Its like watching the final of the men's 400 metres freestyle at the Olympics. We are all holding our breath as the official announces to the swimmers "ready, set" and there is a false start by one falling into the water (hopefully not Grant Hackett). The swimmers reset again "ready, set" but there seems an eternity waiting for the buzzer to go, the swimmers are getting nervous, twitching at every cough.

According to an article by Matt O'Sullivan of the Sydney Morning Herald, the crucial network information that the NBN bidders have been waiting on from Telstra and other telcos could be released as early as next week, starting the race which will determine who will be the winner of the National Broadband Network - a network which will be the 21st century version of our National Highway system built last century. Unfortunately like much of our national highway its a only a dual carriageway with a speed limit of 12Mbps - not like the European or Asia Superhighways at 100Mbps or even 1Gbps.

The opposition has been applying the blow torch to the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, after he ditched the 25th of July deadline for bidders to respond to the National Broadband Network RFP. Political pressure will continue to build on this issue as it was on one of Labor's core election promises in last year's election.

The delay in the NBN has also impacted on the Universal Service Obligation review announced last year by then Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan. 47 submissions to the review were received in November last year, but there has been little communication on this matter since. Shadow Minister Bruce Billson yesterday called to attention the lack of progress, saying the silence on the issue meant that Conroy has put it "in his too hard basket".

A spokesperson for Senator Conroy said in response that the government expected to make decisions about the USO when the national broadband network decisions had been made. "The National Broadband Network process...will inevitably have implications for the USO regime". He also pointed out that many of the national broadband network regulatory submissions received in June this year also touched on issues relating to the USO.


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