Conroy’s NBN “a dud”.

CeBIT, where Conroy chose to waste his time.

CeBIT, where Conroy chose to waste his time.

While Stephen Conroy’s been in Germany speaking about “smart” sensors in all the new infrastructure to be built using Labor’s $42bn stimulus, everyone in Australia has been realising that the National Broadband Network (NBN) that he’s staked his reputation on is unworkable. He should have addessed the Germans via satellite or something so he could spend some time countering, or at least listening to, his critics.

Kevin Morgan, an independent telecoms adviser, has a piece published in ailing left wing broadsheet, The Age, outlining some of the ways the NBN is doomed to fail in its current state. This generally reflects the opinions of most experts, including Michael Malone, MD of iiNet.

The most promising bid is Axia’s. The CEO seems very grounded and his proposal is non-confrontational with our incumbent, Telstra. As Kevin Morgan says in his piece, the Axia bid is targetted more at regional areas, with metro areas served by various wireless technologies and existing copper. This would probably lead to overall coverage (both NBN and non-NBN) comparable to the government’s target of 98% of population. Unfortunately, the target is for the fibre NBN itself to cover 98%, which isn’t the case in Axia’s bid.

Other proposals on the table call for massive regulation of Telstra which is probably unsustainable in the longer term. There’s no consensus yet on the best way to move forward, but almost everyone agrees that Stephen Conroy made a terrible mistake when he said he would sign a contract in March.

When the process falls through, Conroy and Rudd will no doubt have to find a scapegoat. They’ve never admitted they were wrong before, so there’s no reason to think they’re about to start. Likely scapegoats are Telstra, the Victorian bushfires and Queensland floods, and the spooky “international forces” of the global financial crisis. Even if Conroy actually manages to sign something this month (unlikely) he will still need to be held accountable either for breaking an election promise (in the case of Axia not building a fibre network for 98% of the country) or for constant prattling over unworkable regulations and massive compensation costs to Telstra for use of their network. I expect he won’t have to worry about any of that, as we are more likely to be talking about the complete failure of Stephen Conroy and his entire NBN process.

It’s clearly evident that Conroy shows little regard for getting this done right. He went to Germany to talk about sensors in bridges while his NBN plans and his reputation were crumbling around him. What a cunt.


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