Mark Goldberg

Learning from Australia

Bronwyn Howell authored an important commentary in with “Lessons from Australia’s national network mess.” Based on observations about Australia’s broadband and mobile markets, she warns that politicizing Canadian telecommunications regulation is a bad idea.

Australia appears to be a simple counter example to Canada, with similar population density and geographic challenges. However, the political interventionism in Australia’s mobile and internet markets should serve more as a cautionary tale than a gold standard.

Like her recent piece on the AEIdeas blog, “Upping the political ante in mobile markets: A cautionary tale from Canada” (the subject of my post “A cautionary tale of political interference“), Dr. Howell warns that we should be concerned when “politicians usurp the role of regulators and start making matters of regulatory purview the subject of election campaigns.”

Advanced communications infrastructure is too important to be abandoned to the vagaries and short-term agendas of the political process. Australia’s failed NBN experiment is stark reminder, for Canadians, of how expensive this trade off can be.

Paul Burbank at Faskens wrote an article (see: “Calling All Voters – Be Wary of Wireless Promises this Election Season”) that sums up the election hype over mobile prices: “Affordability has become a central theme in this campaign and cheaper wireless makes for great politics. But great politics doesn’t always translate to great policy.”

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