Ditch the data desert

It was touted as the technology to finally bring Australia into the 21st century, though perhaps not to the extent of some of our trading partners.

The National Broadband Network would provide internet access and speeds that would make it far easier for us all to learn, to be entertained, to develop new markets for existing and fledgling businesses.

We’d already seen the amazing success of similar infrastructure investments overseas – the experience of South Korea is the absolute standout example.

Labor promised one big expensive system and was in the process of making that happen when they got booted out of power.

It was then the Coalition’s job to deliver, albeit a system that had far less bells and whistles.

This though, they explained, meant it was affordable and able to be delivered in a timely manner, for all Australians regardless of whether they lived in the big smoke or the bush.

Over the past year this version of the NBN has come to the Border region. Along with that has been the spruikers encouraging households to sign-up for some amazing deals, with some equally amazing connection speeds.

If you restricted your reading to the advertisements and the PR spin, you would easily think the NBN has comfortably delivered everything anyone could ever want.

The reality though, certainly according to Indi independent MP Cathy McGowan, is quite different.

There are the people who are trying to run a business from home for who the standard NBN is so off the mark that they have to fork out considerably more to make it work effectively.

Other problems raised with Ms McGowan include everything from technicians failing to turn up on time to long waits on help lines, or satellite services not working when it rains.

Clearly the whole NBN job is a highly complex, incredibly large project that was always going to have issues.

But it appears there have been too many things going wrong, contributing to what Ms McGowan has dubbed “an infuriating data desert”.

We support Ms McGowan’s call for rural people to get their voice heard on these issues in order to find solutions through making a submission to the government’s inquiry into the roll-out. Only then might regional Australia be truly heard.