Don Moore

Australians Turn Down Free Gov’t WiFi

In Internet, Politics on August 1, 2010 at 10:55 PM

Imagine for a moment: The FCC shows up on your doorstep.  They offer you fiber to the premises broadband internet, completely free of charge. About 99% of readers are salivating at the thought right about now.

This dream scenario is happening Australia: Last year, the Australian government announced a plan to provide 93% of the country with fiber optic broadband internet. Described as the “single biggest infrastructure decision in Australia’s history,” the ambitious project recently got underway in the state of Tasmania.

And a lot of Tasmanians are saying “no thanks.”

Aussie news outlets are reporting that about half of Tasmanian homes and businesses are not choosing to opt in to the new broadband installations. This refusal of free fiber to the home seems odd to us techies. Making his even odder is the fact that Tasmanians will inevitably have to have broadband installed eventually. Telco, the internet giant which currently provides internet service to the island state, relies on antiquated copper wire technology. They are going to hand over their infrastructure to the government, which will disconnect all the lines within eight years.

Things are getting so desperate that there are calls for the state government to change the installation model from “opt in”- in which residents have to explicitly give permission to have the fiber optics installed in their homes- to “opt out”, in which residents will have the cable installed unless they specifically refuse.

Will such a plan help? Quite possibly. Opt out models for organ donations are much more successful than opt in models when it comes to getting more donated organs. So it stands to reason it’d work in this case too. And I can’t imagine many Tasmanians going out of their way to reject free fiber internet. What say you? Leave comments below.

Read more: Premier considers NBN ‘opt out’ option


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