A little background - we live in a rural area, outside the reach of what most people would consider to be broadband. I know this can be hard for Americans (and Australians in the city) to grasp, but the best speed we can get for under $100 a month is 128/128 ISDN. That is, until Telstra decided to remove ISDN home late in 2008.
Meanwhile, up in the policical ivory tower, our esteemed leader Kevin Rudd decided that he wants to spend $10 billion on fibre to the node. Well that's nice, but the problem with that is 98% of the population already has access to pretty damn good internet, so spending that much to upgrade 98% of the population to really damn good internet strikes me as a pointless waste of money, especially with so many carriers in the cities already having their own infrastructure, allowing some good choice and excellent prices for the end user.
The 23,000 people in Australia who are stuck on ISDN with no affordable alternative offered due to the crazy extreme pricing of wireless NextG and the unappealing and still expensive lagginess of satellite are not happy. And who would be, with those alternatives? You can download 30G of 'stuff' on ISDN for under $100 a month, but to download the same amount on NextG you'd be paying $150 per gigabyte after the first two, and I'm not going to add that up because just thinking about it makes my wallet hurt. All this money proposed to be spent on making city speeds even better while country folk are forced off 128k broadband onto 56k dialup due to financial constraints? Crazy.
Why not just spend some money on the 2% of the population that don't have anything decent to start with? Sure, there aren't many of us, but we like to whinge loudly on forums like Whirlpool and write annoying letters to the Federal Communications Minister. The government would save a fortune if it just focussed on getting affordable broadband to every household in Australia, especially in rural areas. Would Kevin Rudd like to be known as that guy who duplicated the commercial networks so Australia could have faster, more expensive broadband or be known as the guy who brought broadband to the bush.
This rant was inspired by the wonderful and oh-so-true article over on Internode, which has lots of facts and figures to even further back up the argument that the Government are a bunch of twits with too much money to spend who haven't thought this through properly.