NBN: A Question of Infrastructure

There’s been a great deal of debate in recent weeks about the proposed $43B(AUD) National Broadband Network, particularly in regards to “naysayers” who wonder how “we’ll ever recoup that amount of money”.

This $43B spend is, quite simply, not about recouping the investment. This is INFRASTRUCTURE. Do we build $500M public freeways and expect that money to be recouped? No, because it’s infrastructure. The point of infrastructure is to provide stimulus for the rest of the economy to become more viable. The $43B won’t be recouped. It doesn’t have to be.

Over the life of this infrastructure, the potential benefit for the rest of the economy is worth well in excess of the $43B initial outlay.

Once the network is built, it’s operation and maintenance will switch to the so-called “NBNCo”, which will need to operate as a profitable enterprise, as it will be privately owned. The government – whose IT policies I have been a critic of – has actually got this right. They are “gifting” this network to Australia, to allow Australia to remain relevant to the world economy in the years ahead.

We currently lag well behind so many countries in broadband speed and penetration. This will bring us right up to the forefront, and give this country the best possible chance to survive in the modern, internet-connected world.