National Broadband Network is a disgrace

Stefano Boscutti
25 October, 2011
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Wow, I nearly fell off my chair when I first saw the National Broadband Network box that is supposed to be Australia’s gateway to the future.

What a piece of rubbish. What a complete disappointment. It’s not just that it looks and feels and sounds and smells incredibly cheap and tacky, it’s that it looks like a badly designed 8-track player from the ’70s. It looks like the past and not the future. (Have you placed it next to an iPad? You’ll throw up a little. It’s embarrassing.)

I know you’re going to say ‘well, it’s not important what it looks like because all that matters is what it does.’ I’ve got news for you. What it looks like says what it does. And what this box says is welcome to Retardoville.

Even the name is shocking. Network Termination Unit is as inspiring as, well, it’s not even a little bit inspiring. It’s a dead-end.

I know you’re all engineers in there and think aesthetics don’t matter. I know you’re still stuck in features and benefits land. But you’re the chief executive and it’s your job to lead people with a dream. Not a power point presentation, not a bunch of bullet points, not stupid graphs.

Also don’t try to wiggle out of it by saying that you’re just providing infrastructure and you like to fly under the radar. I’m not saying it’s your job to sell the NBN. It’s your job to make everyone want to buy it.

What you need to be presenting is the story. The story of Australia’s future. The story of our future.

You can start with the box. Whether you like it or not, it’s the current embodiment of the NBN. It needs an upgrade. Fast.

Seriously, when Tony Abbott holds the current box up for a photo opp you can kiss the NBN goodbye. All he needs to do is ask ‘why are we spending $36 billion on this?’ Pretty much every Australian will agree with him because you haven’t provided a better story.

We have tremendous industrial designers in Australia. I’m not going to rattle off a list of internationally recognised names because if you want to embody the future, you’d look further than that.

You’d launch an open design competition with a focus on recent Australian design graduates to create the box that will create our future.

Something that would take pride of place in our homes. Something we’d want to show off. Not hide in our attics.

Something every Australian can get behind.



8 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Bob k says:

    You have very limited political awareness. Imagine the grilling the CEO would get when it transpired that NBN Co was wasting precious taxpayer dollars on form over function. The company needs to be seen to be making every effort to minimize costs.

  2. Mick says:

    You obviously have zero concept of what NBN is, Australian design? All parts of the NBN are sourced from overseas manufacturers, how much do you think it would cost to have custom designed NTU housings made especially for the Australian market?

    If you want a pretty one, go bedazzle it.

  3. Waffles says:

    Wishing this was just a troll.

  4. Mike K says:

    There seem to be several misunderstandings present here.

    To start with, the Australian Government was not involved in the design of that box – NBNCo just put a sticker on it. That could easily be the best looking one on the market. Throughout the rollout we can expect them to use many different vendors of equipment. There isn’t one standardised box, that’s just one from a trial area.

    Also, the box is often installed in a garage or some other area where you don’t look at it. I’m sure your fuse box doesn’t look particularly sexy.

    I would be outraged if my tax dollars were wasted designing a better looking box.

    I don’t really see the point of this post. Are you aware that Malcolm Turnbull’s alternative may involve installing a big military-green cabinets on every street?


  5. Spiraldeath says:

    Mwhahahahahahahahah I thought this article might of been an April fools had to check my calendar just to double check I hadn’t been in a coma for 6 months. NOPE looks serious ROFL.

    If I was NBN Co I would be more worried about the fact that they may have just opened them selves up to a law suit from Apple, don’t Apple have a patent over anything rectangular with round corners.

    I say well done to Stefano Boscutti for a story that clearly makes those in the World of MAC out to be morons who are clueless fools who could be sold anything if it came with a pretty pink case.

  6. Peter MacProf Geelong says:

    Good engineers design objects or structures that work efficiently. Brilliant engineers design them to work brilliantly and look great. Good design is just as much about functionality and economy as it is about appearance. It would be great if the NBN honchos had the imagination and vision to give us good-looking hardware; it doesn’t have to cost more. It especially does NOT have to be over-tweaked by designers to look snazzy or cute.

  7. Mike K says:

    Once again, it is important to point out that NBNCo does not design these boxes.

  8. Blake says:

    “And what this box says is welcome to Retardoville”

    No, the one who is retarded is you. Seriously. I’d recommend going back to school as you clearly need it.

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