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Thursday, 08 June 2017 12:04

The superfast NBN is like the emperor's new clothes


They have made a mess of a vital national infrastructure project but one can't help having pity for the poor staff at the NBN Co to some extent. Week in and week out, they have to come up with something or the other to distract the attention of the public from the mess that they have created.

Of late, it has been the prospect of amazing speeds being possible using technologies that Australia is unlikely to see in at least the next five or 10 years. If someone were to write a yarn on 1 April next year, claiming that one can get 10,000Gbps by using calico rope instead of copper, nobody would be surprised. Nobody would even think they were being led up the garden path.

And so, one has to wonder: how will Bill Morrow and his minions keep this charade going until the network rollout is completed? Three years — and that means being on time, something the NBN Co is not known for — is a mighty long time to keep spinning yarns and attempting to distract people from the reality: the network is slow and not fit for purpose.

If Morrow and his staff manage to pull it off, then they would probably be in line for some kind of record as far as deceptive PR goes. I cannot think of any project, company or individual who has kept the facts at bay for so long - remember, this all started to go pear-shaped after Anthony Abbott decided to commission Malcolm Turnbull's multi-technology mix and offer fibre-to-the-node to as many Australians as possible.

It's mentally tiring to go back over all the garbage that has been spouted to give people the illusion that something is actually happening. In reality, you have a host of Internet users who are told their houses and businesses are NBN-ready but fear the worst if they try to hook up.

The emperor's new clothes.

The solution? Put off the inevitable until it is no longer possible to do so. The horror stories are too frequent and too many to be disregarded.

Having spoken to at least 50 people about the NBN, only one person has had a good word to say. And that is a man who lives in Brunswick and got a fibre-to-the-premises connection long before the NBN became a political football. He pays for a 100Mbps connection and gets about 80Mbps most of the time. And, lucky bloke, he owns that house so until he decides to move out, he has no issues of Internet speed at all.

Every time I see a story about the NBN, what comes to mind is the two books that I bought for my children when they were little: Grimm's fairy tales and Andersen's fairy tales. In the latter, is the well-known yarn of the two men who hoodwinked the emperor and made him some new clothes that did not exist.

That, to me, epitomises the NBN right now: the emperor's new clothes.

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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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