Street poll: Do we need a publicly-funded National Broadband Network?

The National Broadband Network is the largest single infrastructure investment in Australian history, with an estimated cost of $35.7 billion.

The federal government hopes the network, which may perform up to one thousand times faster than current average wireless, will mean immediate advantages in education, health, and even civic spirit.

But reception to the plan has been divided. The Opposition and major telecommunication companies have attacked the Gillard government for the scheme as it has been instituted so far, questioning both the costs and the need.

The government-owned company set up to institute the plan, NBN Co., has rolled out connectivity to test zones in Tasmania. But public uptake has been minimal, which opponents offer as evidence that the scheme is too costly.

Regional use is too feeble to merit the outlay, it is argued, and what’s more, the connection in the metro areas could be easily provided by private corporations for much less cost to the public.

The government, however, says that although use in these test areas has been slow, they were deliberately chosen due to their challenges and that uptake is onetheless consistent with their estimates, which predicts greater growth in the future.

Moreover, the government argues that cost should not be the concern, but rather equal access for each person across Australia.

The scheme has reached prominence politically because the independent MPs who backed Labor to form government – Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor – cited the NBN as a crucial factor in deciding their allegiance. Opposition front-bencher Malcolm Turnbull was deliberately appointed Communications spokesman to attack the scheme.

A street poll of Brisbane people has shown a variety of opinions on the NBN.

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