No technology topic (with the possible exception of the Cloud) has generated more Australian headlines and stories in 2011 than the National Broadband Network (NBN).
While not a new phenomenon in the last 12 months, the NBN -- with its technology, policy, cost, political, industry, new services and commercial impacts -- has continued to drive the news agenda in 2011. And for this reason, it deserves a place in this year's top 10 influential list.
On top of the huge ACCC/Telstra/Optus deal the public political stoushes and tit-for-tats have also entertained, such as Stephen Conroy and Malcolm Turnbull going at each others' policies as well as Coalition claims of cheaper broadband for the bush. NBN Co's fixed CVC pricing also provided one of the more stimulating debates, with suggestions that some RSPs may need to substantially increase prices on some faster speed plans -- particularly in regional areas -- due to the economic impacts of fixed connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) pricing. During the year Internode also warned that access to broadband services in regional areas may actually decrease due to CVC pricing, while Internode head Simon Hackett said CVC pricing was financially unviable.
The issue of cost reared its head on a number of occasions with the suggestion the NBN should be axed to obtain a budget surplus; high NBN Co wiring cost; NBN plan pricing; and the The Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network sounding the alarm that the NBN was showing early signs of cost overruns rearing their heads.
Policy debates went back and forward during the year over wireless, HFC, satellite and copper with the suggestion the NBN was anti-competitive, intricate battles over fibre-to-the-node, batteries and pricing plans. During the year, the NBN also came to the mainland with the network being turned on in Brunswick and Kiama, while 28 new locations for the network were also announced.
Industry was also a major source of news with multiple contracts being awarded for the NBN to the likes of Ericson and Silcar, Transfield Services, and Service Stream.
This short survey doesn't even include all the finer points of policy, industry collaboration, educational and health stories that flowed on from the NBN.
If anything, the NBN is worth its $35-odd billion price tag, if only to keep IT journalists at work.