Undoubtedly, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but as time passes by, most Australians hopes and dreams have been quashed by the NBN train wreck.
When it comes to the National Broadband Network, there are the haves and have nots – the digital divide between those who have a decent NBN connection and those who don’t. Worse still, a lot of us do not have it at all.
Many households report that their internet speeds and experiences have actually declined since they signed onto Australia’s largest infrastructure project.
If this was a business run by ordinary Australians, it would be out of business.
The NBN has meandered from one disaster to another in the past few years, and at each change in direction, the company looks for yet another silver lining, but it’s credibility is waning just as much as its promised speeds.
This is a project that has suffered enormously from political interference and opportunism.
The audacious goals originally set by the Labor party when it unveiled its plans for a brave new world where probably never going to eventuate, and certainly not for anywhere the cost proposed.
Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) technology was to be employed to about 93 per cent of Australian households by 2021, for an expected price of about $43 billion.
But late in 2013, a series of highly critical reports pointed to an almost $30 billion blowout in costs, a sign of things to come.
It’s largely forgotten now by the more recent failings of the project, but in April 2011, NBNco was forced to withdraw its tender for the project because although up to 14 companies had submitted a price to build the new network, their prices were deemed too expensive.
And while comparisons in the media of internet speeds achieved around the world continue to highlight our nation as one that lingers well below the standards for internet service expected, Australia has its own set of challenges and parameters such as low population density that make the comparisons a bit unfair.
But there is no denying Australia’s NBN experience has not been good enough.
This week’s confirmation that Fibre To The Curb technology once proposed for parts of Bendigo yet to connect to the NBN is actually not going to eventuate is just another letdown to this community, and many others across our nation.
Ever changing deadlines for promised delivery no longer shock or disappoint Bendigo residents, because they have become accustomed to this project’s pitfalls.
Our government has made a mess of this project, but its reputation is not the only one to be sullied by the experiences of countless Australian businesses and households.
The organisation charged with delivering the project, NBNCo itself, is also complicit, but it has also had its hands tied by the rollout’s inadequate resourcing, the bickering and over promising nature of political leaders who have leapt at the many opportunities to score political points that have also chipped away at the public’s confidence.
It’s no wonder Bendigo federal MP Lisa Chesters says she is overwhelmed by the response to a survey about the NBN initiated by her office, but it’s even more disappointing.
The failure of the NBN project is perhaps the most expensive billboard for the shortfalls in our political system that have seen taxpayers hoodwinked by political parties that for one reason or another fail to comprehend the concept of true costs, project management and accountability.