Outspoken telecommunications stalwart David Havyatt has called for the industry to shower the federal broadband department with unsolicited submissions on the National Broadband Network (NBN).
"How do you get a process of getting input into what's going to happen on the NBN process? My short answer is: if you've got anything you think is important on the NBN, write a submission to the government's regulatory paper, even though it's not one of the questions they asked," Havyatt said at a Future Forum held by the Australian Telecommunications User Group today.
Havyatt has previously held a temporary assistant secretary position within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) for a few months in 2008, working with the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee. Currently, however, he is the manager for regulatory and corporate affairs at wireless provider Unwired and the owner of Havyatt Associates, in which capacity he spoke today. Prior to that he held a similar public affairs role at AAPT.
"If we leave ourselves only to thinking about answering the questions they asked, it will be leaving areas of the debate out," he said.
The executive stressed that if anyone had absolutely any thought on the network which the department had so far passed over, they should send it to the government.
"The people in the department need our collective assistance in helping define the things they need to think about," he said.
Later on, he attempted to illustrate the necessity of this assistance by talking about an incident where the government had acted in, to his thinking, a short-sighted manner — the absence of discussion on the digital economy as a part of Kevin Rudd's 2020 summit.
The people in the department need our collective assistance in helping define the things they need to think about
Havyatt said that a co-chair of the forum when challenged on this point had said that broadband was being discussed, which should be enough. Yet Havyatt today pointed out that broadband and the digital economy were not the same thing. Broadband was a requirement of the digital economy, but would never replace it.
Although Communications Minister Stephen Conroy acknowledged the digital economy issue when he met with industry leaders at the Digital Economy Forum in September last year to ask for ideas on a future directions roadmap for Australia, his department hadn't shared his enthusiasm, according to Havyatt.
"Some DBCDE staff ... actually have been known to say, 'I don't understand why the government needs to talk about the digital economy', it's already arrived," Havyatt said today. "I thought that's like saying the transportation revolution had arrived the moment Benz invented the first motorcar."
Havyatt called for industry not to let their thoughts be put into a box, but to tackle important issues from different directions. He believed that people, including policy-makers, were too prone to look around the world and only see things that confirmed their world view. The question the industry now needed to be asking themselves when considering new ideas was "why not?", he said.