Former NBN boss Mike Quigley has told the Melbourne University Networked Society Institute that the current copper-based FTTN strategy would end up costing more than the original fibre-optic model, prompting lobby group Internet Australia to renew its call for a review of the National Broadband Network.
If it continued as planned, Quigley says, the FTTP rollout would have cost $45 billion and been finished by 2021.
Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton believes that there is now so much uncertainty and disagreement over the NBN strategy and costings that we need to establish some clarity, noting that Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, disputes Mr Quigley's assessment.
"There is real and genuine concern in technical circles and in the public arena. This is arguably affecting confidence in the project and potentially causing people to be hesitant to sign up", Patton said.
Australia has fallen to 60th on global speed rankings, from 30th just a few years ago. New Zealand is out-performing us and Singapore, arguably our biggest regional competitor, already delivers broadband speeds 100 times faster than ours.
"This slide relative to our peers will continue even as the NBN is being built so long as we rely on the current technology mix," Patton continues, stating that only a fibre-based broadband network will provide the Internet speeds and reliability of service needed in the 21st Century.
A recent members survey found 80 percent of respondents were dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with the so-called multi-technology mix (MTM) model that has seen fibre replaced by copper and the inclusion of the old HFC cables used for Pay-TV.
Internet Australia believes the Internet is an essential service that will underpin Australia's social and economic progress, therefore all Australians must have reliable, affordable access to a high quality, high bandwidth broadband service for both upstream and downstream traffic wherever they live and work.
"If the Internet is to reach its potential for good it is essential that we make it available to everyone," Patton says. "The ability to participate in our digitally enabled future is becoming a basic right of all Australians. Gaining employment, dealing with government, and engaging in a wide range of community activities will increasingly require digital skills."
Patton believes we need to build our economic and social future around a connected world where everyone has access to the Internet, and knows how to use it.
"The solution is simple. Whoever wins the upcoming election should hold a review of the strategic technical direction that NBN is now pursuing and make public the true costs associated with this nation building project, independently verified ", Patton concluded.