Simon Hackett, chief of broadband provider Internode, has lashed out at suggestions government should build new local loop networks in rural towns for high speed broadband.
The idea was “crazy”, Hackett said. “It’s now viable to construct new regional local loop networks in country towns, but the one true economic barrier to ‘bush broadband’ is the cost of backhaul back to the big smoke.”
He said Australia could get high speed, affordable broadband to country towns within a year without spending billions on infrastructure.
Telstra backhaul fees were holding development back, he said.
“The Telstra fees to acquire intra-state backhaul from a regional or remote township remain one of the last bastions of 1980s monopoly pricing,” Hackett said.
“The current cost per Mb per month from Telstra for intra-state backhaul circuits is about 20 times too high to make those services viable for broadband services provision by competitors.”
Hackett called for the Australian Competion and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to declare access to Telstra longhaul regional fibre into Telstra exchanges.
“Simply declare that the line sharing service also applies to monopoly fibre runs, not just monopoly copper ones,” he said.
Page Research Centre, a National Party thinktank, has floated a plan to use $7 billion from the sale of Telstra to improve regional broadband networks.
But Hackett claimed that existing copper loops, with an upgrade here and there, could already do that job.
“A 24Mb ADSL2+ service can carry multiple high definition TV channels and still have 10Mb left over for internet access,” he said.
Line sharing was possible via Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) that shared access to a single fibre pair. “Multiples of 1Gb/s or 10Gb/s on each wavelength, delivered via a low cost WDM device, would bring more contestable bandwidth in to a regional town than it would ever need,” Hackett said.
Telstra was contacted for comment but had not responded by press-time.