Saturday, 13 June 2009

NBN: Tasmania gets it right

With the Tasmanian Government's $12.7 million contribution to the NBN, there are some early signs that 'the times they are-a changin'. Co-investment and greater cooperation between all levels of government are essential if we are to get the most out of the NBN.

Interestingly, local councils have a strong showing in the submissions to the NBN regulatory reform paper and these will hopefully encourage greater involvement by this often-overlooked level of government.

It would seem timely that in addition to NBN Co., a national research institute be established to facilitate innovate uses for the forthcoming NBN. CANARIE Inc in Canada is a very good example of how this organisation might look.

However, CANARIE is not directly controlled by government, and this is where Australia consistently misses out. CANARIE are considering all sorts of innovative approaches to broadband networks.

For example, the 'homes with tails' idea suggests that individuals and local communities could invest in their own fibre connections. This idea would see the fibre connection to the home become a part of home ownership.

The Tasmanian decision is good news and represents a significant change to the centrally-controlled approach to communications infrastructure which is predominant in this country. Building Australia's innovative capacity is an important 'next step' in ensuring that this historic investment in infrastructure will be worthwhile.

But a research centre based on the CANARIE Inc model is yet to be discussed, and it is timely that such an organisation is established in Australia.

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