[LINK] Role of Government in National ICT Policy

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Feb 27 09:15:09 AEDT 2012

Paul Fletcher MP, will speak on "Why the NBN business model is deeply 
flawed ...?" at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) meeting in 
Canberra, 12 Noon 28 February 2012: 

This is a surprising topic for an ACS talk, as they are usually not so 
politically charged. Also Malcolm Turnbull MP usually makes the 
opposition statements on broadband policy. But Mr. Fletcher was Director 
of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Optus for eight years and later 
wrote the book "Wired Brown Land?: Telstra's Battle for Broadband" (UNSW 
Press, 2009), so is qualified to speak.

Yesterday Mr. Fletcher spoke on the less inflammatory topic of "The 
right role for Government in ICT Policy" at the Kickstart Forum in 

NBN Versus Wireless

While I agree with Mr. Fletcher that the government can't mandate 
take-up of the NBN and wireless will be more popular than the government 
expects, I see fibre optic and wireless to be complementary, rather than 
competing. The NBN can be used to connect the millions of base stations 
which will be needed for wireless, as well as provide direct high speed 
broadband for applications unsuitable for wireless.

Computers in Schools

I agree with Mr. Fletcher that the "big bang" approach to computers in 
schools was not good long term policy. But it was better than not 
investing in computers in schools. What is missing is funding for 
training teachers in how to use computers for education and in creating 
Australian educational content. As I put to the Minister for Schools 
last week, without this investment Australian school students will be 
taking their on-line lessons from overseas teachers using overseas 
content, via the NBN. This will cost Australia thousands of jobs and 
billions of dollars.

e-Health Records

The Personal Electronically Controlled Health Records programs of the 
Government has some problems and looks expensive. But like the NBN and 
computers in schools, these programs are relatively cheap when compared 
to the potential benefits and savings. They are also going well compared 
to other programs, such as the "Home Insulation Program".

ps: I am a member of the ACS Telecommunications Board, but the views 
expressed here are my own.

More at: 

Tom Worthington FACS CP, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards

Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Research School of Computer Science,
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/

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