NBN CEO Bill Morrow has claimed that there is no market for super-fast broadband in Australia, and that people would not use it “even if we offered it for free”.
For years, NBN Co has been promising Australians download speeds of up to one gigabit per second. At this speed, it would be possible to stream – without buffering – at least five high-definition videos (1080p) simultaneously, or download an entire digital movie (14GB) in less than two minutes, for example.
While the NBN currently has 1.6 million users, none have access to these download speeds and there have been a significant number of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about the network’s slow download speeds.
Yet Morrow has claimed that there is a lack of demand for super-fast broadband speeds in Australia, and that overseas providers of such speeds have found that they were not being fully utilised.
“Even if we offered it for free, we see evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway,” he said at NBN Co’s half-yearly results on Thursday.
“Whether you think about [augmented reality] or [artificial intelligence] or any of these other elements with media streaming at 4K and 8K and immersive sound, all of these things could drive up consumer need but we haven’t seen that as of yet,” he was quoted saying in the Daily Telegraph.
Internet Australia chief executive Laurie Patton told the Telegraph that it is “not about what we need this year or next year, it’s about the future”.
“It’s about our ability to compete in a digitally enabled world where other countries have high-speed broadband networks that already leave us behind.
As reported in PACE last year, Australia is currently ranked 56th in the world for internet speed, which has dropped from 30th place three years ago. The nation is ranked 48th for download speed at 8.8mbps, which is enough to watch YouTube videos but less than half the speed needed to stream 4K TV shows from Netflix.