Australia Plays a Dangerous (Waiting) Game

by Michael Curri

A month and a few conferences later, I wanted to make sure I closed the loop on the phenomenal Australian Telecommunications Users Group Conference in Sydney. I briefly reported from on-site in March’s newsletter, but to expand, this is an exciting time for Australia with the commitment to National Broadband Network (NBN) –  and with it, the groundwork for future innovation and success.

By future-proofing with fiber, the NBN is all but ensuring it should be able to accommodate utilization needs (current and future) – whether the architects of the NBN are ready to address the “demand side” of broadband or not. Regardless, the unprecedented investment using fiber as the backbone of the NBN should prevent Australia from facing some of the same unseemly challenges that US providers face today – limiting access which limits utilization by placing caps and additional charges for “too much” use (See following story).

Meanwhile on the “supply side,” the fact remains that the NBN build will take 8 years – and fiber to the premises will not be available to all (fixed wireless and satellite will fill in the gaps). Unfortunately, too many are focused on when their part of the NBN will be finished as opposed to what they can do in the meantime to increase their productivity and competitiveness.  Australians cannot afford to wait 8 years to innovate.  They need jobs and opportunities today – and the bandwidth they have already can and should be utilized.  The question facing Australia today is an important one – how do we use and maximize the bandwidth provided today? 

Despite the hype, Australians currently do have some reasonable broadband; at least by US standards.  It is what communities, businesses and individuals do with the current broadband that will shape the near future of Australia’s economic prospects.

But again, communities cannot just take a “laissez-faire” approach – whether waiting on NBN or if they are the lucky early recipients. As a leader of these initiatives, it is not enough to just build the network and get out of the way. Demonstrate how businesses can be more effective, provide each with a roadmap for efficiencies and cost savings, and lead your region to success today… not in 8 years.

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