Federal Communications Minister, Senator
Helen Coonan, is developing a broad-ranging plan to coordinate
public and private investment in next-generation broadband
Outlining the "Broadband Blueprint" in a speech given to a
telecommunications conference in Canberra this morning, Coonan
claimed the document would constitute a clearly defined national
The plan will controversially coordinate private and public
sector investment in next-generation broadband networks.
"The blueprint will link the competition regime for commercial
rollout with government investment in uncommercial areas ...
without mandating technologies or providers," said Coonan.
"The blueprint will ensure that the rollout of next-generation
broadband is coordinated across jurisdictions with clearly
delineated roles for state, territory and local governments that
meet the needs of end users," she added.
The plan also has the objective of avoiding unnecessary duplication of broadband infrastructure. For example, both Optus and Telstra run HFC cable networks in some metropolitan areas.
The minister will seek state and territory agreement on the
blueprint at a meeting of the nation's technology ministers
Bush broadband gold rush
Coonan's move comes several months
after she announced she was considering using some of the
government's AU$878 million Broadband Connect package to fund a
new broadband network in regional Australia.
Since that time several consortia of telcos have formed to
try to attract the funding.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is
also currently in negotiations with Telstra and a rival
consortium led by number two telco Optus about how Telstra would
build a new national metropolitan network.
"I believe that the best possible use of Broadband Connect is
to set aside the majority of the funding to stimulate investment
in large scale infrastructure," Coonan said today.
"Shortly, we will be moving to the expressions of interest
(EOI) phase of Broadband Connect."
"The purpose of the EOI process is to both set out for
industry the government's likely requirements for project
proposals and to seek views from industry about how they could
meet these requirements."
Coonan said industry EOIs would need to demonstrate they could
provide "fair and reasonable" access to wholesale services as
well as covering urban areas and larger regional centres.
A more concrete tender process will follow the EOI process in
the second half of the year.
"Given that effective and sustainable competition is a key
objective of this approach, the ACCC would be closely involved
throughout its development and implementation," said Coonan.
The complete text of Senator Coonan's speech this morning can
be found at her department's Web site.