similarities between Xarxa Oberta and Australian NBN network

The Australian NBN plan is in danger now and all of us who were waiting for it to happen to have a reference model are a little bit disappointed. There are many interests involved in deploying telecom infrastructure (politics, operators, …) so it is never easy to propose a change of model and take it forward.

In Spain we have an example of tenacity in the deployment of the open access operator in Asturias ( It is not very well known abroad, but it is a very good example of a layer-2 open access infrastructure (bitstream services) to offer broadband in many underserved municipalities in Asturias.

In Catalonia we wanted to do a similar approach, but focused on the core network, to be able to offer high capacity services across the territory in order to have an alternative to Telefonica and encourage the deployment of broadband in the region. Telefonica has tried for all means the project not to go forward in all its extension and now seems that they have almost fulfulled their objective: Xarxa Oberta has been restricted to Terres de l’Ebre region and its funding reduced from 680M EUR to 70M EUR.

In Australia seems to happen the same. Many people do not want to have a common platform to deliver services and applications because this dramatically reduce barriers to entry and levels big companies with small ones. Without high barriers to entry (infrastructures), innovation and product differentiation becomes a must and this is something that traditional telecom operators are not very good at.

When you have several choices, then people tend to select the one that better fulfills their requirements. However, when you have no alternative, then innovation is stopped and price tends to be much higher.

This is what happens now in most of the rural areas in Catalonia. You get 1Mbps down and you pay 40EUR/month for this service. People from our government still say that we have a very competitive broadband offer…

Australia has a similar problem, with high prices and limited offer. There, barriers to entry are even larger because Australia is a huge country, which means that to deploy new cabled infrastructure is extremely expensive.


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