February 21, 2014
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has launched MyBroadband, a new website that aims to provide information on the download speeds available across Australia. MyBroadband allows users to put in their address and see what broadband is available in their area, be it ADSL, hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), or fibre, as well as 3G or 4G connectivity. It also provides an estimation of the available download speeds on those services.
It's a bit of a joke. It just tells you what you should ideally get, not the service you actually get under local conditions. Nor does it say anything about when the local broadband service will be upgraded or how.
Many--like me in Victor Harbor-- get slow speeds with ADSL because Telstra won't install more DSLAMS or Telstra won't let other ISP's have space in the exchange buildings. If they do upgrade the exchange--as they have finally done at Victor Harbor for ADSL2+---then we are often no better off if Telstra is not also upgrading the local street RIM boxes (ie., the local neighbourhood nodes) between the exchange and premises to provide decent and functional bandwidth.
That means everyone on an exchange with overloaded copper wiring and /or nongraded Rims suffers lousy ADSL speeds. The speeds are even slower --a crawl---when it rains. There is often little hope of an upgrade cos it's not in Telstra's plans. If you want fibre broadband all the way to the premises from the local neighbourhood nodes, then you pay for it under the Coalition policy. User pays means that the Coalition’s “fibre-on-demand” strategy will result in a digital divide between households, businesses and regions that can afford to pay for the upgrade and those that cannot.
This kind of situation with respect to the local neighbourhood nodes cannot be blamed on the ALP. It is your move Mr Turnbull. Where do we go from here to address this? How, for instance, do you plan to upgrade the local neighbourhood nodes so that we can have an ADSL2+service? Wasn't 2016 your target date to provide this low cost option of delivering 25Mbps broadband to all Australian premises? Your 2019 secondary deadline is boosting this to 50Mbps on 90 percent of fixed-line services.
Don't you need to be open about the big and complex problems you need to resolve to deliver on your promise to deliver a functionally limited NBN?
In launching My Broadband Turnbull stated that:
Some people have said that our approach means the NBN is not a national broadband network. Let me be quite clear: People who say that just show how absolutely ignorant they are about how the Internet works.... A lot of the criticism of the Coalition’s plan underlined that the people criticising it mostly from the Labor Party, I’m afraid, either don’t understand the technologies at all or how the Internet works, or, more probably, they do understand how it works and they’re just trying to fool people.
These critics have drunk the ALP's Fibre to the Premises kool-aid. Turnbull adds:
If you talk to people that are not absolutely … that are not geeks or internet afficionados, technologists, and you say to them do you have an Internet connection at home, they’ll probably say yes. What technology is it? Most people won’t know. What is your peak speed? A lot of people won’t know that. The critical thing is getting a service that works.
So the goal posts are now a service that works. With my current speeds driving a hard disk to a pro-lab or a gallery is a normal thing to do. This kind of "service that works" assumes that people are just a passive content consumer rather than someone actually creates things with computers. So much for enhancing digital productivity.
But, says Turnbull, we shouldn't listen to the geeks etc---- ie., those with some knowledge of digital technology--- cos they are critical of the Coalition’s Broadband Multi-technology Network and are aligned with the Labor Party. Turnbull is continuing to play politics,
What he should be doing is addressing the problems--eg.,the state of the copper network, that ADSL is an interim technology whose state of disrepair is held together by plastic bags at the joints. Turnbull needs to address problems such as these given that the copper network represents the cornerstone of the Coalition's $30bn broadband policy.