Thursday, 20 July 2017 11:31

Internet Australia’s Patton calls for bipartisan focus on NBN ‘problems’

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Internet Australia chief Laurie Patton has called for a bipartisan political solution to solve what he says are key problems of the national broadband network, including speed issues confronted by consumers.

Patton says that while Internet Australia fully supports the ACCC's efforts to monitor broadband performance, he claims “this on its own will not be enough to solve the overriding problem”.

The competition regulator has invited Australians to join a new programme that will measure and compare broadband speeds across the country. Under the programme, which aims to find out if issues relating to poor speeds at peak times are caused by the NBN Co's performance or network management decisions made by ISPs, hardware devices will be installed in about 4000 homes for four years.

"The ACCC scheme will simply confirm what we already know. Consumers are disappointed with their Internet speeds. This is because the NBN Co model is fundamentally flawed. Relying on aging copper wires means NBN Co simply cannot deliver 'very fast' broadband to millions of customers. On top of this, their wholesale charging resume discourages retailers from offering faster speeds,” Patton notes.

Patton says IA wants a bipartisan rethink “as it is now obvious many prospective customers are reluctant to switch to the NBN”.

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Laurie Patton: "It actually makes sense for both sides to put their guns away and jointly figure a way out of the current mess."

"They reckon they're halfway through construction, yet less than 50% of premises passed by the NBN have been connected up. This is no coincidence. We keep hearing complaints about the difficulties getting connected and then people's disappointment at the slow speeds being experienced," Patton claims.

“When the project is completed in 2020, NBN Co will owe the government around $19 billion (that's how much they recently borrowed).

"On their current financials they'll be lucky to have done more than service the interest. Plus, they'll be facing the need to 'upgrade' all the premises stuck with inferior FttN.

"It's not really an upgrade because they will need to rip out all the copper wiring and what's more the so-called 'nodes' will be redundant. Nobody knows exactly how much this will cost us all, but we're talking billions of dollars."

According to Patton, it won't matter which party is in office at the time, “they'll face the same problem”.

"It actually makes sense for both sides to put their guns away and jointly figure a way out of the current mess."

“We're trying to use 19th century aging copper wires which don't deliver the speeds people want now or particularly will want in future,” Patton recently told a radio interviewer.

Patton says the key issue is the wholesale pricing mechanism that NBN is using “discourages their resellers, the RSPs, from actually passing on high speeds”.

“So we've got two things coming together and colliding to create a nightmare – and people who are currently using ADSL2 are routinely telling us that they move to the NBN and find that their speeds are either the same or slower, and of course it's costing them the same.

“So I think over the next six to 12 months we're going to find even more people as they're forced to move to the NBN being really unhappy.

“And look I've told the prime minister this and I've raised it with the opposition leader. It's time Australia said, hang on a sec, do we want to be part of the 21st Century digitally-enabled world or not? And if we do we need to do something about it.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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