Feds call for broadband strategy

A national broadband strategy should be adopted by the Federal Government in order to strengthen broadband services across the country and drive Australia’s high-speed technology take-up, a new report recommends.

Submitted to the government by the Broadband Advisory Group (BAG) on Wednesday, the report, Australia’s Broadband Connectivity, also advocated the ACCC’s role in the industry, suggesting the watchdog continue to survey broadband development to ensure open and fair competition in the market place. The report was launched at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

According to the report’s executive summary, work on the review was commenced by BAG in March 2002 as a means of providing advice on the government’s broadband policy “with a view to stimulating the availability and take-up of broadband”.

Outlining its proposal for a national broadband stratagem, BAG stated the government should focus on a combination of objectives and principles such as productivity, international competitiveness, quality of service and access. These should then be supported by a coordinated approach to infrastructure development.

Also amongst its list of 19 recommendations, BAG advised the government to make broadband accessible to all Australians at fair and reasonable prices, while pointing out market arrangements should be pro-competitive and encourage investment in new infrastructure and services. To accomplish this, the government should look at investing in developing broadband services which, although not commercially viable, “deliver significant economic, security and social benefits” to areas such as rural and regional Australia.

In addition to an overall broadband plan, the report recommended the establishment of a new National Broadband Strategy Implementation Group to both oversee the implementation of its national strategy as well as review and evaluate its progress. The ACCC should also continue to play an influential role monitoring and reporting on progress to ensure open competition within the broadband space, the report stated.

BAG also focused on the potential benefits of implementing high-speed networks across health, education and research areas, and recommended the government develop strategic initiatives and plans to accelerate demand in these sectors.

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Nadia Cameron

Nadia Cameron

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