Industry dismisses compulsory broadband prediction

The government has rejected predictions it will make ultrafast broadband compulsory.

The government has rejected predictions it will make ultrafast broadband compulsory.

Despite TelstraClear claiming some industry support for the beliefs of its chief executive, Dr Allan Freeth, other players have doubted the prediction.

Dr Freeth told the Telcon 12 Conference in Auckland this week he believed such legislation was just a few years away, saying it followed government practice in Australia.

“If there’s no nudge then people won’t switch,” told NBR ONLINE afterwards.

TelstraClear believes government could legislate by forcing customers to shift from copper to fibre-based services.

Under Australia’s National Broadband Network, Telstra is being compensated $11 billion for being forced to scrap its copper network.

Optus will also receive $800 million compensation for axing its HFC network.

TelstraClear also believes the government could impose its way through through copper pricing, something the Commerce Commission is consulting on, said a spokesman.

However, ICT Minister Amy Adams dismissed Dr Freeth’s prediction.

“The government considers that price competition between copper and UFB broadband services will benefit consumers in the long term.

"As such, the Government currently sees no need to change the status quo,” Ms Adams told NBR.

“The wholesale prices for regulated telecommunications services, such as copper based broadband, are not set by the Government.

"They are independently determined by the Commerce Commission,” she said.

Vodafone said it believed customers want choice rather than any type of compulsion.

“The UFB initiative has created a new model. It will be some time before that model beds down and before customers fully appreciate the benefits that superfast broadband will bring,” said a spokeswoman.

“So let’s see how this new model operates before we look to intervene.

"Ultimately, it will be customers who choose how they want to receive broadband. Fibre is just one way,” she said.

Telecom said it would not like to comment on how others feel the industry might evolve, saying the key for it was developing “compelling fibre-based product services that customers value”.

“Our view is that the UFB initiative is well structured as it is, but note that it is a relatively young initiative without much international precedent, so we are all learning as we go to some degree,” said a spokesman.