August 21, 2007
Horse 797 - Can't, Won't, Shan't but will complain when someone else does!
The Government’s 18 June announcement that it would give close to $1 billion of taxpayers’ money to SingTel Optus and Elders (OPEL) to duplicate broadband infrastructure and services that Telstra already provides has been widely criticised.
And rightly so. This funding decision is highly questionable for these important reasons:
It is one thing to artificially manufacture competition and welcome foreign investment into Australia, but this is a gift of a massive sweetener to a foreign owned company that has no track record of delivering services in the bush.
The Government is paying for technology that is not proven, will not provide the speeds that are being claimed, has serious coverage issues, and doesn’t meet the requirements of the people it is supposed to serve.
It is a massive duplication of services that already exist. The Government is wasting $958M of tax dollars to build a wireless broadband network when Telstra’s Next GTM network - a superior technology to OPEL’s WiMAX already covers 98.8% of the population.
Duplication of services eh? Hmm. But find this here:
Why would anyone ever invest?
Australia is the only country in the world where companies have invested money in modern cable networks, namely Optus and TransAct, yet both companies prefer to hook up customers to Telstra’s copper rather than their own more modern investments.
Because of a lack of investment, Australia is going backwards on all key measures.
We’re being left behind the rest of the world in terms of our ‘e readiness’ – the measure that looks at how well advanced we are as a country to participate in the information economy.
We’ve been languishing at 16th and 17th place in the world in terms of broadband availability for the past three years.
And we’re virtually at the bottom of the table when it comes to investment in all-important high-speed fibre.
The sad fact is that 10 years on and Australia’s telecommunication industry is not all that healthy.
Let me get this straight is Telstra arguing against duplication and piggybacking at the same time? Telstra frequently complains about competitors using its network rather than investing in their own. Yet when the Government subsidises another wireless network, Telstra complains of duplication. Which is it Telstra, piggybacking or duplication?
It seems the real fact here is that Telstra really wants neither. Telstra would like a guaranteed monopoly power to dictate prices and continue to enjoy super-profits at consumers’ expense. I happen to like the fact that when a tender was put out, Telstra admits that it wanted to spend $4bn in its own documentation but when someone else finds a 75% cheaper solution they're crying foul.
The simple truth of the matter from real world experience is that Next G doesn't actually work in real world examples. I would like to see an actual set of empirical tests at the 200km range from a base-station but not only have these never been provided (even to a Senate committee hearing) there is no intention of doing so. Anyway the cheapest solution for existing customers is long-line ADSL, which I notice isn't pushed on the Telstra website at all.
If Telstra won't provide a service then it should shut up about where Government money goes. Government money is handed out on a tender basis and if they didn't win a tender, then they have no right to complain. What does it matter in reality if the money goes to one company or another? Neither are answerable to the public.
Posted by Rollo at 15:52