ACCC and Labor Minister differ on broadband report

By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: The latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Snapshot of Broadband Deployment report has seen Labor shadow minister for communications and IT, Senator Stephen Conroy, lash out at the Howard Governments ‘complacency on broadband’.

While Senator Conroy referred to broadband growth in Australia as slowing, the ACCC reported a continued increase in the take-up of broadband services and described broadband adoption as ‘strong and steady’.

“The report shows that in the quarter ending 30 June 2006, there were 3,518,100 broadband services connected across Australia,” said ACCC commissioner, Ed Willett.

“Once again, this represents an increase of over one million customers, or 67 per cent, over the preceding 12-month period, and continues a trend observed since June 2005.

“However, as we would expect, the percentage growth of broadband take-up has declined given the increase of the total subscriber base in absolute terms,” he said.

Senator Conroy has suggested that the drop in entry-level growth, falling by three per cent in the last quarter, represents the consequences of a lack of broadband infrastructure leadership shown by the Howard government.

The Labor Minister told the media that Australia is now ranked 17th of 30 countries surveyed by the OECD in regards to broadband take-up growth rates.

Despite the ACCC reporting a 14 per cent drop in total quarterly growth for the June quarter, compared to March 2006, the report still showed an 11 per cent growth rate for the June quarter.

According to the report, DSL-based services remain the most popular type of broadband adopted by Australians, while an increased take-up was observed across all other forms of broadband measured in the June quarter, including cable, satellite, and wireless.

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