Turnbull lays out alternative architecture
Keep the cable nets, seek local build bids
Australia’s opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull has outlined further details of his proposed model for the Australian broadband market.
In a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, Turnbull proposed a model which would leave high-density, economically-viable locations served by market competition, unsupported by government; while providing a mix of capital subsidies, co-investment, and in the most remote areas, both capital and recurring subsidies.
Turnbull acknowledged the value of separating Telstra’s wholesale, retail and networks businesses, proposing to go further than the current government. Rather than regulating the relationship between these divisions, Turnbull said he believes full structural separation, with the businesses split into separate companies, would be more valuable to shareholders in the long term.
He says a spun-off Telstra network operation would have exchanges, the copper access network and existing Telstra HFC cable as its assets, and would be tasked with getting a minimum 12 Mbps to as many Australians as possible, “ideally within twelve months”.
This would be followed by a rapid upgrade to 24 Mbps “within forty-eight months”. The most remote locations, Turnbull said, would be served by wireless and satellite services.
Turnbull says it would be open to any carrier to bid for network builds, but in exchange for receiving the government subsidy, the networks would have to be open to all.
He confirmed that locations already connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) would be retained. While not discussing the cost of likely compensation to NBN Co or Telstra, Turnbull acknowledged that both parties would need to be accommodated under his proposed model.
Partly, any costing depends on how far the NBN build proceeds before the next election (presuming there is a change of government). NBN Co this week announced nine new locations in which network construction will commence during 2011.
Coffs Harbour has been added to NSW towns Kiama and Armidale (where construction has already commenced), and the network will come to the ‘burbs when work starts in Riverstone in western Sydney in November; Toowoomba joins Townsville on Queensland’s build list, as well as Springfield Lakes / Goodna and Aspley; Gungahlin in the ACT rounds out the current targets. ®
What am I missing here?
I am having trouble reconciling:
> would be tasked with getting a minimum 12 Mbps to as many Australians as possible, “ideally within twelve months”. This would be followed by a rapid upgrade to 24 Mbps “within forty-eight months”.
> a model which would leave high-density, economically-viable locations served by market competition, unsupported by government
Most people in these economically-viable areas do not have 24 Mbps. Most don't have 12 Mbps. So how are these people going to be upgraded to those speed without support from the government? Presumably if it was economically-viable, it would already have been done.
And how do you propose to force the split up a private company like Telstra? Turnbull blandly asserts that "more valuable to shareholders in the long term". Surely if the shareholders actually believed that it would have been done by now.
There is also the minor issue of this approach of paying the local oligopoly to upgrade the copper why leaving the open having been tried, and failed. I guess its possible that since we have said adois to Saul and Phil, attitudes have changed.
All in all, this seems like putting up something different form what the government is doing that will survive the cursory inspection it will get at election time. Ahh well. I guess it is better than the hopeless plan they floated at the last election, although I am lending it more dignity than it deserves by calling it a plan.
You don't say...
I get heaps of megabits now but when then NBN shows up, they can't run connection to me since I'm in a battle axe block. Once the copper goes away, I drop in speed. Meanwhile the Libs plan would allow my current ISP to provide my service on a non-Telstra dslam and I wouldn't be paying for hitting the limits. Limits I might mention are all over the NBN business plan. The NBN will not be cheaper for anyone on a TPG dslam and what happens when a car mounts the curb and hits the wrong box and takes out fibre for half a million users? If the Libs had rolled out their poorly verbalised plan with duct access, I could be getting gigabit up/gigabit down today but it would involve direct buried fibre where there is no room for the over protected ducting that isn't needed. I've need doing fibER for since 1985 and I don't see this working as it says on the tin.