Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Another Government-owned Telco?

It's strange how the Australian government has shelved months of effort that went into a tendering process to finally announce that it would be setting up its own company to build a next generation high-speed broadband network for the country.

Part of me rejoices that the Telstra monopoly has suffered a major kick in the groin. Part of me (heck, all of me) always rejoices when monopolies get a well-deserved kick in the groin (When will you double over in agony, Microsoft?).

But I don't know if this was a well thought-out plan or an oh-forget-it act of exasperated desperation. Has Communications minister Stephen Conroy finally done something right after committing gaffe after gaffe? Others are confused too.

Time will tell whether this gargantuan initiative will turn out to be a waste of money or a wise spend that will keep the economy ticking during the global recession and will also provide a much-needed force-multiplier for the smart, networked nation that will arise after the recession.

But I guess the bottomline is that the privatisation of Telstra was a mistake in the first place. If you must privatise a government-owned monopoly, at least break it up into a dozen pieces so there's no more monopoly. If there's anything worse than a government-owned monopoly, it's a privately-owned monopoly. Will history repeat itself with this new incarnation of Telstra?

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