While U.S. Bickers, Australia Builds National Fiber Network
As we've noted
, the United States' first ever national broadband plan certainly looks
impressive at first glimpse, though on closer inspection the plan reveals itself to be a bevy of very politically-safe and rather toothless initiatives. Ignoring advice from their own studies, the FCC made it clear they couldn't be bothered with things like building an open access national fiber network -- in large part because that would upset the nation's wealthiest carriers
. That might be fine if the plan actually did something
about a lack of competition -- but it doesn't.
Australia has a very different approach to helping underserved markets and beefing up competition. In April of last year the country announced plans
to build a nationwide, A$43 billion ($38 billion) wholesale fiber network, which ISPs will then be invited to compete over. The network will be built under the banner of a completely new private/public company -- and the Australian government says they'll sell their ownership stake in the company five years after the network is completed. Ars Technica
directs our attention to a new feasibility study that says Australia's plans are not only doable -- they should be bigger and bolder:
The government initially planned to spend AUS$43 billion (about US$38.9 billion) and build a fiber network that would reach 90 percent of Australian homes. The rest would get wireless broadband, while the truly rural would have access to a new class of satellite service that can deliver a least 12Mbps to the entire country. Too modest! says the report. Instead, Australia should bump its fiber build up to 93 percent, provide fixed wireless service for four percent, and Ka-band satellite service for the remaining three percent—and it can all be done in eight years and on budget.
As would obviously happen here in the States as well, incumbent ISP Telstra has whined about the project, and the Australian government has responded by telling Telstra they can either help (and make money in the process) -- or shut and get out of the way. The end result is essentially what Google's doing to a single town
-- spread across the entire country. Of course an FCC study
highlighted how such models create more competition (and by proxy faster service at lower prices), so Australia will be an interesting place to watch. Now about that silly Australian plan to try and filter the Internet of all its naughty bits