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NBN: new service possibilities « Previous | |Next »
July 13, 2010

It is to the credit of the ALP that, despite its stubbornness to a mandatory internet filter, it is still resolutely committed to building the National Broadband Network (NBN), one of Australia's biggest infrastructure projects.

The stated aim is to provide universal broadband access to all Australians, and deliver broadband services over optical fibre to 90% of all premises at a high-speed data rate of 100 Mb/s.The other 10% will be provided by wireless and satellite. It is a mark against the Coalition's negative strategy that they lack the vision to see that this kind of nation building infrastructure project will enable Australia to become an information/knowledge society. The Coalition does appear to be backward looking on the idea of a broadband enabled society.

The twenty-first century’s official image of the internet, like the nineteenth century’s image of the city, is always a picture of light and shadows. The case in favour of spending money on broadband and the good things must then be coupled with the appearance of decisive action dealing with the nasty things. What gets lost, and needs to be argued for is a digital understanding of fair use.

In his NBN 101: The Internet or applications? article on the national broadband network at Computer World James Hutchinson says that the University of Melbourne's Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) provides numerous case studies and hypothetical examples of the possibilities afforded by the national broadband network in both private and public contexts, with the following conclusion:

The societal impact of the NBN will be profound. The ability to rapidly transfer information to any location via the NBN will transform health care in rural and remote areas. It will open up enormous new opportunities in distance education, it will provide new opportunities for business, entertainment, water resource management, energy conservation, and it will provide huge opportunities in science and technology. As a result, Australia will be able to develop new technologies, applications and services that will be in high demand as other nations follow Australia's lead.

The NBN enables a myriad of possibilities open up in the world wide web (the websites, hyperlinks and user interface) such as The Digital Panopticon: Convict Founders & Survivors of Tasmania that will enable us to rewrite our history.

As the transformation from industrial to informational capitalism continues other national archives will eventually go online, and become available for us to access from our computers in our studies and workplaces.

As far as I can make out the Coalition's justification for its opposition to the NBN, and its policy if it wins the next election and rolls back the work Labor has done on the NBN, is the neo-liberal one that there has been no business case, and that the infrastructure development is not profitable as a commercial venture. The Coalition's assumption is that it should be.So we have big government and little accountability.

The problem with this argument is that the NBC Co, the company charged with building the National Broadband Network (NBN), is not running a business trying to maximize the bottom line. It is building a national infrastructure that will provide a wholesale service for all ISP's to off us a wide variety of applications and services.

The national focus is still on building the network and has yet to shift to outlining the public good benefits that the NBN should deliver--eg., in e-health, online education and learning, improving our environmental management, and Australian online publics (distinct from the mainstream media) and democracy. Unfortunately, few in the government or the opposition are making arguments about how Australian society will be changed by high speed broadband. Ir will enable us to step beyond the world of Hollywood.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:38 PM | | Comments (3)


Gillard's vision she tells us is that she believes in hard work, egalitarianism and the value of education, and she's proud of her mum and dad. That's not much of a vision is it.

is a more democratic culture coming into being with the emergence of online publics?

I see that pivotel has good coverage of australia with its satellite mobile phone service