NBN - let's just build it

No need for a Royal Commission

Picture: Steve Johnson (Flickr)

Picture: Steve Johnson (Flickr)

NBN. Three letters so disliked even my own laptop keys are beginning to protest the frequency of their use, sticking under the weight of my tired, tired hands.

I’d like to say this is the last article I’ll ever write about NBN. I’d like to be able to say that. But with the election just weeks away, short of Telstra imploding (very unlikely) or various professional heads rolling at NBN Co over recent revelations, I doubt there will be much more to say on this matter that hasn’t already been said.

I’m tired of repeating myself. And I’m tired for being treated like a radical for wanting globally competitive high-speed broadband.

We don’t need a royal commission into the NBN - much as I would love to see Turnbull, Abbott and their NBN colleagues forced to answer for their slower, more expensive multi-technology mix - we already know what the situation is like.

The wildly varied infrastructure our internet backbone is creating a tiered class-system of internet access that varies in its speed and consistency. It varies not necessarily by price alone, but also by geography. Whether or not you will receive fibre-to-the-node, premises or basement quality internet, will very much depend on the term of NBN’s deal with Telstra, or whether your residence resides within a politically convenient seat.

But you know this. It’s been said and reported on hundreds if not thousands of times. Ad nauseum. Do we care? I should jolly well hope so. But I don’t blame any readers for their fatigue.

I have to report on this stuff and I’m bloody exhausted but I can’t imagine what it’s like for consumers and business owners whose internet that they rely on just won’t work and they don’t know why and when they query about it with their provider are made to feel like idiots.

Many of these people do not have the luxury of spending time researching and writing about the internet, or would know the first thing about how to troubleshoot it, despite all of the resources they are provided by the internet (let’s assume they can get 4G on their phones, and that all of these people are technologically proficient).

We don’t need a royal commission. We just need an NBN that works. I don’t care who’s idea it is or was, or who broke it. I don’t even care what technology we use. I’m tired of the finger pointing. Both parties have done a spectacularly poor job of managing the creation and rollout of this network. It was born of political chaos. It continues to be the political whipping boy of the government. It’s fair to say Labor had the better plan but who the hell cares? And what does it matter that the pragmatic Liberals allegedly had our best interests at heart if the result is nonetheless proving to be an inferior product?

In an ideal world there would be a forced structural separation of Telstra and NBN should be allowed to create its own retail service which is used to create a standard of service and delivery with which all its competitors should be forced to keep up with.

There should be a long-term commitment to fibre.

But that’s not going to happen.

So in the meantime any network which relies on copper or another aspect of the multi-technology mix that doesn’t consistently deliver speeds above 25Mb/s should be forced to refund their customers their subscription and connection fees in part or in full until such time as that guarantee can be technologically restored, and / or should be required to upgrade to fibre.

That’s it. I don’t care what technology you use or which party delivers it.

It’s enough already. There has never been a more frustrating time to be an Australian internet customer.

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Claire Connelly

PC World
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