The head of Australia's foremost IT research organisation thinks the Government chose the wrong path with the national broadband network by moving it from an all-fibre model.
In response to a question on what advice he would give the Government regarding the NBN at a CEDA event in Sydney yesterday, National ICT Australia director of broadband and the digital economy, Dr Terry Percival, said it depended on whether the Coalition wanted a "ten year return on investment or a 100 year return on investment."
"I buried optical fibre in NSW for the radio telescope in 1987 and it is still working fine. It’s not an issue. Glass lasts forever. Glass is the obvious solution," he said.
Percival also criticised the previous Labor Government's decision to designate NBN Co as a government agency rather than an independent body.
He said the subsequent level of bureaucracy NBN Co now faces was a bigger issue than what technology the Government chose to use in the NBN rollout.
“The issue is not the choice of technology, the issue is that it was bound by a massive amount of government regulations,” he said.
Percival said he was surprised the NBN had got off the ground at all. “Comparing NICTA to the CSIRO where I worked before, we can now spin out a new company at a weeks notice, whereas at CSIRO it would take a year because of all the red tape," he said.
"[NICTA] worked with NBNCo and we spent months negotiating a 200 page contract, so heaven knows how they can actually roll anything out at all,” he said.
The Coalition is currently pushing forward on its revised "multi-technology mix" national broadband network, which shifted the NBN from the previous majority fibre version under Labor to a mix of fibre-to-the-node/basement, fibre-to-the-premise, and hybrid-fibre coaxial.
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