[LINK] NBN online public consultation

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Fri May 14 15:38:26 AEST 2010

Virtual tumbleweeds blow across NBN discussion website 


Perhaps it's an idea just a bit ahead of its time.

A web discussion page established by the government to debate the 
recommendations of a study into the national broadband network has 
attracted just six brief contributions in its first week online.

The site, <https://wiki.dbcde.gov.au> hosted by the Department of 
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy uses a wiki format to 
encourage users to proffer their thoughts on the implementation study as 
part of a broader public consultation.

Pioneered by Wikipedia, the wiki format allows users to contribute to the 
content of a web page, although in this case it largely follows the 
format of a more traditional online discussion board.

The page provides opportunity for comments on each of the report's 84 
recommendations, and each of the 11 chapters.

The lack of response might be due to the sentiment expressed by the very 
first, anonymous, comment last Thursday: "Why dont [sic] you explain your 
summary's [sic] and recommendations in plain english so that everyone can 
understand what on earth you are talking about?????"

The report, penned for $25 million by corporate consultants KPMG and 
McKinsey and unveiled last week, was designed to give the government 
detailed advice on the technology, finance and regulation needed to 
construct the high-speed network.

In the wiki section on pricing, two other contributors - both anonymous - 
praised the recommendation of competitive wholesale pricing but raised 
fears that retail telcos would not pass on the value to consumers.

"Simply setting wholesale prices will not encourage take-up if there is 
no obligation imposed on retail companies to in fact translate the low 
wholesale prices they are paying into low prices for the average 
customer," one of the contributors wrote.

When we visited the site, just 15 people had registered to contribute to 
the wiki, a number dwarfed by the 23 accounts whose names suggest they 
are involved in the administration of the site.

The implementation study last week found the national broadband network 
could deliver fibre connections to 93 per cent of homes and businesses 
for less than $43 billion and without a deal being reached with telco 
giant Telstra.

The government said it would carry out three weeks of consultation - 
until May 27 - and formally respond to the recommendations midyear.

The use of online interactive tools to get feedback of policy proposals 
was encouraged by the Government 2.0 report, which last year mapped out 
ways the public service could better use new technologies.

It suggested the government "should encourage those conducting inquiries 
to use interactive media such as blogs to publicly discuss emerging lines 
of thought and issues of relevance".

The government last week said it agreed in principle with the 
recommendation, suggesting the government would not be scared off by a 
low response rate to the broadband discussion.

The Department of Communications recently received a stronger response to 
a discussion board it established to consult with internet service 
providers over the technical aspects of its controversial mandatory 
internet filter.

In a lively discussion on that site, seen by us, an official from the 
department said the government was considering making it an offence to 
promote ways to circumvent the filter.

A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Stephen Conroy later denied the 
government would introduce such an offence.

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