Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Once the rest of the world goes NBN the doubters will shut up!

It is one thing to debate the details of the NBN implementation, quite another to think that things are rosy in Australia. But does it matter? At the rate that other countries are building their own NBNs, let's just hope that it becomes commonplace before the naysayers kill off another Australian innovation.

Australians are notorious for waiting for others to move first. The number of times we hear: "How can the government do this when nobody else in the OECD is doing it?" is just another tired example of cultural cringe. Australians can and should innovate.

The skills shortage in electronic communication in this country is nearing the ridiculous. Assumptions about digital natives are drastically wrong. Less people know how to use Web 2.0 or higher bandwidth technologies than most people think. Without an NBN, this skills gap will only increase in comparison.

Rather than embracing the NBN, we seem to be sliding into a debate over its actual worth. In the meantime, the rest of the world is doing what Australia is doing already. We can't even see when we are in the lead. Let's take a brief look around the world:

According to AustralianIT:
President Barack Obama has pledged to put broadband in every American home and his administration has already designated over $US 7 billion in economic stimulus money to expand broadband access in underserved communities.
Governments such as New Zealand are claiming that the private sector is simply not moving fast enough and are funding new infrastructure. Not everyone agrees but the government is moving forward. Developing countries such as Jordan in the Middle East are also funding a NBN (with private sector support). There are many more in the pipeline.

This morning's Australian Financial Review article makes a great case study to explain to my students why they are not allowed to reference Wikipedia in my classes. But how long will the argument against Australia's NBN stand up to comparative wisdom?

It is always difficult to be a first-mover in Australia. Sometimes it is not worth the hassle. But Australia has the opportunity to be a world leader. Let Australians innovate and stop talking about innovation while holding us back. Give us the NBN. Let's debate the implementation, but there is no argument against the NBN itself.

It is time for those who don't know what they are talking about to simply shut up and get out of the way.

Creative Commons License Except where indicated otherwise, Le Flâneur Politique by Michael de Percy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License. Based on a work at politicalscience.com.au. Background image ©Depositphotos.com/ @redshinestudio