At last week’s FttH Applications Roundtable hosted by Paul Budde, we started to define a FttH Vision statement that can be used to move forward. The RFP process is a beginning rather than an end. In order to not to end up in a similar situation in a few years time we need to start more clearly defining the road forwards.

Vision Statement FttH SIG CEO Forum

Nation-building infrastructure

The National Broadband Network is one of the most important national infrastructure projects undertaken in Australia and the FttH SIG fully supports the government’s decision to include the NBN along with other infrastructure in its Nation Building Infrastructure Fund.

The NBN represents critical infrastructure for the delivery of healthcare, education, government services, commerce, media and energy managing and monitoring services.

The NBN is not the solution to the country’s problems in relation to health, education and energy, but without the NBN the ever increasing cost of delivery of these services will be more difficult to constrain.

Furthermore, as Australia cannot forever rely on returns from the resources industry, its economy will be largely based on services and the NBN will be critical to economic development, international competitiveness, growth and prosperity.

Future policies based on social and economic requirements

Current and future decisions in relation to the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure need to be based on the policy outcomes the government and the rest of the country want to achieve in the abovementioned areas. The policy outcomes need to be measured in the delivery of applications (eg healthcare, education, etc). It should then be left to the engineers to design the appropriate technologies, which will facilitate the delivery of these services. Government policies should be technology-neutral and based on policy outcomes (which can be measured in services and applications) and time frames.

An inter-departmental and industry stakeholders group could advise the government on the broadband requirements needed for the delivery of their applications (Departments of Broadband, Healthcare, Education, Energy, Climate Change and the Environment and businesses covering Commerce, Trade, Export, Media, Communications, Content, etc).

As the basic requirements of most of these organisations are very similar there is great synergy in aligning their requirements for the further development of the NBN.

This stakeholder group should be independent of the NBN provider(s), have influence over the strategic direction of the ongoing development of the NBN, and have a key role in the regulation of competitive access to the NBN.

Open Access, Innovations, Affordability

The government has already clearly articulated that it wants an open access regime for this infrastructure. This will be needed to facilitate competition and innovation and it can only be achieved if there is a clear separation between the infrastructure and the services.

Open access to the infrastructure will need to be based on a utility-based costing regime. This can be achieved through competition, but most likely significant parts will remain monopolistic in nature and require regulation to safeguard the Open Access Principles, previously presented by the FttH SIG to the government.

As Australia is running behind the rest of the world we also need to ensure that we establish a policy regime that will allow us to be on a par with the broadband facilities that are available through our major trading partners. In order to ensure this development in Australia needs to be linked to international benchmarks such as the ones developed by the OECD and the EU.


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