The Federal Government has announced it will build its own 100 Mbps fibre-to-the-home broadband network, spending $43 million in conjunction with private investors over the next eight years.
Internode 'gobsmacked' by decision
Internode has welcomed the plan subject to reading the fine print - "and there will be a lot of it", managing director Simon Hackett posted to Whirlpool.
"I'm gobsmacked," Hackett said.
"If they do what they promise, they've actually got it right, and we might just turn into a broadband front-runner country ten years from now after all."
The fact that the proposed network is wholesale-only should give Telstra no grounds to delay or stop the build, he said.
Additionally, focusing on fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) avoids upgrades to the copper network and negates regulatory changes, Hackett said.
"The existing access regime can continue unchanged while the new network is put in, in parallel," he said.
"[Leaving the] existing copper network in place leaves [the] existing ADSL2+ market and competition un-impacted - meaning we've got many more years of useful ADSL2+ network building ahead of us in parallel to the emergence of the new network, to which we'll have access too, on an equal footing with everyone else.
"[It also means that] people who have invested in that [ADSL2+] landscape can recover that investment before the new network renders it obselete. But even then (like dialup) - the old stuff will stay around for ages too - and no-one loses."
Telstra: "no impact" in the short term
Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie said the NBN announcement will have little impact on Telstra in the short term.
"The new NBN will have little short- to medium-term financial impact on Telstra's business as it would take at least eight years before it is completed," he said in a statement.
"This announcement does not change our forecasts or our guidance for financial years 2008-2009 or 2009-2010."
McGauchie said he is looking forward to having "constructive conversations" with the Federal Government "at the earliest opportunity."
"Senator Conroy has said today that the Government does not have a pre-determined view on regulatory matters," he said.
"Telstra welcomes the opportunity to provide input on the regulatory reform discussion paper."
Primus: an historic decision
Primus CEO Ravi Bhatia applauded the Government's decision and said he was particularly keen on the regulatory reform packages announced along with it.
"The decisions taken today are truly historic, and are clearly decisions that only a confident and decisive Government could take," he said.
"It is clear the Government is serious about addressing Telstra's stranglehold and unlocking the competitive potential of the industry. As an industry we have been arguing for better competitive rights and raising many of these issues for some time now so it's satisfying to see a Government with the courage to deliver on the competition rhetoric and take these issues on. "
AIIA: Conroy is Captain Courageous
The Australian Information Industry Association said the new approach was necessary in a tight fiscal environment, but warned that the eight year timeframe may prove problematic.
"We support the revised national approach to the NBN outlined by Prime Minister Rudd and Senator Conroy, along with the associated review of the national telecommunications regulatory environment, as courageous steps designed to deliver essential components of Australia's digital future," said AIIA CEO Ian Birks. "We congratulate the Government on this decision."
"This approach is an innovative solution to delivering necessary outcomes in a market now constrained by capital; it provides a new and open opportunity for all industry to contribute to a successful broadband model in Australia."
"Australia must now rise to the challenge of using the National Broadband Network in an innovative and productive way to address our current economic and societal issues or else we run the risk of building a six lane highway to nowhere," said Mr Birks.
Optus - The end of Telstra's fixed line monopoly
Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said the historic decision will "change the competitive landscape" and "create a true level playing field" in telecommunications.
"It will end Telstra's monopoly control of the national communications network into Australian homes," O'Sullivan said.
Optus also took credit for the Government's new model.
"The Government appears to have adopted a similar model to the one Optus put forward in our NBN proposal - a structurally separated, wholesale only, open access network - but taken to the next level of investment with FTTP technology," O'Sullivan said.
IIA: A stunning decision
Speaking of trying to take credit for the Government's decision, the Internet Industry Association would like to believe it was their recommendations the Government followed.
"In 2006 the IIA called for a nation-building approach to broadband," said IIA chief executive Peter Coroneos. "The ALP picked up on our targets and turned that into a policy."
"This is both momentous, and visionary in its scope," he said.
Terria: Commonwealth "comes up trumps"
Terria Chairman Michael Egan said the Government has "come up trumps".
"Terria had campaigned long and hard for a structurally separated, open access network with cost-based pricing and effective regulatory oversight," he said.
iiNet: best news this decade
Fellow ISP iiNet's managing director Michael Malone said the Government's plan was the best news made for the Australian telecommunications sector in decades.
"This is the best of all possible outcomes and will ensure Australians have access to fast, affordable and competitive broadband," Malone said.
"In terms of the key criteria we were looking for in a National Broadband Network - open access, structural separation, fixing backhaul 'black spots' and regulatory reform - the Government has delivered."
Macquarie Telecom: Best thing since deregulation
Matt Healy, head of regulatory and government affairs at Macquarie Telecom said the new network has the potential to make Australia "the envy of other economies."
"This has the potential to be the most significant change this industry has seen since deregulation in 1997," he said. "And just as deregulation kick started competition, today's announcements have the right ingredients to set a solid foundation for a truly competitive 21st century telecommunications industry."
Competitive Carriers Coalition: better prices and services ahead
Telecommunications lobby group Competitive Carriers Coaltion (CCC) welcomed the new network, predicting that it will lead to better prices and services for Australian broadband users.
"We are very pleased that a process is now underway to reform the structure of the market in the short-term together with extending fibre to the front door," said David Forman, executive director of the CCC.
"It is critical that with this new momentum for change comes regulatory reform that will be achieved this year and a new fibre build that starts as soon as possible.
"The reforms are long overdue, as evidenced by the internationally high prices and poor services Australians have suffered for more than a decade.
"Where ever competitors have been able to gain a foothold in Australia, prices and services have immediately been transformed and consumers have been the winners," Forman said.
Comms Alliance: Surprised!
Industry self-regulator Comms Alliance and its members were completely unprepared for today's announcement, according to CEO Anne Hurley.
"While today's announcement was not the outcome expected by many in the industry, it will have a significant impact on skills and employment throughout the ICT sector," Hurley said.
"Communications Alliance looks forward to working with Government and industry on reforms to the telecommunications regulatory framework. "
ACS lobby for digital strategy
The Australian Computer Society welcomed the announcement while renewing calls for the development of a national digital economy strategy "as [a] matter of urgency" in the same breath.
ACS national chairman Kumar Parakala said that whilst the NBN "is a crucial step towards improving Australia's ICT infrastructure and digital economy, it is important to keep in mind that the NBN is a facilitator of Australia's Digital Economy and not an end in itself.
"The NBN is a critical infrastructure investment which is long overdue. However, there remains a missing link - a national strategy for the development of our digital economy.
"It is imperative that the telecommunications industry, the ICT industry and the Government now work together to not only ensure immediate construction of the NBN, but also to think ‘beyond the pipe'".