When Hackett's objections were raised by iTWire with broadband minister Stephen Conroy at a doorstop he gave at a the Cisco Live 2011 event in Melbourne in March, his response would have raised more than a few hackles of all but the very largest broadband providers.
Senator Conroy said that start-up service providers would most likely need to use the services of wholesale aggregators rather than buying direct from the NBN.
"A new market could well be created," he said.
"Simon (Hackett) makes a number of assumptions. For instance, a start-up may not want to target the whole country but start out by servicing a local market."
When asked if having aggregators provide wholesale services to smaller ISPs would add another layer of cost, Senator Conroy said: "It will be up to the aggregators to provide a competitive service."
Let's examine these statements point by point.
By "start-up service providers", Senator Conroy would no doubt have meant to include smaller ISPs like Australia On Line and perhaps even Internode which admitted to being right on the cusp of the size required (250,000 customers) to have the economy of scale to connect to a 121 POI NBN.
Despite Senator Conroy's protestations that it will be up to the aggregators to provide a competitive service, this indeed simply puts another layer between the retail service provider and the consumer. And why would the so-called aggregators be so willing to become second tier wholesalers to small ISPs when they could simply retail to their customers themselves.
Now to the broadband minister's second point. Start-ups may want to start out servicing a local market rather than targeting the whole.
Sure a start-up probably would but what about the dozens of small ISPs that are not start-ups like Australia On Line which have been servicing the national market for years? Are these ISPs all of a sudden supposed to shrink their national customer base and become local bit players on the same scale as start-ups?
So with the NBN under the current proposed architecture of 121 POI what it all adds up to is one government-owned monopoly wholesale provider, a small group of monolithic retail providers, massive financial barriers to entry to new players. What that in turn means is less competition and, as most of us understand, less competition means poor service and high prices.
Of course, sanity may in the end prevail and the government could mandate a return to the original model for the NBN of just 14 POI. However, of recent times sanity has sadly been in short supply.