Resellers question broadband price, Abbott's vision

By Negar Salek on Aug 11, 2010 2:38 PM
Filed under Communications

Is the Coalition's broadband policy a mish-mash or well-priced?

The telco wholesale channel is split on the Coalition's broadband policy, announced yesterday.

Business owners told CRN they were "devastated" with the Opposition's broadband plan, while others said the Coalition's $6 billion price tag was more fathomable than Labor's $43 billion scheme.

The Coalition yesterday said that it would sell off the NBN's assets and replace them with funding for fibre backhaul and wireless access networks if it were to win government in the upcoming federal election.

But telecommunications analyst Paul Budde questioned the Coalition's vision. 

"It appears the current plan will simply take us back to 2007. Perhaps [even] a bit further back than that. It would basically mean going back to a fibre-to-the-node plan, a choice that everybody else in the world is now rejecting.

"Another indication of the lack of vision is the remark that people don't need high-speed broadband now," Budde wrote in his blog yesterday.

Similary, Telecoinabox founder Damian Kay said he was "devastated" yesterday. The telecommunications franchiser and Telstra partner viewed Labor's NBN policy "as a long-term investment - a scalable, future-proof infrastructure" to arrive "just as download requirements are just going through the roof".

Kay said he feared the Coalition's policy would stagnate innovation.

"Technology sits there and waits for the bandwidth to be available. It's just waiting for the bandwidth to catch up to it. It just seems like the Coalition's strategy is a mish-mash of technologies," he said.

But not all business owners in the IT or telco channel were as disappointed. Brennan IT managing director, Dave Stevens, questioned Labor's NBN. He said the Government's price "was a lot", while the $6 billion proposed by the Coalition was a "far more reasonable investment".

Stevens was also concerned with the lack of communication from Labor.

"Almost nothing has been communicated," he said.  "They haven't told us as a channel what our wholesale arrangements are. We don't know whether there will be business grade options.

"It's just another tale to us - when it does become available we'll have to assess it," he said.  

Similarly, the chief executive officer of mobile carrier and network operator Indigo Telecom, David Ruddiman, told CRN he supported a national broadband network, but preferred it to be provided by private industry.

"I think a public-private partnership is the best way to do it over a pure public roll out," he said. "In terms of actually investing capex (capital spending) and opex (operational spending) - in terms of getting a decent return on investment - the private sector has a history of being better at it than governments around the world.

"I think the the Coalition's approach is a more inclusive public-private outlet. It's more of a partnership arrangement. I think is a better outcome for taxpayers."

What do you think? Are you aching for 100Mbps or do you feel the price is too high? Join the debate below.

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