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G+T lawyer questions world's view of NBN
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G+T lawyer questions world's view of NBN

A leading telecommunications lawyer has questioned what the rest of the world thinks of the government's national broadband network.

A leading telecommunications lawyer has questioned what the rest of the world thinks of the government’s national broadband network.

Gilbert + Tobin partner Richard Pascoe aroused the interest of delegates at the Sydney CommsDay Summit on Wednesday with his presentation on the NBN, asking: “What do other countries really think?”

Pascoe, a specialist in communications law, concurred with communications minister Stephen Conroy’s argument at the Summit that Australia’s NBN policy was being watched closely by operators, regulators and governments around the world, but noted that this interest, including in many Middle Eastern countries, is sometimes a mixture of curiosity and bewilderment, rather than admiration.

Pascoe probed further into the statement, asking why and what these other countries were thinking.

According to Pascoe, a separate NBN Co is not the favoured approach for the Middle Eastern countries. Instead, these countries, who share the same goals of nationwide broadband infrastructure, would prefer to see less direct government intervention, and consider the establishment of a government-owned ‘wholesale only’ network as more of a last resort to encourage local operators to “reform or be reformed”.

Pascoe said Australia was not the only country on the Middle East’s radar, with the region keeping a watching brief on the progression of Google’s fibre rollout plans in the United States — which has the potential to upend ISPs’ business models there.

The CommsDay Summit was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney last week, with speakers including NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley and Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Pascoe has provided advice to operators and regulators in the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar, many of which are also tackling issues associated with broadband infrastructure and internet development.


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