You might be forgiven for thinking that the days of waiting three to six months to get a phone hooked up at your house were long gone.
Surely that was all fixed when the telephone companies were privatized and the efficiencies and competition of the market started providing incentives?
Well, yes that did happen, but this week, Australia provides us with an important reminder of how easy it is to slip back.
Australia’s Labour government has decided to get back in to the telecommunications market by not only funding, but also constructing itself a brand new National Broadband Network (NBN).
The results have been predictably disastrous (click for full article including video):
The Gillard Government’s broadband superhighway has hit a speed bump. Thousands of people across Australia are enraged that their brand new homes don’t have any kind of phone or internet connection.
The National Broadband Network Company admits it hasn’t kept pace with demand and hopes to clear its due development backlog by the middle of next year.
Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says the problem is much larger than the NBN admits and stems from the company’s determination to price private telecommunications providers out of developments over 100 houses
MALCOLM TURNBULL, OPP. COMMUNICATONS SPOKESMAN: The mistake they made, and it’s very typical of this command-and-control approach of the Government, is to do it themselves. Let me give you a very good example of how far they have missed the target. They said in January 2011 that they expected to provide – establish an active service to 132,000 premises in greenfield estates by June 2012. In fact, by June 2012 they had provided active services to 500 premises.
STEPHEN ALBIN, NSW URBAN DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE: The average delay’s between three and six months. So people’ll move into a home and they’ll get connected within three to six months.
In South Australia one developer’s been waiting more than seven months to have his estate hooked up and patience is wearing thin.
In August NBN revealed its costs were rising. Bill costs had lifted $1.4 billion and operating costs over the next nine years were up $3.2 billion. But the company’s new development woes also raise questions about value for money. Like, how much the network paid out on a new discontinued contract with Fujitsu, which was called in to manage the new estates billed.
It’s worth noting that with an election due next year, the Government managed to find an extra $20 million in Monday’s belt-tightening mini budget to advertise the NBN, to improve public understanding and address misconceptions.
ADAM KULAKOWSKI: They are very short and sweet and say, “We don’t know when you will get NBN,” full stop. No apologies, no nothing. That’s just what a monopoly can do.
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