Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

NBN scam: Cut out the profiteers

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Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity, yet in Australia we have internet speeds slower than countries such as Estonia, Kenya, Bulgaria and Thailand. In recent times Australia has dropped from 30th to 60th in global average peak speed rankings.

The National Broadband Network (NBN) was supposed to change all that but from the start it has faced a litany of problems.

While the technology exists to provide Australia with first-class infrastructure, the NBN project has been mismanaged with private companies responsible for the tax-payer funded roll-out. A number of outsourcing rorts have been uncovered and this has contributed to cost blowouts, poor-quality work and delays.

Making matters worse, experts predict that by the time it is finished the technology used will already be badly outdated. Engineers advised that a ‘Fibre To The Premises’ option be used but that has been downgraded to a ‘Multi Technology Mix’ model. This model will end up proving even more costly once the eventual upgrade costs are added.

NBN Co is the corporation that oversees the networks installation. While it is government owned it has been set up with the view that it will be sold on to the private sector. This end goal means that it has a cost-driven focus at the expense of providing a decent and affordable service.

Tax-payers shouldn’t haven’t to pay now and then pay again once it is sold off to the private sector. The NBN should be seen as a basic service that people require, not a profit-making enterprise.

The NBN, along with the entire telecommunications sector, needs to be seen as a long-term public asset that is publicly owned and community controlled. That way the profit motive could be removed and funds could instead be invested into quality infrastructure, secure jobs and providing a service that is free for ordinary people at the point of use.

By Socialist Party reporters