Australia hits back at OECD over broadband network

Nov 15, 2010
Detail of a cutting wheel used to lay a national Australia-wide network of broadband cable is seen in Sydney. Australia has defended its infrastructure plans after the economic grouping, the OECD, raised questions over its cost-effectiveness and said it might stifle innovation.

Australia Monday defended plans for a national broadband network after the OECD raised questions over its cost-effectiveness and said it might stifle innovation.

The National Broadband Network (NBN), which will be rolled out by a government corporation and will connect 93 percent of the country's population, has been described as Australia's biggest ever infrastructure project.

"While establishing a in this way would protect the viability of the government’s investment project, it may not be optimal for cost efficiency and innovation," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned in a report, which groups the world's top economies.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government had spent 25 million dollars (24.7 million US) on an implementation study that showed the scheme was financially viable and could deliver fast, affordable Internet, boosting the economy.

"If you read the entire OECD report it clearly shows that there are significant productivity gains to be made from going ahead with the National ," Conroy told reporters.

Conroy said it had always been the government's objective to establish a "wholesale-only, open-access monopoly" because infrastructure competition in the telecoms sector had historically "failed to deliver". He added that the government planned eventually to sell shares in NBN.

"Most public utilities are monopolies that have been in the public interest over time and we're very comfortable (with that). But the key here is we said from day one we're going to privatise this," he said.

He denied the approach would stifle the entry of new technologies, saying fibre-optic cable was "future-proofed".

"When somebody invents something faster than the speed of light, which is the science that fibre works on, that's going to be a pretty exciting day. I look forward to that day," he joked.

"But for the foreseeable future the fibre optics networks... is the future-proofed technology for the next 30 to 50 years, that's what the technology experts are actually saying."

Explore further: Wi-Fi worries prompt Boeing cockpit display change

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Telstra strikes $10B deal for Australia broadband

Jun 20, 2010

(AP) -- The government and Australia's largest telecommunications company announced a deal Sunday that clears a major hurdle to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plans for a superfast national broadband network.

Australia announces $30 bln broadband plan

Apr 07, 2009

Australia announced plans to build a 30 billion US dollar broadband network, its biggest infrastructure project ever, opting to retain government control rather than contract out the deal.

Australia embarks on great broadband adventure

Sep 27, 2009

From snowy mountains and sun-baked deserts to the steamy tropical north, Australia has begun wiring its vast expanse with a high-tech broadband network in a giant project being closely followed abroad.

Broadband network could switch Australian voters

Aug 19, 2010

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her challenger Tony Abbott may not be "tech heads", but their starkly opposed views on a national broadband network are a key battleground in this week's election.

Kenya gets undersea broadband fibre optic cable

Jun 12, 2009

An undersea fibre optic cable bringing broadband Internet connectivity to east Africa, reached the Kenyan coast from the United Arab Emirates on Friday, the president said.

Recommended for you

Five questions, answers on 'net neutrality'

Sep 29, 2014

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering whether Internet providers should be allowed to cut deals with online services like Netflix, Amazon or YouTube to move their content faster.

Europe Union OKs constant chatting on flights

Sep 26, 2014

(AP)—European skies may soon be alive with the sound of small talk with new safety guidance allowing the use of all portable electronics, including cell phones, at any time during flights.

User comments : 0