A red-undies day for minister Stephen Conroy

A red-undies day for minister Stephen Conroy, by Sid Maher.

In 2011, the Rudd-Gillard government’s mercurial communications minister Stephen Conroy said mobile Wi-Fi was no threat to the national broadband network. …

It was a big call because the government was spending billions — more than $40bn — on fibre, betting technological advances wouldn’t overwhelm the investment.

Fast-forward six years and the thing that Conroy said couldn’t happen looks like happening in the form of super-fast 5G mobile technology. Just as the earth turned out to be round and the iceberg too good for the Titanic, the march of technology appears relentless.

The advent of 5G has current NBN boss Bill Morrow worried about the technology’s impact on his future revenues, and even 4G with an antenna could be competitive.

Some analysts predict Wi-Fi could take as much as 25 per cent of the market and deliver a $10bn hit to NBN revenues.

That’s a lot of money for something that couldn’t happen. …

Conroy once boasted he had the legal power to force the Australian telco bosses to wear red undies on their heads. Too bad his powers didn’t extend beyond red undies to perfect knowledge of future.

NBN is a testament to the folly of big government. Doing nothing and letting the market sort it out incrementally would have been a  superior solution technically, and cost nothing.