While neither side of politics said much about our increasingly-maligned National Broadband Network during the election period, the fact is Australia is falling behind in the race to leverage the benefits – economic and social – of an emerging digitally-enabled future.
“It’s the economy, stupid” is the slogan attributed to James Carville, who was Bill Clinton‘s 1992 US presidential campaign strategist. It was about creating a clear message about his plans for the country.
In 2015, newly appointed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull similarly coined the term “innovation nation” to describe what he saw as a pressing need to make Australia more innovative and agile – and an issue that would differentiate his approach to government. Turnbull’s problem was that two years earlier, under pressure from his predecessor Tony Abbott, he had laid down tracks leading in the opposite direction.
Back in January I wrote about my disappointing time at the helm of the Australian Smart Communities Association. Since then all the Annual Reports have been taken down from the ASCA website. This happened only days after I’d asked for a copy of the latest report, having noticed that it had not been posted on the website along with all the others.
When I inquired about the return of these reports I was informed that they had been removed as part of a major website upgrade. While I couldn’t quite understand the logic of the argument (no other changes have been made to the site) I nevertheless accepted it and repeated my request for a copy of the latest Annual Report. Despite numerous subsequent requests I still have not received one.
As we approach the election, I’m thinking carefully about how a Shorten Labor Government will be remembered for our reform of education. It feels like every week I meet someone in their 60’s or 70’s who reminds me about how Gough Whitlam was responsible for them going to university. I’m struck by the way they passionately talk about this – even after so many decades. They tell me how the opportunity of a university education transformed not just their life, but the course of their family’s life.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has had to lend its 65 percent owned Foxtel $300 million, with the likelihood many more millions will need to be pumped into the business in coming months. Once a jewel in the crown of his local empire, Australia’s only surviving Pay-TV service is in trouble, with a dwindling subscriber base and flatlining revenues. Belatedly, Foxtel is moving to a new business model, with products such as its new sports streaming service Kayo.
SBS has announced that it will make World Movies part of its free-to-air offering. This comes nearly 25 years after its creation as a niche Pay-TV channel.
World Movies premiered the night of the Foxtel launch in 1995. It was immediately one of the platform’s most successful channels. For several years World Movies was only available as a stand-alone channel for an additional fee, which made its incredible take-up even more exciting. Eventually it was placed in the movie tier.
As sure as the Sun will rise from the East tomorrow we’ll soon enough be rushing out buying 8K televisions, the next technology upgrade bringing even more ultra-high definition pictures to our screens. When the original high definition TV’s went on the market they were so expensive it took years before they became commonplace in Australian homes. These days more than 90 percent have HDTV’s in some form, and prices have dropped dramatically.
Increasingly, people are watching content delivered via the Internet rather than traditional terrestrial broadcasts. Yet, for many consumers of film and television content our dud NBN means upgrading to the latest HDTV is pointless.
Labor’s communications spokesperson, Michelle Rowland, has outlined a very sensible approach to fixing the dud NBN. In fact, should the Coalition retain office it would be well advised to adopt Labor’s plan.
As Rowland rightly points out, six years of flawed technology choices has created a delivery disaster and it will be no simple task to return the project to its original vision – fast, reliable and affordable broadband for all Australians.
auDA – the company managing our Internet domain name registration system – is engaged in a reform program. This follows a review by the communications department which called for major governance changes.
As I have previously written, auDA had been mired in controversy for many years, with the impression being it was subject to too much influence from vested interests, including an inner circle of what are called ‘domainers’ – people who buy and sell domain names, often extracting large windfall profits by warehousing unique names that subsequently command a premium.
auDA has released a discussion paper and has called for public submissions on a range of proposed policy and operational changes. This is being accompanied by a consultation process that sees auDA presenting to MP’s and senators at Parliament House next week.
Today I cancelled my order for the NBN. I had initially accepted an offer to switch over from my current provider before making some inquiries about the service I might expect. Turns out my HFC (cable) connection is being replaced.
When I checked with several RSP’s (NBN Co retailers) the best they could offer me was a plan on 50 Mbps – with the possibility that I might be bumped up to 75 Mbps, dependng on tests carried out after installation. I currenty have a regular and uninterupted download speed of 115+ Mbps. Why would I switch?