yARN: The year the NBN ate the world

yARN: The year the NBN ate the world

Politics and media overkill obscure the fundamentals of the network


I don’t know about you but I’m sick of the NBN. I want it - but I’m sick of it. In the 10 weeks to April 11, the ARN website alone has run 70 stories about the NBN. On one day on the Google Sci/Tech index page there were 283 NBN stories acknowledged.

It would be doubtful any other story has attracted such consistent – and overwhelming – coverage in IT for a very long time. Love it or hate it, the NBN has become a headline magnet, and a massive traffic driver for IT and news. All of Australia’s online press – from the biggest to the smallest, scrabble daily for the best links, the best stories – it can make or break a day’s traffic.

Yet this is only, as the title suggests, a National Broadband Network. But it has become much more – it has become a political football, it’s become a short-term synonym with a place in Australian culture, and it’s become far bigger a topic than it even the bravest of early observers would have predicted.

Politically, an election was fought around it as a major and highly divise issue.

A cynic would say that without the NBN, Malcolm Turnbull might not have a political career or, if he did, he wouldn’t have much to say. The Coalition’s so-called broadband expert – because he once was chairman of ISP, OzEmail – and shadow communications spokesman, Turnbull has thrived from a position of steadfast bashing of anything his opposite, Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, can come up with as far as the NBN goes.

Conroy, who is no genius himself when it comes to the NBN, has managed – with the Opposition’s help – to chart a reasonable course for the network and its operator, NBN Co, through what is a massive political minefield. Let’s face it: if the government loses power there will be no NBN. Abbott and Turnbull have avowed to kill it dead. But if Conroy has his way, he’ll keep changing the rules to suit his political and NBN Co’s commercial objectives. Neither represents an ideal situation.

The point is: Australia’s broadband is pathetically slow in comparison to most developed – and a host of developing – countries worldwide. A fast broadband network – at this moment the NBN – is absolutely vital for this country.

Naysayers will claim all sorts of reasons why it isn’t but if you have even half an eye on the future and know anything about technology and likely developments and progress, it obvious an NBN is must.

The facts are simple: The NBN is a network capable of supplying fast broadband. Nothing more, nothing less. And while it deserves to be scrutinised closely the only thing I don’t know at the moment is what colour underpants the blokes installing the NBN cables at Kiama are wearing. And I don’t want to know. I just want a decent broadband network. Without the nonsense.

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Tags broadbandGoogleTelecommunicationsiprimusSenator Stephen ConroyNational Broadband Network (NBN)Malcom Turnbull

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