Local broadband solutions

Not surprisingly, the publicity surrounding my report on broadband brought with it lots of contact with folks who are already putting local solutions into practice. Some of these were outlined in the government’s broadband blueprint.

An example of this was from Albury-Wodonga and the local development of wireless broadband throughout the central business district there. Frustrated with the lack of interest from traditional telecommunications careers they set up their own company (a not for profit one), Country Tell, to construct the ‘last mile’ infrastructure. They then procured backhaul by competitive tender and built the whole thing in a highly cost effective manner.

In New Zealand, entrepreneur John Nixon has been building fibre to the home into new developments. The claim is that they add $15,000 to the value of homes for a fraction of that cost. The idea is to provide internet, voice and television over the lines. Nixon sees the value of all this in changing the local interactions in communities. And he is willing to bet his capital on it. More recently, explorations for similar investments are proceeding on the Gold Coast.

Finally, the Competitive Carriers Coalition has been promoting local solutions. They point to examples in Canada and the US where entrepreneurs have invested in fibre around and into condominium developments. But the CCC are worried that we cannot do the same thing here because of the market power of Telstra. This week they advocated breaking up Telstra and the Allen Consulting Group have provided a report arguing their case.

Structural separation is clearly the No.1 best option and I have said so many times in the past (for example, here and here). However, my hopes that option have faded and I think that we need to rely on extremely tough regulation as an alternative.

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