[ExI] broadband in Oz

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Jan 1 20:38:01 UTC 2009



...broadband penetration is proceeding at high speed in Australia. By 
mid-2007 there were close to 4.5 million subscribers [pop. circa 20 
million]. In the residential market this means a broadband 
penetration of close to 64% in Internet households (46% of total 
households). In the business market, this figure is over 80%.

While the penetration of broadband in Australia is catching up with 
its trading partners it is still lagging behind in the quality of 
broadband provided by the operators, and in the price customers have 
to pay. The majority of customers are still on services that provide 
only 256Kb/s or 512Kb/s. Telstra, however, does make an 8Mb/s 
available, but this is not a guaranteed speed, only a best-effort service.

Telstra's competitors are leading the market in the higher speed 
ADSL2+ services market. The regulator has finally been able to force 
better unbundled local loop and spectrum-sharing wholesale services 
into the market, and affordable true-broadband services are now 
available. Telstra is only making ADSL2+ available in those exchanges 
where its competitors have installed their own DSLAMs, so it is being 
a follower rather than a leader in new and innovative broadband 
services, a fact that is hampering a more rapid deployment of this 
superior infrastructure.

Broadband infrastructure is essential for the social and economic 
development of the country and both the current Government and the 
Opposition have broadband policies in place, aimed at ensuring that 
regional and other fringe areas will receive services that are 
equivalent to those available in the more economically viable 
metropolitan areas of the country.

However, before any further plans are developed the government will 
have to establish the right regulatory environment. It would be 
foolish to allow for the overbuilding of infrastructure; a far better 
option would be to ensure the sharing of infrastructure.

For this to happen, the government will need to act upon its 
operational separation legislation, which was passed in Parliament 
back in 2005. Only when this is sorted out can responsible investment 
decisions be made and responsible government funding be put in place. 
As we have seen in other countries, this will enable more companies 
to enter the facilities-based market (even in regional markets) in 
addition to entering the services market. 

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