The most critical element to the success of National Broadband Networks is the infrastructure company that runs the network. It has to make the critical architecture and design decisions for the open wholesale-only services which will form the basis of this new infrastructure for at least the next 25 years. It is essential that the network will facilitate the vision laid down by governments which include 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. In 2013 NBN Co in Australia is having issues of this very nature.
However Australia was the first country to get the overall (national purpose) vision right, thanks to government leadership and it is currently deploying its National Broadband Network. 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. There is no silver bullet and each unique situation generates its own alternatives, which in turn inform others involved in similar national projects.
The vision gives rise to the creation of social and economic strategies that need to be taken into account in the design and architecture of the infrastructure. Pragmatic solutions need to be developed to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and other resources. Un(der)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.
This report explores that role of the NBN infrastructure company and other key considerations when developing an NBN. The report draws upon Australia, USA, Europe, Singapore, Denmark, Hong Kong and New Zealand for supporting examples.
It is important that an NBN infrastructure company is seen as a regulated basic national infrastructure provider and not as a telecommunications company; It is also important to note that applications will come and go, and they will continually improve, but the NBN infrastructure at its most fundamental level should be sustainable, lasting near-forever, and incurring only routine, periodic improvements along the way.