Editorial: Why it is time we stepped out of dark ages

Connectivity should not be considered a luxury in 21st century Australia. 

Gone are the days of us being a quaint, antipodean backwater, or a vast and uncharted frontier territory.  

Our country is a modern one, a player on the world’s economic stage, and that means second-rate infrastructure is no longer acceptable. 

The roll-out of the National Broadband Network is an example of an opportunity lost, with the chance to future-safe internet access gone begging.

There is no doubt the entire NBN project is a highly complex one that was always likely to have issues, but it is plain to see there have been too many things going wrong during its agonisingly slow installation phase.

The NBN has become so highly politicised that it is hard to sort fact from fiction.

Labor claims the Coalition’s version of the NBN will be obsolete by the time it is installed, while the Coalition claims Labor’s original plan would have near-bankrupted the nation. One thing for sure is, in the year 2017, Australia should not be trailing much of the developed world so badly.

According to the results of several surveys conducted in the past year, Australia ranks somewhere between 50th and 60th in the world for internet speed. 

The experience of Bendigo’s Kerri and Rod Daw is indicative of the chaos that has surrounded the project right from the start.

One side of the ironically named Wireless Street in Kangaroo Flat has had the NBN for months, while the other – the side Mr and Mrs Daw live on – has not.

In fact, since January, the Daws have essentially had no internet whatsoever, and neither have many of their neighbours.

Fellow Wireless Street resident Mel Allen was on the phone to Telstra for a staggering nine hours last week trying to get the problem fixed.

It was only once the Bendigo Advertiser started asking questions on behalf of the Daws that Telstra finally sprung into action and got serious about finding a solution.

As technological capacity continues to grow, governments need to be among the first adapters, not the last few followers, so when their constituency comes online, the infrastructure is there to support them.

Labor promised a first-class system when it was in power and it became the Coalition’s job to deliver after it took over.

We are still waiting.