Competition crucial for NBN: Internode

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Competition crucial for NBN: Internode

Internode has warned that consumers will be the losers if the National Broadband Network (NBN) quashes competition in Australia's broadband market.

The broadband market is heating up in Australia as existing ADSL2+ communication technology is threatened by a planned Fibre to the Node system utilising a newer technology called VDSL2 - arguably the most advanced standard yet devised of DSL broadband.

In a statement responding to Telstra's NBN submission, Simon Hackett, managing director at Internode, claimed that consumers will be disadvantaged if the recommendations of Telstra's submission are adopted.

In its submission, Telstra has argued that the NBN operator, whoever it turns out to be, should not be forced to “accommodate old and new technologies, which are not compatible.” Telstra has also urged the Government to prohibit the NBN from being split into separate elements provided by different companies.

Hackett said that Telstra's claims about incompatibility between ADSL2+ and VDSL are unfounded, with the two technologies able to coexist with appropriate software settings.

“To claim they are not compatible is a Telstra excuse that is driven by its target profit levels rather than consumer outcomes,” he said.

The statement claimed that Telstra has a demonstrated history of disadvantaging its wholesale customers to benefit its own retail operations. Internode’s own NBN submission states that VDSL2 DSLAM devices can be configured to achieve compatibility of their power masks with ADSL2+ services, without compromising performance or range.

Hackett said that maintaining ADSL2+-based broadband services is vital in order to protect against any one operator having a broadband monopoly through VDSL2 technology. He argues that the submission is another Telstra ploy based on “non technical data” and will usher in a wave of higher prices and less customer choice in the marketplace if the ailing copper network is not future proofed and supported.

According to Hackett, a move to VDSL2 will destroy the competitive tension needed to limit rising broadband subscription prices for consumers. Internode argues that with less choices available, prices will rise and the investment into existing ADSL2+ infrastructure will be wasted.

“Retaining access to competitive ADSL2+ services nationally is clearly the way to ensure that competitive tension remains in the marketplace, so that the NBN doesn't just result in consumers paying higher prices for services they already obtain from broadband providers today,” he said.

Bidders have until July 25 to submit NBN proposals to the Government.
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