The outspoken chief executive of internet service provider (ISP) Exetel has issued a blunt reaction to the news that the National Broadband Network (NBN) project is likely to go ahead: "God help us all".
The revelation yesterday afternoon that rural independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will support Labor to form government means the NBN is likely to go ahead, with both citing the flagship project as one of the key reasons they decided to support Labor above the Coalition. However, Exetel's John Linton, a long-time critic of the project, repeated his earlier concerns with the project when asked for a response by email.
"Oakeshott and Windsor know even less about communications than Gillard, and that's a ridiculous way to decide on how taxpayer's money is wasted," he said.
The Exetel chief said that nothing about the viability of the NBN project had changed, repeating the Coalition's line that the project remained "a hugely expensive white elephant that will pauperise the Australian taxpayer every year the Labor Party pours borrowed money into it".
Furthermore, Linton said, Australia would be poorer generally, and the local telco sector would "continue to be destroyed" because of the "pantomime" played out as the independents decided who they would vote for.
"God help us all," he concluded.
Linton has been one of the most outspoken critics of the NBN project from the early days of its inception. Just this week the ISP chief wrote on his blog that the government was foolhardy to try and pick a winner from the ongoing development of technology.
"The real point is that technology moves so quickly and offers so many diverse 'paths' that then split into so many more diverse paths that no government (command economy or quasi democracy) has the knowledge necessary to make such decisions," he wrote.
"The reason that technology is delivered to the possible buyers by multiple commercial vendors is because some decisions will be wrong at any point in time and those companies will collapse, but others, who got that particular call correct, will continue. In the meantime the end users will continue to get a service at the best possible price and at the greatest possible 'technology level'."
Like some others who have criticised the NBN, Linton's general thesis has been over time that the development of wireless technologies, such as 3G mobile broadband, has the potential to make the predominantly fibre-based NBN redundant.
"By the end of 2011, wireless broadband will be faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous in Australia than Telstra's own ADSL2 network, which is three times larger than any of its competitors," he wrote on his blog this week.