Broadband tales from the bush

Are folks in regional Australia really suffering from a dilapidated infrastructure controlled by an uncaring monopoly?

Are folks in regional Australia really suffering from a dilapidated infrastructure controlled by an uncaring monopoly?

This week on Twisted Wire I look at the state of broadband in regional Australia and ask whether the National Broadband Network (NBN) is what's needed to fix it. There are many companies already out there selling services locally: I talk to Philip Lazenby from Bendigo Community Telco and Mark Ilott from Anittel on the program.

James Spenceley from Vocus says it's the backhaul cost that's the issue. Lower that cost and commercial operators will find a way of fixing the last mile using a myriad of technologies.

Yet most businesses selling to regional Australia are focusing on business where higher revenue justifies the heartache of developing alternate last mile solutions. They find it harder to compete for home users given the high cost of wholesale access through Telstra, the only choice in many parts of the country.

The NBN might fix the cost problem, but there could be a flow on effect. Economist Stephen King says cross subsidisation will make the NBN too expensive in the cities. He points to Brisbane City Council's plans to build its own network as an example of the repercussions.

Green's Senator Scott Ludlam isn't fazed by the Brisbane development and says we cross subsidise many services in the bush — like power, for example.

Yes, Twisted Wire is all about the NBN again this week, and once again shows that there are many issues thrown up by the concept. The upside for the bush is clear, but are there consequences of cross-subsidised pricing that haven't been fully considered?

Running time: 25 minutes, 55 seconds

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