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Tuesday, 09 April 2013 18:23

Industry peak bodies give Coalition NBN policy a tick Featured

By
AIIA's Suzanne Campbell AIIA's Suzanne Campbell

The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and Internet Industry Association (IIA) today both welcomed the release of the Coalition’s NBN policy, in an early vote of confidence for the alternative plan.

The AIIA's support came hot off the heels of today’s Coalition announcement, where Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott outlined their plan to deliver cheaper, but slower fibre broadband.

“Our industry is delighted that the Opposition recognises the importance of ubiquitous broadband infrastructure to drive a modern, digital economy. This is clearly common ground shared by both sides of politics and we are pleased that we now have a very clear starting position to take this issue forward”, said AIIA CEO Suzanne Campbell.

“Given global economic pressures, of which Australia is not immune, we appreciate the Coalition’s judicious approach to value for money. The Coalition’s commitment to deliver the network some two years ahead of the current schedule is also welcomed and is, in our view, critical to Australia’s ability to keep pace with broader global digital economy developments.

“However, we are naturally concerned that the proposed model compromises speed and potentially also the overall quality and longevity of the network. Guaranteed speeds of 25 to 50 megabits per second fall far short of the promised 100 megabits per second to be delivered by the current NBN model,” said Ms Campbell.

“While these speeds may be adequate for now, with rapid advances and continuous innovation in ICT capability, there is a very real risk that the needs of business and households will not be met in the future.

“This is an area where we must be visionary”, added Ms Campbell. “We need to do more than just plan ahead, we need to think ahead - ‘far ahead’ to how we want to position ourselves in an increasingly competitive global economy.

“This is our message to both the Government and Coalition, and one we will continue to emphasise as we engage with them over the coming months.

“Given the deep expertise of our members in this area, we welcome the opportunity to engage with them in this conversation to ensure Australia is well equipped to meet the important challenge of securing the best economic and social outcomes for all Australians.

“Ensuring we have a robust and durable broadband capability is imperative in achieving this outcome,” Ms Campbell concluded.

Meanwhile the Internet Indiustry Assocation also welcomed the Coalition plan, but criticized the nature of the debate.

"While much of the debate on the NBN has been focused on the underlying technology choices and broadband speeds that will be delivered, it remains of the utmost importance for Australia’s prosperity both domestically and internationally that the economic benefits, affordability, adoption and usage by businesses and consumers remains a focus for the government of the day," said IIA Chief Executive Peter Lee.

“Increasing the speed of and end-user’s broadband connection, while desirable, does not necessarily address the issue of affordability, adoption and usage. As such, it will be important, under the  Coalition’s Plan, that a focus on encouraging adoption and usage by consumers and small business also forms part of that plan," he said.

"The IIA also welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to competitive and free markets, particularly where it promotes innovation and delivers incentives for businesses to continue investing locally.

"The structural reform of the industry that a wholesale-only owned and operated NBN has sought to achieve also needs to remain an important part of the Coalition’s Plan."

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