Comment: The nation can’t afford half-hearted broadband

No-one can deny the profound impact the Internet has had our lives. But the Opposition wants to treat it like a plaything rather than an economic necessity, writes Ed Husic.

When it comes to the NBN, the Opposition’s hearts aren’t in it. We know it. They know it.

They just don’t get the need for a modern network that can give our economy an edge over our competitors – both now and into the future.

If you listen to the Opposition, they believe people only want fast Internet to download movies.

It’s their way of undermining the need to rollout fibre to the home: make the Internet a plaything rather than an economic essential.

But we think differently. Because we know Internet is about so much more than cat videos and Game of Thrones.

In fact, the Internet today is delivering an estimated $50 billion of economic value. That’s expected to climb to $70 billion in only a few years.

And far from being a place to waste time, the Internet is making us more productive, to the tune of around $26 billion.

Think of the time the 'net saves you. Instead of standing in a bank queue, or walking around to different shops to find a bargain, you can do it all online. It turns out that saving adds up to $500 per household each year.

On a national scale, the NBN will give us the muscle to help Australia deal with its slice of the expected worldwide growth in data production – expected to total a staggering 4,300% between 2009 and 2020.

Despite Malcolm Turnbull’s smooth claims that the Opposition’s “version of the NBN” is the same as ours, it’s a copper-plated imitation.

They won’t be able to match the download speed of fibre, and they remain remarkably silent on what their upload speed capacity will be – because they know it won’t be enough to sustain basic 21st Century services like high-definition video conferencing.

The problem is that the Opposition wants to build a network that relies on last century’s copper, a network that will be obsolete by the time it is built.

We are investing $30.4 billion on a network that can deliver 1,000 megabits per second and an upload speed of 400 megabits per second, a network that can be easily upgraded in the future.

They plan to spend $29.5 billion and can only guarantee 25 megabits per second.

Under Labor, there is no charge to have your business or home connected to fibre; but under the Coalition, you’ll pay up to $5,000 or be left on the copper.

We believe that you should do it once, and do it right.

On every measure - on speed, on cost, on fairness, on building for the future - the National Broadband Network is superior to the Coalition alternative.

Source: SBS’t-afford-half-hearted-broadband

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Ed Husic MP
Federal Labor Member for Chifley

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