No high-speed broadband before election

No high-speed broadband before election

Summary: A decision on who will build a high-speed broadband network in capital cities and large regional centres will not be made before the federal election.

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The expert taskforce in charge of picking who will build Australia's high speed network has produced its guidelines for the tender process -- but don't expect a decision before the election.

According to the draft, interested parties would be given 17 weeks from the release of the final guidelines to lodge proposals. The taskforce would then require at least three months to assess the proposals before giving a report and recommendations to Senator Coonan -- meaning no decision on the network will be taken before the federal election.

The guidelines have now been made available for public consultation and can be accessed here. All comment must be submitted to the taskforce before the end of 29 August.

The draft guidelines describe the necessity for a "the timely rollout and operation of new, privately funded, open access, high speed broadband network infrastructure in Australia's capital cities and major regional centres" but does not mandate any specific technology on which the network must be based.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan said the government would not be adopting a one size fits all mentality over the broadband network. "The guidelines do not specify that the high speed network must be a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network. It could contain a fibre-to-the-home upgrade path or another alternative high speed broadband platform. But fibre-to-the-node appears to be the most likely prospect based on the strong interest from industry in a fibre network build," she said in a statement.

Opposition communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said the draft guidelines were vague and failed to specify who the network would reach or minimum connection speeds.

"Given the government's disastrous track record of backing obsolete technologies, no one should feel secure that these guidelines will deliver Australia a future-proof broadband solution," Senator Conroy said.

Both Telstra and the Optus-led G9 consortium intend to bid to build the network.

Telstra has criticised the government over perceived delays in the decision-making. "For every week that a decision on FTTN is delayed, Australia's businesses, consumers and families fall further behind the rest of the world. As many people have pointed out, high-speed broadband is a first order priority for this nation's future. The government has done nothing for ten years; it shouldn't take another eight months to decide if FTTN should happen," a spokesperson said.

AAP contributed to this story.

Topics: Broadband, Networking, Telcos, Telstra, NBN

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2 comments
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  • They dither endlessly!

    Coonan & this dumb government couldn't make a decision to save them selves! They've had over a decade to deal with this problem.
    They settled for the money & now dither even more over a network which should have been running years ago & providing ALL Australians with a network capable of REAL broadband services.
    What we have now & for the foreseeable future, is a mess beyond comprehension orchestrated by this tacky government.
    anonymous
  • Reality will out.

    My only hope is that Opel does not proceed with their planned roll-out. My heart bleeds for them (and the Australian taxpayer) if they do.

    Considering the complaints concerning Next-G, which is a superior product to the Opel system, can you imagine the public complaints and rejection of Opel equipment which would be inferior to Next-G.

    Opel may be one billion ahead (courtesy of the Aussie taxpayer) but that will soon be gobbled up and the whole Opel enterprise develop into a gigantic financial disaster. Wait and see.
    anonymous