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Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) believes the NBN's fibre to the premises is essential if mobile networks are to meet mobile device owners' expectations.

Speaking in Sydney today at a public hearing of the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network, VHA's General Manager Industry Strategy and Public Policy Matthew Lobb said the argument that “because consumers love mobile tech they don't like wires the NBN is not important” is wrong and that “getting fixed line right is absolutely crucial for mobile networks.”

VHA is putting its network where its mouth is by testing femotcells with some of its small collection of NBN customers and Lobb told the Committee it is doing so because “if you can take traffic out of the mobile network you increase the speed” of both the mobile network and devices that use it. Lobb said picocells and microcells “also have a part to play” but did not mention if VHA is testing or considering them.

Lobb also told the Committee that the company's entry to the fixed line market would not be possible were it not for the industry reforms that have accompanied the advent of the NBN.

“Australia has not been an attractive fixed line market because of Telstra's 70% market share and vertical integration,” Lobb said. “Recent reforms and the NBN have changed our thinking.”

Lobb also called for NBNCo's marketing messaging to emphasise competition.

“There needs to be a pro competition plan,” he told the committee. “Saying nothing will change is a missed opportunity. NBNCo should promote new entrants.”

MP Rob Oakeshott, the Committee's Chair, questioned Lobb about VHA's use of Huawei products. Lobb's answer said the company “Uses Huawei a fair way out of our network … in base stations and so on. It is an important part of our netowrk and is delivering good results.”

“The important thing to understand is that security is a vital part of any telco's business. Consumers and government must trust us, so we have a strong interest to make sure the right protections are in place. We are confident they are in place.” ®

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