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Wednesday, 11 July 2012 14:00

Coalition's NBN criticisms 'absurd' says Phil Ruthven

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Leading futurist and social commentator, Phil Ruthven, has branded as "absurd" any suggestions that the NBN is a huge and wasteful expense.

 "The fact is that the existing sunk cost of all telecommunications in Australia is currently $70 billion, much of it antiquated," Ruthven - chairman and founder of IBISWorld - says in the July issue of the IBISWorld newsletter. "At some $36–$37 billion over seven years, or $5 billion per annum average, the NBN investment amounts to just depreciation allowance spending on that $70 billion – hardly excessive or over the top," he argues.

Nor is he concerned about any wastage during the project. "In the process, the ancient copper wire gets replaced by new age telecommunications. If some of the money is wasted, it is well to remember that is normal for most large-scale projects, be they public or private – witness desal plants, toll roads and other recent projects."

He suggests that there is "a worrying degree of ignorance or regressive thinking when it comes to the role of high-speed broadband in Australia's future economy and society," and that this may be due to Australia being lulled into a false sense of security by "a relatively debt-free economy (courtesy of the Howard–Costello reign for 11 years to 2007) and a minerals price boom."

Negative sentiment around the NBN was, he said, of sufficient concern to IBM Australia that it commissioned IBISWorld to produce its 153 page report 153-page report 'A Snapshot of Australia's Digital Future to 2050, which it released in June  and that is freely available from its web site.

The report is claimed to be "the first report in the world to rate a nation's entire list of industry classes against the impact of high-speed broadband and technology."

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