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Open access to next generation broadband

Kelso, Ross (2008) Open access to next generation broadband. PhD thesis, Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT.

Abstract

Wireline telecommunications infrastructure in the customer access network or CAN is undergoing a veritable technological and commercial revolution. The paired-copper CAN is being modernised with optical fibre deployed ever closer to customers, culminating soon with fibre-to-the-home networks or some variant thereof. Although bandwidth ceases to be a scarce commodity, the underlying natural monopoly will most likely be strengthened.

National competition policy desires open access to multiple service providers yet commercial pressure calls for closure. This has been the recent experience with the hybrid fibre coaxial networks delivering pay television and Internet access.

This research asks the question: What are the factors that prevent open access to the broadband services of next generation wireline infrastructure? How can these obstacles be overcome? A particular focus is given to non-price considerations which come to the fore due to the unique strategic and technological characteristics of optical fibre in the access network.

The methodological approach involves data gathering via three case studies - that of the Telstra/Foxtel pay television network, the TransACT broadband network and fibre-to-the-home networks in general. Although the ultimate focus is on the research question above, these cases are discussed in a holistic way with consideration of a number of contextual factors. The research also examines the relationship between the concepts of ‘open access’ and ‘network neutrality’, visiting the concept of ‘common carriage’ in doing so.

Several findings are reached that illuminate the field of telecommunications access regulation as applied to infrastructure capable of delivering truly next generation broadband services. Since 1993, our politicians have only paid lip service to the importance of competition and have deferred to the demands of the dominant builder of telecommunications infrastructure. From the viewpoints of end-users and access seekers, the access regime is found to be incapable of dealing with the technical and commercial bottlenecks arising from optical fibre in the CAN.

It is concluded that communication between users should be recognised as the prime purpose of telecommunications and that the regulatory regime should not reward discriminatory practices detracting from the development of a networked information economy. It is also concluded that dominant players should never be rewarded with access holidays which could otherwise entrench market dominance through the creation of new bottlenecks. Access regulation is ill-equipped to cope with optical fibre in the CAN until it also recognizes the strategic potential of such infrastructure.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 12663
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: For more information, please contact the author.
Keywords: ACCC, access, broadband, communications policy, fibre to the home, fibre to the node, Foxtel, next generation broadband, next generation networks, network neutrality, open access, optical fibre, telecommunications, telecommunications policy, Telstra, TransACT
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING (090600) > Power and Energy Systems Engineering (excl. Renewable Power) (090607)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > TECHNOLOGY (100000) > COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES (100500) > Broadband and Modem Technology (100502)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Ross Kelso
Deposited On: 03 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2010 11:59

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