5 years on, does the NBN promise stack up?


The NBN vision gained the support of the challengers and innovators in the communications industry because it created an opportunity for them to transform the business, and undreamed of deliver to consumers services and pricing innovations.

But this was not primarily because it promised greater speeds.

The big promise was that it would open up, for the first time, an opportunity for genuine, fair competitive access to consumers.

It would take away Telstra network monopoly let everyone compete on an equal basis.

Five years later, it is at risk of failing to deliver.

The most obvious measure is that Telstra’s market share of fixed broadband has not budged from around 50 percent – higher than any equivalent incumbent in the world.

At the same time, the share of all competitors outside the Top 3 has fallen.

With two years to go in the NBN rollout, it is time to refocus on the main game and fix competition.

Commpete believes you can’t improve what you don’t measure. We believe the key measure should be how much market share is being won by the companies with the incentive and track record of innovation, customer service and sharp pricing – the independent challengers and new entrants.

When the NBN was being started, private market analysts calculated these companies in the vanguard of competition would lift their combined market share to 30 percent.

That is the aspirational goal Commpete has put forward, and the goal it believes should guide all regulatory and policy decisions.

If it is achieved, it will mean Australia is where it needs to be – one of if not the leading information economy in the world, rather than sliding slowly to the back of the pack.