If you build it ...
I think there are three things influencing the "debate":
1. The "survey" some-firm carried out - mentioned in the Review Document - that classed the likely short term uses for "The Interwebs".
Cat Videos topped the list. Only 4k TV appeared to be above the capacity of a "half way house" solution (which is what Mal appears to be offering). And the "survey" thought 4K take-up would be very poor.
If the main use predicted is for an Entertainment Delivery System, then it's no wonder some people might think $40-billion-plus is a lot of cash.
It is extremely unlikely all people, on all sides of the "debate", agree with the survey and the uses it predicts.
Sadly, for everyone, this is the crux and no one - on either side - knows the answer. Lots of folk think they know the answer ... but the polar opposite assumptions at the Taliban-end of both sides of the argument, are so far apart that any form of consensus seems extremely unlikely.
This lack of a definative purpose allows Mal and his supporters to claim that something a bit better than now, will do for now
2. Historically, any increase in computing power and/or telecoms ability has been followed by business finding uses for the improvement. The mobile phone market is a good example, as is what game-designers have done with processor power.
This does give the "It's not just about cats" proponents credibility. However unlikely it seems, however few truely outstanding uses have been proposed for an upgraded network; it has always been true.
If you build it, they will fill it up with something.
3. As discussed on here, before ... The size and complexity of the NBN project does equate it with the building of telegraphs, railways and roads. It requires a cross party, long-view consensus. Not something very popular among political parties (anywhere in the world).
It is never going to be finished (just like roads) and so is never going to provide any political party (other than the original proponents) with a political win.
(and, unlike railways, the proposal is for this system to have a station everywhere)
Just like roads, the moment geeks have quit woohooing about their speed-test results, it will become all about the road in front of your block.
Please fix the potholes!
A request for a correction:
"it could even be that Australia gets faster and more reliable connections than the 25Mbps baseline promised.
Can we change this for:
"it could even be that (most of) Australia gets faster and more reliable connections than the 25Mbps baseline promised."
And with that correction, maybe some clarity or even consensus could be found (and as ever, I will declare my biased Country-Australia world-view, upfront).
Yes, history says that uses will be found for advances in technology; but it may well (and very sadly) be prudent to only pay the stupidly large sums involved for the 80% of the country where setting up as a StartUp makes logistical sense?
No one digs a mine a long way from a seam. Should start-ups (or already-starteds) be setting up in Willowra?
It is not a nice question to pose. To an extent, answering the question in the wrong way, invalidates naming it a National anything. There is no hope of virtual surgeons, based in Sydney, ever helping to remove a liver in Brome; unless the entire country is running with a decent ping and bandwidth.
But - whichever of the costings, by whichever of the players, you do or do not believe - Given the cost of trying to build the network that we would all like to have, may proclude a viable system being built that could see the populated bits of Australia prosper; do the hard choices have to be taken?
Finally: One hinted at plank of Mal's review document is the assumption that some places may want to get a better connection by paying for it themselves. A DIY NBN. In my particular situation, that may prove both attractive and viable.
It may also be a clever ploy by Mal. "Well, people obviously don't really want speeds greater than 25MB, or they would have paid to connect their "town" to the closest link. So 25mb must be fine".
I am surprised more has not been made - one way or the other - about this committment (which has always existed, in NBN plans, I believe?)
A very good, if slightly controversially toned, discussion-piece, Simon.