CeBIT 2011: iiNet - NBN should not be viewed as just a product

CeBIT 2011: iiNet - NBN should not be viewed as just a product

NBN’s success cannot be measured just by service takeup rates, according to the ISP’s chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby

The $36 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) should be viewed as an essential part of the economy rather than just as a product, according to iiNet chief regulatory officer, Steve Dalby.

He was speaking at a CeBIT 2011 AusInnovate session in Sydney.

Dalby criticised the obsession with the cost of the NBN and takeup rates of the NBN. These measurements are driven by the idea the high-speed network is merely a product which has to yield a monetary return.

The NBN should be measured under a different set of criteria which would reflect its contributions to the Australian economy as a whole, according to Dalby. He drew on his experiences abroad with other countries that already have a national high-speed network to elucidate this point.

“[Those countries] didn’t see it as project; they didn’t see it as a product and I do think we have productised the NBN, much to the detriment of the overall concept,” he said.

A ubiquitous broadband connection which has been promised by the NBN is what makes it more than just a product to be bought and sold, according to Dalby.

Coupled with the Digital Economy Strategy announced by Communications Minister, Senator Conroy, more light has been shed on the role of the NBN in driving economic productivity.

The assessment of the NBN should be based on the eight goals laid out by the Digital Economy Strategy which include the aim to become one of the top five OECD countries in terms of businesses using the Internet to drive productivity, Dalby said.

“We should be measuring how many government services have been launched that will run on the NBN, how many commercial services are being developed and so on,” he said. “...the measures should be about education initiatives, deploying online teaching programs, what broadband applications universities are developing, not how many people are signed up for [the NBN].”

To address the reports of low NBN takeup rates in Tasmania and Armidale, Dalby argued once applications and services which take advantage of the NBN are released, they will drive the network’s penetration rates.

“[takeup] rates will be enticed by the supply side and that is where we should be focusing our energies on and generating some leadership,” he said. “Why would I want broadband at my house when there is nothing to access?”

The CeBIT 2011 AusInnovate session concludes today.

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Tags iiNetsenator conroyNational Broadband Network (NBN)Communications MinisterSteve DalbyCeBIT 2011national digital economy strategyAUs Innovate

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