When the Labor government announced that they would be introducing a National Broadband Network (NBN) to Australia I wasn’t at first sure about it; admittedly not knowing much about our network communications infrastructure. However, I did some poking around to see what all the fuss was about, and I have to say it now has my full support.
The first argument that got me thinking was the cost; total capital expenditure to reach over $35.9 billion with the government providing at least $27.5 billion in equity. Now for any infrastructure; thats a lot of zeros. In fact this is the most expensive rollout of communication infrastructure the nation has ever seen. When the rollout of the National Broadband is complete, 93% of homes and businesses will have access to world class broadband. The remaining 7% will be hooked up with wireless or satellite at speeds better than most most urban users currently.
Some, like Malcom Turnbull, argue that wireless is the network of the new age, with more and more technologies such as iPhones and iPads becoming prominent in technology. However, anyone who has researched the capacity of wireless will soon find out that wireless is already being pushed to its limits, and that we need both wireless and fibre to meet the future demands of our data consumption.
The more I investigated the NBN, the more it seemed to make sense. Data downloading through homes and businesses has been exponentially increasing every year, the demand for greater capacity broadband is increasing. We need a future proof plan which wont need costly upgrades in the future. The NBN is expensive I wont try and tell you otherwise, but I will tell you its worth it.
The NBN gives us structural seperation from Telstra, the privatisation nightmare that saw the last 20 years of terrible phone coverage in Australia, of failing telecommunications market due to the immovable monopoly that Telstra was and still is. If you ever get frustrated because your phone company charges you a fortune and you still don’t get wireless coverage or even phone reception on your iPhone sometimes even in urban areas; then you need to be frustrated at the monopoly that is Telstra. Our communication system at present is nothing short of a joke. I pay $50 a month for a 30G internet plan that gives me “peak speeds” of 20Mb/s, I also live only a few metres from the exchange so this is a good speed for the money I’m paying. If we changed to the NBN and I took up fibre to the home; I could receive speeds more than 5 times my current speeds for $12 LESS than what I’m paying now or, alternatively, i could pay 3 times as much as I’m paying now and receive internet speeds 50 times faster than I am currently. Now come on, I know I’m not the only one thats pissed off with their phone and wireless coverage. The only people that seem to not be pissed off are those who went with Telstra, and they’re paying more!
It is not commercially viable for communication infrastructure to take fibre much further than beyond the CBD, they wont make money doing that, so they wont do it, its as simple as that. The only infrastructure that can take fibre on a majority scale to Australians is a National Broadband Network. It will be cheaper in the long run to spend the money now.
The attitude the Labor government has brought to the table with the NBN is the attitude I wish they could have in all of their policies. It addresses the issue on a global and futuristic scale. When I walk into a store to buy a computer, I don’t walk into Cash Converters and pay $1000 bucks for a computer I’ll have to replace in a year because technology supersedes it; I buy the best computer my money can buy! That way it will last me long enough to have got my moneys worth without ending up spending more slightly upgrading all the time to save money in the short term; resulting in me having a substandard computer my whole life and never actually saving any money!
I love the attitude towards Telstra in this policy. The Telstra monopoly has destroyed and controlled the telecommunications market in Australia for the last 10 years and refused to play ball when it was offered a reasonable equity package by the government to incoorperate it in the fibre optic plan. To not remove Telstra from the communications infrastructure equation would be a massive error and would set back communications in Australia for years to come. The government is stepping in; as it should. As Steven Conroy says; the market has failed to provide affordable access to fast broadband across the whole country, it hasn’t happened and it wont happen. John Howard gave it 11 years, why should we have to wait any longer?