Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has told an International forum at the CES in Las Vegas that Australia is basically a broadband basket case. He has also said that broadband in Australia is expensive when compared to 30 other Countries.
He said, “The latest OECD statistics continue to see Australia trail many other developed countries on key broadband indicators. We are 16th out of 30 countries in terms of broadband penetration, and 3rd most expensive out of 30 countries in term of monthly subscription prices. A study, by Access Economics for IBM, highlights the transformative economic potential of high-speed broadband in Australia. It suggests that investments in smart technologies supported by broadband in electricity, irrigation, health and transport could add more than 70,000 jobs in 2014 alone.”
He told the audience that the report makes a conservative prediction that these investments could increase GDP by 1.5 per cent within ten years.
He said that another report by the Centre for International Economics said broadband could lift national economic output by 1.4 per cent after five to six years.
He said, “We have made it clear that five years after the completion of the National Broadband Network, we will privatise the company. The NBN will be a legislated wholesale-only, open access network connecting 90 per cent of homes, workplaces and schools with Fibre-to-the-Premises and the remaining 10 per cent with next-generation wireless and satellite.”
He added, “Fibre-to-the-Premises is becoming the standard for high-speed connectivity in our own region and, according to the FTTH Council, now represents 63 per cent of fibre subscriptions across the Asia Pacific broadband market. The FTTH Council also reports that the Asian region now accounts for more than 30.8 million of the world’s estimated 38 million Fibre-to-the Home connections.”
Conroy told the audience that, as part of Australia’s telecommunications regulatory reform measures, the Government has resolved to address the underlying incentives Telstra has to favour its own retail businesses over its wholesale customers.
“Since I announced these reforms last September, the Government has been in positive discussions with Telstra. The leadership team at Telstra has indicated that it shares the Government’s vision for the NBN and has engaged in a constructive way to determine how they may play a role. In December I was pleased to note progress in negotiations between Telstra and NBN Co, the company charged with delivering the network project, regarding Telstra’s participation,” he said.
“A model that involves the progressive migration from Telstra’s copper access network to a Fibre-to-the-Premise NBN and an acceptable solution to the use of ducts and backhaul infrastructure will deliver structural separation. However, the Government believes it will also be important under a model such as this to improve competitive outcomes during the transition period.”