In today's Twisted Wire, Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett explains his vision for a broadband enabled Tasmania, that will "leapfrog every other nation on earth".
On this week's podcast you'll hear:
Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett
General manager Telecoms for Basslink, Michael Coates
iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby
Former Neighbourhood Cable CTO Garth Freeman
He says his government's foresight in keeping electricity in state hands provides the access to the infrastructure to make this possible, and that's why Tasmania is first cab off the rank with the new NBN.
Leapfrog is certainly the right term — until now, for a service provider, delivering broadband to Tasmanians has been an expensive exercise and that has certainly restricted competition and consumer choice. The expense came in the cost of backhaul from the Apple Isle across to the mainland. Although there were two links, they were both owned by Telstra.
The federal and state governments have announced that stage one of
the NBN will roll out in Tasmania. A new
entity, TNBN Co, will be a subsidiary of NBN Co, jointly owned by
Aurora Energy. The state-owned Aurora Energy has now launched a
tender for the supply of the thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic
cable needed to offer fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) access to 200,000 Tasmanian households
Clearly, it's all change in Tasmania, but is it all a bit of
overkill? On its Now We Are Talking blog back in November 2008
Telstra said apple-islanders had nothing to worry about — they
have invested heavily in the state, there are lots of ISPs making
money, customers pay no more than anywhere else and 93 per cent of the
population has access to ADSL.
That's not how the Tasmanian Government sees it. It has made
strategic investments in fibre assets, all in the name of
competition against the big T. In fact, by using Aurora Energy to
administer the build of its local version of the NBN, I wonder
whether the government is excluding the option for Telstra to offer to build
a network using its own infrastructure.
The other big question is, why such hefty government
involvement? It seems Telstra's monopoly across the Bass Strait was
the main factor preventing a more aggressive competitive
environment. That has surely been remedied by the launch of BassLink. We can now expect more ISPs to build their own DSLAM
infrastructure in the state and, if regulation provided access to
ducts and poles, wouldn't the private sector move in and build
alternate networks without government involvement?
On the positive side of things, here's a state government that
has grasped the significance of the opportunity provided by the new
digital economy. Tasmania, with its clean air, fresh water and
healthy country walks, could attract many great minds who can still
be connected to the rest of the world.
By retaining its electricity utility in public hands the
government is able to use infrastructure to facilitate its
telecommunications build. Isn't this precisely what government
should be doing — coordinating major infrastructure projects that
will help build the economy?
It's another chapter in the National Broadband Network story,
the build of Premier Bartlett's "living laboratory" that will
become the envy of the world.
After listening to this week's program be sure to tell us in the
Talkback section whether you are:
Ready to move to Tasmania for fast broadband and a green lifestyle
Off out to buy DSLAMs to grab some new business from the Apple Isle
Wondering whether there is sufficient probity in the whole NBN process
Still wondering whether the whole approach is commercially viable
Glad to see some investment in new telecommunications infrastructure