In September the Productivity Commission released its long awaited report, Public Safety Mobile Broadband. The draft report is a serious disappointment to the PFA and State Governments. It fails to recommend dedicated spectrum for public safety’s national broadband network; it recommends a commercial provider, presumably Telstra, be contracted to deliver the service, while at the same time acknowledging that “priority services for PSA’s without dedicated spectrum” “has not been demonstrated”. This a remarkable state of affairs.

The report also acknowledges that States could be held to ransom by the services provider, given that there are only three realistic providers in Australia and only one really able to do the job.

The favored system would also leave rural and regional Australia high and dry because it is allegedly too expensive to have public safety agencies using mobile broadband in these parts of Australia. It looks like any area which now has poor, or no, mobile phone coverage will, under the Productivity Commissions preferred “solution” not have mobile broadband capability for its police, ambos, or fire services. This is outrageous.

As you would expect, the PFA will be making a further submission on this Productivity Commission draft report before the end of October.