Selling the NBN: couldn’t you do better?

I’m reviewing the week’s news about the National Broadband Network (NBN) and I’ve come to a conclusion. Labor government spokespeople, and communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy in particular, have been dismal at selling the concept. Couldn’t you do better?

The government’s expensive-looking TV adverts are nothing but vague generalities.

Back in August, Conroy was enthusing about his smart dishwasher that negotiated cheap electricity, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it wouldn’t need any more bandwidth than dial-up. I haven’t heard anything specific from him since then, just more hand-waving about improved health and education.

Even NBN Co chief Mike Quigley, in an interview for KGB TV at Business Spectator, couldn’t present a compelling scenario that’d make sense to a “normal” voter. Just waffle about video conferencing.

[W]e are at an age now where video is just beginning to really come into its own online. So we are going to see more and more video applications and not just entertainment, but applications such as teleconferencing. Right from here in NBN Co in Sydney we’re using a system that’s high-definition, low-latency to our Melbourne office, three big 1080 screens. That requires quite a bit of bandwidth and that is going to become more and more widely used, I believe, even for people for teleworking, for example. So I think we’re going to see more and more video, which is going to drive the requirements for bandwidth up, and there are not many infrastructures that can carry that type of traffic successfully. Fibre is one of them.

None of this explains why we might want or need vastly more bandwidth than is available today. None of it explains why the NBN should be a taxpayer-funded project for all Australians, not just the few who might want video conferencing and could pay for it commercially. None of it explains why we might want the cities to cross-subsidise the regional areas.

And yet there are applications sitting there right now, or that will emerge any day now. Real applications crying out for more bandwidth. And not just gaming and more TV. It shouldn’t be hard to list a few. And that’s why I want your help.

I’d like a few examples for tomorrow’s Patch Monday podcast. If you can list them here, great. If I can record you saying it in your own words for a minute or two, even better.

So what have you got for me?

[Update 10.00pm: If you’d like to leave your suggestions as an audio comment for the Patch Monday podcast, just Skype to “stilgherrian” or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733 and leave voicemail.]

[Update Monday 25 October 2010, 1.40pm: This week’s Patch Monday podcast has just been posted: Why can’t Labor sell the NBN’s benefits? Enjoy.]