news Internet Australia, a not-for-profit advocacy group representing Internet users, has made another call for an inquiry into the National Broadband Network.
The news follows former NBN chief Mike Quigley’s speech to the Melbourne University Networked Society Institute, in which he said the current Multi-Technology Mix strategy would end up costing more than the previous fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) proposal.
In his address, Quigley provided a detailed financial breakdown that he argued shows that FTTP is the best long-term option.
The group’s CEO Laurie Patton suggested there is now “so much uncertainty and disagreement” over the NBN strategy and costs that more clarity needs to be established.
He further noted that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has disputed Quigley’s NBN assessment.
“There is real and genuine concern in technical circles and in the public arena. This is arguably affecting confidence in the project and potentially causing people to be hesitant to sign up”, Patton said.
Internet Australia said it has has “consistently argued” that Australia is building a “technically inferior network” at a time when Australia has ambitions to become an international leader in innovation.
“We’ve fallen to 60th on global speed rankings, from 30th just a few years ago,” said Patton, adding that this decline relative to other countries will continue “so long as we rely on the current technology mix”.
“New Zealand is out-performing us and Singapore, arguably our biggest regional competitor, already delivers broadband speeds 100 times faster than ours,” he said.
Internet Australia stated that only a fibre-based broadband network will provide the Internet speeds and reliability of service needed in the 21st Century.
The group pointed to the results of a recent members survey, which found that 80% of respondents were dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with the multi-technology mix (MTM) model.
The MTM has seen fibre replaced by copper and makes use of the “old HFC cables used for Pay-TV”, Patton added.
The Internet is an essential service that will “underpin Australia’s social and economic progress”, Internet Australia said.
“That means all Australians must have reliable, affordable access to a high quality, high bandwidth broadband service for both upstream and downstream traffic wherever they live and work,” said the group’s CEO.
“If the Internet is to reach its potential for good it is essential that we make it available to everyone,” he said. “The ability to participate in our digitally enabled future is becoming a basic right of all Australians.”
Finding a job, dealing with government and engaging in a wide range of community activities will increasingly require digital skills, Patton said. “We need to build our economic and social future around a connected world where everyone has access to the Internet and knows how to use it.”
The solution is simple, though, according to Patton.
“Whoever wins the upcoming election should hold a review of the strategic technical direction that NBN is now pursuing and make public the true costs associated with this nation building project, independently verified,” he concluded.
Image credit: NBN company