The National Broadband Network (NBN) plan effectively creates a state-owned monopoly and stifles competition, according to a leading Deakin University professor.

Public policy research professor Michael Porter was part of a panel of industry experts speaking at a business lunch in Warrnam-bool yesterday, and said he believed billions of dollars could be shaved off the total cost of the NBN rollout, if the plan was redesigned.

Professor Porter said plans to decommission broadband access via copper (ADSL and VDSL), and particularly cable, and replace them with fibre, was a waste of taxpayer money, and discouraged private investment in telecommunications.

“The current NBN plan involves the overbuild of copper and cable with fibre,” he said.

“This is all taxpayers’ money going to private companies to destroy copper and hybrid fibre coaxial cable (HFC) competition, to prop up a wholesale broadband monopoly. Because HFC is a mix of fibre and copper it has indefinite speed upgrade possibilities, including phased replacement by fibre.

“So what should be happening is these other methods of delivery should be used in conjunction with the fibre rollout to create high-speed broadband.”

He said 4G networks had potential to provide high speed, portable internet, but investment in the new technology would be discouraged under the NBN plan. “Why would private companies want to invest in telecommunication when we have a grand national plan coming?”

Professor Porter estimated connecting each household in the Warrnambool area to a fibre-based NBN would cost taxpayers $300 million.

“Imagine what that type of money could do for the community. It could provide new schools, hospitals and better roads,” he said.

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