How the national broadband network affects you

“In the future people may choose to live and work based on the availability of fast, stable and secure broadband.” [Andrew Heap]

Tasmania is now positioned as the focal point for the role out of the National Broadband Network; a $43 Billion investment by the Australian government. Whilst most of the resources are fixated on the actual infrastructure and consumer’s access, there will be a significant move to key delivery components including software developers and relevant businesses that will deliver products and services enabled for a broadband network. Tasmania’s isolation and the challenges associated with geographic delivery by road, sea, and air become irrelevant when delivering terabytes, or even petabytes, a unit of information equal to one quadrillion bytes, or 1,000,000 gigabytes.

The emergence of the Internet has created millions of online businesses and products worldwide. All of these businesses, products and services have one thing in common; they were built by companies that have the skills and capabilities to develop them. Many of these companies did not exist prior to the Internet. Yahoo, Google, Amazon.com, EBay and Netscape all owe their existence and stellar success to the internet. Companies, such as Netscape, that were created in months, sold for several billions a few short years later. They were created to capitalise on the opportunities only the Internet could provided. More traditional IT based businesses retooled in order to take advantage of the massive global expenditure on internet development. The Internet was also a catalyst in creating Web based design, consulting, business to business, communications and in the outsourcing of company services.

Silicone Valley was created on the back of the computer. The internet created millions of new businesses, and Broadband will do the same. The innovation in business and the creation of e-commerce all required access to the relevant technology – the internet - at that point in time. There needs to be a focus in Tasmania and Australia on providing the relevant developers and businesses access to the NBN in order in to create the new innovative products and services that will be enabled for Broadband networks globally.

At this point in time Tasmania has the opportunity to create an environment that allows relevant developers and businesses to become Broadband enablers - product and service providers. A program based on synergies between business, academia, and government, needs to evolve to meet the requirements of those who wish to be part of this technology revolution. This, by the very nature of what the NBN is capable of supplying includes access and support to demand-driven user and application program that attract investment and activity to the state. At the same time the program should return demonstrable benefits to Tasmania, such as broadband application prototypes showcasing the benefits of the network as well as attracting broadband developers from around the world.

In the short term all levels of government will benefit from increased broadband deployment that enables them to function more efficiently and improve the delivery of vital services to their respective communities.

“the Broadband network levels the geographical playing field”

In Australia Broadband deployment will significantly reward those states making the right policy choices today within a more competitive business environment. Rivers and ports, followed by railways, roads, and airports set the locations of where companies chose to locate and flourish. The broadband network levels the geographical playing field and is capable of offering even the most remote community the opportunity to develop serious technology infrastructure to meet any need, anywhere in the world.

Additionally, with this type of program, Tasmania will also attract the participation of International software and hardware vendors, communications and service providers such as Microsoft, Intel, Optus, and Telstra. This will essentially provide a much richer program and level of support to Tasmanian IT and software developers, as well as the broader business community.

Broadband enabled products will be developed; they will be sold and used by companies and consumers worldwide. Tasmania needs to decide if they will be built and created here, or purchased elsewhere from companies around the world. Many international and national companies have capitalised on opportunities for broadband services - an opportunity that exists here today.

As businesses and technology developers, we need to shift our thinking away from a paradigm of fast movies, emails, internet fridges and ordering pizza online. Broadband can deliver products and services to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety, and national security, community development, health care delivery, education, energy independence and efficiency. Business will be provided with access to increased e-commerce, workplace training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth as a reward for participation.

Tasmania has a unique opportunity to participate and benefit from the access we have been given.