Tuesday, 14 April 2009 11:12

NBN turf war erupts between Victoria and Queensland

The Victorian government is putting forward a strong case to be the home of the National Broadband Network (NBN), following an earlier claim by Queensland. New South Wales has yet to put up its hand for consideration.

John Lenders, Victorian treasurer and minister for information and communication technology said "No other city in the nation has the telecommunications capability, such a skilled workforce ready to embark on a project like this and is in the ideal geographic location to become the centre of the project."

"We are already known as the nation's telecommunications hub with over a third of Australia's ICT industry based in Victoria – including many companies set to play a critical role in the rollout of the National Broadband Network."

The organisations Lenders was referring to presumably include Ericsson (which was behind Telstra's quick rollout of the Next G wireless network and is known to have an interest in FTTP rollouts) as well as Pacific Broadband Networks (a supplier of fibre optic transmission products that was explicitly mentioned by Lenders).

He also cited some of Victoria's research institutions.

"Centres such as the Photonics Research Laboratory at the University of Melbourne, the ARC Special Research Centre for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks (CUBIN) and the Victoria Research Laboratory of NICTA are world-leaders in optical fibre communications and fibre-to-the-home systems."

Lenders' position was backed by Professor Rob Evans, Victorian Director of NICTA.

Find out what Evans said on page two.

"Victoria's long-standing contribution to telecommunications in Australia makes its bid to become the home of one of the world's biggest broadband projects perfect sense and will set the state up for years of highly skilled jobs," Professor Evans said.

Recently re-elected Queensland premier Anna Bligh previously claimed her state was the best place for the NBN's future home.

At stake are thousands of jobs. Given forecasts of increasing unemployment, it's no surprise that the states are queuing up to attract the NBN headquarters.

Earlier this month the Federal government announced that it had abandoned plans to implement the NBN using FTTN technology as none of the proposals represented value for money.

Instead, it would build an FTTP network using a corporate vehicle that would be at least 51 percent Government owned. The Government plans to sell its interest in the company to the private sector several years after the NBN is completed.

The new plan has received broad though not universal support from industry players.

Much of the nay-saying has come from the opposition Liberal party, notably from its leader, Malcolm Turnbull, who questioned the project's commercial viability.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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