The NBN has dominated discussions on government policy, almost to the total exclusion of other telecommunications initiatives.
Whilst the government has pursued its gold plated fixed line solution, Australia has become one of the world’s fastest adopters of smart phones. The mobile industry did this with little in the way of government intervention.
Some would argue that this is a prime example of how government involvement only slows progress. But Bill Morrow, CEO of Vodafone, says we will miss the longer term economic benefits if we don’t fix up our telecoms policies, recognising the importance of mobile in the communications mix.
In this week’s program you’ll hear him argue for the use of public subsidy for regional services that guarantees open access, whilst Chris Althaus, CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, describes the economic benefits derived from mobile usage.
We ask industry commentator Paul Budde and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam whether the government’s approach to broadband needs to be updated to take into account the mobile opportunity.
If Malcolm Turnbull sees fibre as the ultimate solution he will ensure his fibre to the node network is designed for what follows it.
We know deploying fibre to every home is complicated. The ACCC’s involvement in copper pull- throughs is an example of that. Commissioner Ed Willet helps explain in this week’s podcast just how many parties are involved when the only way to connect a home is to hook the fibre to the copper wire and pull it through the duct. It’s one example of why delivering such a vast network is a massive undertaking.
From that point of view the interim step of building a fibre to the node network might make sense. After all, it’s good enough for the British.
Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.co.uk, says there’s only a small proportion of evangelists demanding a full fibre solution.
For those who want fibre all the way they can choose fibre-on-demand – something included in the coalition’s proposal here. But the UK is only at trial stage and the cost is prohibitively expensive. The problem, says Benoit Felton from Diffraction Analysis, is that individual households will be paying a one-off truckroll and fibre circuit that would be shared with a full fibre deployment.
CommsDay Summit is over for another year but you can re-visit the powerpoints here.
Come back for more as we upload them
At the end of this month the spectrum made available by the switch off of analogue TVs goes up for sale. But has the government set too high a price?
Senator Stephen Conroy has determined the reserve price for the 700MHz spectrum at $1.36 per MHz pop. It’s more than double the rate paid for the 800 MHz spectrum in the UK recently, with many other European auctions falling even further below our local target.
Still, a high price could make sense. After all, there are only two bidders – Telstra and Optus. With each set a maximum allocation, basically they’ll each get as much as they want, provided they pay the reserve. If some of the spectrum goes unsold is it a bad thing? It just means the carriers bid again further down the track, when they need it.
In this week’s CommsDay CrossTalk podcast, we talk about the auction with independent telecoms analysts Chris Coughlan and Ovum’s David Kennedy.
We’ll also celebrate the 40th anniversary of the mobile phone. It was April 3rd 1973 when Martin Cooper, an engineer at Motorola, made the first call on a handheld device intended for regular users.
What does Australia’s telecoms industry think about the burning issues of the moment? NBN policy? Spectrum auctions?
Business and economic conditions? Have your say as a leading member of the industry in the 2013 edition of the CommsDay Industry Pulse. Completing the questions takes less than 3 minutes with full results to be released at the CommsDay Annual Dinner, sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services, at the Westin Hotel, Sydney on Tuesday April 9. Voting closes midday Friday 5 April and is anonymous.
Smart phone subsidies hit telco bottom lines today. But what if Facebook decides to become a service provider in its own right? What chance do retail phone companies have then?
LG, Blackberry and HTC all have new smartphones out, ahead of the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy S4. The mobile carriers, it seems, are falling over themselves to tie up deals and offer the best price to customers.
Often the devices come with hefty subsidies from the service provider. Take Vodafone’s offer of a free iPhone4 on a $30 plan, for example. Can they really make money on such a high cost of acquisition on a low ARPU customer?
So, are the phone companies getting pushed around by the device manufacturers? It’s clear they are. People are more interested in the latest gadgets than the humdrum facets of the network they use, so telcos are having to cut costs to compete.
The situation could get worse. What happens when Facebook starts to offer voice calls globally? Worse still, what if it becomes a service provider in its own right? They could subsidise the cost of access with the extra opportunities from advertising.
In such an environment do mobile carriers really have a future in the retail space, or could they be forced to become wholesalers only, servicing the big international brands who control the relationship with the customer?
This week Phil Dobbie talks to:
- Mark Spoonauer, editor in chief for Laptop Magazine
- Foad Fadaghi, senior analyst at Telsyte
- Paul Budde, managing director of Paul Budde Communication
- John Strand, CEO of Strand Consult
We’d love to hear your thoughts too. Leave a message on the CrossTalk feedback line: 612 9304 5198
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Who’d have thought it? Connecting fibre into every apartment is proving to be somewhat problematic. First there’s getting the approval of owners, renters and body corporates. Then there’s the issue of how to physically connect in a way that’s cost effective and aesthetically acceptable. It often fell in the too hard basket when Telstra and Optus were rolling out their HFC networks. But NBNCo has to do it.
In this week’s CrossTalk Field Manager Troy Mercieca talks through the issues with wiring up an apartment complex. Industry commentator Kevin Morgan points out how in most markets the solution is VDSL – fibre to the apartment, then using the existing copper within the building. Jason Ashton, CEO at Big Air suggests that might, in many cases, guarantee faster speeds than fibre.
Whatever the solution, it’s clear that NBNCo has a lot on its plate. It stems from having a national government sponsored organisation charged with resolving a myriad of local issues, of which the MDU problem is one. Project manager Andrew Franz suggests an alternative approach to a broadband rollout – one which involves local companies, with knowledge of local issues, pitching to manage the local build. It might just have a point.
Nominations have opened for the Australian communications industry’s premier awards, the ACOMMS, with 11 categories reflecting the development, innovation and service focus that underpin the sector. The ACOMM Awards are jointly presented by Communications Alliance and Communications Day and recognise excellence among communications industry participants including individuals, service providers, content providers, carriers, technology partners, consultants and third party suppliers. Sponsoring the ACOMM Awards are Optus, VASP and DGiT Consultants. The ACOMMS will this year be awarded to companies that have excelled in
- Innovation (Large)
- Innovation (SME)
- Services to Industry – Professional Services
- Commitment to Customer Service (Corporate / Business)
- Commitment to Customer Service (Consumer)
- Innovation in Content Delivery
- Partnerships for growth
- Satellite Provider of the Year Award
- Community Contribution
- Young Achiever
- Communications Ambassador
A new category in 2013 is Satellite Provider of the Year. This award recognises excellence in the provision of satellite communications or satellite-related products and services in Australia. It is open to satellite initiatives and/or projects undertaken by a company or an individual in Australia.
The Communications Ambassador Award and Young Achiever Award continue to recognise two outstanding individuals who have promoted the industry’s interests during the preceding year.
Nominations for the awards close on 22 April 2013. Full details of the awards and criteria are available at http://www.acomms.com.au/nominations.php
The ACOMMS will be announced and presented at the 7th Annual ACOMMS Dinner to be held on 18 July 2013 at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, Sydney.
“Competition in past years for the awards has been intense and we have no doubt that this year’s ACOMMS will again showcase the excellence in Australian telecoms,” said CommsDay publisher Grahame Lynch.
Registrations for the dinner can be made at http://www.acomms.com.au/register.php
Malcolm Turnbull wants one. Now Mike Quigley wants one too, if only to put some numbers behind the debate around alternative technology solutions. But when a cost benefit analysis is provided, doesn’t it always say what the sponsor wants to hear?
For that reason isn’t Mike Quigley right when he suggests that the Communications Alliance should be the group doing the numbers work? Well, somebody should. Otherwise we’ll end up with another report driven by an agenda.
This week on CrossTalk we suggest that we should develop a more collaborative approach to the development of a cost benefit analysis. In other words, provide a platform where anyone in the industry can suggest inputs for the model – the data and assumptions that will influence the result. Why leave it in the hands of economists who don’t have the full range of technical experience? With full visibility of the inputs multiple economists could then build models to give us a range of possible answers. Each would be open to full and rigorous debate.
It’s an idea that gets the nod from the three economists we spoke to for this week’s program:
- Henry Ergas, a professor of infrastructure economics at the University of Wollongong, who built a cost benefit analysis for the NBN back in 2009.
- Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics, who is currently working on a computer program to develop a more sophisticated model of the economy.
- Nicholas Gruen, CEO of Lateral Economics and former chair of the Government 2.0 Taskforce.
How can you lose when your proposition is that you’ll offer the same thing, more or less, but spend less and deliver it that much quicker?
That’s the essence of the policy the Federal Coalition seem set to take to the next Australian election. Even though they say the debate has revolved too much around the technology, their “quicker and cheaper” proposition is based on a technological solution: fibre to the node rather than fibre to the premises.
It’s harder to get answers to some of the more pertinent questions, such as “will the solution guarantee uniform speeds and pricing across the vast majority of the country?”
In this edition of CrossTalk, Independent MP Rob Oakeshott says the will of the Nationals will stop the Liberals from backtracking on Labor’s uniform pricing promise. But could we see regional Australia hit with slower speeds than metropolitan voters? Again, it would be seen by many as a retrograde step.
We talk to Liberal MP Paul Fletcher about the intricacies of the Coalition NBN policy, particularly in relation to competition policy and funding models.
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