There are two alternative policies for broadband internet in Australia.
- use government money to build the NBN using fibre to the home; or
- restructure Telstra and leave it to the market.
The government’s policy is the first of these. The coalition’s policy is neither. And that is the coalition’s problem.
To simply invest in some fibre backbone and fill some gaps in rural and regional Australia achieves almost nothing. But this seems to be the coalition’s broadband policy. Telstra will still own the copper for ADSL, the main cable network used by Foxtel and the biggest and best 3G mobile network. This means that the ACCC will have to keep regulating Telstra and the problems of the past 20 years of telecommunications will not be addressed.
Under a non-NBN solution, at a minimum, separation of the cable and the copper is needed. This has underpinned broadband competition in the US. Telstra may also be required to divest its mobile business to improve competition between fixed line services and wireless services.
There is still a week and a half before polling day. Perhaps the coalition can add an addendum to their broadband policy to get it back in the ball park.