Wireless Politics II: wire vs wireless - interdependence, symbiosis and competition, 2010

2017-06-13T01:09:20Z (GMT) by Given, Jock
Broadband was one of the few issues that deeply divided the major parties in the August 2010 federal election. Labor and the Coalition disagreed about how big the problem was, what was needed to fix it, and how much should be spent. Strikingly, their positions cleaved down an old fault-line. Labor planned much more wire; the Coalition emphasised a bigger role for wireless. This article examines the background to this conflict and the arguments presented in support of the Labor Governments heavy investment in fixed line infrastructure. It then indulges in a thought experiment to argue the opposite case that mobile access networks will dominate in the future so as to undermine the rationale for subsidising (not for building without subsidy if commercial investors choose to do so) some or all of the FTTP NBN. It concludes that a Government planning the biggest intervention in Australian infrastructure history might find itself with rather more competition from wireless access networks and rather less interdependence and symbiosis between wire and wireless than it hopes. Copyright 2010 Jock Given. No part of this article may be reproduced by any means without the written consent of the publisher.