Wednesday, 30 March 2022 14:42

No matter who wins election, NBN changes will remain: Budde Featured

Paul Budde: "Where is the national long-term vision for the country, linked with appropriate long-term policies?" Paul Budde: "Where is the national long-term vision for the country, linked with appropriate long-term policies?" Supplied

The NBN holds a unique position in the Federal Budget – no matter who is voted to power in the forthcoming Federal Election, the short-term changes proposed will remain, independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde says.

He said the Opposition had said it would match the government's promises or even better them, and this meant both major parties agreed on the need to upgrade services in regional and rural areas.

"The budget has been characterised as a political budget that mainly consists of short-term policies and handouts, while what is needed are strategic long term policies," he said in his analysis of the budget that was handed down on Tuesday night.

"Where is the national long-term vision for the country, linked with appropriate long-term policies? This applies across all areas of the budget: wages, cost of living, infrastructure, energy, climate change and yes, of course, the NBN."

Budde lamented the fact that there were "no structural policy announcements for example on electric vehicles, using smart technologies to upgrade our cities, smart energy, disaster mitigation, research and innovation, housing (smart living) and so on".

Changes to the NBN were announced recently with more money promised for the NBN's fixed wireless network and satellite network as well.

Budde said he had already drawn attention to the fact that the government had realised there were issues with the NBN just weeks out from the election.

But, he said, he was not the only one to do so. Similar sentiments were expressed followed by the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia, who said: "The NBN was set up to fail from the moment this government chose to replace the fibre to the home roll-out with aging copper wires."

"They furthermore added: 'This government has had years to fix it. Instead, all they’ve done is allowed the network to be riddled with pyramid sham contracting schemes that have left workers high and dry and customers cringing over endless connectivity and speed issues'.”

He said while there were plenty of infrastructure changes announced, it was unclear as to how strategic these were and also where the money was coming from to fund them.

"It is unclear where this extra money actually comes from. Is it just another use of money that was in one way or another already allocated? Is it coming from the recently implemented Broadband Tax?

"We don’t know. The broader issue of transparency in relation to broadband spending was also discussed. The minister [Paul Fletcher] later announced that new rules would be implemented to create transparency regarding g the money NBN spends on their regional network."

Budde said these changes could also give rise to potential competition issues. "Other providers who also sell services in regional and rural Australia are not treated in a similar way [to NBN Co] and they questioned the cost benefit exercise, in other words why they were not involved and asked for solutions.

"This could have provided better insight on how best these issues can be addressed at the best possible price. Furthermore, they argue, as I predicted, that these government handouts undermine their own investment in regional networks."

Telstra had again asked NBN Co to develop a $30, 50/20 Mbps product for the lower end of the market, Budde said, pointing out that this would require a wholesale price from NBN Co of $20.

"The Telstra-led annual Australian Digital Inclusion Index research shows that more than 14% of Australians would currently need to spend more than 10% of their household income to gain access to the quality, reliable connectivity required to be digitally included in the modern era. The index found that around 10% of Australians are digitally excluded," he added.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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