The National Broadband Network Is Our ‘What If’ Girl

Everyone has one. We don’t want to think about her, but she probably exists in your past. She’s a What If Girl, and today, we all have a new one in our lives.

You know this Girl. You met her in high-school, or at university, or at work, or in the street somewhere. It doesn’t matter.

You developed a crush, then an infatuation and perhaps even a love. You imagined what your lives could have been together. Pure, simple and beautiful.

But something happened.

You couldn’t be together.

It might have been another man or woman in her life. Maybe she had to move away. Perhaps she just wasn’t into you. So you moved on.

You find someone new. Someone more available, more sensible for you and what you want to be in the future. Someone you think you should be with at least. You abandon the lofty ideologies of love and beauty for something more practical.

You get married to this new practical girl, maybe have a few kids and take the job you know you and your family needs, rather than the one you want: the one that the What If Girl might have encouraged you to take.

But a sobering day will come.

In a few years, you’ll be sitting at home one day, or in your car, or browsing Facebook, and wonder what life might have been like with your What If Girl?

What if you had been with her? How would things have been different?

Today, we all realised our What If Girl is the National Broadband Network. That lofty idea of high-speed broadband based on a new fibre backbone for all Australians. High-speed, affordable broadband for all.

Today we have all been caught wondering and lamenting what our lives would have been like if we had all chose her.

Malcolm Turnbull today announced that the network we’re getting won’t be the faster, cheaper, better network he promised. That we’d have to wait longer for worse speeds, and we’ll get a mix of technologies rather than the one we really wanted. The worst part is that we’re now paying more for this inferior NBN than we thought we would when we chose it.

I leaned back in my chair today, and wondered to myself. “What would it have been like if we had all chosen the girl we deserved in the form of the FTTP National Broadband Network?”

Life might have been faster, smarter, better developed. Telehealth would have been more reliable. People would telework more. Australia would move to a knowledge economy with a new Renaissance of digital development taking place in our backyard, rather than an economy that relied on digging stuff up. Instead, we’re now about to become a country that’s only proud of the slabs of concrete we’d built to put our stupid cars over.

Sure, if we had chosen the other girl, we might be looking at higher costs, but aren’t we already? Weren’t we promised something cheaper by who we chose in September and footing a higher bill just three months in?

We’re now facing a life with slower network that will take longer to build, cost almost as much as the last one and using a messy hodge-podge of technologies.

You chose the wrong girl, Australia.

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