Do you still want the NBN?


If deciding which party to vote for last federal election had been simply governed by whether ‘home-based’ businesses would secure the NBN or not … the choice would have been fairly straightforward.

Clearly it wasn’t. And given the new government’s performance to date I can only assume this message either didn’t get through and/or is simply being ignored.

Certainly, we should all get down on our knees and thank the ALP for breaking the Telstra monopoly and getting the game-changing infrastructure project off the ground in the first place, and we should also not forget the Liberals had been trying to do this themselves without any success for many years.

But is the ALP, under new leader Bill Shorten, in three years time our only hope of ever getting the precious fibre connection to our homes?

Not according to new Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who maintains home businesses will still be able to replace the existing copper connection from the (fibre to the node) street cabinet to your home at some yet-to-be-confirmed time in the future.

Supposedly, an upfront user contribution of $5000 will be required and while $5000 may not sound a lot to the fat cats in Canberra and Sydney, for many home-based businesses in our region that may be an insurmountable hurdle.

There has been much talk pre-election about the need for a SME-led economic recovery, so if the new government actually thinks they are going to help SMEs to get ahead they should remember that when people are just starting out in business they need every bit of help they can get. And conserving precious cash is always a top priority.

I am aware there had been some talk before the election that if elected Tony Abbott would likely leave most of the NBN plans in place … presumably on the basis that a new Liberal government would claim (surprise, surprise) the ALP government’s plans were too far advanced and, in any event, would cost the country more to stop construction than it would to simply keep going.

I must confess it all sounded plausible at the time but in fact the timing for the NBN rollout (as it stood under the ALP) was also a bit of a worry if you didn’t live in the CBD, a new subdivision or Kiama, and until I checked online I had not realised it could still have taken till June 2017 for the fibre to finally reach me in Cordeaux Heights.

Of course, the ALP are the only ones to fully support ‘fibre to the house’ for the NBN roll-out (nationally and in Wollongong) and with Malcolm Turnbull now firmly ensconced in the Communication Minister’s seat I don’t like our chances of ever seeing this happen in Wollongong before the next election, if ever.

However, one can only dream the new government will do a Gonski, i.e. a policy backflip with pirouette on this. Naturally, it would take a truly Olympian effort … but forgetting the politics for a moment it would be something I personally would applaud.

EDITOR – Andrew M Connery: A pioneer in social media and active online since early 2001 heads up the Editorial team. Andrew is currently undertaking doctoral research on disruptive technologies at the University of Wollongong. A B2B marketing practitioner by profession his specialty area is local online search and until July 2011 he was a Senior Trainer for the Federal Government’s Small Business Online program.


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