May 192011

The interwebs were alive with derision last night over the govt’s much vaunted launch of NBN services in Armidale.

Several pieces in The Australian today, and doubtless other Murdoch rags, reporting on the launch include the now obligatory comments from detractors, outnumbering those from customers of the ISPs who have actually taken up the invitation to be a part of the test-bed project. Let’s be clear, Armidale is precisely that. A limited test-bed project at this point in time, offered only to corporate and business clients who will actually use the technology as intended, for business purposes. Yes, undoubtedly to some, higher transmission speed is a convenience and not a necessity, at this point in time. However, when faced with increasing competition from within their own industries connection to the high-speed broadband fibre will become a necessity. Business especially, cannot rely on carrier pidgeon technology. Major users of the NBN will be the consumer. You & me, keeping our records in the Cloud, streaming vision and so on. Within a reasonable period, high-speed broadband via optical fibre will become the expected norm, not the convenient luxury.

But to the derision. The Australian makes an issue of there being just a “magnificent seven” clients signed up in Armidale. As if that’s the result of the best sales job Govt, NBN or the individual ISPs could manage. That is not the case. I am very closely associated with someone whose personal base is the Armidale region, who in turn has a close personal relationship with one of the higher echelon players within NBNco, so I get regaled with all of the happenings internally, both material and political. Yes, politically, NBNco is not a thoroughly happy beast. It shouldn’t be, but being the off-spring of public policy it can’t help but be anything else. What opponents of the NBN should be taking note of are the events which happen around NBNco itself. For example, the definite withdrawal of the coalition from any real opposition to the technology. Malcolm Turnbull’s inability, or dare I say it, lack of desire to produce anything which can cogently counter the technology or the way it’s being rolled out. The reality being that technological advances are threatening to leave Australia behind the eight-ball unless we’re prepared to outlay the money, whether it’s now, five years time or ten years time. Far better doing it now as costs for such a large infrastructure program can only escalate if delayed.

Which in turn leads me to Bob Brown’s *GASP* attack on the media. Long, long past time a politician – any politician – took on the media for what it has become. A partisan mouthpiece for whichever special interest group, political ideology or owner’s foible happens to call the tune. Object as they might, as a Fairfax representative apparently did today, the truth of the matter is evident daily. Opinion pieces by apologists for this, that or some other cause, usually ideologically oriented, ‘blogs’ and opinionated journalist news pieces masquerading as bulletins occupy more of our news and current affairs media today than the real news itself. The only genuine news, per se, that I identify with is the ABC nightly news bulletin at 7:00pm. Those who can’t see the change in media over the past 50 years clearly aren’t my age, have become inured to the change through lack of interest or more probably, adhere to the views being touted so accept the behaviour as du rigueur.

I can only applaud Bob Brown for his forthright attitude, and for highlighting the fact that his words were “all part of the democratic discourse”, and “The Murdoch press comes out every day and bags out the Greens, why one rule for you and not one for the others?” Bravo, Doctor Brown. More power to you.

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