The price of caution

Summary:In the last week or so we've not only heard about how the government banned Huawei from taking part in NBN Co contracts, but also about security discussions it's held with telco providers.

In the last week or so we've not only heard about how the government banned Huawei from taking part in NBN Co contracts, but also about security discussions it's held with telco providers.

At the end of last week, Communications Day said that carriers had been meeting with the government about keeping up their network security, with the government proposing a risk assessment and reporting scheme on how telcos use foreign suppliers and personnel, not only for infrastructure but for the handling of customer data.

The discussions reportedly even raised possible financial penalties for carriers not maintaining adequate network security.

Some people would think that this revelation was a good thing, because the government would have been a bit inconsistent if it said it didn't want a particular vendor on the NBN but was OK with it being used for carriers.

However, while the National Broadband Network is at the moment being built using government money, carriers are commercial entities. And while better safe than sorry is certainly a useful mantra for many, the government will need to think about the costs of mandating a certain level of paranoia for the industry.

iiNet CEO Michael Malone told the Australian Financial Review that he saw absolutely no risk with Huawei and that at the end of the day, the more vendors available, the more competition and the better price internet service providers and telcos were going to get for equipment. Less options meant higher prices for equipment, which in turn meant a higher price for internet and telecommunications services for consumers.

So as the communications minister tries to turn us into a digital nation of broadband natives, he and the rest of the government needs to think about the price that overzealous caution could have on those dreams.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government : AU, NBN, Telcos

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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