The Australian government is constructing a National Broadband Network (NBN), which at an estimated cost of $43 billion will be Australia's largest ever infrastructure project. The NBN, if its full benefits are to be realized, raises a number of important, but largely unexplored, questions for planning. This paper investigates the implications of the NBN for Australian metropolitan planning focusing on the question of how these plans will exploit the NBN to improve urban outcomes. The paper examines the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane metropolitan areas and analyses the strategies shaping the future of these regions during the rollout and implementation of the NBN. This comparative analysis reveals similarities across these three metropolitan areas in their weak stance towards the NBN.
Some key findings include:
(1) a segregation of infrastructure planning and metropolitan planning;
(2) a lack of consistency between different policies within each metropolitan area and
(3) policy gaps regarding the role of telecommunications at the metropolitan level.
Considering the number of governments worldwide that are making large investments in high-speed broadband, this paper addresses policy issues that will impact upon metropolitan planning well beyond the borders of Australia.