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The National Broadband Network (NBN) has been one of the most talked about issues recently. From jubilation about its impending introduction to trepidation about a lack of the skills required to get it happening, the NBN has been on the nation's mind for what seems like years. Finally, it seems like the rollout is soon to be underway.

As with so many government initiatives, there has been competition and criticism right to the bitter end. Today, Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has said that the Coalition's OPEL Project, proposed in 2007, would have been more effective than Labor's NBN rollout. OPEL was scrapped when Labor came to power and Turnbull suggests that, had it gone ahead, internet connectivity in regional areas would already be better than what the NBN is offering. Apparently, OPEL was to be a more cost effective, wireless alternative to the NBN.

I have written before about my (perhaps slightly idealistic) enthusiasm for the NBN. I am passionate about connecting communities online and I think it is great to see a national initiative being put in place to make sure that regional Australians have decent broadband access. My naive enthusiasm tells me to ignore Mr Turnbull's criticism, confident that as long as something is being done, all is good. Being a little more level headed about it, I have to wonder if there is some value in what Mr Turnbull said. If a better option was available in 2007 and it was scapped when the new government came into power, I have to ask a few questions.

Obviously, there is no escaping the politics which are inherently wrapped up in this whole issue. The Labor Party focussed significantly on regional Australia in their election campaign and continues to do so, post election. Promising to provide high speed broadband connectivity to regional Australians is a big selling point. The name of the party behind the rollout is very important- if OPEL had gone ahead, it would have been the Coalition who received the praise. The Labor Party simply could not have that happen, even if the NBN is inferior to OPEL.

I am realistic about it- I know that the politics, ultimately, have more sway than the quality of the service provided. That is not to say that the NBN will be no good- it just might not be as good as OPEL would have been. I remain enthusiastic, to the point of idealism, about the rollout, though. In my opinion, as long as something is being done to connect regional communities online, that is good enough for me.

Published: Oct 14, 2010 12:42pm by cbere.

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69 comments

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  • NBN will be good

    There is a lot of mixed language around the NBN. I think the concept of a fibre backbone is a good idea. It’s about infrastructure. It seems most of the debate is around whether we need fibre connections to the home rather than rely on something else like wireless.

    However I’m convinced the NBN will deliver investment, the opportunity for new services and a transformation of rural and regional Australia. Small business in rural Australia should benefit and we’re expecting to play a part in this change.

    Published Oct 14, 2010 5:30pm by simonvw

  • There are to inherent difference’s between the coalition OPEL plan and the NBN and they are not to do with their speed or how they are delivered.
    The point of difference is not in the technology it’s in the philosophy.

    The NBN will be owned by the Australian Government, By you and me. It’s there to serve the people the shareholders who are every single Australian.

    OPEL Was a conglomerate of company headed by Optus. Owned by the Singapore Government. A Company that would be responsible to it’s shareholders. Large Multinationals their share holders and there overseas interests.

    We know what happens when the largest telco in the land owns the network. They stifle competition and look after there own interest while the toothless ACCC looks on. A vote for OPEL is a vote for another Telstra style monopoly. This time it’s not well to do mum and dad owners It’s overseas interests and ritch Australians. Just like the one that’s asking you to choose the OPEL network.

    Published Oct 14, 2010 6:28pm by mattp

  • If we listened to the coalition no big projects would ever be undertaken. Sometimes it takes the government to invest in these large infrastructure projects which have long-term benefits if not short-term gains. Looking at the big picture an NBN is essential for Australia’s productivity.

    Published Oct 15, 2010 9:53am by mrdavidbacon

  • NBN

    I have heard the NBN is better than OPEL in another way. Apparently in some cases wireless can be overshadowed by tall buildings and the Coalition were relying heavily on wireless.

    Published Oct 20, 2010 6:56pm by roblpittman

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