Top ten most influential of 2010: National Broadband Network

The NBN has left a lasting impression in the minds of the Australian people

Each Friday for the past 10 weeks, Computerworld Australia has been counting down the biggest ICT influences on the tech industry and wider Australia in 2010. Those influences - whether people, trends, issues or technologies - have had a lasting impact on the way Australians and particularly the tech industry have conducted themselves, and the business priorities that have resulted.

The top ten was collated and determined by our editorial team and advisory panel of IT managers, industry experts, consultants and analysts.

The list so far:

(See how we chose the top ten)

We also held a Readers’ Choice poll in tandem to determine what our readers think should be included, and what shouldn’t. That poll will close next Monday 20 December and we’ll reveal who and what you chose on Thursday 23 December.

To top off Computerworld Australia's Top Ten Most Influential list for 2010 (and as if you didn’t see this coming): The National Broadband Network.

National Broadband Network (NBN)

If there’s one technology to have a lasting impact on not only the Australian tech industry but the nation's psyche in 2010, it's undoubtedly the National Broadband Network.

When every minute detail is revealed, dissected and ripped apart on a consistent basis, it's easy to forget that the Federal Government's lofty project is still little more than a twinkle in the eye of communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy. Yet it's that consistent spill of news, facts and high-level analysis that has enraptured the Australian public and ultimately became the foundation of the current Gillard Government.

For those who have been living under a rock since April 2009, here's a brief rundown: The Federal Government plans to connect 93 per cent of Australian homes and businesses to fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology, delivering committed downlink speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and a peak of one gigabit per second. Those in rural and regional areas will receive either fixed wireless (ie. not mobile) or satellite access with committed downlink rates of 12Mbps.

The exact motives behind what, depending on the day and who you ask, will cost either $27 billion, $35.7 billion, $43 billion or up to $49.5 billion, are still unclear. The notion that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Conroy merely wanted to stick it to Telstra is debatable, but the end result is clear - an ubiquitous high-speed broadband network that's competitive with South Korea and Japan on the world stage.

See our NBN 101 series for more information

The network no doubt had its greatest impact in September of this year. Despite the tech industry’s resignation that, no matter who won on 21 August, the incoming Federal Government would pay little attention to its advice, the prospect of a hung Parliament and the ultimate decision made by three unlikely power brokers brought the NBN to the fore. It's likely that independent MP Tony Windsor's famous utterance - "you do it once, you do it right, you do it with fibre” - will be remembered as the day the NBN became a issue not only for a couple of nerds in computer closets, but for the whole of Australia.

Since then the incessant debate around a cost-benefit analysis, business plans and the detail of telecommunications reform has likely weighed down on some pundits and downright bored most of the Australian public. However, with the boredom has come progress.

The NBN is now active to at least 2000 residents in Tasmania, and is expected to be lit up in five mainland release sites early next year. A prioritisation to rural and regional Australians will ensure those without any broadband access will likely get first treatment to world class speeds, beckoning new applications that will hopefully benefit the lives as well as the businesses of those connected.

We award the NBN with the biggest influence of 2010 the same week the Federal Government is expected to publicly release NBN Co’s anticipated business plan, a move that is sure to incite yet further debate around how such a government business will likely, the financial benefits - if any - and the effect it will have not only on the Australian ISP sector but on internet users and taxpayers everywhere. And the true build-out of the network hasn’t even begun.

Don’t agree with the NBN’s placing in the top ten most influential of 2010? Sound off below.

More articles about the NBN

NBN business case release likely next week

Conroy details NBN Co greenfield fibre role

NBN Tasmania chair retires

NBN to render some of Macquarie Telecom's assets redundant

NBN first release sites to trial telehealth

Xenophon says he'll block NBN bill in 2011

NBN Co says Telstra deal to boost revenue

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