Telecommunications infrastructure investment through a National Broadband Network (NBN) will help Australia weather the economic crisis, but only if the ACCC and the government can pull their heads out, get the NBN players co-operating and turn the first sod before 2010.
That was the message of telco analyst Paul Budde at a roundtable in Sydney on Thursday, as he offered a scathing assessment of Australia’s position at the crossroads between years of telecommunications stagnation and the transformation to a digital economy.
“[Telecommunications] infrastructure is perhaps the most important infrastructure that needs to be deployed if we want to pull out of the crisis and move forward to a digital economy…telecommunications is not the solution to the financial crisis, or the education or energy problems, but none of these problems can be solved without telecommunications and IT,” Budde said.
“It’s a shame and very sad that this government is failing to show leadership. It has now been a year and the government has done absolutely nothing, they are sitting on their bums hiding themselves behind the tendering process which is totally flawed and not going to work. Nothing has happened in the last three years.”
“We have a government that is so incredibly weak it doesn’t dare come up with policy or guidelines on how we actually need to do this. The government is basically saying to the industry ‘you come up with the plans, the ideas and policies and then we’ll have a look at it and make a decision’,” he said.
“We are the only country in the world to do it this particular way, everyone else is coming up with the guidelines, regulations and policies first.”
We have a government that is so incredibly weak it doesn’t dare come up with policy or guidelines on how we actually need to do this
According to Budde, tough government initiatives and heavy involvement of competition regulators in countries like New Zealand and the Netherlands, where next-gen networks reduced the monopolies of incumbents, needs to happen in Australia.
“None of the incumbents around the world voluntarily give up monopolies. There has been government initiatives and a huge big stick. We never use the stick in Australia, we pussy-foot around -- the regulator is talking separately, the government is talking separately, Telstra is talking separately, and the rest of the industry is talking separately. No one is sitting around the table and I think it’s a pity that neither the government nor the regulator have facilitated more,” he said.