Australia's governments should ensure that many different broadband systems can be brought to different parts of Australia argues Joshua Gans.
And the nation should avoid building a monolithic new national broadband Internet network. The Local Broadband Imperative finds that Australia will get the best possible broadband service by creating a system that delivers a wide variety of local solutions. Australians have now adopted broadband at about the OECD average rate. But by world standards, the report says, Australian broadband is extremely slow: we are the only OECD nation where more than half of all broadband users download data at 512 kilobits per second or less.
However, Australia should not try to fix this by imposing a single national system of faster broadband from a single provider such as Telstra, the report says - because broadband is not a settled, "one-size-fits-all" technology like electricity or the existing fixed-line phone system. Instead, broadband is much better suited to a series of different local-level solutions - for instance, a very fast fibre-based local network in one place, competing cable and wireless networks in another, basic ADSL in a third.
The report says broadband is yet to have its greatest effect on the economy, and argues that in the long run its greatest effect is likely to be on person-to-person communications rather than in delivering one-way, television-style services.
Note: This link provides a summary of the information paper only. The full report is available to members only.