How to get your IT budget under control
How do you plan for the next decade of computing power and data consumption?
That’s the challenge facing the Australian Government.
The Coalition has set itself a task to reduce the number of Australians who are without a basic digital connection by the middle of the next century.
But the Government is also facing the daunting challenge of how to do that while also protecting people’s jobs and livelihoods.
The Prime Minister has pledged to roll out the National Broadband Network (NBN) by 2020.
But he’s also promised to ensure the Government’s NBN Co is in the hands of Australians, and is making sure the NBN Co gets its funding.
“If we can get it out of the hands or hands of the private sector, that’s great.
We’ve got to get it into the hands and hands of consumers,” he said.
But even as NBN Co builds its own network, it needs the support of the Federal Government.
And that support could come in the form of tax concessions.
The Government’s own National Broadbands and Communications Commission (NFCC) has been tasked with creating a network plan for its customers.
It’s expected to produce a plan by the end of this year.
But with NBN Co set to be sold to an investment group and the Government unable to commit to a plan, it is not clear how it will be able to ensure NBN Co’s rollout is sustainable.
And it is the NBNCo’s future as a government asset that is in doubt.
“The NBNCo is the only government agency that has the ability to ensure that the NBN is rolled out to all Australians, without any taxpayer subsidies,” Mr Turnbull said.
“But the NBN will not be a government agency.
It will be a private company.”
Why NBN Co needs subsidiesIt’s a question NBNCo CEO Ziggy Switkowski wants answered.
While NBN Co has the capacity to deliver a full-featured broadband network, he argues it needs to be subsidised to do so.
“You need a public subsidy in order to make sure that we’re delivering the kind of network that people want to use,” he told the ABC.
“I think that’s what the NBN needs.”
He also thinks the Government needs to put a cap on the cost of NBN Co and make sure NBN Co can only be bought by Australians.
“What we need to do is make sure there’s a cap so that the cost is affordable,” Mr Switowski said.”[The NBN Co] needs to come to the table, it has to have an Australian investor, and they need to put in some sort of cap so they don’t take any risk.”
Mr Turnbull says there’s no point in the Government subsidising NBN Co if NBN Co doesn’t deliver.
“We need to make a commitment to the Australian people that we will provide the best value for our money,” he says.
“It’s not going to happen if we don’t do that.”
But with the NBN already costing billions of dollars, it’s a policy that has some people questioning how the Government can make its promises stick.
“This Government has a record of not doing anything to stimulate the economy,” economist Andrew Forrest says.
He says while the Government has committed to a universal basic broadband, there’s still room for improvement.
“People are very confused by what the Government are doing.
There’s still a lot of things that need to be done,” he tells the ABC’s Insiders program.”
And they’ve got a lot to do.”