About a year ago, long before the FCC came out with its incredibly weak
broadband plan that is full of non-specific nothingness, we had suggested that if the new FCC really wanted to be bold, it should look at what Australia was doing
, building on an idea that we first started talking about back in 2003
: building out a single super high end fiber infrastructure, and letting service providers compete on top of it. The idea, then was to offer 100 Mbps fiber to 90% of all homes, and provide the remaining 10% with 12 Mbps wireless). The thinking, of course, is that broadband is a natural monopoly, and you don't want multiple infrastructure providers having to dig up the entire country to lay fiber, but you do want competition. So you build a single top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and let the competition happen at the service level. Now, there are reasonable concerns about the government being involved, but there are ways to structure such things so that it minimizes the problems. If you think of it like the national highway system, and the massive economic benefit that created, it begins to make sense.
So, as the US continues to muddle along at much slower speeds with little likelihood of much change, Broadband Reports
points us to a new report out of Australia, noting that they can actually go even bigger, increasing the fiber coverage to 93%
of the Australian homes.
This comes out of a feasibility report
on the original plan, done by McKinsey and KPMG, which noted that it wasn't just feasible, but that the original plan wasn't as ambitious as it easily could be, and came up with some recommendations to make it even better. Australia's plans do have some problems, but the plan seems a lot more ambitious than anything coming out of the US lately.