Ok this is getting ridiculous. There is lots of commentary going on in the Australian press and from the politicians about the NBN. Most of it inane and demonstrating the commenter's complete lack of understanding about the technology and the issue.
The NBN will provide economic, social and environmental benefits. This fascination and indeed obsession with cost of access is self-defeating. Here is a quick overview of the benefits
- Economic: NBN improves access to SaaS solutions and increases effective collaboration both improving producing and reducing costs. NBN opens up new possibilities for new companies and industries that hadn't existing before. Could anyone have predicted YouTube or Twitter when we were using 56k modems? NBN brings very high speed access to businesses of all sizes rather than just the largest.
- Social: NBN, as others pointed out, provides the ability to role out education and health applications right to where people are. Some are already talking about providing free basic access to the poor.
- Environmental: NBN will create a boom in video calling and telepresence cutting down on travel and reducing pollution. The NBN goes a long way to reducing energy intensity of the economy.
Have a look at these videos that Microsoft produced as a look into the future of computers. The NBN is the key to enabling this world.
The key to the NBN living up to its promise is how the Government structures it and it is quite possible they will get it wrong. That shouldn't stop us from trying though. Life is a risk and we cannot be afraid of making a mistake.
For the NBN to fulfil its promise the following items have to be done:
- The conduit/real estate and fibre should be help in separate companies
- The company sold at the end of the 5 years should only be the fibre layer and assets. The conduit/real estate company needs to remain majority Government owned.
- The legislation has to guarantee Open Access to both the conduits (so other companies can label cabling) and the fibre.
- Fibre should be laid direct to the house. The NBN shouldn't use shared access.
- Access must be symmetric the same upload speed as download speed.
The Opposition needs to hold the Government to implementing the about principals. They have to work with the Government to split the construction of the NBN into two parts:
- Building the Conduits. This is the stimulus part of the NBN and can begin quickly and should start in the large regional towns before moving to the city
- Laying the fibre and installing the Equipment. This is the key planning stage and in order to avoid prolong delays, can be done will the conduits are being built.
The core issue here is not the price of access. It is Open Access. The Opposition must be holding the Government to providing Open Access not only to the fibre but also to the conduits. Open Access is the key to the NBN working.