Wednesday, 03 March 2010 17:42

NBN Described as Load of Crap by Telco Boss

By Anthony Caruana
At a fiery start to the annual Kickstart Forum for technology media and decision makers, the CEO of Exetel, John Linton, accused the government of proposing to deliver 'a load of crap' with the proposed $43B National Broadband Network during a panel discussion. He went on to say that supporters of the NBN, such as Greens senator Scott Ludlam from Western Australia, ought to 'rot in hell' for supporting the NBN scheme.

As well as Linton and Ludlam, David Forman of the Competitive Carriers Coalition - a body that represents the non-dominant  ISPs with revenues totalling $44B and Ian Birks of the Australian Information Industry Association. The discussion began with Bourkes suggesting that having seen previous federal governments do very little, it's great to see the current government put money and policy behind the NBN describing it as 'part of a very exciting future' and saying the 'Minister Conroy is probably to be applauded for having the vision to drive this issue through at this level'.

Linton is well known for his strong views and he didn't hold back. When the panel was asked to deliver a score card on the government's ICT performance Birks suggested that the government had earned a B-. In response, Linton let fly with a tirade in which he scored the government 'negative a million'. While there were times when his tirade seemed to border on irrational, he suggested that the $43B cost estimate for the NBN was not founded on any sound budgeting principles and represented 'as much as the government thinks it might cost'.

While most of the panelists saw the NBN as a Field of Dreams - taking a 'if we build it, they will come' view - expecting software and systems developers to develop solutions that take advantage of the NBN when it comes. Their view was that the potential uses of the NBN haven't been even thought of yet.

Linton countered this view, quoting current ADLS and 3G uptake statistics. With ADSL having peaked at about 6 million users and now falling with 3G proving to be good enough Linton asked 'who really wants 100Mbps?' However, his view discounts the longer term social benefits that the NBN might offer such as use in hospitals for e-medicine.


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