yARN: No Bloody Nonsense (NBN)? - No sir, not all

yARN: No Bloody Nonsense (NBN)? - No sir, not all

ISPs beat their broadband network chests in entertaining display of one-upmanship

We've run one commentary in the past week in which senior political commentators, Antony Green, and Nick Economou, declared the majority of Australians don't care about the much-debated and - so-we-thought - hated Internet filter.

It was a real insight into the way, for many Australians, matters that seem so vital to everybody involved in the IT bubble - the filter, NBN, broadband speeds etc - aren't so vital to the average family. It just wants its Internet and it wants it to work - and to save the kids from all the nasty dodgy stuff lurking round out there on the Web. It's sounds simplistic but perhaps it is as simple as Green and Economou make it out to be.

However, that probably pales in comparison to how shallow some of our ISPs can get.

On Friday, we watched - with amusement - a rather ludicrous game of one upmanship involving three of the ISPs and the also much-debated, National Broadband Network (NBN).

Initially, Internode said it had connected its first customer to the broadband - after that customer had revealed he was connected on a forum on Whirlpool. iPrimus then claimed it had connected the first-ever customer to the NBN. Who did it first? Who knows? Neither bothered to produce any evidence - such as the date the customer was connected. Both just beat their chests, according to one observer. They both had something to brag about - or so they thought.

ARN's Spandas Lui then gave ISP iiNet a call to see what it thought of the whole thing.

iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby, said Tasmania’s NBN isn't commercially available. The new customers presented by Internode and iPrimus were just part of the trial to check the processes of commissioning and connecting services for the second half of July, he said.

iiNet also had customers currently on the network but has refused to disclose further information on the matter. “There is a bit of chest-beating going on there,” Dalby said. “I think we all would probably claim to be the first to connect customers [in Tasmania].

“But we had agreed with NBN Tasmania to not do any publicly around the matter so it is a little disappointing to see those companies deciding they will go public on that fact.”

According to Dalby, the agreement was to not release any details about initial customers until all ISPs and the office of Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, was ready.

So now it turns out - and this is the most salient point - there had been a tacit agreement with Conroy's office that would allow him to claim all the attention. Because Conroy needs all the help he can get - right?

Isn't it kind of sad that we still have these little silly secrets; that politicians feel the need to stand in some dim spotlight and brag about what they have achieved - when they feel like it and when it's most politically advantageous in an election year.

Not that playing silly games is the exclusive domain of the Labor Party. The Liberals managed its own gaff. Newly-minted PM, Julia Gillard, brokered an agreement over the now-you-see-it/now-you-don't mining tax. Another Rudd nasty out the way. Tick the box.

So what does Liberal wannabe PM, Tony 'I-burnt-my-budgie-smugglers-this-week' Abbott, do? He declares the election will now be a referendum over tax - a tax that the Liberals won't put in place and now only affects 300 and some companies.

Has Tony checked the record of referendums in Australia? The stats are not good, Mr Abbott - 44 referendums have been held in Australia as of 2008, of which only eight have been carried. Calling the election a referendum seems a rather ill-conceived move.

Perhaps, it would actually be better to deliver a few policies instead. Something he's failed to do so far.

The next few months seem likely to be at least entertaining as Australia marches towards E-day. Bad policies versus bad politics, anybody?

Mike Gee is the Acting Managing Editor of ARN and a dual Walkley Award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience in newspapers and magazines.

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Tags national broadband networkiiNetiprimusinternodeSenator Stephen ConroyTony AbbottJullia Gillard

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