Thursday, September 05, 2013

Broadband Choices for Australia

My "The Lexus and the Broadband Network" analogy was picked up by Australian Science Media Centre and is quoted in "Rural areas to lose in Coalition internet plan, says expert" (Toowoomba Chronicle, 4th September 2013). Expecting more queries from the media on this, I thought I had better summarize the main points of the options offered by the parties. The ALP's  National Broadband Network (NBN), is well known, the Coalition Broadband Policy less well.

Both parties propose a model where different retailers can market essentially the same wholesale product. Cable will be used in the city (fibre for ALP and hybrid for Coalition), fixed wireless in rural areas and satellite in remote areas. The NBN is planned to be completed by 2020 at a cost of  $44B, Coalition by 2019 at $30 billion.

The ALP offers 1 Gbps, Coalition 50 Mbps, on twentieth the speed. But this is only on the cabled networks, the wireless networks will be 25 Mbps (realistically 12 Mbps) and satellite 12 Mbps (realistically 1 Mbps). The NBN fiber system has potential for faster speeds, the hybrid network less so.

Charges for the NBN are around $50 to $100 per month. The NBN wholesale access prices start at $24 a month for 12 Mbps. For the Coalition alternative they are likely to be similar. This has little to do with the cost of the network or technology, but more to do with competition.

Both the party's policies assume one network where the only competition is between retailers offering essentially the same product. But in reality these retailers will be competing with the mobile phone companies selling wireless broadband, currently "4G", at up to 100 Mbps (more realistically 1 Mbps).

ps: I wonder what my former tutors at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba make of this.

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