Destruction of the Communications Fund

The demolition work has begun to destroy a great work by the Howard government, the established Communications Fund.

This Communications Fund was established so that Regional and Rural Communications services wouldn’t fall behind metro areas due to a lack of investment.

The fund would generate $400 million every three years for use in investing and upgrading networks in regional areas.

To top that off, and prevent the fund being destroyed, a block was placed in the way to limit access to funds from the Communications Fund so that the established amount of $2 billion was not touched.

It was great thinking, great policy, $400 million in networking terms buys a fair bit. Look at wireless access, or even fixed access, such as Fibre.

Using just telephone poles, or existing ducting, or even sewers, the fibre cable could be run through regional areas to ensure they have a future.

The work began to destroy the block (and the fund) this week, when Sen. Conroy placed legislation on the table to allow the spending of the principle amount ($2 billion) as they see fit.

I don’t think it’s a wise move to abolish the fund, sure, Conroy thinks FTTN to regional areas will solve future demands, but what about beyond that? What happens after FTTN? What happens with competition?

Why not simply keep the fund there, and the $400 million be used to fund projects like Opel and other initiatives that will provide a competitive network for broadband providers to supply services from?

Better yet, why doesn’t the government make a better shot of it, establish it’s own network, and charge all for infrastructure access, and use communications fund interest to fund any upgrades and shortfalls.

This way, they aren’t running a retail business, and they certainly aren’t destroying competition, they are instead supplying infrastructure access to anyone and everyone at cost price, what happens after there is up to the retail suppliers.

That’d be more smart use of the funds, but taking $2 billion to throw to the wank jobs at Telstra so they can spend it on a network not needed yet, and charge access prices for wholesale at prices above even existing retail prices, and turning the average home into a 3 figure bill at the least, is a very, very bad move.

$2 billion in a fund could do sooo much more, destroying it just seems pointless. But then, I expect to be repeating that many times over the next few years.


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