Right now, this page of about the NBN, or National Broadband Network, is a bit of a placeholder. We at The Crazy Engineer think that the NBN is a very good thing. And it is remarkably cheaper than everyone seems to think.

In terms of cost, the important thing is that many of the NBN costs need to be expended anyway. Included in the total is the cost of providing satellite broadband to country areas. The current satellites are coming to end of life and need to be replaced soon, and there is also a demand for growing bandwidth. This money has been included in the NBN figures, but would need to be spent regardless.Also, there is an amount for connecting fibre to country towns. Whilst there is a lot of fibre out there, there is not enough, and NBN includes provision for increasing the amount of fibre installed. Once again, this cost will have to happen regardless.The next cost is probably the biggest. Telstra’s copper network is falling apart for various reasons and realistically needs to be replaced. Joints are coroding all over the place thanks to the use of some sub-standard waterproofing, and copper is getting old. All in all, this infrastructure needs to be replaced regardless of what happens.

Take these costs into account and the NBN is now less than half price. In fact, it is actually one of the cheapest pieces of infrastructure being talked about at the moment.

On the other side of the coin is the impact. It is my belief that the NBN will drive some significant social changes to the Australian community. The most fundamental of these is the removal of place as a requirement for a lot of employment. And where there is a requirement for place, it can be outside major population centres. There are often complaints about the cost of buildings and congestion on the impact on businesses and their employees. With NBN, companies will be able to set up in regional areas to provide the services as if they were in a big city. Be prepared for local councils to set up teleworking centres for people who want to live in the country to have an actual office to go to. The impacts are likely to be significant.

Another big change will be for health. Expect telemedicine to take off, particularly with the elderly. This will have a significant positive impact on the provision of consultations with doctors, and will potentially significantly reduce the number of hospital admissions.