This annual report offers a wealth of information on the trends and developments taking place in the e-government, e-health and e-education sectors. The report provides analyses of the issues surrounding the growth of such services and includes global and regional information. Comprehensive information on the exciting developments taking place on a regional level is also included.
Subjects covered include:
The decision from the Australian Government to launch a $43 billion national Fibre-to-the-Home broadband network is an unmistakable indication that there is a clear understanding that broadband is essential infrastructure. It fulfils a national purpose as its trans-sector multiplier effect delivers massive social and economic benefits in healthcare, education, energy and the environment.
A digital economy requires an open broadband infrastructure, and for that infrastructure to work it is essential that it be built by a national utility (NBN Co). There certainly are questions regarding the business model and the investment plan but widespread support exists for the visionary plan.
During 2010 the business model needs to be developed, taking into account the socio-economic benefits the infrastructure can deliver to the country. This report also provides an analysis of the progress of the project.
The most critical element to the success of the Australian National Broadband Network is the infrastructure company running the network, NBN Co. It has to make the critical architecture and design decisions that will form the basis of the new infrastructure for at least the next 25 years. It will be essential that the network will facilitate the vision laid down by the government, which includes multiple use of the network by other sectors such as healthcare, education, energy, etc.
At the same time the company will need to ensure that it remains an infrastructure company and doesn’t become another telco. The report also discusses issues around technologies such as Network Operation Centre (NOC), the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) and IPTV versus RF Video.
After the vision comes the actual design and rollout of the network.
Thanks to government leadership Australia was the first country to get the national purpose vision right. The USA soon followed and is now showing real leadership as well. The Netherlands and New Zealand also are on the right track. Economic and trans-sector innovations are now key items on the political agenda of these countries. However, when it comes to deployment there is no silver bullet and each unique situation generates its own set of unique implementation models.
Social and economic strategies need to be taken into account in the design and architecture of the infrastructure. Pragmatic solutions must be developed to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and other resources. Under-served areas need to receive priority and local communities and councils can play a key role in this. Wireless broadband can play a major role as well.
These early projects could also be an ideal testing ground for trans-sector applications and this report explores these areas at a high strategic level.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) will certainly change the game. While there will be a transition period where some of the old will remain activity will increasingly move to the new environment. This will see the players starting to realign themselves and in preparation of the new world many will start changing their business plans well before that time.
Nevertheless the government has published a far-reaching regulatory regime change that leaves no doubt that there will be no returning to the old days where the incumbent was able to game play the regime, creating endless delays and stifling competition. In the end the outcome of the new framework will be aligned with the goals of the NBN and negotiations and discussions are already taking place, aimed at shaping this new environment.
Australia will be the first country in the world in which the entire industry will adopt a new plan for the future. In the past strategies were based on ad hoc decisions and there was little room for long-term planning. The market survived on the crumbs that fell from the Telstra table, and on regulatory relief which often took many years to eventuate, and was often too late to help a starving competitive environment.
Uncertainty has been a major obstacle. All decisions depended on Telstra and there was little hope of individual initiatives. Those who developed their own independent plans quickly discovered that Telstra’s reach was long and deep. Good examples of this are TransACT in Canberra and the Unwired service. Even larger companies like Optus and AAPT (Telecom New Zealand) struggled to set their own course.
The single most important element of the NBN is that it will provide certainty about future direction. There will be problems, and the outcome will not be perfect, but for the first time individual companies are far more in charge of their own destiny.
Soon after the NBN was announced in April 2009 Telstra finally realised that changes were now inevitable.
It reacted swiftly.
A new management team was appointed led by the new CEO, David Thodey. Telstra immediately announced its support for the NBN and its willingness to work with the government. The company also put its weight behind the trans-sector concept which will be the road to generating new revenue.
Negotiations were commenced with the government, investigating how Telstra could best participate. These negotiations have been tough and very complex and they are continuing. An initial agreement to negotiate further was signed in December 2009, followed by the signing of a heads-of-agreement in June 2010.
The NBN being a political project, political activity will obviously be involved in the process. An extremely businesslike approach has been evident so far, but elections, pork-barrelling and new ministers and governments will no doubt have an influence on the NBN. Some of this will be positive, as a trans-sector approach will require the government to commit other government sectors to participate in the project. Thorough preparation will be necessary for a full national launch, but two large-scale projects were singled out to form a tangible start to the rollout. The rollout was commenced in Tasmania, where a new regional backbone network and the building of five test sites on the mainland commenced in early 2010.
Cities, regions and communities are now beginning to become involved in developing strategies that will enable them to take advantage of the social and economic benefits that the NBN can create.
It is therefore vitally important that cities take charge of the development of their knowledge-based environments. A proactive local government is a vital element in the deployment of broadband to the point where it can begin to deliver community benefits in education, healthcare, community services, job creation and export. To date lack of infrastructure has led to very limited action being taken either by state or local government in Australia - this is in stark contrast to events overseas.
This report discusses the NBN agenda that cities should develop and the strategies that should flow from it. It is essential that councils become actively involved in the National Broadband Network. The most active ones will most likely be the first cabs off the rank in relation to the deployment of the NBN.
As mentioned above, a trans-sector approach is essential for future progress. In this report we draw attention to the importance of looking across sectors to create synergy and BuddeComm has previously discussed at length the opportunities within the ICT industries of utilising new telecoms networks for e-health, e-education, smart grids (managing renewables, saving energy), etc.
The Australian Government is leading the world in trans-sector thinking. The report also discusses a new approach, which applies across infrastructure projects, and looks at the potential synergies between the building of roads, sewerage systems, water and gas pipe networks, as well as telecoms and electricity networks.
It covers government initiatives that have been announced since the National Broadband Network.
Recognising that a sound business model for the NBN would necessitate the participation of other sectors, in 2009 the government commenced the appropriate policy initiatives to confirm its trans-sector approach towards the NBN. It indicated that the NBN is a nation-building project - it will become a social highway - and there is a clear national purpose associated with it.
Initiatives are already being undertaken in the areas of smart grids, education and healthcare. Further action is expected to ensure that the business that will be generated from these sectors can be taken into account within the NBN business plan. This report provides an overview of the key sectors, plus an overview of the first trans-sector projects initiated by the government.
For more than a decade the traditional media has been on notice regarding the changes it will be facing with the developments in the digital media market.
So far they have failed to take decisive action, partly because they were afraid of cannibalisation and partly because their business models do not cater for swift business action. This has brought about a decline in their revenues but, far more importantly, they have failed to seize a share of the new market which is now dominated by newcomers such as Google, YouTube and Facebook.
The NBN is the next stage. Here again the media has largely been absent from this debate, but the NBN will create new changes, with new options. The traditional media players can take a leadership role, looking at the trans-sector opportunities the NBN has on offer - or they can simply copy their outdated models onto the NBN, perhaps by using the wholesale services of a telco.
Initial indications are that they are looking at more of the same, rather than moving towards media innovation. The media companies do have strong brands and millions of customers, but how can they utilise this advantage?
E-health may become an area where key killer applications which utilise truly high-speed broadband networks emerge.
As already mentioned, the Australian Government is a leader in strategic trans-sector thinking, linking e-health developments to the NBN. Early diagnosis and after-treatment patient monitoring are two areas where significant synergies may be found using applications provided to users at home.
As the financing of the public health systems in Australia becomes increasingly costly an opportunity exists to lower costs through more effective use of web services for healthcare consumers. With widely available and cost-effective high-speed broadband infrastructure, e-health is enabling customers to benefit from advances in medical technology and medical services.
While broader economic conditions in Australia may be subdued until 2011, spending on e-health solutions is likely to be boosted as part of the larger economic stimulus packages the government is currently enacting.
There will also be a dramatic increase in the use of IT and telecommunications technology within educational environments between 2010 and 2015 as high-speed fibre-based broadband becomes widely available in Australia. Simultaneously, the capability of Internet services in relation to e-education is set to increase enormously over the next decade as well.
With its large landmass and relatively small population Australia is an ideal market for remote education services. As such Australia is home to many successful e-education service providers, as well as being a relatively important market for e-education services.
The Australian Government already provides its citizens with relatively sophisticated e-government services and, as with education, the establishment of a fibre-based broadband network may see the government improve and broaden the range of web services for which it is responsible. Australia, therefore, is a fascinating and relatively advanced market for both e-education and e-government services. This report discusses related telecommunications infrastructure developments as well as trends and innovation related to the e-education and e-government services.
Many exciting developments will take place in 2010 in the area of smart grids. Towards the end of 2010 the outline of Australia’s first smart grid project should become visible, and over the next three years important insight will be gained for a national rollout.
These developments will also stimulate others to move on from demonstration projects, and to proceed from smart meter rollouts towards smart grids.
The initial results of this process will become evident in several projects being carried out in Victoria. That state took the lead in smart meters, and this encouraged many other utilities to also focus on their underlying infrastructure. As a result we will start seeing their various types of smart grids arrive in Australia in 2010.
There will be further pressure on the government to better align energy and environmental policies, as well as electricity regulations. The government can use its influence in this area to encourage electricity utilities to also invest in smart grids, rather than in smart meters alone.
Events that started in Australia in 2005 have grown into an international groundswell, with BuddeComm involved as a leading consultant with governments in USA, UK, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, as well as with the United Nations (ITU/UNESCO). The key to the concept is to release untapped social and economic benefits by using broadband as an affordable utility infrastructure to deliver a range of trans-sector services (healthcare, education, smart grids, etc). The industry has been working on the applications for over a decade but only with strong government leadership can the benefits be realised.
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