blog Remember those controversial comments several weeks ago by telecommunications analyst Paul Budde, comparing critics of Labor’s National Broadband Network project to “climate change deniers”? Sure you do. It generated a highly contentious debate on Delimiter and other sites about the NBN, fibre broadband rollouts and … well, the science of climate change, as off-topic as that may have been. But what you may not have known is that Robert Kenny of UK communications consultancy Communications Chambers penned a rebuttal. Some sample pars:
“Paul Budde, the Australian telecoms analyst and FTTH enthusiast, has a feisty blog post up. In it he draws parallels between fibre-sceptics and climate change deniers, saying they’re both mud-slingers who get far more attention than they deserve. Paul complains: “So far we have not come across any NBN sceptics who have dared to move into the area of what the extent of the NBN’s potential – the digital economy, intelligent infrastructure, big data, clouds computing, e-health, e-government, smart grids and so on”.
This is a surprising allegation, since there are plenty of people out there expressing doubts about these beneficial externalities, and I know Paul has read at least one such paper – the one I wrote (together with my brother). Given that the Australian government is spending so much more than other governments, surely it’s not unreasonable to focus on costs, and to ask if the benefits will really outweigh them? Oh, and for the record, I am a believer in climate change!”
Overall I find it hard to disagree with Robert on some of his discrete points; I personally feel that some of Budde’s enthusiasm for the NBN and fibre technology in general can be a bit exaggerated at times, and Kenny does tend to punctuate his argument with pithy tidbits of evidence, which we’re always a fan of. However, I suspect much of the debate is merely a matter of timing. Will the delivery of the NBN result in a panacea of improved add-on services in the realms Budde mentions? Probably not immediately. But they will come in the long term — and they would have a hard time arriving without the underlying infrastructure boost that the NBN will bring, to my thinking. In any case, I comment Kenny’s post to you, as somewhat of a right of reply to Budde (who has himself rebutted Kenny in the comments).