Posted by: mandi bateson | April 7, 2009

A national tragedy

Australian PM Kevin Rudd and his giggling sock puppet Stephen Conroy today announced that the government will spearhead construction of the National Broadband Network over the next 8 years. The government will be the majority shareholder in partnership with the private sector, with an estimated investment of up to $43 billion. The PM hailed the decision as the “single biggest infrastructure decision in Australia’s history”. Oh boy.

K Rudd took large swinging hits at the previous government and Australian telcos who have neglected to deliver a high speed broadband network thus far. This apparently left us with one choice – rely on the government to build us our internets.

kevinrudd Telstra’s monopoly of the Australian market has made it difficult for providers to establish a competitive alternative. The expense of creating an infrastructure increases the cost to serve to an unfeasible amount, leaving providers to resell Telstra’s nuts and bolts as a new solution. Rudd acknowledged that the telcos involved in the bid process were unable to offer value for money. By creating a fibre to the home network, the government is creating real opportunities for providers to challenge Telstra’s Goliath by releasing them from their unhealthy dependant relationship.

Hooray! Right? Right?

The reality is that despite the public dressing down from Rudd, it’s more than likely that the 49% investment from the private sector will come from Telstra. So when it is time for the government to sell off their majority share, we may as well have just given Telstra the scheme from the beginning.

Innovation is not a dirty word

What upsets me is that this decision has Australia playing catch up with the rest of the world. Our wide brown sweeping plains have proved detrimental as we struggle into the immediacy of the 21st century. With the government controlling the development of our precious high speed broadband network we have doomed ourselves to restricted innovation throttled by bureaucracy.

We don’t deserve this!

We have such forward thinking, intelligent minds but these thought leaders are now at the mercy of the single most ineffective organisation in the country. The new network will probably take more than a decade to rollout and if we consider that it is merely the early adopters that are now reliant on the current network, 10 years of a technical revolution could date the infrastructure before it is even completed.


So what do you think? Do you think the government should be responsible for the “single biggest infrastructure decision in Australia’s history”?

Read more opinions on the NBN:

The Tubby Nerd

Peter Martin

Renai LeMay for cnet

Bleeding Edge

Net Traveller

Russell’s Teapot

Ross Dawson

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