Broadband: what’s the hold up?

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In the wake of the announcement of a Senate inquiry into broadband competition, industry pundits are critical of the takeup rate of broadband in Australia and the possible business ramifications.

Matters referred to the Senate inquiry include current and prospective levels of competition in broadband services; impediments to competition and the takeup of broadband; and any opportunities to maximise capacity and use of existing broadband infrastructure, according to a release from Senator Kate Lundy's office.

Lundy's office was critical about the current state of broadband competition in Australia. “Evidence of this delay in the supply of broadband services is found in the latest OECD report, which shows Australia's declining status in global broadband rankings,” it stated. “OECD figures show that Australia has slipped from 13th to 19th in the OECD since 2000.”

Independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde believes that the commitment to telecommunications in Australia is poor. “[We] need to grab every opportunity to address the issue,” Budde said. “The inquiry makes is a possible avenue…to highlight the fact we do have limited competition and we do have lots of problems.”

Geoff Johnson, a research director at industry analyst Gartner, also argued that Australia was well off the pace with broadband takeup compared to other countries, particularly those in the Asia-Pacific region such as South Korea.

“Australia is now so far behind its trading partners,” Johnson said. “Even with the most aggressive deployment we could not now catch up.”

Johnson said that the situation in Australia was much the same as it was 18 months ago. At that time Johnson described Australia as “the broadband orphan” in a research note, arguing that both government and business had to recognise the need to stimulate demand.

Likewise, Byarne Munch, senior research analyst at META Group, thinks that there are several issues that are holding back the takeup of broadband in Australia. “This is a national issue—it's a matter of promoting sufficient competition in Australia,” Munch said.


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