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A regulatory can of worms

Since the new government came to power there has been a lot of talk about renewed competition and an opportunity to speed up our delivery of faster broadband.

In this edition of CrossTalk, Patrick Fair, chair of the Internet Industry Association, describes the previous government’s approach of a monopolistic, cross-subsidised build as Stalanist. He hopes we’ll see a more expedient delivery under the Coalition.

But, what some people see as progress, others see as a step backwards. Mark Gregory, a telecommunications academic at RMIT University, says the industry will be watching to see if Telstra can walk away from any changes back in its monopoly dominant position of the past. And Matt Healy, chair of the competitive carriers coalition, wants to ensure that the new-look NBN retains the focus on having all infrastructure delivered as open-access by a wholesale-only provider.

Many in the industry also believe regulations need to consider the wireless space too. “We’ve already gone from a four player to three player market,” says Tony Brown, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media. “We definitely don’t want to go to a two player market”. In large parts of the country, of course, the choice is down to just one player, raising the question on whether the regulatory environment needs to extend to engender more competition in mobile and fixed wireless access.

Industry commentator and CommsDay columnist Kevin Morgan points to the remaining 700Mhz spectrum, unsold at the last auction. What should be done with that?

Malcolm Turnbull has a big job on his hands. Every rock that is turned over, reveals a swathe of wriggly questions demanding an answer. All seem to revolve around revisiting the question, is infrastructure competition a good thing or not?

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