ABC: The only NBN monopoly seems to be on ignorance

Over at ABC’s The Drum opinion website, I’ve written a piece that argues the National Broadband Network won’t kill competition in the telco industry.

They did the headline, not me, but I do like it.

The article explains the structure of the telco industry before getting to the key points.

In most parts of Australia, the only CAN [customer access network] has been Telstra’s copper network. The NBN will replace that with NBN Co’s optical fibre CAN — at least for 93% of the population, roughly any location with a population of 1000 or more. In other words, the NBN replaces an ageing CAN that’s reaching the limits of its capacity technically, with a new one that provides vastly increased capacity for the future.

What doesn’t change is the fact that customers, both domestic and business, can still choose whichever retail telco offers the best deal for them. That is, there’s still the same capacity for competition between telcos. The only difference is that those retail telcos are provisioning their services via NBN Co fibre rather than Telstra copper.

[I give a few examples and then…]

[T]o claim that telco competition will end because of an “NBN monopoly” is as silly as claiming there’s no competition in the road transport industry because everyone has to use the same monopoly public-funded roads. Different freight companies use those same roads to deliver different styles of service at different prices, and competition seems healthy enough.

The Australian Communications Consumers Action Network just described it as the most factually accurate piece they’ve seen in weeks. That’s flattering but seems over the top. But I will say that I’m happy the article — particularly as this morning broadcast radio arsehole Alan Jones is claiming the exact opposite. And we know what he’s like with facts.

There’s also an article by Alan Kohler that analyses the Telstra-NBN deal from a financial perspective. Well worth a read.

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