Vodafone lends support to Australia NBN, defends Huawei

Vodafone Hutchinson Australia has said that the much criticised NBN fibre-to-the-premises project is vital to support mobile connectivity, the Register has reported. At an open public hearing of the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network, Matthew Lobb, Vodafone’s general manager of public policy, told the committee that the argument that “because consumers love mobile tech they don’t like wires so the NBN is not important” was misleading and that “getting fixed line right is absolutely crucial for mobile networks.”

The mobile operator also said that the NBN programme was good for competition and would enable it to enter the fixed line broadband market in the country. “Globally, Vodafone is quite an active fixed line player… but Australia has not been an attractive fixed line market because of the dominance of Telstra. The recent reforms and the NBN have changed our thinking in that regard.”

The Australian NBN has been much maligned by many analysts and observers for its cost, particularly after it paid Telstra AUS$11.8bn for its copper network. At last year’s Broadband World Forum, the Australian shadow minister for communications and broadband Malcolm Turnball described it the NBN as “the most expensive, most anti-competitive broadband network in the world.”

VHA also came out in support of Chinese vendor Huawei, who was recently blocked from submitting a tender for the NBN due to security concerns.

In response to questions from MP Rob Oakeshott, the Committee’s Chair regarding VHA use of Huawei equipment, Lobb said the company “uses Huawei a fair way out of our network… in base stations and so on. It is an important part of our network and is delivering good results.

“The important thing to understand is that security is a vital part of any telco’s business. Consumers and government must trust us, so we have a strong interest to make sure the right protections are in place. We are confident they are in place.”

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