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Cutting corners on future technology: National Broadband Network

April 10, 2013


When work began on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1924, it wasn’t built for the 3 horsemen, 2 pigs and a donkey that would regularly use it upon completion. Like any good infrastructure built to last, the bridge was built sufficiently strong and wide enough to be the main artery across Sydney Harbour for many years to come.

In fact, from just under 11,000 vehicles per day that used the bridge in its first year, the very same bridge that recently celebrated its 80th birthday carried more than 160,000 vehicles per day in 2001, and closer to 250,000 vehicles per day now, with the inclusion of traffic through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.

With Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott announcing yesterday their radical plan to save money on the National Broadband Network by relying on current technology such as copper wire instead of the optic cables to each household that provide the higher Internet speeds, they’ve basically made an assumption that the Internet and dependant technologies will not continue to grow in demand in coming years. In fact, by relying on current technology such as copper wire connections to the household, the cost-saving political assumption here is this: this country, one of the greatest adopters of Internet technology in the world, with the most to gain for low-populace regional connectivity of any place, will not increase its reliance on the Internet.

That’s an unfortunate assumption to make in an election year, unless of course you think that we should curb our continuing reliance on the world wide web?

After jotting these thoughts down, I found out that the copper wire network is 100 years old. Neat infrastructure to have lasted so long and ben able to carry the Internet into homes thus far, don’t you think? Nevertheless, a technology not designed to sustain the connected world we now live in.

The policy decision is all the more disappointing as until now I have always viewed Malcolm Turnbull as one of the Australian politicians who has a better grasp of 21st century technology than others. I see him as a politician who actually understands innovation, rather than just using the word a lot. You don’t get to run Goldman Sachs without having some understanding of the need to invest for future gains and to meet future demands of customers.

I’m all for making sure the money we spend – taxpayer, business, or personal – is as effective and efficient as possible. Don’t waste money, food, or water I say. But when it comes to investing for the future – you’ve got to be able to cope with what lies ahead. When planning for retirement – plan for medical bills. When planning to win an Olympic medal – get the best coaching and training resources. When planning the infrastructure by which your country will become more connected than ever before – make sure you think ahead.

Deliriant Isti Romani – These Romans are Crazy!

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