Monday, January 04, 2010

Australia - Govt's broadband model gets support

[smh] A leading global player in providing high-speed internet systems has backed the Rudd government's plan for an open-access national broadband network.

The company that will build and operate the $43 billion network - NBN Co - is expected to announce early next month a short list of prospective partners to join the project.

Huawei Technologies, which has been involved in the rollout of similar networks in the UK, Singapore and Malaysia, is seen as one of the frontrunners to make the list.

The company's regional chief technology officer, Paul Scanlan, said the model proposed by the government would deliver a major boost to competition in the telecommunications sector and productivity in Australia across the board.

"Huawei fully supports the government's decision for an open wholesale access network," he said.

The open-access model proposed for the NBN means internet service providers and other players in the sector will avoid the problem of the current regime, which sees many companies at a disadvantage because of Telstra's near-monopoly of the infrastructure.

But Mr Scanlan said the proposed model would promote competition in the broadband sector, with all service providers and content providers able to access the customer base on a level playing field as far as pricing was concerned.

Mr Scanlan said that while the physical deployment size and demographics were different in Singapore, it was a good example of how an open-access wholesale model could work in Australia.

"An open wholesale model creates opportunities for small niche players that have the ability to embrace technology quickly; because these niche players are nimble they can better service more focused user groups," he said.

"We are used to seeing the digital economy at a macro level. With an open access network we will see a growth in the micro-digital economy which will, for example, stimulate specialised community based players in the market."

Mr Scanlan said the NBN, because of the sheer breadth and scope of the project, would also provide a major boost for productivity in Australia, a key objective of the Rudd government.

"It will enable business, especially small and medium-sized companies to interact in ways not previously open to them," he said.

"Once again the productivity comes from the applications on the network rather then the network itself; an NBN is a foundation that enables the productivity gains."

While the opposition has scoffed at the eight-year timetable for the NBN build, Mr Scanlan said it was achievable.

"As with any major infrastructure project, significant planning and co-operation with many local partners is necessary."

"We see no issues with the supply chain in the rollout of Australia's NBN."

Govt's broadband model gets support

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