It goes without saying that the National Broadband Network (NBN) – regardless of who steers the rest of the build – is a major infrastructure project for Australia. And we all know its cost, technical configuration, corporate configuration, end-user value-proposition, economic benefit, social benefit and roll-out pace have all been subject to claim and counterclaim.
But what do the people who will actually be using it think?
Over the past year our team from the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology have followed the progress of the debate (link to article in the Conversation)
Here is the Liberal Party of Australia’s NBN policy (link). The policy promises that the NBN will be built more cheaply and more quickly, but the down-side is that it is also an inferior solution. The main contention is that the Conservatives will not offer fiber to the premises and will keep the existing copper network. Fiber to the premises will only be offered in new housing developments and copper to the premises will be kept when it already exists. The problem here is that if your house is a long way from an exchange, then the NBN Internet connection will be slower (as is the case today).
This week marks the beginning of National Telework Week, an initiative of the Australian Government’s Department of Broadband, Communication , and the Digital Economy. The initiative was kicked-off with a one day forum here at the University of Melbourne with many high-level speakers and industry representatives discussing the benefits of telework for the Australian workforce and economy and some presenting results from research such as the Deloitte “Creating jobs through NBN-enabled telework. (www.telework.gov.au).
I have stated working as a Research Fellow with a team of researchers here at the University of Melbourne looking at issues such a uptake of the NBN, how it is politically framed within the Australian public, and how it impacts upon home-based work and business. Many of the themes that arose during the day centered upon issues of flexibility, work-life balance, inclusion, and engaging an aging population. However, there are still enormous research-challenges in terms of understanding the impacts of such a massive public investment upon the Australia population and in particular, how the NBN enables new practices such as telework.
Here is a review of the event from the magazine Business IT