- During his speech, Fletcher confirmed the support he previously expressed for infrastructure-based competition.
- According to data collected from October to December 2020 by Opensignal, Australia has the fifth fastest average 5G download speed globally.
- Fletcher highlighted SA WISP Beam Internet as an example of several WISPs that have been funded to greatly improve regional connectivity.
During his speech, Fletcher confirmed the support he previously expressed for infrastructure-based competition, and he described NBN Co as, “one network amongst many… our government wants to foster innovation, competition and choice amongst these networks.” He also emphasised that the increasing diversity of network options other than NBN are due to the on-going progress in 5G, fixed wireless networks and emerging LEO satellite networks.
He noted, “The Morrison Government does not want to force Australians to use the NBN. That was Labor’s mindset; we prefer competition. Certainly, the NBN will serve the needs of millions of Australians; but we want to see the maximum degree of choice and optionality.”
In just a few days, comments came pouring in after NBN Co effectively transferred future price consultations to an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission-led process, following Fletcher’s inclination towards the reactivation of the lapsed Special Access Undertaking process. He said, “This approach would help deliver certainty for retailers on pricing, and certainty for NBN Co in terms of the returns it can expect… It is important that we look closely at the regulatory framework which applies to NBN pricing, particularly since we inherited a curious arrangement from our Labour predecessors under which the pricing on much of NBN’s network is today not subject to any regulatory constraint at all. “He added, “I’m pleased that the ACC has responded positively to my expectations – and that the sector is supportive of the need for this significant change.”
“Australia has the fifth fastest average 5G download speed globally, according to data collected from October to December 2020 by mobile network analytics firm Opensignal. It is important that this new technology is put to good use in areas like smart manufacturing and other commercial applications,” Fletcher said about the development of 5G.
He also mentioned that he expects to sign the final allocation limits direction for the 850-900MHz mid-year auction, way ahead of the auction to be held in the later part of 2021, after the successful completion of the 26GHz auction.
On another development note of fixed wireless being a constraint on the NBN, Fletcher also highlighted SA WISP Beam Internet as an example of several WISPs that have been funded to greatly improve regional connectivity. He said, “Beam Internet has about 20,000 sq km of coverage in South Australia, is the largest privately owned fixed wireless operator in the state and has experienced 100% year on year growth for the last five years.” Regional and remote Australia will be connected by low earth orbit satellite operators, Fletcher added.
“As Communications Minister, I am proud of the efforts of the hardworking people at NBN, at Telstra, at Optus, at TPG, at Vocus, at Aussie Broadband and right across out telecommunications industry, “Fletcher said, as he commended the efforts of the industry during COVID-19. His speech also revolved much around the current program of fibre upgrades of the NBN, and the supplementation of investment on infrastructure through the Regional Connectivity Program.