Monday, August 09, 2004

Broadband 'critical': KPMG

Broadband 'critical': KPMG
Staff writers
Australian IT - AUGUST 02, 2004

BROADBAND must be viewed as critical infrastructure and government support may be necessary to help Australia reach an internationally competitive level of broadband use, a report by KPMG says.

The report compares broadband to critical infrastructure such as roads or rail, and says lagging in broadband see Australia become economically disadvantaged by lower productivity or levels of intellectual property exports.
It uses dramatic examples of the costs of inadequate broadband coverage such as Australians who might "die needlessly when telemedicine when telemedicine could have saved them".

The report cites OECD figures which rank Australia 20th amongst developed countries for broadband penetration.

It pinpoints Telstra's role as one contributing factor, noting the "lack of competitive infrastructure and the dominance of one carrier in multiple telecommunications segments", although the report also says that other service providers were initially slow to roll-out retail services.

On the pricing front, the report says Australia has historically been amongst countries with the most expensive broadband in the developed world, but this situation has changed dramatically since a price war was sparked in February.

"However, the base retail price can be deceptive as the overall value proposition has several components," it says, giving the example of Canada, where at a similar entry-level price point, Canadians receive a connection that is six times faster and includes 30 times the free downloads as a $29.95 connection here.