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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

NBN: a "magic pudding" « Previous | |Next »
November 6, 2010

Jennifer Hewitt in her Fibre to the bootstraps: how Labor shackled its future to broadband in The Australian is at it again. Hewitt has long been an opponent of the national broadband, as has News Ltd. The latter's opposition is defence of its Foxtel pay TV interests from competition, as more and more TV and other rich interactive services come online.

I know that the debate on the NBN has become boring and tedious, but we need to be clear about the implications of the position Hewitt is defending in the guise of a big picture article that puts recent history into perspective. She says:

The $43bn promise also would prove to voters -- and to Telstra -- that the government really was serious. And just to make sure of that, Canberra threatened Telstra with all sorts of punishments such as forcing it out of Foxtel and cutting off access to wireless spectrum if it didn't co-operate.The political strategy worked brilliantly. The voters were dazzled by the digital future and the magic pudding promise it wouldn't really cost them because there would be a commercial return to government.

We have a "magic pudding" and voters being dazzled rather than an enabling technology in which informed consumers can see diverse opportunities in an information economy.


Hewitt's position is this: many people in cities already have "high-speed broadband" that is adequate for their needs, even if others in outer urban and rural areas are frustrated; that public policy should try to overcome problem areas and leaving the market and competition to sort out the rest; that there will be breakthroughs in alternative technologies such as wireless and cable to overcome the current spectrum limits.

Hewitt's implied judgement is that the national broadband network is not commercially viable as most households will initially take the lower cost package of 20Mbps (wholesale price of about $30 to $35 a month plus retail margins) rather than the more expensive of 100Mbps (wholesale price of about $80 a month plus retail margins).That claim ignores that the NBN is a utility - analogous to baseload electricity infrastructure with pricing based on regulated rates.

Hewitt is basically arguing on behalf of the Coalition's position in its attempts to "kill off" the national broadband network. The Coalition's position, as stated by Malcolm Turnbull, is that nobody needs more than 12Mbps. Turnbull says:

You tell me, what are the great productivity enhancing applications that cannot be accessed by 12Mbps broadband? The only thing that will drive high speeds for residential usage... is going to be bigger and bigger files. And that can really only be higher and higher-definition video. You've then got to ask yourself, should the taxpayer be spending $43 billion when we know there are so many infrastructure demands where there is a screaming need now.

The Coalition's position basically the status quo refined. David Braue response is this:
From one perspective, Turnbull is correct: no one user currently really requires over 12Mbps downstream. But what he is not talking about is the upstream speed, or the massive logjam that would occur if two people in a house with a 12Mbps connection tried to use 12Mbps services at the same time. Or if someone in that house is watching HDTV over their new FetchTV service. Or if, heaven forbid, two people are watching different channels at the same time. Or if — as is the case in one third of all Australian households — the home is hosting a small business with real business requirements and expectations.

Turnbull, in arguing for the status quo, would leave us with woeful upload speeds that limit home and business users' participation in emerging online information economies. The Coalition is quite happy with this state of affairs.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:13 AM | | Comments (6)


to be fair Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that a split of Telstra is long overdue and his personal preference is for a structural separation.

That's a sharp difference from noises in the Opposition in the last term of government, when Nick Minchin said such a split would be unfair on Telstra shareholders.

No one wants it as a choice even if nearly free.
NBN = Stasi Net. eCO TAX collection thru the forced NTU and removal of any freedom of choice or other access. ACCC and Public works amendments rushed thru in secret without discussion.
All proximity, NBN USER ID, IP address monitored, all voice and data stored, opened and inspected.
Conroy has lied about the NBN and many other things.
"Senator Conroy was asked to respond to a report citing low take-up rates for the NBN by service provider Exetel.
Only 18 customers had signed up for a package, described as practically "free" by Senator Conroy previously.
Senator Conroy said he couldn't explain".
More lies, more waste, more deciet.

Speaking plainly, the Australians' position is the NBN is a “waste” and “stupid”----the NBN ls a white elephant. Its tactic is to create fear about us being crushed by the heavy hand of Canberra's central planning.

When Foxtel are exposed to a bit of competition, they will be forced to reduce their prices. Paid subscription TV (foxtel, austar, etc) will probably turn into a streaming service for a small monthly fee.

I would point anyone who seriously believes wireless could deliver an NBN to the article named "Jammed"in New Scientist 30/10/2010.
Basically, rather than wireless being a competitor to a fiber NBN, a fiber based NBN will be the saviour of wireless.
The reason is simple, wireless technology has improved to the point where it is pushing the theoretical limits.
Current 3G has managed to squeeze 1 data bit into 1Hz of bandwidth. That is, one 1 or zero transition into one positive to negative waveform transition. LTE squeezes it slightly more because the positive to negative transition is actually a positve - zero - negative transition so you can, in absolutely perfect conditions, get 1.5 bits into each transition.
Sadly that's it folks. Short of magic or Dr Who's Tardis, the inside (data signal) cannot be bigger than the outside (the carrier bandwidth).

Currently wireless traffic is doubling each and every year (actually, a little faster than that). On current estimates, places like New York will go into total meltdown sometime in 2013. Other metro areas will follow shortly after.
Building bases isn't the solution. If there are 10,000 bases this year, in a perfect world, we would need to build 10,000 more next year, to provide the same data rates per user, 20,000 new bases the year after, 40,000 the year after that. In the real world, it will be many many more bases than that.

Last year in this country, most 3G mobile bases got a second frequency. This year many were expanded to 6 sectors (6 transmitters) effectively 2 bases per site. Next year some extra 21MHz carriers may be brought on line. But thats it, there is nothing else in the pipeline. After that data will need to be rationed.

There IS a solution however, and the New Scientist article discusses it. Femtocells.
Basically they are a small mobile base in a box that can be installed into each and every house.
Each and every house that is that has a reliable, high speed data connection.

It is possible to have an opinion that has no agenda. As it is possible to have an opinion that has an agenda.