Yesterday the federal government announced that it’ll give Optus $1 billion to provide wireless broadband to the bush. Good on ’em. Sorting out broadband Internet access was an election promise back in 1995, so it’s only taken 11+ years!
Just think about that. In 1995, a cutting-edge PC was an Intel 486 DX66 with 64MB of RAM and a 2x CD drive. The year’s big software release was Windows 95 — the very first version of Windows with Internet connectivity built-in.
Senator Coonan rejects the claim that the Government has been left behind. “You can’t really say that,” she says, “when you look at the Government’s record in rolling out broadband.”
Can’t you, Senator?
So how come back in 1995, Australia was third in the world in terms of Internet bandwidth and computing power per head of population, while today after a decade of Howard at the helm we don’t even make the top 10?
[Update 22 June 2007: I’m amazed no-one picked up the most obvious mistake in this post. The Optus/Elders plan may be costed at $2 billion but only half of that comes from the taxpayers. I’ve edited the post to fix the mistake.]