Optus cautious on Tony Abbott’s broadband internet plan

Posted on August 10, 2010


OPTUS has given a cautious response to the Coalition’s broadband plan, saying that while it would cost less than Labor’s scheme it will also deliver a lot less.

The Coalition today announced a $6 billion broadband plan, which includes $2.75 billion to construct an open access national fibre optic backhaul by 2017.

But the backhaul plan also relies on at least another $750 million from the private sector.

Under the plan, 97 per cent of homes would have access to broadband speeds of between 12 Mega bits per second (Mbps) and 100Mbps by 2016 through a mixture of HFC cable, DSL and fixed wireless services.

The Coalition would also provide $700 million to boost satellite, which would cover the last three per cent of the population.

Labor’s plan is for a $43 billion national fibre-to-the-home network.

Optus Government and Corporate Affairs spokesman Maha Krishnapillai said there was a fundamental and philosophical difference between the Coalition and Labor plans.
“They think they can take an incremental approach and gradually get better at fixing these problems by targeting certain things, whereas the ALP has moved for root and branch reform,” he said.

“It’s a lot less money but we’ll get a lot less for it as well.”

Mr Krishnapillai also warned there were questions over whether the Coalition plan would boost competition or entrench Telstra’s market dominance.

“What it doesn’t do is fundamentally reshape the game which is the ability for Telstra to continue to control access to that last mile,” he said.

There was ambiguity around whether in fact it would address Telstra’s unfair advantage in terms of pricing for use of its existing copper network, Mr Krishnapillai said.