Friday, 10 April 2009

Independent body must supervise NBN rollout

Some homes will miss out on the Rudd government's $43 billion plan to roll out fibre-optic broadband cables to households, a frontbencher admits.
The NBN is an ambitious project and has certainly turned previous ideas about addressing Australia's broadband woes on their heads. But small towns will still miss out on fibre access under the current plan for the NBN.

While small towns 'missing out' is not such a good thing, the announcement this week that Australia will launch more satellites to cover remote areas is good news.

But politics will either make or break the Rudd Government's ambitious plan. It is time that an independent government agency was established to remove Australia's communications infrastructure from day-to-day politics. Afterall, politicians have avoided the issue for over two decades.

Another reason for removing politics from the infrastructure is technological convergence. As the NBN impacts upon television, newspaper and other traditional media businesses, there will be calls to protect them from becoming irrelevant in the broadband era.

My view is that if these businesses have not kept up with changes in the media communications industry, then the public should not have to put up with outdated modes of veiwing content to keep a handful of people rich.

Creating an independent government agency with clear goals to connect Australia must be considered in the early stages of the NBN. If this doesn't happen, you can be sure interested parties who occupy the periphery will present a major risk to the success of the NBN. The infrastructure is too important to be caught up in the political point-scoring games which are sure to follow once all the traditional interests converge.

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