July 1st, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
The other day, we blogged about the importance of a national broadband policy in the U.S. In fact, this is a critical issue confronting countries around the globe.
Take Australia, which is embarking on a bold strategy to build a new national broadband network. Australia's Government has committed AU$4.7 billion to subsidising the rollout of a fiber network accessible to at least 98% of the population. Along with inviting bids from private parties to build and operate the infrastructure, it invited comment on what regulatory safeguards are necessary to maximise the public benefit. Significantly, the Government has recognised that the network should be not only fast and ubiquitous but also open, promoting consumer choice, competition, and innovation.
Earlier this week, Google Australia offered some comments to the Government on the key issues it should consider. Broadband access is an essential platform for its users to build upon -- to develop new technologies and businesses, engage in new forms of communication, entertainment, and education -- and in the optimal regime, the network operator would build the network and its business model around maximising its benefit as an innovation platform. As we discuss in our submission, unlocking the network's full potential depends on policies that maintain an open Internet.
National broadband policy isn't a one-size-fits-all matter, and different choices will be more appropriate for different contexts. But other countries should take note of Australia's proactive approach. Maintaining open, non-discriminatory broadband access is too important to assume that it can be bolted on to a regulatory regime at a later date. Instead, countries need to seriously consider how to build openness into next generation networks from day one.
For the full scoop from down under, see our post at our Google Australia Blog and read the submission.