does now and I can tell you that there’s a lot of developed markets in Europe and North America, who have voters that would love to have this choice.”
Kennedy said under the Coalition’s NBN model, it would add more competitive discipline to the telco industry.
“With the Labor party model, we’re completely reliant on the ACCC to restrain the NBN monopoly,” he said. “I think that some competition between networks will make that task of restraining the NBN, which will be the biggest telco, a lot easier.”
Shoretel A/NZ managing director, Jamie Romanin, welcomed the Coalition’s attempts to reduce costs, but was concerned about the uncertainty that remained in the policy itself. The Coalition stated it would be replacing existing copper where it needs to be replaced, but hasn’t forecast how much copper will need to be replaced and the costs associated with it.
He also highlighted the need for an independent cost benefit analysis from both parties before the election, to make sure both parties abide by the regulations of that independent analysis.
Romanin said the industry needs to continue to challenge the government to invest in other technologies such as wireless infrastructure.
“What the government needs to consider is with the large spending on a wired network rollout, how far is that going to put us back in being able to invest in technologies like wireless?,” Romanin said. “We can’t forget about other technologies that are going to continue to drive and push forward in the near future.”
NSC Group executive chairman, Craig Neil, touched on the issue of having enough skilled workers to properly do the job of rolling out an NBN.
“It requires a massive workforce to deliver this, and it’s a workforce that we don’t have,” he said. “That’s one of the challenges. There’s not enough people that can deploy it. The Coalition’s NBN is more realistic and we can actually deliver it.
“We can do it to the node now and do it to the home later. It can be improved as the NBN becomes successful and that’s still a big if, from a financial point of view.”