Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Broadband vs broadband - the Coalition's new policy

Now we can compare and contrast

The Coalition plans...

. Telsta splits into retailer and wholesaler

. Wholesaler required to provide all Australians with broadband of at least 12 Mbps

. Where 12 Mbps not commercial, wholesaler gets government subsidy

. 12 Mbps can download audio within seconds, movies within 10 minutes. Fast enough for video conferencing

. To be provided using a mix of technologies including existing Foxtel cables

Labor plans...

. Telstra becomes retail only using NBNCo fibre

. Telstra dismantles existing phone system and agrees not to use Foxtel cables for internet.

. NBNCo becomes wholesaler delivering at least 100 Mbps to 93 per cnet of the population via fibre.

. 100 Mbps could carry high definition video, provide near-instant downloads of movies.

. Eight years to build, $43 billion estimated cost

The Coalition's policy ain't costed, but it sure wouldn't run into tens of billions

The Coalition has adopted a new high-speed internet policy that would render redundant the proposed National Broadband Network.

The policy adopted by the joint parties meeting would separate Telstra into two companies, a retailer free of onerous regulation and a wholesaler, code-named CANCo enjoying regulated pricing required by law to provide all Australians with broadband at a minimum speed of 12 megabits per second.

Fast enough to allow video conferencing and the download of movies within minutes 12 Mbps is faster than most Australians enjoy at present but slow enough to be usually achievable using existing infrastructure such Telstra's copper network and Foxtel coaxial cables and satellite and wireless technology.

By contrast Labor's plan would see Telstra relinquish its wholesale role and shut down its copper network, agreeing not to use its Foxtel cables to compete with the National Broadband Network...

The NBN would provide 100 Mbps to 93 per cent of the population via fibres direct to each door at a cost of $43 billion, some of which would come from private investors.

Speeds of 100 Mbps or more are faster than are need for most presently envisaged services and would allow the broadcast of high definition television.

The briefing presented to the Coalition party room by Communications Shadow Minister Malcolm Turnbull indicates he consulted both the Greens and independents in drafting the polic, as well as Telstra management and key Telstra shareholders including the government's Future Fund.

The new policy potentially also renders redundant Mr Turnbull's private members bill calling for Productivity Commission inquiry into the NBN. Mr Turnbull said on Sunday he would find a tick for the project from the Productivity Commission"incredibly persuasive".

Last night the independent MP Tony Windsor said he would ‘‘probably not’’ vote for Mr Turnbull's bill, because he doubted the Commission could take into account the range of uses the NBN could be put to.

"I don’t know whether Gary Banks [chairman of the Commission] has a crystal ball in terms of what the fibre optic cable will be used for in five, ten, fifteen or twenty years,’’ he told the SBS program Insight.

A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said she could not respond to a Coalition that had not been formally announced.

"In the meantime, the Gillard Government will get on with delivering the NBN, and reforming telecommunications regulation to will deliver affordable high speed broadband to all premises across Australia," she said.

Mr Turnbull told the Insight program everyone in politics was "committed to having fast broadband across Australia at an affordable price."
"The question is how do we do that most cost effectively, how do we do that in a way that promotes competition," he said.

The Coalition also decided to oppose key elements of the government bill which would exempt parts of the deal stuck between Telstra and NBNCo from scrutiny by Competition and Consumer Commission.

This amendments would allow the ACCC to reject an agreement between the two to tun off Telstra's copper network or restrict the use of the Foxtel cable as anticompetitive.

They would also allow the parliament to disallow any ministerial direction to the ACCC regarding Tesltra and NBNCo.

Published in today's SMH and Age and BusinessDay

Related Posts

. We're spending a fortune on new wires, we'll disconnect the ones you have

. Just build the NBN and bugger the expense

. The NBN is a slowly unfolding disaster

. The Productivity Commission is ready

. Hallelujah! At last we might put the NBN horse before the NBN cart