Wednesday, 23 September 2020 09:48

Fibre is most welcome, but affordability is important too: Budde Featured

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Paul Budde: "After arguing that there was no demand for it, that it was not needed, and that it was too expensive, the government has now finally conceded that the future of communications must be based on fibre optic networks." Paul Budde: "After arguing that there was no demand for it, that it was not needed, and that it was too expensive, the government has now finally conceded that the future of communications must be based on fibre optic networks." Supplied

Well-known Australian telecommunications consultant Paul Budde says while it is great to see the government doing a backflip on its fibre policy, the big question now is how access to fibre optic services will be made affordable for residential users.

"So far the wholesale price charged by NBN CO to its retail service providers is such that truly high-speed services are not affordable to the majority of residential users. So this is still an area under contention," he told iTWire on Wednesday.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announced in a statement this morning that fibre to the premises would be made available to about 75% of homes on the NBN, making a total of eight million in all, by the end of 2023, with the NBN Co to spend about $3.5 billion to upgrade connections.

This is in addition to the $700 million to be spent on business fibre zones in metropolitan areas and the regions, and $300 million to improve regional Internet services announced on Tuesday.

Budde said the business fibre zones was very welcome. "Specially fibre into rural areas is a great boost for economic viability for businesses operating outside the metropolitan cities," he said.

"The current Covid crisis is shown how important it is for businesses to be able to operate digitally as well as physically. "

But he cautioned that technology was only half the answer, with affordability being as important.

"We had a decade of denial from the government that fibre networks were not needed, and they instead used fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). After arguing that there was no demand for it, that it was not needed, and that it was too expensive, the government has now finally conceded that the future of communications must be based on fibre optic networks," Budde said.

"The current Covid crisis clearly shows the importance of good quality broadband and it has been argued that as much as a quarter of Australian households are having quality problems, so the promised upgrade will be very welcome for those users in particular. We all will need the best possible network both for social and economic reasons."


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Sam Varghese

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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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