Do we get value for money from the NBN?

Everyone on earth has to face the fact that we have entered an era of digital revolution which will change our lives irrevocably. Even the most primitive tribesman in the remotest part of the world will find that, if he wants to buy and sell goods or send money to relatives, it will be necessary to have a mobile phone as a minimum requirement of life. If fact, he will find that he actually wants to do it.

I am not a computer buff and I am not really interested in becoming one, but I am pleased to report that I can send and receive emails and text messages, do my banking and a lot of my purchasing online, surf the internet to get information and read newspapers on my Samsung Tablet instead of having them thrown over the fence.

Right now, this is the limit of my technical aspirations. But, I have the feeling that unless I decide to do better than this, the world is going to leave me behind.

So, acknowledging that I am a rank amateur, I took a look at the NBN and accepted at face-value the belief that Australia has to dramatically improve its Broadband capability if we are to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

I now realise that the NBN roll-out of cable is the biggest infrastructure project in our national history, even larger than the Snowy Mountains project, so I hope that we have got it right.

To get some comfort in the matter, I have spoken with both Malcolm Turnbull and Stephen Conroy. Their major point of difference seems to be the degree to which the rollout occurs — a matter of a few billion dollars.

Nevertheless, I still get the feeling that someone out there is developing new technology which will, sometime in the future, render the NBN irrelevant — but this is just a fact of modern life in the digital age. Everything changes…daily. The age of certainty is no more.

So, the wise thing to do is to accept that the NBN is here, and make the best use of it while we can.

A key issue will be the price that we will pay to use it, and I am assured that I won’t have to pay much more than I am already doing for the communication services that I have now.

This is a crucial issue, as our acceptance of the retail price, and the real value that we get from it, will determine how much the nation will benefit from its significant NBN investment of around 40 billion dollars.

Premier Lara Giddings tells me that Tasmania is benefiting mightily from the roll-out of broadband, so this is heartening. I am told also that I will be able to get many medical services on line, saving me lots of time and cost in doctors’ waiting rooms. They also tell me that I won’t need a letter box, as Australia Post will send all my mail to me online — a major benefit of which will be that I won’t have to arrange and pay for a mail diversion when I travel.

This all sounds good, particularly as I will be able also to answer my emails on my TV while I am watching the football. Great stuff if your team is losing.

So, will we and the nation as a whole get value for money? I think so.

Depends on whether we reckon we can get greater satisfaction out of using it than we will if we play politics with it. It seems to me that Australia makes real progress every time we rise above the political morass.

Which brings me to comment on the undeniable fact that, had the Coalition campaigned during the 2010 Election on a positive Broadband policy instead of just opposing the NBN, they would have won and Tony Abbott would now be PM.