How many people does it take to connect the NBN?

NBNready.jpgThis week my home was connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN). I consider myself very fortunate to be in an area where the early rollout was implemented as it is a very good service.

With a family who always seem to be online for homework, entertainment and other assorted internet demands, the speed and bandwidth available from the NBN are quite amazing.

What wasn't so amazing was the process of having it connected. It demonstrated to me just how inefficient (hopeless is actually a better word) government funded projects actually can be.

I have no doubt there is some complexity to the installation of fibre optic cable and the assorted technology connections, but my experience with the NBN installation was a monumental tribute to waste.

By my count, there were five individual visits to our home by different personnel who were only able to perform a single operation. This meant someone had to be home to provide access on multiple occasions for seemingly very small jobs.

When the cable and assorted boxes were finally installed, we were told it was ready to go and contacted Telstra to organise connection and transfer our account. At this point we were told we had to plug the connection cables in ourselves or wait two months for a technician to be available.

Being someone who has been described as ‘useless’ when it comes to technology, I tried to follow the instructions but couldn't make it work. We informed Telstra of this multiple times to ensure our existing phone and internet service was maintained. The support team in Bangladesh assured us it would remain connected until the issues were rectified.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Our existing services were cut off despite the assurances, with no way of having them reconnected until the problems were rectified. With the prospect of a two month wait for a technician to arrive, I chose to contact a private operator who came the following day.

He spent two hours trying to get the system to work with no success. We then called Telstra technical support as a last resort. After nearly 30 minutes on the telephone it was determined that there was a connection fault with the NBN fibre optic cable which would require another party to rectify. They were available for an appointment a couple of days later.

They arrived, fixed the problem and we now have fast and reliable internet for which I am grateful, but my experience has reinforced my concerns about government waste and bureaucracy.

I know the NBN isn't technically government as it operates independently, but it is budgeted to use billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money and the cost blowouts amount to billions more. Having seen the process first hand I have seen the inefficiency for myself.

The NBN is a massive project, concocted by a former government with next to no due diligence. In fact it was conceived on the back of a coaster whilst flying in the Prime Minister’s jet.

Now we are paying for it. Based on my experience with the inefficient process, that cost is much more than it need be. But isn’t that the way of so many government funded projects?