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NBN Need A Rethink: Vodafone

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 06/11/2013

Internet's gone mobile, so NBN needs to, too.

Vodafone CEO calls for the Federal Government's review of NBN to examine  opportunities for mobile.

As the 60 day strategic review into the NBN gets underway, a new report 'Superfast Broadband: the Future is in your hands,' calls for a "a shift in thinking" to looking at opportunities it can offer mobile broadband services. 

 The report, commissioned by Vodafone, says National Broadband Network offers the government a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver more competition and affordable fixed and mobile broadband services. 

The superfast fibre network can extend services to rural areas, who previously had no choice over provider, the report, 
released by the McKell institute today, states. 

The report says the NBN should play an important role in ensuring improved mobile services as the Coalition's strategic review of the $43 billion project started by Labor, seeks to cut costs and examine alternative technologies including fibre to the node (FTTN) as opposed to Fibre to the home, as advocated by Labor. 

 "This report doesn't call for a radical overhaul of the NBN; rather just a shift in thinking. The NBN will open the door to so many new opportunities with the right focus," says Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow.  

The McKell report recommends policymakers review the strategic decisions made five years ago, as ex Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski backed by new board members take the reins at the national broadband company. 

Mobile is now Australian's number one communications service, he said.  "We are becoming increasingly mobile. We think the NBN presents a great opportunity to deliver this."

"The NBN was conceived before we knew just how essential mobile broadband would become and that is growing year on year."

Over 50% of Aussie households subscribe to mobile broadband services - now exceeds fixed services. More already access the web on a smartphone or iPad compared to a desktop PC. 

"The current review of the NBN should help deliver what people really want - better mobile coverage and choice in regional Australia", he said.  

A major impediment to providing better mobile coverage for providers like Vodafone and Optus was the cost transmission backhaul. 

Murrow says the NBN could play a role in overcoming the roadblocks that hamper mobile competition in regional areas. 

Put simply, you need fixed-line infrastructure to carry the voice and data traffic from the mobile network to the exchange and to the rest of the world.  

However, the economics of building duplicate fixed and mobile infrastructure don't stack up, leaving consumers in many areas with no choice.

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