Taking the glitz out of broadband

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The present government is prepared to spend only $43 billion and the Coalition's costing is $6.5 billion (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
I see any figures either one presents as being very rubbery.
With technology moving fast I think the NBN could be outdated by the time it is complete. That's a lot of money to be potentially wasted without any business model being presented by Senator Conroy.
Canberra was fitted with high quality connection to most areas (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
I am not sure whether it was optic fibre but it was very fast. It was also very expensive and the uptake was very low. It would be interesting to get the current statistics.
Just who looks 'orgaised' here? (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Onward and upward is where the government is at.
Then we endure the opposition's negative 'cut and cop it' slush fund, endorsed by their leader on the 7.30 Report. Tony Abbott literally had to be informed of what the term 'peak' means in the whole debate.
I can do everything I want to do with ADSL2 and on wireless when I go on holidays. What would I want to pay double for a faster speed?
I am no tech head, but to me $43 billion seems to be a gross waste of money for something the average Joe does not need (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Much of the debate over the NBN and the Coalition's plan seem to revolve around a couple of details (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Much can be made of the headline numbers, 100Mbs versus 12Mbs, fibre versus a mix of technologies – including magical new technologies just around the corner.
But I think the real difference between the two is this: the Coalition's plan doesn't enable any new business models. All it does is allow people to do what they're doing today at a reasonable minimum speed.
This view assumes that the internet today is all we will ever want it to be, all we would ever want to make it. It assumes that the internet is for browsing the web, twitting, and downloading porn and movies.
Does it allow for new business models to develop? Does it allow for the standard usage pattern to evolve from consumer to producer? Unfortunately not.
Labor's plan is akin to installing railway tracks to every small town in Australia with little knowledge or regard to what the take up rate would be (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
What's the use of extending fibre past every property in a town if only one or two avail themselves of the service?
At a completed cost of over $1000 for every citizen of Australia, I agree with Terry McRann that "that will be the greatest white elephant in Australia's history".
Lets look at a different scenario with aims to improve productivity/international competitiveness (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Why not roll out fire optics in Sydney and Melbourne first, which would cover 37 per cent of the national population and many major educational/business enterprises?
This wouldn't cost $43 billion. However, critics would be quick to point out that existing internet speed is fast in those areas. Also, it would be a political suicide to ignore country-regional connectivity.
The current government had not shown conviction nor leadership in issues like climate change, tax reform. What a gigantic waste it would be if the NBN was bungled half way through?
And what if it becomes another Telstra- like monopoly monster when it is finally finished?
Excellent article. (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10)
Why are speeds higher than 12Mb/s required? I can't think of many good applications other than multiple HD video streams or fast downloading of video/other files. Depending on the compression scheme, 12MBps should deliver at least two HD video streams anyway.
Clever future technologies like smart metering, smart houses etc often require virtually no bandwidth – in the order of Kb/s. Fast backup is possibly useful but good software minimises bandwidth requirements for these types of applications.
It is obvious why a hospital or office would benefit from fast broadband as they have many users and might want to implement HD video-conferencing from the desktop, but this doesn't really apply to households, and 12 Mbps would allow HD video-conferencing for working from home.
Finally unless subsidised I would expect that the cost would be more than most people would want to pay, simply because they have no real need for such a high level of service.
Yes, I would like a Porsche, but I don't want the government to force me to buy one.
The Labor government is banking on today's technology being the end of evolution in telecommunications (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
High speed broadband may well be redundant within the eight years required to build the network. A white elephant? More like a whole herd!
Are we being hypnotised by the NBN hype? Are we being sold porkies? Look at real speed test results by country at Cnet Speed Test comparisons
Some samples in "Average Speed Descending" order:
1. Faroe Islands: 2. Estonia: 3. Latvia: 4. Korea, Republic of: 5. Hong Kong: 6. Romania: 7. Slovakia: 8. Finland: 9. Panama: 10. Netherlands: :
They're tiny countries and/or limited coverage. So are we as bad as we are being told?
26. Australia : 27. France: 28. Canada: 29. Germany: 30. United Kingdom: 31. Austria: 32. New Zealand: 37. United States: 44. Japan : 45. Israel:
Note where Japan is, and Israel a small but highly technologically advanced country.
If you sort the list by 'fastest available speed,' we' are number two.
Also what is the "devil in the details we are not being told"? Are we going to be taxed for years to pay for a cable passing outside our homes with a service we cannot afford to pay for or cannot afford to pay to bring inside? Will the taxpayer pay to connect high-rises to the interior wall connection point and has this been costed? Or will it be part of the blow-outs to come?
I think that the article does an excellent job of getting behind the spin (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
This morning we have seen all those that benefit from the Labour's proposal to spend billions on the NBN attacking the Coalition's plan. So far, so predictable.
The risk with the Labor plan is that in 5 to 10 years, as the download speeds increase, we'll be stuck with a government funded white elephant using out-of-date technology. Where is the market-driven innovation?
The Coalition plan leaves plenty of white space for business and innovation and provides funding to backfill the blackspots. And the taxpayer is not bearing all the technological risk.
Better to build to a market need rather than build it and they will come.
The costing comparison is wrong. (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
The NBN will cost $43 billion but the Implementation Study estimates peak funding at $28 billion (as the network generates revenue as it is built).
That $28 billion is an investment in an asset with cash flows for fifty plus years (and a future resale value – just like Telstra was).
The Coalition's $6 billion consists of $5 billion of what looks like grants to private sector companies and at most $1 billion of investment in metro wireless (what the?).
Which is better value – a $28 billion investment in a network that generates future earnings or $5 billion of recurrent expenditure given away?
The Labor policy is both a better outcome and financially more prudent.
Broadband speeds of 100Mbps will only get us to where Asian cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong are at already. They are now in the planning stage of going to 1Gbps. 12Mbps is just too slow for modern communications (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Mr Bartholomeusz, your article is interesting. It show the lack of foresight so common in Australia (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
When I used to live in Sydney I was amazed when the M4 was originally built with three lanes, then at great expense widened to four soon after.
Yet someone else, 70 years earlier, decided to design the Sydney Harbour Bridge with room for eight lanes, two train tracks and two footpaths.
Whilst the free market usually is very good at sorting out these kinds of things, Telstra in it's various form has shown it's not a technology leader, but rather a short-term, profit-driven company (that's their prerogative). They stifle competition.
There are potential economic benefits which commentators fail to bring up. High speed access to virtually all means that telecommuting is feasible. There could be delivery of new services, to regional areas especially in health and education.
Is $43 billion too much? Probably, but the coalition is giving free money to telcos with nothing in return to the government coffers. The Labor plan would produce a national asset which could be sold off (just like Telstra) for a handsome profit.
As for the cost to customers, there's no pricing released, so how does anyone know if it'll be affordable or not? The fact is that all comers will have equal access, so the market will drive the price down.
As for satellite being under exploited, it's only really good for broadcast, rather then two-way communication, due to lag.
Wireless is handy on the go, but not really suitable to fix broadband, due to the issues you mentioned. Backhaul from base station is also a problem.
You said: "The other difference between the policies is that Labor is making a massive bet that fibre is the future, whereas the Coalition is spreading its bets between fibre, copper, satellite and fixed and mobile wireless" (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Contrary to what you say, I see this as a bet on a near "sure thing" technology. It is basic engineering that data rates are proportional to carrier frequency. Fibre optic allows low loss transmission of data at light frequencies thereby allowing orders of magnitude greater data rates than ever possible over copper and wireless.
Apart from excessive cost and weather risk, satellite transmission suffers time delays that are unacceptable for many real time applications.
David Havyatt wrote that "the Labor policy is both a better outcome and financially more prudent" (See Labor is actually building something, Conversation contribution, August 11).
Does he know something we don't?
The government has not published a cost/benefit analysis on NBN, hence we can not draw the conclusion that it is more financially prudent than the Opposition's plan (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
First, given the size and complexity of the project, I fear it may cost a lot more than $43 billion and take a lot longer than eight years to complete.
Second, for the cost of $50 per month, I already have fast internet for video, music, TV, online games, Skype etc. Will it be possible for NBN to provide value for money?
Also, does the 80/20 rule apply in this case? That is will 80 per cent of the population be paying for benefit of the 20 per cent of population who will gain from this? What about a citizens assembly on this issue, Gillard?
Remember when we were happy with 28kbps dial-up? There's no point in spending even $1 billion on infrastructure that barely meets today's specifications. Size and speed requirements inevitably increase exponentially (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
Regarding the cost, let's compare apple with apples. Labor's $43 billion proposal includes a large spend from private enterprise. The Coalition's (or should I say Liberal party's, as the country folk are not too happy with this policy) $6 billion is all government spend, but requires private contributions as I understand it.
It seems that while politicians argue on the basis that speed is a proxy for each proposal's relative merrit, the arguement has not considered a 'wants vs needs' analysis. If the NBN is free, all and sundry will want access to use it for both useful and entertainment purposes. If there is a cost attached that has relevance to the cost of provision, uses will be needs based. (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
My guess is if users pay for their access and speed, the speed issue will become academic.
Further, given technology advances by the time a Labour style NBN is built it will be a white elephant. Or it will be the mechanism that delivers entertainment to a population with time on its hands as most commercial enterprises have been costed and taxed out of existence
The cost of $45 billion for the NBN is significant. There's no question about that (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
But with 22 million people in Australia it is only $2,000 per person, to achieve super high speed broadband that will allow Australia to remain competitive and to live in a connected world.
A $2,000 spend on something that will last 25 or more years is money well spent.
Furthermore, the bulk of the spend will be internal to Australia, and will have a powerful knock-on effect across many industries, with much of the NBN money ultimately coming back to the government by way of payroll taxes, GST and company taxes.
And at what point do we just get on with the job at hand? The Coalition's re-jigging of this program will cause us to lose another two years of momentum as politicians get involved.
Let the government, regardless of who is elected, keep politicians away from the NBN Co and allow the company to get on with the job it was asked to do. It will also allow Telstra and the other telco carriers to plan and strategise their businesses into the future.
And as for broadband wireless, I know something about that. I live in the Newcastle/Hunter region and we cannot have ADSL, so I have Telstra's NextG which gives me download speeds of 100kb. This is far too slow. The only blessing is that I have a teenage son, and he doesn't download video content because its slow.
Finally, the world has noted our ambitious broadband program. Let's now show them that we can actually do it.
One of the major complaints that all of us seem to have about governments of recent times, is that they only built for the present and do not take a futuristic or long term view when building roads, bridges etc (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10)
It seems to me that Labor is for once taking a long term view with the NBN, and all of a sudden they are being criticised is some quarters for doing so.
It used to be said that it is much cheaper to build today for tomorrow's requirements than it is to go about building projects piecemeal or deferring expenditure to a later date.
One of the major problems with Telstra has been that it has been both supplier and retailer.
From a national security viewpoint, it is far preferable to have whatever the system is in government hands.
One thing for sure. The Labor party knows how to spend our hard earned taxes at super fast broadband speeds (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
How can any party make a decision to spend that much money without consultation, scrutiny and proper subjection to commercial reality in returns?
No one in their right minds would start such a project without intensive investigation – ask any large company how difficult it is to obtain approval from their boards and financiers and shareholders for large projects.
Ask Rupert Murdoch, Telstra and Nine Network if they would have invested in Pay TV in 1998 if they knew that it would take them 10 years to break even and even then face a situation where their technology is becoming outdated.
Is the idea for the NBN Co to be floated later on or, as with every other utility, put up for sale once the capital has been exhausted? (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10.)
Governments have shown a dislike for ownership of utilities – and perhaps this will be an opportunity for Sol to re-enter the Australian telco market!
The NBN is set to fundamentally transform the way in which people use the internet (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).
It's hard for me to see why anyone could still think there's some merit in copper wire technology – which is some 80 years old now.
I agree with Havyatt (See Labor is actually building something, Conversation contribution, August 11) and Cooper (See Let's show the world we can build it, Conversation contribution, August 11).
The focus on costs and personal (home) use is only half of the story.
I find it incredible that high profile economic commentators seem to be fixed there. The other half of the story is the productivity gains coming out of use in production and distribution, communication itself, complex industrial design and planning.
This is critical for the essential future development of Australia's manufacturing capacity (See Taking the glitz out of broadband, August 10).