Albany, NY -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/09/2014 -- Broadband market enters a new era following the NBN strategic review
The National Broadband Network continuing evolution
Since being implemented in 2012, Australia’s NBN has undergone significant changes. The late-2013 strategic review of the NBN, commissioned by a newly elected government, established a very different framework. Instead of 93% of the population being covered by FttP, the new architecture has called for a hybrid network incorporating FttP and FttN, and utilising existing DSL and HFC plant.
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Overall, the initial development of the NBN reflected a serious response to the relatively poor quality of Australia’s broadband infrastructure. It was also a response to the intransigence of the dominant telco, Telstra. The government was minded to change its broadband infrastructure plan from a regional to a national focus, which to a degree has been linked to the development of the digital economy supporting policies relating to e-commerce, e-health, e-education and smart grid infrastructure. These are all aimed at utilising the NBN for a myriad of purposes beyond broadband.
Residential and business broadband markets: growing adoption of faster services
Although the business market in Australia was quick to embrace broadband, mainly to access faster data speeds, a significant proportion of smaller operators has yet to establish an online presence, and by early 2014 only about 38% had a business website.
The government’s ‘Broadband Availability and Quality’ report, published in December 2013, showed that 1.4 million premises (13% of the total) across many areas of the country had no adequate broadband infrastructure. These areas include regional and remote regions but also pockets within urban communities. Given the state of broadband availability and speeds, many businesses still depend on mobile rather than fixed-line broadband. A growing number in areas where access to the NBN has been made available have switched to fibre broadband services, which enable these companies to compete in the global economy more effectively. The faster speeds of fibre infrastructure will see the rapid adoption by businesses of services such cloud computing, online interaction, and media conferencing.
Business broadband has also allowed greater choices in working environments, with the ability for employees to tele-work, either from home or on the road while making use of improved mobile broadband. As such, smartphones and tablets form an increasing part of the business ICT environment.
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DSL and HFC markets: stable growth as copper plant survives within the NBN
The DSL sector continues to show resilience in the marketplace, bolstered in recent years by operators adopting new technologies which can deliver greater data capacity on legacy copper infrastructure. In conjunction with Telstra’s unbundled local loop service, which provides a platform for competitors to offer broadband services, the slow-down in the rollout of the NBN has also meant that the number of customers expected to migrate from copper to fibre-based services is far lower than initial NBN Co forecasts. Many telcos have installed their own DSLAM infrastructure, enabling them to provide fairly high-speed internet services via ADSL2+.
Following the strategic review of the NBN, which emphasised a combination of FttN and HFC architecture, the transition from DSL to fibre-based infrastructure is likely to be on a far smaller scale than formerly envisaged.
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