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Demystifying the NBN – Why Australia Needs Broadband Infrastructure… April 21, 2009

Posted by Glenn Irvine in Advocacy, Blog, Commentary, Futuring, Media.
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been monitoring the media and it’s response to the announcement earlier this month by Australia’s Prime Minister, that the Australian Government was going to lead a National effort worth $43 Billion to provide a FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) network to provide 100 Mbit broadband to 90% of the country.

Since then, on talk-back radio and in the general mass-media, there has been a deluge of, mostly negative, commentary on why our nation would invest $43B in this infrastructure to provide… and the regular quote is, “the ability for people to have very fast downloads of movies or music”.

It appears the common perception is that the NBN is just ‘Foxtel on Steroids’, and it is therefore not surprising, that most of the populace does not understand the huge importance of the investment in this infrastructure for the future benefit of our Nation.

I believe the NBN is a critical infrastructure initiative for our Nation and there are a number of things that should be considered:

  1. It is perhaps a mistake to use the term FTTH (Fibre to the Home) rather than FTTP (Fibre to the Premises). This suggests that the service is only domestic and has no coverage of commercial, government or community premises.
  2. The World around us, particularly our near neighbours in Asia, are enabling their commerce, government and business sectors with high-speed broadband already. For Australia to maintain competitive cost structures, processes and practices we need to meet or exceed these capabilities.
  3. Our community, health and emergency services can be greatly enhanced by broadband information services. Hospitals currently operate like a battlefield surgery, treating the patients in front of them as they present, due to their inability to quickly acquire critical patient information (like X-Ray imagery and CAT Scans) from other hospitals or clinics.
  4. Our government services can operate far more efficiently with broadband enabled eGovernment automation initiatives freeing up much needed resources and funds for necessary frontline services.
  5. Environmentally concerned citizens should consider that every work process that is automated via efficient electronic means between any offices of an organisation means less carbon emissions in having to transport documents between sites.
  6. This infrastructure not only promotes new jobs in knowledge based industries, but it also attracts these industries to invest or headquarter their organisations in Australia. The opposite would be true if we lagged behind Asian countries with this capability. Look at Singapore and Hong Kong, and their attraction of Information Industry APAC company headquarters.
  7. Every single industry benefits from more efficient services and processes. ICT services delivered by fast broadband provides a competitive edge to Australian companies over lesser developed country competitors. Or the opposite will be true, and we will lose that competitive edge… Look at the car industry for lessons to learn here.
  8. The capacity for home-based business and telecommuting is enhanced to viable levels with people able to not only work from home, but conduct online video meetings from home, opening up all manner of cost and travel/commute saving options for many workers in the community, and affordable office accommodation options for businesses everywhere.
  9. Finally, while not all rural sites will be covered, a vast majority of country towns will… and this unlocks great potential in those towns to be able to more easily deliver services and knowledge based products to the Globe in a way never before achievable. This enables our regional businesses to be Global exporters.

While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the Prime Minister or his Government delivers or proposes for Australia’s benefit, Mr Rudd is 100% correct in outlining that this is one of the greatest Nation Building exercises ever undertaken in Australia, and for all these good reasons.

While the devil is in the details and the urgency of acting on this great initiative is at peril of the foibles of being managed by a Government Bureaucracy, this initiative is indeed a critical step for Australia’s future.

The danger for our country is to do nothing and allow a commercial monopoly to continue. This would definitely leave us at a significant disadvantage against international competitors in all industries, and have the ultimate impact of reducing Australia’s quality of life comparitively with all the issues that would also create.


Glenn Irvine



1. eXo - April 22, 2009

here here!!!
Australian broadband infrastructure has too long been like a country with corrupt leaders (fiji for example) only benefiting the pockets of the few instead of the needs of the many.

The quality of our hospital systems should have sent alarm bells ringing but alas no, profit over people is what’s ruined it.

Thank god we’re finally getting some infrastructure worthy of the world instead of 3rd world ailing infrastructure we have now (hang on, even in Kenya you can get cheaper/better residential internet plans then Australia).

Education is the key, not propaganda. Thanks for clearing it up!

2. DreamensioN - April 22, 2009

I agree, we need an NBN. I’m thankful someone is finally in power who doesn’t have a 1950’s mentality about how Australia should be run. Broadband benefits everyone, and everything. Australia is so far behind the rest of the world already in public IT infrastructure that we are comparable to other 3rd world countries. These are facts. It is true that Australia is larger and more spread out than other countries, making the deployment of infrastructure more expensive and less commercialy viable – however, this is the price of living in such a great country.

FTTP/FTTH is something that should of been in the pipeline 10yrs ago. It’ll enable services we can only dream about currently. Australia can finally join the rest of the world, with broadband services other countries (such as Japan, the US, and most of Europe) now take for granted. And we will finally be free, from the shackles of Telstra.

The NBN cannot happen soon enough.

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