Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has listed the rollout of a national broadband network as one of the reasons he wants to become an Australian.
Mr Wozniak told The Australian Financial Review in Sydney that he had spoken to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and was in support of the federal government’s fibre rollout.
“I spoke to him and they plan to roll it out to everyone in the country,” Mr Wozniak said.
“I support it very much. It’s one of the reasons why I actually like this country and want to become a citizen. I live in a country where we don’t have any regulation of telecommunications.”
In Australia for the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 last week, Wozniak told Brisbane’s 4BC breakfast radio that he was “underway to become an Australian citizen”.
“It turns out I can keep my American citizenship. I intend to call myself an Australian and feel an Australian, and study the history and become as much of a real citizen here as I can.”
Despite his status as a technology icon, Mr Wozniak said he was not connected to a broadband service in his home in California, classing the options available to him as a “monopoly”. “There’s only one set of wires to be on and I’m not going to pull strings to get them to do something special for me,” he said. “When I worked at Hewlett-Packard we treated ourselves like a family and protecting each other and I believe in that.
“I’ve sat with our FCC [Federal Communications Commission] commissioner and told him that story in his office, but it’s not going to happen. We just don’t have the political idea to bring broadband to all the people who are 1 kilometre too far away.”
Mr Wozniak was in Sydney to meet customers and partners of his employer, server-based flash manufacturer Fusion-io, a NYSE-listed technology company that speeds up traditional access to data.
It boasts Facebook and Apple as large global clients and Woolworths and Westpac as local customers.
“I’m not an expert on banking but bankers have told us how important this technology is to them and it is one of our big customer areas,” he said. “Some success in banking is all done in computers nowadays, not through humans, and milliseconds matter, the speed of transactions matter to them.”
Mr Wozniak co-founded Apple – the world’s most valuable company – with Steve Jobs in 1976 and created the original Apple computer. A philanthropist and author, the tech guru has amassed a global fan base since leaving Apple in 1987.
He said Silicon Valley was today abuzz with start-up activity, defying US economic woes. “There’s a lot going on right now in Silicon Valley; the recession aspects just really don’t hit us at all.” He said he would help young start-ups, time permitting.
“I’m just meeting people when I can, really young entrepreneurs, just inspiring them. I’m incredibly busy just speaking around the world on many different topics,” he said.
In a visit earlier this year he told the AFR he feared the torrent of intellectual property lawsuits being filed by companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google, HTC and Nokia because they could prevent future entrepreneurs from treading a path to technology fortune.
“I care so much about the young person that has some technical knowledge and want to start their own business,” he said.
A true gadget enthusiast, Mr Wozniak lined up outside the Apple store in Chermside in suburban Brisbane on Friday to buy the iPhone 5 where he tweeted: “In line for first iPhone 5’s in the world! (@ Apple Store w/ 2 others).”