Analyst: NBN is wasteful as copper is still viable

A telco analyst has slammed the $43 billion fibre network claiming copper still has “good life” in it

The National Broadband Network (NBN) will not drive productivity significantly and the existing copper network still has more to give, according to telco analyst, Kevin Morgan.

During a heated debate on SBS program, Insight>, Morgan trashed the NBN and said the drastic broadband speed increase not yield enough benefits to justify its $43 billion price tag.

He claims the existing copper network is still viable and cited German telco, Deutschen Telecom's huge investments on upgrading its own copper network.

“The copper still has good life in it,” Morgan said.

Boosting broadband speeds that are already considered reasonable will not increase Australia's productivity, he said.

“... No-one in the world has done [this type of NBN]. Nobody wants to touch it. You are the only politician who wants to touch it.”

Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was also on the program and added to Morgan's point.

He claims 100Mbps broadband speeds are excessive for consumer broadband consumption and is not required for deliver e-health services such as doctor consultations at home via video streaming.

The Federal Government has heavily spruiked e-health as one of the benefits the NBN would bring.

In August, Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised $250 million on Medicare rebates for online consultations for rural, remote and outer metropolitan areas by July 2011.

Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, hit back and criticised the lack of consideration for upload speeds.

“For high-definition (HD) video conferencing that Malcolm is describing there in e-health, you need to have upload capacity,” he said on Insight.

“The ADSL - A stands for asymmetric which mean on copper, down speeds are fantastic but on up speeds they are not so good.”

The NBN has been hotly debated as dissenters emerge to criticise the Federal Government's approach to a ubiquitous broadband network.

The Alliance for Affordable Broadband released an open letter in late August to express their concern over spending $43 billion on a fibre NBN and recommended a wireless-centric approach at a fraction of the cost.

In October, senior banking and business executives called for a cost-benefit analysis and business case for the Government’s National Broadband Network.

A cost-benefit analysis has been requested on numerous occasions by the Coalition and Turnbull is determined to squeeze one out of the NBN through a private members bill introduced into parliament this week.

The NBN Financial Transparency Bill will require the Federal Government to publish a 10-year business case for the $43 billion network including key financial and operational indicators by November 19.

It would also allow the Productivity Commission to conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis on the NBN to be presented to Parliament by May 31 next year.