Fibre to the premises design (courtesy Wikipedia)
By Spencer D Gear
If I were in charge of building a new highway from Brisbane to my hometown of Bundaberg, Qld., Australia, I’d want it to be the best bitumen highway for the 21st century all the way – 373 km or 232 miles (courtesy travelmath).
Imagine if it was bitumen for about 360 km of the road and a dirt, corrugated road for the remaining 13km. Well that’s the parallel we have with the Coalition government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) Internet plan. This is a statement about that plan:
The new NBN model will now see the massive infrastructure project rolled out to 26 per cent of premises with direct fibre connections by 2020, while a further 44 per cent would have fibre to the node — which uses Telstra’s existing copper network for the final few hundred metres to homes. Thirty per cent would get a service using hybrid fibre coaxial pay-TV cables (Mitchell Bingemann, ‘Coalition orders “technology mix” to officially replace Labor’s NBN plan’, The Australian, April 09, 2014).
While this article said the Coalition model would cost less than the Labor plan, the facts for this model are that 44% of people will be receiving fibre to the node and the remaining copper network will be used to the house. It is like a bitumen highway for all but 13km of the trip from Brisbane to Bundaberg.
It was put brilliantly by a person who wrote to the Brisbane Times on the topic of ‘TPG declares dial-up dead’ (January 16, 2015):
3rd world internet and this mob think leaving the copper in place with some fibre bits will make a difference? a bit like building a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung at the exit for the last couple of km home, or a bullet train that stops while you change for the horse towed tram on the last bit .. you still can’t get even ADSL where we live on coast 200km south of Sydney, the plug in USB stick aerial on my roof works now and again at snail speeds if not too many people are on it (amateur hour, 16 January 2015).
Savings at a galloping slow pace
BUT, Malcolm Turnbull, Minister of Communications, and the one responsible for the government’s roll-out of the NBN, tells us that
the NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December 2013 found that if we had continued the project under the settings in Labor’s plan, typical household broadband bills would have increased by up to 80 per cent or $43 per month. And that is the inevitable consequence of a more expensive network (‘Why Labor Got It Wrong on Broadband in the Bush’, Malcolm Turnbull, 12 December 2014)
(NBN Co wireless outdoor antenna, courtesy Wikipedia)
Mitchell Bingemann summarised the differences between Labor and the Coalition on the NBN:
While Labor’s model proposed to roll out super-fast optic fibre to premises for 93 per cent of Australian homes, the Coalition’s strategic review into the NBN found that model would have needed $29bn more in peak funding than the $44bn forecast because of cost blowouts and revenue targets that were never achievable.
In that review it was estimated that in total, Labor’s plan would have cost $73bn and missed its 2021 deadline by three years (source HERE).
It’s a lemon
(courtesy Healthmad, public domain)
Before the Coalition won the federal election to government on 7th September 2013 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Sept 12, 2013), there was this provocative interchange that was reported by The Australian newspaper (online), ‘Coalition NBN policy is a lemon: critics’, 9 April 2013:
RMIT University telecommunications expert and senior lecturer Mike Gregory said the policy wasn’t a sensible answer to Australia’s communications needs.
“This is the biggest lemon in Australia’s history,” Dr Gregory told AAP.
“What they are trying to do is offer us a bag of lollies by saying we can do it cheaper and faster, but what we are really being sold is a lemon.”
The coalition’s NBN would cut costs by using Telstra’s copper network from the node to premises in city and most rural areas – bypassing Labor’s plan to roll out optic fibre cable all the way.
“We will build fibre-to-the-node and that eliminates two-thirds of the cost,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
When new fibre cable directly to the house is not there for 44% of houses we are being sold a bummer of an NBN. I consider this to be a foolish plan that will offer a large chunk of Aussies a stingy broadband Internet service. They will have a horse and sulky service for the last few kilometres at the end of the freeway.
A friend who is an IT professional told me that he is livid about what the Coalition is doing to super fast broadband services that are needed for the 21st century.
It’s a lemon of a plan, a sour end to what could have been a sweet, powerful National Broadband Network, because:
- It is like allowing an old road, suitable for an old, old truck, to be allowed to continue when the road needs a super fast highway for the 21st century.
- It’s like a freeway that ends in cobbles and dung;
- It’s like having a bullet train that stops at the end so that passengers can be towed to their destination on a horse drawn tram.
(Single by the Mojo Singers, courtesy Wikipedia)
You can do better than that. Is it going to take a change of government to achieve a super fast communications highway, all the way from Brisbane to Bundaberg – and without 10 km of dirt track – and then all around the country?
Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org. Each line is drawn between two nodes (courtesy Wikipedia)
 Accessed 21 January 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.