Govt's broadband strategy goes missing

Govt's broadband strategy goes missing

Summary: Government's broadband strategy goes missing

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I should have known better, but I was still a bit surprised to find absolutely zilch for broadband in the latest Howard-Costello Budget.

Also, it is of significant interest that the platform upon which Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan could have announced major telecoms-related investment -- her post-Budget press release -- is completely devoid of any new funding to support the supposed priority to broadband enable Australia.

After all, with so many bad things to say about Labor's policies I assumed she had a much better strategy waiting in the wings. Surely, with Howard and Costello throwing around cash like sailors on weekend leave in Kings Cross, she could have grabbed some to fund radical new infrastructure policies?

Coonan clearly believes current policies -- and the paltry sums coming from the government to support critical broadband infrastructure -- are more than adequate for the market's needs. Now, to be fair, I wouldn't call the coming AU$600 million Broadband Connect handouts "paltry", but once they're gone, they're, well, gone.

The government, having milked as much as it could from its holdings in Telstra, has cut the industry loose and is leaving infrastructure development to the whimsy of a fragmented and chronically imbalanced market.

Where is the vision? What long-term investment is the government making to improve communications for all Australians? And I don't mean buying votes with great wads of cash that will more likely be used towards new plasma TVs than the training or childcare it was meant for.

Labor has positioned its multi-billion dollar broadband strategy as a major election initiative, and the Coalition has wasted no time in mocking it. But to keep up with the rest of the world's ICT, this country needs a coherent strategy, a cashed-up and empowered regulator, and a government that will stop blowing chances to even symbolically portray better telecommunications infrastructure as a national priority.

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

About

Australia’s first-world economy relies on first-rate IT and telecommunications innovation. David Braue, an award-winning IT journalist and former Macworld editor, covers its challenges, successes and lessons learned as it uses ICT to assert its leadership in the developing Asia-Pacific region – and strengthen its reputation on the world stage.

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9 comments
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  • govt broadband

    why should the govt be involved in broadband?
    its just got out of telstra and should remain out of every thing else
    anonymous
  • Lol

    Because its infrastructure that is highly needed for development, for one i am sick of doing this 24 MBit unreliable backward lines with sick limits! Gov' just sold T so to rid themselves of responsibility, get more cash for 'handouts' creating a new problem...but hey if you run same party for 12 years this is what you get ... Out of sigh...in the pocket ... gravy (for the top 0.01%)
    anonymous
  • no way

    why should my taxes pay for faster internet...so a few nerds can have better online gaming experiences?
    I don't think so...
    anonymous
  • WHAT!!??

    "why should my taxes pay for faster internet...so a few nerds can have better online gaming experiences? "

    What sort of short-sighted ignorant comment is that?

    There are far more important factors to consider aside from gaming. That side of the industry can sustain itself.

    So you think the current access levels in rural Australia is sufficient?

    So you think that the current competition levels, where the major stakeholder also happens to be the provider of over 95% of the current infrastructure and charges it's "parent" less than what it charges competitors for access to, is fair?

    Education, health, rural communities, industry and government can all benefit from better broadband infrastructure, otherwise we'll be left behind in another area compared to other economically developed countries that we always compare ourselves to.

    Grow up and get a better education so you can come up with a far more insightful response than that please.

    At least Google for the benefits of broadband to various industries and see the research being performed in other countries as well as Australia.

    Next thing you know, you'll be demanding that the treasury produce more money to offset a trade deficit!
    anonymous
  • reply

    the current broadband speed with adsl2 that we have are already fast and I have never heard any business complaining about it.
    spare me... they are not thinking about rural australia when they talk about this new infraestructure... all it matters is $$
    the new infraestructure will benefict a company... telstra... they should pay for it, as they will be the ones to benefict from it...
    no need to get personal... you grow up.. why can't you accept someone with a different opinion from you? ...
    you keep talking about the beneficts for industrie...bla bla... what do you know about it? do you run your own business? do you know anything to substantiate your claims?

    as i said ... if you want faster broadband... not form my tax money
    anonymous
  • Riposte

    I can certainly accept a different opinion as long as it is debated with salient points and a compelling argument instead of a poor cliche about your personal tax dollars.

    I'd feel your anger about wasted tax dollars should be expressed to politicians with regards to unnecessary or wasteful expenditures and political fringe benefits.

    And yes, I've run a small business and I've worked in several of them over the years as well as having worked in a large multinational company.

    You argue that the benefit will be for Telstra itself, and if their proposal is accepted, that is true. But as we always know, companies go where the money is. And unfortunately in this country, with our monopoly operator, that money is being held back rather than being invested where it's needed. They are preferring to hold their hand out for "help" from the government instead.

    Having ADSL2 around is far from the point with respect to the broadband proposal. It's about making it cheaper and far more accessible for all Australians and making us more attractive to internal and overseas investment. Our inferior level of available bandwidth is hindering us as well as our lack of transport infrastrucure when dealing with the large distances between capital cities.

    Also, I'm not sure you've dealt with enough companies for which ADSL2 is simply not enough for their purposes? This proposal also caters for second and third tier (quite rare these days) providers, not just the end user.

    Also, the budget was simply another middle-ground "sweetener" for the upcoming election.
    anonymous
  • Resposta

    So do yoy think the telstra proposal is the best for this country? a lot of other providers have developed their own networks (e.g adam internet)... have you heard about the G9? Telstra's intentions are to increase their monopoly position... and users will be the ones to pay for that.
    I believe a government should spend on infraestructures to the majority of australians such as more and better schools and hospitals,beter roads... rail system... the list could go on and on (it's not a cliche)... and not in broadband infraestructure that will benefict only a few...
    you reckon it will atract more foreign investment? i don't think so... labour in china is a lot cheaper... that's the main factor.
    so lack of banwith is indering internal and overses investment?... do you think the building industry, farmers... most of manufacturing industry cares about that ?
    anonymous
  • Not Telstra

    I certainly do not want the current monopoly operator to control even more of the infrastructure. But with regards to your other comments, I suggest you read the government's Broadband Guarantee which underpins the whole funding scheme:

    http://www.dcita.gov.au/communications_for_business/funding_programs__and__support/broadband_guarantee

    I certainly have heard about G9 and Adam. But you may also want to know about the overseas interest that has been shown in the scheme (http://www.itwire.com.au/content/view/12213/127/).

    Look, broadband is just one aspect of improving the nation, but it must be looked at and not glossed over. Have a read of the DCITA web site and see the reasoning behind the push. And if you don't agree, then fine. That's your right. Everyone has their niche interests. And it's not just about faster online gaming.
    anonymous
  • Govt Broadband

    I've worked in the IT industry for over 40 years and as a consultant to dozens of company's - manufacturing company's included. I can assure you that Australia is being held back economically due to our almost non existent broadband infrastructure. E.g. manufacturing design is routinely performed globally but local company's find it next to impossible to participate in design work on a daily basis because of slow network speeds. There are many other examples particularly in medicine.

    Singapore is presently installing 500Mbs - 10 times the speed of Australia's planned FTTN speed of up to 50Mbs - if you're lucky! The economic advantage to Singapore is that they'll become the financial centre of Asia because of that competitive advantage.
    The buck stops at the top - in this case the government which has let Australia down badly. Unfortunately both parties seem to think second best will do by installing FTTN rather than FTTH which of course is more expensive.
    anonymous