Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential - #2 National Broadband Network (NBN)

From the initial drama of the tender process for a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network

Yesterday, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy was revealed as the third place getter in the Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential for 2009.

Today we reveal #2 — the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Last week Computerworld began counting down to the winner with one article each day from 10th place to number one. The Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential for 2009 is highlighting the people, products, organisations, trends or events that have had the greatest influence on the ICT industry and community.

When we reach #1 on Friday, it will be over to you for the readers' choice award. If you don't agree with the panel of 12 you can still have your say on the most influential person, product, organisation, trend or event for 2009.

We’ll publish the results on the website and in the February/March issue of Computerworld magazine.

But now it is onto the second place getter — the National Broadband Network (NBN).

#2 National Broadband Network (NBN)

It's fitting that in a week where two major broadband and telecommunications conferences attended by a who's who of the Australian ICT industry and several notable international guests are held that we announce the National Broadband Network (NBN) has snagged the 2nd spot in Computerworld's Top 10 Most Influential for 2009.

Almost unanimously the panel of 12 judges indicated the NBN's influence on the Australian ICT industry and broader community has been profound this year.

From the initial drama of the tender process for a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network that saw Telstra fail to put in a full bid, the Government accept it anyway, a panel of experts pan all of the bids, and the Government then decide to abandon the process while announcing it would spend up to $43 billion on a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network and set up a new government majority-owned entity to construct the whole thing the impact has been massive.

While the panel debated whether the NBN's influence was greater than our #3 place getter, senator Stephen Conroy, we came to the conclusion it was far bigger than any one individual or organisation.

After all the NBN is arguably the biggest infrastructure project the nation has ever attempted to make a reality and the $43 billion NBN announcement came at a time when the economy was teetering on recession, providing a much-needed confidence boost and the promise of tens of thousands of new jobs.

Since then, the NBN and its potential benefits/challenges have dominated the news media and forced almost every industry to consider how they will be affected. From healthcare, education, smart infrastructure, and aged care, to e-commerce, construction, electricity providers, telecommunications, and the resources sector to name a few, strategies and commentary around the NBN have been formulated, debated and promoted.

In short, there are few other issues across the entire economy that have had this kind of far-reaching impact this year.

The NBN has also forced the issue of regulatory change to several fields including broadcasting and telecommunications – notably involving the potential forced separation of Telstra, one of the country's largest corporations.

Meanwhile the company set up to rollout the FTTH network, NBN Co, has been actively recruiting staff and undertaking some of the most significant business negotiations with asset owners (including Telstra) in the country's recent history. And it is already digging trenches to the lay the necessary optical fibre through its subsidiary NBN Tasmania.

The influence however, is not limited to Australian shores. In several international forums and government talk shops, our NBN has drawn considerable attention from countries as diverse as the US and Brasil to Egypt and Serbia.

The fact the NBN is already touching so many industries and issues vital to the public in both a tangible and conceptual way is why the Computerworld Top 10 Most Influential for 2009 panel awarded it second place.

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