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Binary Balance

Life on the digital knife edge

My letter in support of the National Broadband Network

I’ve just posted a snail mail letter to our Liberal representative in the Senate, Mr Zed Seselja (Senator for Australian Capital Territory). If you have an interest in securing Australia’s future in the digital economy and ensuring that Australia gets the National Broadband Network (NBN) it deserves, then I encourage you to make your voice heard now in any and all ways possible.

I feel that snail mail – as quaint as I personally find it to be – is a good way to ensure that your representatives know how strongly you feel on an issue. You didn’t just send a quick email or tweet or wall post (though we should certainly do these as well), you actually took the time to write a letter, print it out, sign it, put it in an envelope, stick on a stamp, write the address on the envelope and drop it in a mailbox. It still may be a small gesture in the scheme of things, but I will at least know that in every reasonable way that is open to me, I’ve taken the time to make my views known to those that are supposed to be representing us.

You can do a search to find the contact details of your representatives here:

Drop them a line if you feel so inclined. Democracy isn’t something that should only happen on a single day, every few years. Below is the full text of my letter to Mr Seselja. It’s somewhat targeted towards a representative of the Australian Capital Territory, but of course please feel free to re-use some or all of it at any time.

Dear Mr Seselja,

I write to you for the purpose of communicating my support for the Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) approach to the National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.

I am a web developer by trade; my fulltime job is quite literally the Internet, websites and web applications. I have worked in various IT roles for more than a decade and I would therefore put myself forward as a member of the ACT electorate that is well informed on issues pertaining to the Internet and connectivity to it.

I think it a point of little contention by this stage that FTTP has massive support throughout the community, particularly within circles of technical specialists that – I’m sure you would agree – policy makers should be listening to on this matter. There was of course the headline-making online petition at (currently sitting at 263,976 signatures as I write this letter), which I have read is the largest online petition in Australian history. Beyond this, the outpouring of support for FTTP across social media sites has been hard to ignore, a fact I’m sure you could verify with your colleague Mr Turnbull.

On September 26 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the leaked copy of NBN Co’s latest three-year-plan stated (I quote):

“The cost of connecting each home and business to the fibre-optic national broadband network has dropped to less than $2500 and key financial estimates of the project remain largely unchanged …”

This $2,500 cost is well down from $7,400 during earlier trails. I further quote The Sydney Morning Herald:

“The report also shows that while take-up rates were slower in the first rollout zones, particularly Tasmania’s first three sites, it has been much faster in later rollout sites. For example, a quarter of households in Coffs Harbour signed up for an NBN fibre service with 22 weeks, and in the Canberra suburb of Crace 36 per cent had a service within 23 weeks.

The bolded emphasis is mine, so that I may draw your attention to behaviour of voters within the ACT.

Regarding the veracity of the report, The Sydney Morning Herald further went on to quote Mr Paul Budde (noted independent telecommunications analyst) as saying that the NBN Co’s staff “were not a bunch of liars”. I again implore you to listen to the experts.

I believe the issue of FTTP and the NBN transcends partisan politics and political ideology, as indeed Mr Turnbull has now stated himself. We should consider what would be best for Australia in the long run. More efficient provision of government online services, greater social inclusion for our regional cousins and providing an environment for all manner of small to large enterprises to thrive on a ubiquitous high speed Internet are a few of the excellent reasons we should be implementing the NBN that Australia deserves.

To see a political party that thinks beyond the current election cycle to Australia’s long-term viability would be a rare and inspiring thing and I truly hope that your party can make this a reality in relation to FTTP. A failure of vision would be equally uninspiring and is certainly something that would be foremost in my mind, come next election day.

In closing, I would like to once more reiterate my full support for FTTP and I strongly encourage you to convey the view of your constituents on this matter to Mr Turnbull and ensure that – after the outcome of his strategic review – he facilitates true and open community consultation on the way forward with regard to the NBN.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely, Gaelian M. Ditchburn

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