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NBN + digital economy « Previous | |Next »
June 24, 2009

The national broadband network (NBN) discourse has been dominated by discussion over its cost and whether to go ahead with a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) architecture. Instead of seeing basic connectivity as just another marketplace we look at it as we do roads, which means a state-funded organisation with one mission: universal gigabit access as a public service.

Yet the action is not the network per se, as it is going to be in the applications you run over the network. The development of applications in healthcare, education, social networking and general business as primary areas where innovation would occur and opportunities arise.

In other words we are talking about a digital economy. Since the NBN would be a white elephant without the digital economy, it is better seen more as a national infrastructure, with that infrastructure carrying all information services with broadband Internet being just one of them. IPTV will almost certainly be another, voice services, government-related services, creative businesses and financial services.

The digital economy is the key to the nation’s economic future, and how it will drive future industrial capability and competitiveness. Australia's communications infrastructure and increased digital participation are key to building a 21st century knowledge economy.

But it comes with the fundamental seachange in rights and responsibilities conferred by the biggest upset in intellectual affairs since literacy because NBN becomes another form of distribution for music, media and visual content to the shop or cinema of the analogue era of distribution and control. We need to consider a general fair-use provision to allow sharing for private purposes — not a debate about who should be the one to tell-off file-sharers or forcing internet companies to disconnect persistent users of illicit P2P file-sharing.

Such a fair-use provision, that would acknowledge copyright, but permit limited usage for non-commercial purposes, is a middle-ground between making content owners choose between putting something fully into the public domain or controlling it tightly through copyright.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:16 PM | | Comments (1)


we don't hear much about the digital economy when people talk about the national broadband network. Its all about faster broadband and fibre to the premises.