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Monday, 06 May 2019 11:54

Election campaign: the NBN appears to have gone missing

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Election campaign: the NBN appears to have gone missing Courtesy NBN Co

Less than two weeks remain until the Australian Federal Election, and the NBN has been one of the topics mentioned the least – even though there has been much talk about the network between polls.

It may be the case the Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle took the air out of any possible debate about the network, by announcing on 9 April, two days before the poll was called, her party's NBN policy in the event that it was elected.

If truth be told, with the network rollout scheduled to be done and dusted by mid-2020, there isn't a great deal that can be done to improve the miserable lot of the denizens of this land as far as speed and technical issues are concerned.

Given that, Rowland said there would be a review of the economics of the NBN, and also specified a few other initiatives, chief of which was money to look at the wiring in households which are on fibre-to-the-node, as this could affect performance.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield's response, the same day, was to claim that Rowland's announcement was an admission that "the NBN technology debate of the last six years was just about politics".

In a statement, he said: "Labor’s NBN policy released today [Tuesday] is the final admission the Coalition’s plan to use a range of technologies to see NBN completed six to eight years sooner, and at $30 billion dollars less cost than Labor has worked. Labor’s NBN policy amounts to no more than a trial and a review."

nbn speed lack

But exactly what Fifield will do if he finds himself back in the same portfolio after 18 May is unknown.

iTWire contacted his media people, the very same ones who sent us his reaction to the Labor plan, but we are yet to hear back though much time has elapsed since the query was made.

For the good people of Australia, all of whom need the Internet, be it for amusement, work or just wasting time, it means several years more of torture as we wait, often, for audio and video to sync in order that we can watch that most ubiquitous of things, a video on YouTube.

The screenshot above was taken after that simple task proved impossible on 3 May as this writer tried to amuse himself after a week of hard work. And those throughput figures are derived on wireless from a 100/40 connection from a provider who does have a decent reputation.

One shudders to think what it must be like on FttN.

The fact that there seems to be a lull in talk about the NBN is a rather depressing thing; are we condemned to this kind of bandwidth until 2022, when everybody has been given the necessary time to connect and it is time to embark on the next step?

Or is there a next step? Will it simply be a case of "pay if you want fibre to your doorstep or manage with what you have", told to us by a government that claims there is no more money for broadband?

This, when Australia, one of the richer countries on this planet, can blow $50 billion on submarines (whom do we plan to fight?) and $35 billion on F35 fighters (again, whom are we going to fight?) without bothering to ensure that its citizens have to remain in the digital wilderness.

It's coming to the time, at least for this writer, to seriously think of moving across the ditch.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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