Does Broadband Matter To The Electorate At Large?

Does Broadband Matter To The Electorate At Large?

This morning’s announcement that the NBN will now offer speeds of up to one gigabit per second to the majority of Australian homes has ratcheted up the political broadband battle a notch. There’s now two clear options: a high-speed government-owned network under Labor, or a best-effort privately-funded network under the Liberals. Will voters care about the distinction?

There’s no doubt that most Lifehacker readers are alive to the potential of broadband (and equally alive to the fact that Tony Abbott’s claim that getting those speeds over fibre is “utterly implausible” is complete and utter BS). But there’s also no doubt that many voters will have an instinctive “governments shouldn’t spend money” reaction to the NBN plan, and reject it on those grounds alone.

No-one is likely to vote a party in on a single issue. But do you think broadband will be a major consideration for voters? Share your thoughts (and your reasons why) in the comments.


  • No, especially not in electorates where matters of public infrastructure and health care are still key.

    I wish it was an election issue in Sydney’s outer western and northern suburbs, where community services seems to be the dominant factor in which party to favour.

  • I don’t think the majority will really understand the difference.

    Last night on the 7pm project they had someone from EFA (I forget the name) that put it in simple terms (paraphrasing here) “Labor is doing a whole new infrastructure to take us into the future – the largest infrastructure upgrade ever in this country. Liberal wants to push the existing technology which is already stretched pretty close to its limit”.

    I think that’s the message to get across.

    • I saw that! I liked how he put it so the average non-tech person could understand what is being said, and we don’t need the libs to be using out dated tech they took out of the cupboard, dusted off, gave it a polish and called it brand new..

  • It won’t be a big issue.

    They’re pushing this a lot now, but I think it’s too late.

    And equally, while I think domestic infrastructure is very important, I’d love to see the government shelling out some cash to improve trans pacific links – which will become increasingly important if we’re trying to give everyone gbps access.

    Additionally (and it’s probably slightly cynical of me), I just think lots of people go “but it’s working now, what’s the problem?” and don’t think much beyond this.

  • I hate to say it, but Mr. Rabbit is right! It is utterly implausible that 7 million ISP accounts will simultaneously have 1Gb/s download speeds. (Or anything near it on a typical Monday night).

    And even then we have not discussed the (unknown) cost of a full speed ISP plan with a suitable d/l … it’s not free to use people!

  • Hmm, a government sponsored company whose very existence relies upon Labor winning the next election reveals a ten fold increase in the NBNs capacity in an election campaign…

    No country on earth has 1GB to the home. There’s no point.
    Web servers would become the bottleneck within Australia, the international undersea cable network would limit us internationally. Even if they didn’t, traffic from Australia would be intentionally throttled by overseas ISPs because of the load.

  • For someone that works in education NBN is critical. Current broadband systems are woefully inadequate across the country particularly in rural and remote areas(though a few locations fair much better than most). Labor’s plan is really the only option to meet the future ever increasing demands for better access. Bring on NBN!

  • Ask yourself this. When the Government own the Internet backbone, who cares if the ISPs install the Internet Filter?

    Any ISP who tries to do it themselves for an uncensored feed is going to be so hampered by the cost advantage that their competitors have that it will be game over before it starts.

    Say goodbye to the rest of the world.

  • On the contrary, Broadband is one of the few differences between the parties and as such, it is highly likely to be a tipping point for voters.

  • “and equally alive to the fact that Tony Abbott’s claim that getting those speeds over fibre is “utterly implausible” is complete and utter BS)”
    Is it? The sites I mainly access overseas cant deliver at that speed (and I’m not fond of tv/movies), so I doubt me being on the NBN would allow me to achieve the touted speeds. So “getting those speeds over fibre is “utterly implausible” ” might be correct in my instance, assuming “getting” = “achieving on a sustained basis”

  • Those saying that a Gbps connection would be wasted in australia clearly have “home-user” blinkers on.

    Business who rely HEAVILY on remote access, wherein the traffic only has to travel usually within the same city, but at worst within australia, would benefit ENORMOUSLY from fast fibre links. Those with enough $$ already do.

    The government is trying to invest billions into internet infrastructure so you can download torrents faster!

  • For me who doesn’t have access to ANY form of (cabled) broadband, it’s a huge issue. The current system does NOT meet my needs as a home user, let alone if I want to try maintaining business or work connections.

    Wireless is incredibly expensive for the lackluster service it provides (coverage is still a massive issue). Seriously, this will inform my vote. Anyone who doesn’t think it’s an issue has fast and cost effective connectivity already. Rural electorates with little to no broadband access will be considering it.

  • What we are all are forgetting is that building the NBN is a long term investment. Even though we might not require the speed now, we will need it in the future. As fibre optic cables are the future-proofed, it will be cheaper to maintain in the long term. If we follow the liberals broadband policy, we will be spending more money over the years and constantly end up with outdated technology. Theres a wide range of applications for the NBN including health, education, business & defence. And the investment now will eventually pay itself off.

  • The fiber can support gigabit speed.
    100 or 1000mbit, the cable is the same.
    Just new Spin, read: futureproofing.

    Uk have deemed internet a basic service.
    The government should be taking an interest.

    Telstra has stymied a lot of innovation.

    This NBN has stopped everyone else from investing/deploying ADSL2 equipment too.

    ADSL1 is not broadband people =)

      • From Wikipedia: “[the] Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as of 2010, defines “Basic Broadband” as data transmission speeds of at least 4 megabits per second (Mbps), or 4,000,000 bits per second, downstream (from the Internet to the user’s computer) and 1 Mbps upstream (from the user’s computer to the Internet).[3] The trend is to raise the threshold of the broadband definition as the marketplace rolls out faster services”.

        That’s the current American definition anyway.
        I tend to agree that the definition of broadband can’t just be ‘not dial up’.
        I think it needs to be a decent speed for standard viewing (not waiting forever for YouTube videos to load for instance).

  • I agree. While I currently have a 10Mbit ADSL2+ connection, everything is getting bigger and more content is becoming available via the internet. In 2000 all I had was a single computer in the house and nothing else on the internet.

    Now we have 5 computers, 4 mobiles which use the internet (smartphones), a Wii, a PS3, a NAS (Network access storage), and our TVs+Blu-Ray players also connect to the internet. Videos on YouTube are increasing in quality/length, as well as online distribution of programs/videos becoming more mainstream. Even now services like FetchTV are showing up, where even my connection would get close to maxed out using it (7.5Mbps).

    We need a new network that everyone connects to which can support much higher speeds with plenty of room for further upgrades, and that network is the NBN. While I believe the 1Gbps connections will mainly be for just Companies and the odd user who might maintain a website/data/server service from home, most people would get 25/50Mbps and others 100Mbps, all based on the plans and how much it’ll cost. As this rolls out, more and more local content will be created (pay TV services, online backup services, etc) and more international data cached (youtube etc).

  • alright guys, fiber optics already run through my suburb, they run throguh alot of suburbs already..
    problem is that by making a new government funded infrastructure,they’ll be hiring the lines out to companies that people like you are connected to.

    fiber costs atleast twice as much as you’re paying right now. i get 24mb/s on iinet for like 60 bucks or something. fiber runs to the high school down the road from my house, this literally means if i have a spare grand sitting around, I too can have fiber optic speeds. one telstra is bad enough, and labor WILL GO INTO DEBT AGAIN.

  • Frankly what does Labor plan to do with this. I hear e-medicine and e-ducation. People seem to think it is for everyone (ie National). Is it free? Will every home have it? Will we all have to do Govt things on our home PC? Or is it just for rural per continual push for poor old rural.

    As Abbott said web is not just one technology ie Fibre optic. How does this fit with wireless?

    I too find Speed claim implausible. What kind of engineer designs something that gets out of “control” like that? Doesn’t give me confidence?

    • Further on e-medicine the major thing I see in Govt ads. – currently in trying to provide a new doctor/specialist with records you are obstructed by Privacy Laws. So Law changes will be needed to put your medical data on the open web.

    • Ron, see this Lifehacker 101 post on why the engineering is entirely sound — there’s nothing out of control about it at all. The NBN scheme has always included wireless and satellite for where fibre isn’t plausible, but that’s a very small percentage of the total plan.

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