NBN Co’s CEO Mike Quigley has called for a study from the Communications Alliance to decide what is the best technology to use to roll out high-speed broadband across Australia.
At an American Chamber of Commerce event on Friday, Quigley said the telco industry is best placed to provide the technical knowledge about “various policy choices” for the NBN.
“It is for this reason that NBN Co welcomes and supports a study that is being considered by the Communications Alliance into the potential pros and cons of a range of policy and technology options and their impact on the future of the National Broadband Network,” he said.
“They could bring commercial reality to the theoretical debate of what may or may not be technically possible using different technologies.
“So it’s vitally important that both the public debate and the policy makers have the advantage of the best analysis that can be made available.”
The Communications Alliance is a telco industry body, with its members including Telstra, Optus, iiNet and Alcatel-Lucent.
NBN Co is also a member and Quigley stated the company would provide input into any study that was carried out by the Comms Alliance.
John Stanton, chief executive at the Comms Alliance, told ABC Radio’s PM program that the organisation has not yet decided whether it will proceed with a study.
The NBN is currently being rolled out primarily using fibre-to-the-premise, which involves deploying fibre to the doorstep of homes, apartment buildings and businesses to 93 per cent of Australia.
The Coalition’s proposed technology method includes fibre-to-the-node, which rolls out fibre to nodes in the street and uses copper for the remaining connection from the nodes to premises.
The Comms Alliance’s Stanton said now would be a good time to consider different technologies and a study could take just two months.
“So it could make sense to have industry, which after all designed the original reference architecture for the NBN, continue to look at what could make sense,” he told PM.
However, Optus has reportedly said it opposes a study, stating it would be better for individual companies to provide advice on the NBN debate, rather than a study by the Comms Alliance.
Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has also criticised Quigley’s call for a Comms Alliance-led study.
“This is the most bizarre twist yet in the debate over broadband policy. Even more bizarre because Mr Quigley has made the announcement without obtaining the agreement of the Communications Alliance to commission the inquiry,” he said in a statement.
Turnbull has called on Quigley to provide answers on why he announced the proposed study instead of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and what the terms of reference of an “inquiry” would include.
“Unless clear and credible answers are provided by NBN Co and the government to all of these questions, Mr Quigley’s remarks today will be exposed for what they appear to be – a cheap stunt to distract attention from NBN Co’s appalling record in executing the rollout,” he said.
The political and technical debate on the NBN
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