Labor’s much loved National Broadband Network has been slammed by a leading online entrepreneur a leading business executive and been likened to “giving everyone a Ferrari” when they might be content with driving a Commodore”.
Graeme Wood, the founder of the online travel bookings service Wotif.com and the opening keynote speaker at the recent World Computing Congress said that the National Broadband Network had the potential of being a “$43 billion hi-tech babysitter”.
Also slamming the NBN costing is Vocus Communications, chief executive James Spenceley, who likened the NBN to “giving everyone a Ferrari” when they might be content with driving a Commodore.
Wood questioned the value of pouring taxpayer funds into a data speedway that most households would use to download games and movies.
Communications and Broadband Minister, Stephen Conroy, and NBN Co boss, Mike Quigley, are now under pressure to explain their costing which are now facing a chorus of industry criticism.
Woods told the Australian newspaper “If all you’re doing is speeding up the rate at which we entertain ourselves, can you justify that from a public expenditure point of view?”.
“Is there any value to society in just delivering entertainment faster . . . to have more dots on the screens? The public debate hasn’t been had, not just in terms of the GDP impact of broadband, but on the costs (and) benefits to society.”
Billionaire miner, Andrew Forrest, has also slammed Labor’s refusal to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed network.
“I worry about the NBN because that hasn’t even got a feasibility study on it,” Mr Forrest, founder of Fortescue Metals Group, told an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce function in Sydney. “That $40bn – is it the best technology? To build it without a study . . . as a mum or a dad, you should be scared.”
Earlier this week the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that more Australians are using Wireless Broadband than cable broadband.
Set to be a hot topic when the Federal Parliament sits next week, the NBN proposed by Labor has also been slammed by Opposition Communications Shadow Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who is proposing a significantly cheaper alternative that is based on a combination of fibre and Wireless broadband.
Yesterday Tony Abbott insisted the Coalition would continue to push its more modest broadband plans. Earlier in the week Tony Abbott told me that during the recent election campaign the Liberals had failed to sell their alternative internet plan to voters at the last election.
“We didn’t do a good enough job. Malcolm will do a better job” he said.
Opposition Finance Spokesman, Andrew Robb, said the Opposition proposal would have involved laying “a competitive backbone of fibre”.
Mr Wood said broadband would be “a great boon for businesses”, and for educational and medical services. But he said the government needed a policy to encourage “more positive returns to society”.
Also slamming the NBN costing is Entrepreneur, Dick Smith, who complained that the NBN had “never been properly costed”.
Coalition Leader, Tony Abbott, said yesterday “Unlike the Labor Party, the Coalition won’t be caught out boasting about how clever we’ve been while dumping campaign commitments that are no longer to our immediate political advantage,” Abbott told a meeting at the Liberal Party’s Menzies Research Centre in Sydney.
“Reopening climate change policy, for instance, or having serious second thoughts about broadband policy is not a trap that this Opposition is about to fall into,” he said.