Comms Alliance predicts an NBN Co retailer to be inefficient, piecemeal

Conroy should pull pin in wake of UK flop

The Communications Alliance has slammed the Federal Government's move to provide some retail services in the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The criticism by chief executive officer, John Stanton, in the Senate today follows an announcement by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to sell NBN level two bit stream, essentially retail services, to government agencies at his discretion.

Stanton said government agencies were unlikely to fork out to purchase their own broadband infrastructure as the move would require too much work.

"It is a sophisticated process. [A department] would need to have an upstream agreement with an ISP, with one or more providers for backhaul, a broadband access gateway, equipment in the [point of interconnects], aggregation and network management equipment and data centre racks - the question is whether this makes sense at the end of the day," Stanton told the Senate.

"Our objection is to the uncertainty that the discretion provides - that it would be case-by-case.

"The NBN will change very little in Australia. The change will occur through carriers who may find it more challenging in an environment where the Minister has the ability at any time to change the market topography."

He said the UK Government's reported attempt to sell similar services to bureaucracies failed, and it has now established the Public Service Network to centralise the purchase of telecommunications services for agencies.

"I have talked to the people directly involved in the process. It turns out the procurement of telecommunications services by government agencies was so piecemeal, so inefficient, so hopeless, that the UK government is quietly dismantling it," Stanton said

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been contacted for comment.

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