Getting Down to Business Down Under

by Michael Curri
After a 22 hour flight, I landed in Australia a few days ago to attend the Australian Telecommunications Users Group in Sydney. It has been an eventful few days as I appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation regarding broadband’s importance to Australia and what it could mean to national productivity and competitiveness and met with Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy and spoke with the opposition party Member of Parliament Paul Fletcher who is focused on the National Broadband Network (NBN). Both believe in the NBN and want to better understand what the benefits will mean to Australian businesses, organizations, and households.  Let me digress here for a second… how great is it that Australia has a “Minister of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy?”

We’re at the very beginning of great potential through broadband for Australia.  I was asked to run a workshop for community leaders involved with the NBN. Some highlights from this half day session included important questions and insights:

  • It is important to have local examples of e-solutions and what they mean for local businesses and organizations.
  • Even though the NBN is being built, it will still take 8 + years to have 93% connected. What can we do to bridge the gap between today and then?
  • Jane Patterson talked about e-NC and its impact on North Carolina, as well as what broadband has done for rural businesses as they “compete globally, but live locally.”
  • There is a culture of use that needs to develop (e.g acceptance of tele-working).

A final observation before I get back to the conference… In general, broadband is seen as significant and valuable, but questions remain regarding how much should be spent in building the NBN and what is the optimal model. While this is an important question, it is important to focus on quantifying the benefits from the investment. If we can keep politics out of this and focus on what everyone believes – that broadband does create economic advancement – then this unprecedented initiative should have long and far-reaching impact in Australia.

Look for next month’s Bandwidth for a more thorough recap of the event.

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