US won't copy Aussie NBN: Steve Wozniak

Summary:Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak gave the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) project the thumbs-up during his flying visit to Australia, but lamented that it was unlikely the US will ever get similar high-speed broadband access or infrastructure.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak gave the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) project the thumbs-up during his flying visit to Australia, but lamented that it was unlikely the US will ever get similar high-speed broadband access or infrastructure.

Steve Wozniak

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Speaking at the Australian Chambers Business Congress on the Gold Coast today, Wozniak told ZDNet Australia that he feels the investment in the NBN came after a cry from the people for better infrastructure.

"The attitude a couple of years ago was 'oh my gosh, Telstra is really letting us down and they're expensive and they're slow and they're not making Australia number one in the world [for broadband]'," Wozniak said.

"The Australian people felt that very high-speed broadband was a key part of the future and we'd better not get left behind," he added, saying that the outcry has given way to the need for high-speed broadband networks from both sides of Australian politics.

"I think that was a turnaround [for Australia]."

Wozniak said that while the fibre-to-the-home project was good for Australia, he didn't think that the United States would ever see a similar project.

"It'd be a great model, but I don't think it will ever happen in the US. I'm sorry, I'm really, really negative about [its] prospects," he said.

Wozniak said that he is unable to get fixed-line broadband to his house due to carrier limitations, and now uses a Long Term Evolution wireless service from his local network. While he said that there's currently no requirement to run fixed broadband to his home, he still feels the lack of fixed infrastructure is an issue for the country.

"I've spoken right up to the chairman of the [Federal Communications Commission] about these complaints," he said.

In his most recent State of the Union address, US president Barack Obama announced a vision to provide 98 per cent of homes in North America with access to high-speed wireless broadband by 2016.

"Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage," he said at the time.

"This isn't just about faster internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age."

Wozniak, however, feels that Obama's pledge is just another in a long line of broken presidential promises.

"Every ... president since the start of the internet ... said you've got to have broadband, we've got to get broadband to everybody! They all say it, but nothing's ever happened to bring it to me!

"I find it very frustrating."

Stay tuned to ZDNet Australia for a more in-depth feature on Steve Wozniak's Australian visit next week, in which he talks about the birth of Apple, where he thinks the company should go and his insights into the real Steve Jobs.

Topics: Apple, Broadband, Government, Government : AU, NBN, Telcos, Telstra

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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