ACCAN Guide to broadband access
Support is growing for the idea that broadband Internet access will lead society towards a digital economy and revolutionise access to work, health, education and other essential services.
Is broadband access a basic consumer right? How fast does that Internet access need to be? What are the best arrangements to bring about high-speed access for all? The resources in this Guide are centred on statistics, policy and debate around consumer broadband access.
From a consumer standpoint, ACCAN proposes principles such as ‘broadband for all’, ‘robust consumer protection rules and consumer engagement’ and ‘sustaining a competitive and fair market’ to ensure consumers are at the centre of a broadband future. While currently in Australia broadband access does not form part of the universal service obligation, policies giving all consumers the right to a broadband service are taking hold in a number of countries.
ABS statistics show that around 6.8 million people, or about a third of Australians have Internet access with download speeds of at least 1.5 Mbps, in a market with multiple service providers. Government policy has traditionally involved subsidies to ensure broadband services outside of metropolitan areas, but the Government’s rollout of the National Broadband Network is poised to radically change the broadband landscape in Australia.
A Government owned company, NBN Co. will lay fibre optic cable to at least 90 per cent of Australian homes, schools and businesses, capable of delivering speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), with the remaining 10 per cent connected through wireless and other means delivering speeds of at least 12 Mbps.
Internationally, governments and groups like the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) argue for the consumer welfare benefits of this type of approach. Yet there is opposition to a Government-led approach. The Federal Opposition in Australia takes a different tack on the network construction issue, proposing funding and incentives for private industry, as opposed to government led construction.
ACCAN is the peak body that represents consumers on communications technology issues. ACCAN's Guides present resources to inform policy that achieves available, accessible and affordable communications that enhance the lives of consumers.