....(apologies to Walt Kelly who used this phrase to address very important issues some 40 years ago when I first became aware of it - and probably first used it in the early 1950s).
I seldom, perhaps once every three years or so, attempt to look in to the longer term future of either the Australian communications businesses or whether Exetel will still be in existence in those future days. Over the past 2 - 3 years circumstances have been so tough in so many different ways I have never planned further than a year ahead and all of my time has been spent on dealing with daily, weekly and monthly concerns....and there have been more than enough of those to fill in any time available. However, perhaps because we have begun to 'install' NBNCo connections I have actually spent some time looking at Exetel's future in an Australian communications world where a new government monopoly will exist within ten years which is already destroying everything that exists today....and, quite possibly, for all the wrong reasons.
Among the many extraordinary things I have witnessed since I arrived in this country in December 1962 has been the passing of Australia from a Federal Democracy to the Orwellian nightmare depicted in "1984". While Orwell based his seminal work on the stupidity of immediate post WW2 communism in the then Soviet Union our loss of democracy has been at the hands of the US corruption of the political process epitomised by the Chicago Democratic "machine" that was pre-eminent for almost a century - and, obviously, not only in Chicago. Today, the future of communications has to contemplate that it will be 'designed' by the 'masses' based on their requirements to steal entertainment content and to play soul destroying games.
It is not too much of a stretch to say that today's illegitimate Australian government only exists because enough copyright thieves and RPG addicts had sufficient votes to allow Labor to cobble together an unlikely government based on the support of a few one concept crazies. If not for those thieves then a coalition government would have been elected and there would be no 'NBN2' as it is conceived of at the moment. So Australia's communications future is now in the hands of such people. All of the commercial organisations, knowledge, expertise, commitment and 300+ billion dollars of capital investment that played their part in providing whatever communications services exist today is destroyed by the votes of 'the mass' - democracy in action in Australia in 2010.....where 'democracy' has morphed in to panem et circenses.
So the future. Well it is an Orwellian one. The government controls all communications to and from every person at a cost only an incredibly inefficient government can rack up. The last government communications monopoly, Telecom Australia, demonstrated to anyone who is old enough to remember how much can be charged for so little - but, of course that won't happen again the current government asserts - but gives no reason for that assertion. Of course it will be the case - in the history of humanity it has consistently been the case for 5,000 plus years. While it's hard to conceive the current bunch of ill educated Labor lightweights and complete incompetents being capable of destroying what was left of Australian democracy - it is happening.
As I am not planning on developing a lecture series in telecommunications mis-handling in Australia 1980 - 2020 it doesn't matter about developing that thesis in any more detail. Understanding the big bits is all that matters in terms of Exetel (all other communications companies) over the coming years. So, we now have a putative national communications network put in place by 'democracy' and venal politicians instead of multiple technologies offered by multiple commercial competing interests....and this is a good thing? Because?....it doesn't matter any more - it's a given and has to be dealt with.
As I said, I don't think about longer term futures very often and one of the reasons is that it is much too difficult. But the major change in this future is that there is no real competition as it currently stands. This is highly beneficial for Exetel - a company that is tiny (comparatively) in terms of today's giant (Telstra) plus the 'sub-giants' that scale down in geometrical progression from Telstra (mind the first gigantic step - it's a lulu). Should the commercial blasphemy of "a level playing field" actually exist in the future as the current government insists it will - ('NBN1', our boys in Afghanistan and Iraq will be back for Christmas, there will be no carbon tax.....) but commercial reality insists it never can,then I can see that Exetel has an extraordinarily bright future providing it continues to change. I can't see much of a future for a lot of other companies though and I can't see much of a future for residential end users enjoying very much at all.
I will have to write a 'position paper' over the coming months to underpin the obvious changes that Exetel will need to make to optimise our 'position' in the coming years - assuming the conclusions I have alluded to do in fact become reality.