NBN: A Lobby of Wireless Convenience

I found it most interesting that a group of Australian “telco leaders” have come out swinging against the proposed National Broadband Network (NBN) today.

“The alliance members are BigAir CEO, Jason Ashton; AAPT CEO, Paul Broad; EFTel CEO, John Lane; Pipe Networks founder, Bevan Slattery; Vocus CEO, James Spenceley’ Polyfone (a microwave network operator) CEO, Paul Wallace and Allegro Networks (a wireless network operator similar to BigAir) CEO David Waldie.”

With only a couple of exceptions, all of those named above operate SPECIFICALLY in the wireless market, and therefore have a very specific commercial interest in any expansion of the wireless market. Their comments, therefore, must necessarily be viewed in this narrow context.

Nobody is suggesting the that implementation of the NBN would do away with the need for wireless services – quite the contrary, wireless services will continue to play an important and expanding role in the telecommunications industry. Wireless is the only way to access data services when mobile, and there will be more need for wireless connectivity, but it is simply not the best way to access data services when in a fixed location, however they want to spin it with a distinct commercial angle.

The biggest question for me is one of timing. If this “lobby group” are so concerned about/interested in the NBN being proliferated through wireless means, rather than fibre means, since the plans for the NBN have been known for the best part of 12 to 18 months, why are the only speaking up now? Why has it taken them so long to bring their views to the table?

They see a commercial windfall for themselves, rather than an opportunity for Australia as a whole. It is exactly the commercial greed that has dominated and distorted the telecommunications industry in this country for far too long.

The NBN is a long term vision – not a shareholder driven, short-term profit making exercise.