The Internet Industry Association (IIA) welcomes the release today of the Coalition’s Plan for Fast Broadband and an Affordable NBN. However, while much of the debate on the National Broadband Network (NBN) has been focused on the underlying technology choices and broadband speeds that will be delivered, it remains of the utmost importance for Australia’s prosperity both domestically and internationally that the economic benefits, affordability, adoption and usage by businesses and consumers remains a focus for the government of the day.
Recent Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures released for June 2012 ranked Australia at 21 out of 34 in fixed broadband penetration (1), while ranked 9th for GDP per capita (2).
“Increasing the speed of and end-user’s broadband connection, while desirable, does not necessarily address the issue of affordability, adoption and usage. As such, it will be important, under the Coalition’s Plan, that a focus on encouraging adoption and usage by consumers and small business also forms part of that plan,” said Peter Lee, Chief Executive of the IIA.
The IIA also welcomes the Coalition’s commitment to competitive and free markets, particularly where it promotes innovation and delivers incentives for businesses to continue investing locally. The structural reform of the industry that a wholesale-only owned and operated NBN has sought to achieve also needs to remain an important part of the Coalition’s Plan.
The Coalition’s Plan also commits to initiate three reviews, an NBN Co strategic review, an independent audit into broadband policy and NBN Co’s governance and an independent cost-benefit analysis and review of regulation.
“While the IIA supports the underlying principle of these reviews, we believe that the Coalition needs to ensure that a plan for continuity of the NBN rollout is implemented during this review phase so that the industry, businesses and consumers are not left pondering in a state of flux that creates further uncertainty or unnecessary delay in upgrading our national broadband infrastructure”, said Peter Lee.
The IIA believes the NBN to be an important part of this country’s national infrastructure as an enabler that will support Australia’s growth in a global economy. The social and economic benefits of universal, affordable and fast broadband and how the Internet’s pervasive presence continues to transform the lives of all Australians should never be underestimated or taken for granted.
1 Number of subscribers per 100 inhabitants, June 2012 = 24.6.
2 Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita (USD PPP, 2011) equals an estimated 40,790.
Taken from IIA Internet Industry Association