Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Who will use, or be able to afford, the NBN

By Malcolm Colless - posted Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Defending its $43b national broadband rollout the Federal Government has consistently argued that the cost is justified because this network will boost productivity and enhance Australia's international competitiveness.

We have been showered with Government spin about the nation building benefits that will flow from what is the biggest infrastructure project in the country's history.

For example, announcing, during the heat of the election campaign, that this super fast fibre cable would be extended to 93 per cent of premises across the country from the originally projected 90 per cent Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said the network's speed would be "beyond the imagining" of what was currently available to Australians.


This "unbelievably fast" service would offer, among other things, a new world of internet based health care services between home based patients and their medical practitioners, she forecast. This issue seems to have faded from the radar screen in the post election environment of a hung parliament.

Nevertheless lost in all this hype is the core issue of what bang consumers want for their buck when they sign up for the NBN's top speed of 100 megabits a second.

If anecdotal evidence from the initial take-up of the NBN service in Tasmania is any guide the answer may well be gaming.

Since July around 500 homes in the Tasmanian towns of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point, have been connected to the NBN. Most of these have signed on for 10 mbps at a cost of $30 a month . It is understood that about 50 have taken the 100 mbps service at a cost of $100 a month.

The NBN Co says it has no idea what content is driving the take up because this is a matter between the retail service providers who are connecting premises to the NBN cable and their customers. But industry sources say customer feed back suggests the !00 mbps speed is particularly attractive to people interested in multi-player internet games.

If these reports are correct and this embryonic trend extends through the national rollout it will challenge the altruistic platform on which this multi-billion Government policy is being built.


That it should be a significant component in the push for higher speed broadband is probably not so surprising . Gaming has traditionally been one of the main incentives in the take up of subscription television, for example.

Justifying its decision to require, from next January, all new developments in Australia to be at least fibre ready the government says this has the potential to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas production. This, it claims, is because fibre networks are more energy efficient and have the potential to reduce the need to travel particularly for work.

But there is an inference here that the NBN is seen as a substitute for an ongoing lack of adequate traditional communications facilities such as roads and railways servicing new developments particularly in regional areas.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

17 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Malcolm Colless is a freelance journalist and political commentator. He was a journalist on The Times in London from 1969-71 and Australian correspondent for the Wall Street Journal from 1972-76. He was political editor of The Australian, based in Canberra, from 1977-81 and a director of News Ltd from 1991-2007.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Malcolm Colless

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 17 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy