The NBN is nothing to do with an innovative nation, it's about buying votes of the general populous.
It's a bit of both. You need to look at the conditions that led to the creation of NBNCo to understand why it's being built in the way that it is. A lot of it stems from the politics surrounding Telstra's privatisation. If Telstra was separated into a wholesale fixed-line infrastructure company and a retail + mobile company as it should have, this would've all been fixed. But we don't have that, purely because of the Howard Government's greed/lack of foresight.
Regional independent pollies (and the Nats a little later on) latched onto the NBN as a way of clawing back some equity between the regions and capital cities. Some might think that's a form of pork-barrelling or a distortion of economics, but I don't mind.
We don't need fibre to every home, we don't even need fibre to every node near a home yet.
Well, if you're going to be replacing or upgrading the current network, you may as well run fibre to every home. If you weren't doing that though, I'd agree with you - but we aren't. Every political party has committed to some form of new or upgraded network.
So here's the technical reason why the NBN needs to be built, and should be built as a mainly Fibre-To-The-Premises network: Telstra's copper network is in a pretty run-down state, and replacement copper costs about the same as new fibre. Same thing goes for the coaxial cable used for the cable TV networks that Telstra and Optus own - they're pretty recent but have a similar replacement cost to fibre.There's no linear relationship between cost and speed
, which is an assumption that many people seem to make. A second-rate network (FTTN) will have a very similar cost to a proper FTTP network - maybe not up front if you're not running new copper, but within at least a decade after commissioning, because thanks to Telstra much of the copper will need replacing.
And here's the kicker: you can't selectively upgrade users on an FTTN network to pure fibre - you need to essentially build an overlapping network. And some residents actually want and use all of the capability of FTTP. The cable TV network (HFC) is at least progressively upgradable to full fibre, but not on an individual user basis (it can be done on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis).
We have a choice between building an eight lane freeway and a two lane highway for basically the same cost - you'd be mad to not go with the eight lane option!
So as Tony Windsor said: 'Do it once, do it right, do it with fibre'