Australia's project for universal broadband access: From policy to social potential

Marcos Pereira Dias


Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) aims to provide high–speed Internet broadband access to all Australians and transform Australia into one of the world’s top five digital economies by 2020. The NBN’s model of universal and equal access to information flows supported by a nationwide infrastructure network stands out from the dominant scenario of profit–driven, tiered models of communication infrastructure networks. This paper analyses the economic and social value of information as a basic utility in contemporary society and argues that the NBN is an essential component in a nationwide project of digital citizenship, while highlighting the need for strong and effective policies to support it. The policies underlying the NBN and the technical aspects of its infrastructure network are compared with the Coalition’s alternative plan and public and private initiatives from other countries. It is argued that, in order to realise the full potential of the NBN, its future strategies must take into account the current networked practices of Australian citizens and be supported by an equally universal project of digital literacy. Finally, examples of current practices and future benefits of the implementation of high–speed broadband access are presented.


Internet, media studies, broadband, national broadband network, NBN, policy, social potential, Australia, Australian government, fibre optic, networked art, networked practices, infrastructure

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