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Great Broadband Wagon Rolls Out in Australia

The Opposition’s national broadband policy, released on 9 April 2013, was always going to be highly contentious in Australia. It is not just for geeks but also looms as a major issue in the Federal election to be held on 14 September 2013.

The plan would cost less and be finished earlier. However, it would not connect premises directly to fibre optic cable (FTTP) but would use nodes. These are cabinets connecting fibre optic to the existing copper network (FTTN). As a result it would be considerably slower unless the user paid for a fibre connection to the node.

Academic blog The Conversation has details of the policy and how it would work.

Pro-government tweeter Kiera Gorden was only one of many who used humour against Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull:

‏@KieraGorden: “Can you hear me Malcolm, or is your tin dropping out?” #AusPol #Fraudband#NBN pic.twitter.com/0ygkastoKI

Dropping out

Twitter image – courtesy @kieragorden

Noely tweeted several times about the opposing broadband proposals:

‏@YaThinkN: Don't understand #NBN read this! RT: The Beach House: We are now connected to the NBN. Here's a run-down… http://alankerlin.blogspot.com/2013/04/we-are-now-connected-to-nbn-heres-run.html?spref=tw

The link is to Alan Kerlin's blog Beach House:

Yes that's a big grin you can hear! Websites now snap onto the screen, scrolling through your Flickr photostream involves a couple of seconds per high resolution photo. Podcasts download in no time, even mobile devices using the wireless are responding snappily. No doubt we'll get a better idea over time, but so far, so wonderful!

I can only hope now that the NBN roll-out continues…

Progressive blog Australian For Honest Politics posted @NoFibs NBN policy articles curated by citizen journo @pascalg15 with a number of links to online supporters of the government program. [Please note that the author of this post, Kevin Rennie, has blogged recently at AFHP though not on this topic.] Their article included this graphic:

Fraud band

Courtesy @geeksrulz

It is a spoof on a graphic from Malcolm Turnbull's Facebook page.

Craig Thomler chose not to take sides in his post What Competing Australian Broadband Policies Really Say about How Australian Government is Changing. Instead he focused on what he sees as a win for the technology sector:

For a long time people working in and around the technology industry have deplored the low attention played to technology in politics and, besides a few leading lights, the lack of understanding of the potential ability for digital technology to drive Australia's economy and improve our governance.
I think this time is now coming to an end.

There has been hot competition to find the best metaphor for the contrasting approaches. CPR Communications & Public Relations, self-styled as ‘Australia’s premier issues management firm’, went for the auto cliché:

Turnbull, in effect, accuses the Government of paying for everyone to have Rolls Royce broadband when most people need only a Hyundai. Minister Stephen Conroy responds that the Government is actually providing the equivalent of a 4WD which will be needed to climb the looming data download mountain.

David Swan at ITWire, an IT and telecommunications news and information website, reported that key Internet industry bodies had welcomed the release of the policy, with some reservations. It was ‘value for money’ and ‘two years ahead of the current schedule’ but an industry spokesperson was quoted as ‘concerned that the proposed model compromises speed and potentially also the overall quality and longevity of the network’.

John Roskam, of the neo-liberal Institute of Public Affairs, had reservations of a different kind at the Catallaxy Files blog:

The Coalition policy is far from perfect – such a policy would not involve government – but it is at least tractable and deliverable.

A floppy disk joke by @Wolfie_Rankin and @kieragorden’s pic above were picked up by Murdoch’s news.com.au in Twitterati dismiss Opposition's NBN policy with witty memes. The images were properly credited, but rivals Fairfax did not extend this courtesy in their related story. The journalist apologised later on twitter. They did however, include AFHP regular @geeksrulz in another piece based on the twitterverse.

@Wolfie_Rankin‘s image was reproduced by Roskam:

Floppy disk

Image – courtesy @Wolfie_Rankin

You can see Roskam's own white elephant at the blog link.

It seems the old media are well and truly embracing the new social media.

There are no prizes for guessing where the users of the #fraudband hashtag stand on the alternatives. It’s the place to find lots more metaphors.

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