iiNet: Online strategy discussion lacking in NBN debate

Australia needs a game plan on how to best utilise the $36 billion network

Australia needs a game plan on how to best utilise the National Broadband Network (NBN, according to Perth-based ISP, iiNet.

Speaking at a parliamentary hearing in Perth, iiNet chief financial officer, David Buckingham, said while the company is a supporter of the NBN, a detailed plan on how and what could be used on the network is missing.

“A national online strategy should be a priority and be developed in order to give the NBN, government agencies and the economy at large transparency, purpose and direction,” he said. “… This country requires some thought now around how it wants to operate, what it wants to drive as goals in the next 30-40 years and what kind of benefits we can get from an online world.”

Much of the NBN debate of late has been hijacked by the technical and pricing details of the $36 billion network. In terms of purpose, the government has spruiked the NBN as an enabler of innovation in a number of sectors including health and education. But a solid plan on how the NBN would be used has yet to be nutted out

iiNet saw online services driving the first wave of the NBN uptake but there needs to be a more definitive strategy on how they would operate once the network is widely available, Buckingham said. This will be crucial for Australia to compete in the global digital economy.

While technology changes and improves rapidly, there needs to be more discussion on what exactly the NBN can be used for, according to iiNet general manager of retail, Matthew Dunstan.

“It is hard to know what to build the [NBN] for but we have to make sure it is broad enough that we allow for all innovations to come off the back of this really smart infrastructure,” he said.

Buckingham added goals need to be set and problems the NBN could possibly solve need to be identified so they could be tackled.