The following article popped up late last week on ZDNet. It is a very interesting summary of a 30 minute or so podcast.
By Phil Dobbie, ZDNet.com.au on October 28th, 2010
Some of the major benefits to society from a ubiquitous broadband network will come from government services, including health and education. That means access to these services needs to be free, so everyone is able to make use of the channel, thus displacing other, more costly, ways of interacting.
This isn't a new notion. Economist Joshua Gans raised it over a year ago at a Senate Select Committee hearing in Melbourne. He suggested the government provides free access to a basic internet service that included public services.
Industry analyst Paul Budde agrees that we should be working towards a free government network, available to all households through the National Broadband Network. For example, e-health services could be available to all, without needing to connect to a commercial retail service provider.
Simon Hackett, managing director of Internode, is less convinced about the idea of a direct connection for government services. He says we only have one network in the home, which means only one connection to the NBN.
Paul Brooks from Layer 10 Advisory disagrees, arguing that we have multiple networks into the home — television, our phone, internet. A government-provided network could be another one.
This week I ask whether we need free government services for everyone to realise meaningful benefits from the NBN and, if so, why is no one doing anything about it?
You can play the podcast (narrated by Phil Dobbie of ZDNet's Twisted Wire and his guests) here:
The key issue from the e-Health perspective is that to date there has been very little recognition of the whole ‘digital divide’ issue - where the old and the poor frequently lack any internet access and so cannot utilise things such as the proposed PCEHR etc.
The discussion provides some useful insights to the possibilities that may be explored.
It also points out that for some reason these ideas are not really being discussed much in the halls of power. That indeed is a pity if true.