blog Fans of the Coalition’s rival broadband policy can be hard to find in Australia’s technology sector, with most preferring the Labor Federal Government’s more expansive National Broadband Network policy. However, according to telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, the Coalition’s plan may be better than many people think. In a new blog post entitled “The Coalition’s NBN plan is starting to look interesting”, Budde writes:
“BuddeComm’s understanding is that in principle the Coalition agrees that: The NBN is not a waste of money. It is important for the digital economy of this country as a key enabler of productivity. Fast ubiquitous broadband is a ‘must’, not a ‘would like to have’. They also agree that there are good reasons to believe that over time FttH could be the end result and that any technology path chosen should enable this to happen.
If this is indeed the case then we do believe that the future of the NBN would be secure under a Coalition government. No doubt they will skin the cat in a different way, but with these very important principles in place it will be interesting to see what alternatives they can come up with … the Coalition’s broad NBN framework is now more or less in place and the principles that we understand they agree to are providing a good platform to look for alternatives. Of course, if within this framework the Coalition believes it can deliver the NBN cheaper and faster then such a plan deserves our full consideration.”
Broadly I agree with Budde, as I have previously written, that the Coalition’s rival NBN plan has merit. If implemented as Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has outlined it, it will maintain the structure of the NBN as under Labor, but focus on a faster and perhaps better targeted fibre to the node rollout as compared to the current fibre to the home plan, and retain some existing infrastructure, such as the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus. There’s also quite a lot of additional common ground — such as the separation of Telstra and the use of satellite and wireless services in rural areas.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Coalition’s rival NBN plan is a better plan than Labor’s NBN vision. Right now, I think it’s clear that Labor has the better and more visionary broadband vision for Australia; and it’s certainly mapped out in far more detail and has the support of more of the technology industry than the Coalition’s plan does. Australia will be better off under Labor’s broadband vision. But I guess what Budde is saying here — and I agree — is that Australia won’t be badly off if the Coalition takes power at the next election and enacts its policy. Coalition NBN policy has rapidly been approaching “viable” and “workable” over the past 12 months; and that is a very good thing for Australia indeed.
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull