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.

  • I would also argue there are vested interests on all sides of the discussion. At least we are now having a discussion. Only because we have a hung parliament. I believe we need a lot more wireless. Not necessarily 4g. For instance I’d like local hobbyist networks to have regulations lifted to see what they can achieve. I also believe it needs to be supported by a robust backbone. If gov is involved it needs to be limited as much as we can. We do need to explore all options. One size does not fit all. For instance why don’t we have businesses providing local broadband infrastructure to new real estate developments.

  • Providing broadband infrastructure to new real estate developments is a political issue right now – there is legislation bouncing around to make fibre compulsory in new estates – not sure of it’s current status.

    As for vested interests – sure, undoubtedly – there always is. For me the vested interest is in the economic circumstances Australia may or may not find itself in 30 years from now, when my daughter will be my age right now.

    I don’t want Australia to be a backwater when it is faced with being the only developed country in the world who believes/believed (on an official level) that 12Mbps will/would be enough for the kind of applications that will exist five years from now.

    Almost every economic powerhouse nation in the world is doing this – why should we pass up our chance to be a part of that. Doing nothing scares me.

    Going down the Coalition path has its benefits, but I have confidence that the NBN will deliver far more positive outcomes decades from now than wasting $6.5b on a sub-standard solution that will be obsolete in five or ten years from now.

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