blog There will no doubt be a great deal of debate in the days ahead about how the Coalition’s election victory will affect Labor’s flagship National Broadband Network project. There will be angst about the loss of the all-fibre vision which would have vaulted Australian telecommunications into the forefront of broadband service delivery globally. There will be debate about the extent to which Telstra’s copper network can support fibre to the node. And, of course, there will be discussion about Malcolm Turnbull’s merits as the nation’s new Communications Minister. However, what most Australian technologists probably didn’t expect to see was a claim that the loss of the FTTP NBN is no big deal. Writes Gizmodo editor Luke Hopewell today:
“I’m seeing a lot of people wailing on Twitter, Reddit and Facebook this evening, saying that the National Broadband Network is “dead”. “Goodbye, NBN”, one of my friends wrote. Here’s why you should stop being so dramatic … The bright side is that Malcolm Turnbull accepts the need for fibre broadband and sees the benefit of a national internet infrastructure. He just has a different idea of how to roll it out than the rest of us.”
Let me just say that the comments Hopewell has written here are flat out ridiculous. We’re not talking about Turnbull having a different view than his wife on what colour he should paint his house. We’re talking about the Coalition radically changing Australia’s largest-ever infrastructure project, an initiative which was to cost north of $40 billion and reform the entire telecommunications industry as well as underpinning the next century of broadband delivery in Australia, halfway through. This isn’t a small deal — the loss of the FTTP model for the NBN is probably the most significant immediate impact of a new Government in Australia.
It’s because of the importance and complexity of this issue that it has been debated endlessly in the media over the past half-decade. To argue that we shouldn’t mourn the loss of Australia’s greatest ever telecommunications policy is farcical. Or perhaps Gizmodo is just trolling. The loss of the FTTP NBN policy because of political differences between Labor and the Coalition is a travesty, and starkly demonstrates how Australia’s political system often fails voters, who had overwhelmingly been in favour of the NBN — even Coalition voters.