Telco industry wants Albanese to focus on competition, NBN policy

Telco industry wants Albanese to focus on competition, NBN policy

Summary: The telecommunications industry has welcomed new Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and the ministers under him.


As Australian Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was this afternoon sworn in as minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the telecommunications industry has broadly welcomed him to the role, with some advice for what he should be focusing on in the lead-up to the election.

(Image: Department of Infrastructure)

Albanese was sworn into the job by Governor-General Quentin Bryce this afternoon, along with his support MPs — Minister for Regional Communications Sharon Bird, Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy Kate Lundy, and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband Ed Husic.

The deputy prime minister already held responsibility for transport and infrastructure, and will retain those portfolios. Although he doesn't have any extensive experience in the telecommunications portfolio, Albanese has represented the former minister for communications, Stephen Conroy, in answering questions in the House of Representatives.

Vodafone CEO Bill Morrow said that he looks forward to working with the new ministers.

"The National Broadband Network is one of this country's most important infrastructure projects as Australia builds its digital capacity and maintains its global economic competitiveness," he said in a statement.

"I look forward to working with the new ministers to ensure that all Australians benefit from the digital revolution and a competitive telecommunication industry."

He particularly welcomed Bird to her role, stating that there needs to be a greater policy focus on delivering a competitive telecommunications market for regional Australia.

Optus vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs David Epstein said that Albanese will bring a strong background in national infrastructure issues to the NBN portfolio. Epstein said he welcomes Husic's appointment given his prior role as the national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia, and as he was also the divisional secretary of the Australian Worker Union's communications division.

"Mr Husic has a strong knowledge of the telecommunications industry from his time as a union official, and we have enjoyed a good relationship with him as the convenor of the ALP digital economy group," Epstein said.

iiNet CEO Michael Malone told ZDNet that he would like to see Albanese reassess the possibility of NBN Co opening up backhaul to access seekers, and re-evaluate the capacity charge for services on the NBN.

With key decision makers Conroy and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard now gone, Malone said it is now a chance for the government to reconsider a fibre-to-the-basement policy for multi-dwelling units (MDUs) that Cabinet previously rejected.

"Now there's a chance for new policy, no one is bound by what was there on the table, so perhaps revisiting putting fibre to the basement for MDUs, which I think would be an obvious thing to do and it would mean you have 15 to 20 percent of the population to be getting onto the NBN next year."

He disagreed that such a policy would create a two-tiered system for fixed-line broadband in Australia.

"VDSL2 will still deliver up to 100Mbps, and you're seeing bonded DSL and vectoring deliver speeds much higher than that," he said. "With very short runs, you can get extremely close to the customer."

Telstra CEO David Thodey welcomed Albanese to the role.

"We welcome Mr Albanese, who has been carrying the Comms portfolio in the House of Reps for a number of years, and we look forward to working with him," Thodey said in a statement.

Telecommunications industry analyst Paul Budde said that Albanese taking on the portfolio as well as being deputy prime minister shows how seriously the government takes the NBN.

"Anthony Albanese is in many aspects the right person to take on the NBN. While the debate has sometimes been rather different, the NBN has all to do with national infrastructure and very little with telecommunications, and while the deputy PM might not be as knowledgeable about telecoms, he most certainly is knowledgeable in relation to infrastructure," he said.

Budde said Albanese is a seasoned politician who will be well positioned to respond to the "political rhetoric" from Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull said today that the NBN is "a project in crisis", and issued a set of questions to Albanese that he believes needs to be answered, including whether NBN Co's chair Siobhan McKenna is now actively looking to replace CEO Mike Quigley.

Shadow Regional Communications Minister Luke Hartsuyker was also critical of Labor for only now appointing the regional communications ministry role close to three years after the Coalition established the portfolio.

"Communications services in regional Australia need the dedicated attention of a competent and experienced minister," he said in a statement.

"The appointment of a first-time minister to the Regional Communications portfolio leads me to believe this appointment is more about electioneering and less about tackling the big communications issues in regional Australia."

Topics: Government, Government AU, Telcos, NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • MDU issue

    Easily solved by bringing fibre to the 'node' in the basement quite sure an ISP will offer to cable the building in exchange for loyalty and high percentage of tenants.

    Transact cabled many MDU's this way.
    • Obvious for a long time

      As is infrastructure competition (including opening up back haul). But it's entirely political; supported by those professing non-bias.

      Albanese the obvious successor to Conroy; both named in the NSW ICAC enquiry of Eddie Obeid. Funny how tight the Labor party is, and how the stench of corruption follows these union hacks.

      Under a month for the June 2013 rollout update; allowing comparison with the two corp plans. Always interesting reading.

      I wonder if the 50 member NBNCo media team will distribute it more widely this time;-)
      Richard Flude
      • Hmmm

        In Hansard and well reported on and analysed, however MSM, eapecially team Rupert pulled up the known for ages asbestos issue to obscure the excellent results and create roadblocks and slow down the rollout prior to the election
        Abel Adamski
        • So it wasn't the union that raised the asbestos issue

          Massive corruption clearly not an issue for some; just political bias.
          Richard Flude
          • Political bias...ROFL

            A few hold ups to Australia's biggest ever construction and fibre in Telstra pits equates to massive corruption in the minds of the self admitted ideological pawns...

            Must be great to work in a fibre business, nay be the Chief "Information" Officer and not understand fibre... incompetence and/or stupidity personified...!
          • Quigley knew about the pits

            3 years ago
          • And Telstra

            And Telstra (the owners of the pits) knew about them well over a decade ago, your point?
          • It's no excuse

            They should not be used as an excuse for delays.

            The problem was there it was known about and should have been factored into the risk profile of the project.

            All of the noise about the pits now is a smoke screen designed to deflect away from poor management.
          • Should have

            It was and was agreed to be Telstra's responsibility, part of the reason for the Tardy and patchy remediation which has been a major factor in delays and contractor issues preventing smooth rollout.
            As I have mentioned before Telecom had a remediation program which Telstra discontinued to maximise profits, tried to be brought up along with other maintenance and fault rectification issues at the 1994 AGM to be crushed most rapidly
            However continue blindly or venally supporting Rupe and Telstra's massive monopoly pay TV profits
            Abel Adamski
          • Actually

            the asbestos smoke screen commenced the day the excellent NBN results were tabled, ensuring the public ignorance and obviously also yours
            Abel Adamski
          • Excuse?

            The owner of the pits told NBNCo they were fixing them, why is this an NBNCo issue for you?
  • Yawn

    "Murdoch has said the split will "unlock value" for shareholders by creating one firm focused on the high-flying television and film activities, and another on newspapers and other struggling publishing entities."
    The other being
    "The "new News Corporation" will include newspapers in Britain, Australia and the United States, including The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London. It also includes digital real estate services, book publishing, digital education and sports programming and pay-TV distribution in Australia."
    The struggling entities being supported by the highly profitable sports programming and pay TV distribution.

    Vested interest anyone, look at what that monopoly is supporting.

    At least Sultana you are supporting well known ikons
    Abel Adamski
  • LOL, poor Tumball, I'm not surprised he would claim the NBN is a project in crisis. When you have a complete lemon to sell that no one wants what else is there left to do;-)
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Glad you finally agree

      You nailed it.

      The NBN is a complete lemon that no one wants to buy.

      There may be hope for you yet.
  • Already hints

    of the inadequacy of the FTTN and the fibre to the basement option.
    Remember FTTP provides 4 ports and 3 fibres plus voice ports
    Multicasting is seperate to the broadband plan, not feasible over a pair of wires when 4K TV sets are on the market and true HD and 4K channels are on the horizon.

    Today, a freind who has a autistic child that starts school next year has started with AAMI, they have a call centre in Fountain Gate designed around teleworking, it means AAMI installing a seperate exclusive broadband service. She was only able to work 3 days a week, (child minding by Nanna) with 1.5 hours each way travelling to work. Now work flexible pre arranged hours, literally on instantaneous call when the business needs more hands on deck.
    Future looking at dual screens with one and camera purely for team and manager and business communications and interactions, retaining team spirit and co ordination.

    MDU dwellers will find they become the disadvantaged peasants, sure they have their broadband and can stream video and some limited work from home would be possible, but why would the employer settle on a worker with a limited ability to integrate
    Abel Adamski
    • 4k channels aren't proposed

      HD channels not even popular.

      Teleworking possible over ADSL2+, that'll be the service provided.

      Plenty of capacity for both VDSL and HFC including multicast ing and QOS.

      No application yet (or in the horizon) requires $60+b infrastructure spend which is massively behind schedule.
      Richard Flude
      • "4k channels aren't proposed"

        If you propose a 4k channel first you have to assume the infrastructure is in place to support it reliably. Currently it does not exist so there are no proposals. FttP would be far more effective, consistent and reliable for this without slowing down other internet activities. Not ADSL2+ or VDSL on FttN. Please try and use a bit of logic here. It's not that hard;-)

        “HD channels not even popular.”

        Totally irrelevant. HD channels not popular due to appalling quality and arguably even more appalling content. The fact that people are watching HD content by other means proves there is a market for it. Abel is right about true HD and 4k with multicasting. Also If you bothered to educate yourself on this topic you'll find "4k" content is actually already available on Youtube;-)

        "No application yet (or in the horizon) requires $60+b infrastructure spend which is massively behind schedule."

        Remind us which applications require wasting $30+ billion and speeds not much better than ADSL2+ on obsolete copper;-)
        Hubert Cumberdale
        • it appears that we see acceptance from you

          that the fttp roll out will cost 40B?
          Knowledge Expert
      • Multicasting

        is being trialled and developed, as new products appear they can be facilitated, a 1Gb or more Multicast spectrum feasible. With multi fibre to premises and redundant fibres a dedicated 10Gb Multicast service is feasible. High quality 4K needs approx 50Mb/S, medium quality 25Mb/S how many channels in a VDSL stream or a 100Mb connection from the node in the basement. HQ video over the broadband service will not only voraciously devour your data allowance, but also clog the network for other users.
        Remember what provided the initial demand and volume for the internet and broadband in the first case
        Abel Adamski
      • Teleworking Possible

        Over ADSL2+, really?
        KPI's are king, call or operational lengths/efficiencies are measured in seconds. $Millions are spent on systems and facilities to reduce transaction handling times by companies.
        The relatively slow upload speeds of ADSL and VDSL will degrade transactional efficiencies especially where alternative scenarios are being considered with multiple queries and saves as well as Voip tunnels being kept alive.
        Yes telework is "possible", but not necessarily of operationally of optimal efficiency, however a step towards building and designing systems and methodology and proceedures etc, as I pointed out building team dynamic and cohesiveness is a very important operational factor which is very limited under your option Richard
        Abel Adamski