Thursday, July 28, 2011

NBN Again - inconsistency of Joyce, warning for Turnbull

News in the AFR today (behind paywall) that the coalition is about to "change its point of attack" on the NBN from the need for a CBA or the integrity of the NBN Co CEO to the affordability of the service and label it the "No Battler Network".

This is a strange strategy since the analysis of the Internode pricing is that it is the same as their ADSL 2 services! Much focus has been on the fact that the entry level plan is dearer than a telephone line for those who don't just want a telephone.

But let's look as much as we can at the detail and how it is that voice services are delivered and priced. The NBN Co entry level wholesale price is $24 per month including the 150kbps quality 1 for voice. Internode isn't in the business of offering voice only so it hasn't looked at building a voice only service. But Telstra not only will, but has to. It will continue to be the contracted "USO provider". There will be from Telstra a voice only service at EXACTLY THE SAME price points as exist today.

A big difference between the network requirement for voice and Internet is in the backhaul - and the CVC charges Simon Hackett has bleated about. To provide voice you just need that 150kbps per service - not the up to 100Mbps that the internet requires.

I sincerely doubt the NBN Co/Telstra/Government agreement could have reached the point it has without clarity about the retail price for voice to be offered by Telstra.

The inconsistency from Joyce is that he is quoted as supporting a Fibre to the Node (which he calls broadband to the node) build because the price of higher speed services delivered by wireless or satellite will be higher than fibre.

His inconsistency is manifold. Firstly because in the period between his election to the Senate in 2004 and becoming a Senator he and Senator Nash delivered a report for the Page Centre calling for a fibre to the home network in regional Australia. Inconsistent because from 2007 to 2010 coalition response to the NBN was to say the network was unnecessary and that regional problems would have been solved by the OPEL contract - that is wireless.

Finally no one's FttN proposal results in a bigger physical footprint than the FttP proposal - the premises outside fibre reach are basically outside FttN reach. If not then there may be a small tweak possible at the margins.

The coalition strategy is ill-founded and should fail. That is so long as the ALP can focus its mind on facts not rhetoric.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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