Senate Report: don’t do NBN

By John Nixon 20/05/2010

Quote: “Considering that the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network is chaired by a Liberal senator, it’s not surprising that its latest report’s first recommendation is that “The government abandon the National Broadband Network project”. But since the government was unlikely to listen to that, it also proceeded to present a list of alternate recommendations.” Unquote

Ther are times that I gnash my teeth and want to have politicians submit to an IQ test before getting elected.
I put a lot of (unpaid) time into providing the Australian Senate select committee, at their invitation, with carefully considered, technically accurate responses to their concerns. Polite thank yous came back, but in the end, it was a political decision, not a technical or commercial one that ruled.
Labour launches the NBN. The Liberals MUST be against. Simply because they are the opposition.
I was born, grew up and was educated in Sydney. So I am still very attached to what goes on over there. And I’ve been a free enterprise person all of my career. But this is ridiculous!
“We don’t need to spend this money”, “Who on earth could use 100 Mbps?”, “Let the commercial world sort it out”, VDSL is coming, that’s all we’ll ever need”.
What a load of hooey!
Canning the NBN project (now well underway) will set Australia back many many years. The National Broadband (fibre) Network is a huge national infrastructure project that is far too big to be done successfully by any private company. Or if that did happen, you just repeat the Telco monopoly over again.
What nobody seems to realise is that the new National fibre network will serve for 50 or 100 years (as the old copper network did). The fibre itself will virtually never need replacing. New electronics at each end will ensure that bandwidth demands are met for many decades to come.
With a hung Senate in Australia, controlled by a few amusing individuals who are very happy to see themselves on TV “saving the taxpayer lots of money”, I’m afraid that democracy shows a rather sad face when it comes to important technical decisions of national importance. Why on earth they solicit hundreds of submissions from individual experts, then take a vote strictly on party line policy… that to my mind is really wasting taxpayers’ money and my own efforts as well (not worth much in comparison).
I have experience, knowledge and time to offer freely to both the Australian and New Zealand fibre projects. But I am totally discouraged when political credos interfere with sensible decision-making.
Again, let’s hope that we do the job in New Zealand without all the political hoopla and grandstanding that is evident in Australia right now.

David Thodey is Telstra Australia’s new boss after the departure of the very abrasive American ex-CEO who took on the Australian Government head to head. When will people learn that (in spite of my comments above) you can’t possibly win a fight against a country’s government.
This is a fascinating comment on David’s new approach to winning back the Australian public opinion. An interesting parallel perhaps with Telecom New Zealand?