The announcement of Deutsche Telekom as a contender for metropolitan fibre networks in Australia has placed the country at centre stage in the global FttH/FttN market.
I hope the government realises that this position also brings with it certain responsibilities.
It would be disastrous if we were to make ourselves a laughing stock within the global FttH community by not having the proper processes in place to guide these developments.
In the past the government has managed to get away with backroom deals and a lack of transparency in the Australian industry (for instance, Broadband Connect and the Broadband Guarantee project) but, with major international companies like Deutsche Telekom becoming involved, this behaviour will be frowned upon.
European governments are under the scrutiny of the European Commission in situations like this, unlike the Australian government, which can get away with practices that would be totally unacceptable in Europe.
While I am sure that the Expert Task Force has all the necessary qualifications for a proper assessment I am worried that it could again be used by the government for its own purposes. Their advice could be ignored and the government could still do what it wants, according to its own political agenda – and the industry would miss out on the unprecedented opportunities offered by this once-in-a-lifetime investment project.
Deutsche Telekom has already recognised these to be significant issues.
Labor has indicated that it will overhaul these procedures if it is elected, and I think that would be a very good idea.
As a starting point we should not throw out what we already have, but instead should collaborate with the Expert Group (a qualified team) on how to make the process more robust. In this way the contenders will have sound guidelines and realistic timeframes to work with in providing the best possible FttH plans for our country
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