news Internet Australia (IA), the peak body representing Internet users, has repeated its call for the National Broadband Network to be removed from the political debate.
The organisation’s CEO, Laurie Patton, called instead for a focus on the “long-term benefits of building a fast broadband network” and for the debate about the NBN’s construction costs to be “put into perspective”.
“We didn’t have this sort of squabbling when it came to the Snowy Mountains Scheme or the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These projects, like the NBN, were long-term investments in the country’s future and were rightly seen as such,” Patton said.
“How can we become an innovation nation if we don’t have the tools required?” he asked, adding: “One of those tools is a competitive NBN; one that is on par with the broadband speeds in the countries in our region with whom we will need to compete in the emerging digitally [enabled] world economy.”
In the week the NBN Co announced is now accessible in two million homes, the CEO suggested the way forward now is to focus on signing up new customers to the broadband service.
“The more customers on the NBN, the more revenue they’ll receive and the less money they will need to borrow to complete the rollout,” Patton said.
IA has also renewed its call for an end to the use of copper cable in the NBN network.
With the availability of new, lower cost, optical fibre and following a survey of the organisation’s members that found 80 percent were dissatisfied with the current mixed-technology method (MTM), it is time for a “strategic rethink” of the use of copper it said.
IA said that a recent hearing of the Senate’s NBN Select Committee was shown the so-called “skinny fibre” – a cheaper and easier to install technology that is now in use by the NBN.
This was not available when the decision was made to adopt FTTN, it pointed out.
“By the time NBN is getting ready to announce the completion of its rollout, if not sooner, it will be time to start replacing the inferior copper-based FTTN [fibre to the node] network. Millions of dollars of ‘sunk costs’ will have been wasted,” Patton said
Until then, he suggested, homes connected via FTTN will see their Internet access speeds remain “fairly static”, while others benefitting from fibre to the premises (FTTP) will see their speeds increasing over time.
“There is a limit to how much faster we can make the copper go, whereas fibre networks will experience significant speed gains in coming years”, Patton concluded.
Image credit: NBN company