"One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!"
Author: Laurie Patton | The Lucky General
Laurie Patton is a public interest advocacy and communications practitioner and a former political advisor, journalist, television producer and media executive. He is active in the not-for profit sector and for nearly 20 years has been providing strategic advice on marketing and communications, business development, stakeholder and community engagement and government relations.
Communications minister Paul Fletcher today spoke at an industry conference and outdid his Coalition predecessors in an extraordinary attempt to defend the beleaguered National Broadband Network. These are just some of the comments he made to an incredulous audience of IT professionals who know so much more than he does.
For the foreseeable future Australia will rely on mining for economic growth and to maintain our current standard of living. Yet unresolved debates over a number of proposed coal mines have exposed a rift in political circles that may well determine the outcome of the next federal election, just as the issue had a major impact on this year’s poll.
While the risk is arguably greater on Labor’s side the turning tide of public opinion spurred by concerns about Global Warming suggests both the major parties would be well-advised to start thinking about their future responses to the demands of the mining lobby.
Internet access is now the most complained about telco service in Australia according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s latest report. The state of our trouble-plagued NBN continues to see consumers heading to the authorities in the faint hope their broadband problems can be fixed. Alas, the future remains bleak for millions of NBN Co customers until the Government abandons a flawed set of technologies simply incapable of delivering 21st Century speeds.
Back in December 2016 I attended a fancy black tie dinner at which then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was one of the guest speakers. Toward the end of the evening, having spotted me at a nearby table, Mr Turnbull beckoned me to join him in conversation. We’ve known each other for many years.
Not missing an opportunity I told him that his NBN was in big trouble. Actually, I used far more colourful language to describe this fetid project. However, I also said that there was a solution that should be adopted ASAP. “I need to know about this. Come and see me”, was the PM’s response.
According to PwC’s 18th annual Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook, video streaming platforms will outstrip Foxtel and other traditional Pay-TV services for market share in the next two years. More than half Australia’s adults are paying for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services, according to Media Partners Asia research.
As sure as the Sun will rise from the East tomorrow we’ll soon enough be rushing out buying 8K televisions, the next technology upgrade bringing even more ultra-high definition pictures to our screens. When the original high definition TV’s went on the market they were so expensive it took years before they became commonplace in Australian homes. These days more than 90 percent have HDTV’s in some form, and prices have dropped dramatically.
Increasingly, people are watching content delivered via the Internet rather than traditional terrestrial broadcasts. Yet, for many consumers of film and television content our dud NBN means upgrading to the latest HDTV is pointless.
SBS has announced that it will make World Movies part of its free-to-air offering. This comes nearly 25 years after its creation as a niche Pay-TV channel.
World Movies premiered the night of the Foxtel launch in 1995. It was immediately one of the platform’s most successful channels. For several years World Movies was only available as a stand-alone channel for an additional fee, which made its incredible take-up even more exciting. Eventually it was placed in the movie tier.
Labor’s communications spokesperson, Michelle Rowland, has outlined a very sensible approach to fixing the dud NBN. In fact, should the Coalition retain office it would be well advised to adopt Labor’s plan.
As Rowland rightly points out, six years of flawed technology choices has created a delivery disaster and it will be no simple task to return the project to its original vision – fast, reliable and affordable broadband for all Australians.
auDA – the company managing our Internet domain name registration system – is engaged in a reform program. This follows a review by the communications department which called for major governance changes.
As I have previously written, auDA had been mired in controversy for many years, with the impression being it was subject to too much influence from vested interests, including an inner circle of what are called ‘domainers’ – people who buy and sell domain names, often extracting large windfall profits by warehousing unique names that subsequently command a premium.
auDA has released a discussion paper and has called for public submissions on a range of proposed policy and operational changes. This is being accompanied by a consultation process that sees auDA presenting to MP’s and senators at Parliament House next week.
Today I cancelled my order for the NBN. I had initially accepted an offer to switch over from my current provider before making some inquiries about the service I might expect. Turns out my HFC (cable) connection is being replaced.
When I checked with several RSP’s (NBN Co retailers) the best they could offer me was a plan on 50 Mbps – with the possibility that I might be bumped up to 75 Mbps, dependng on tests carried out after installation. I currenty have a regular and uninterupted download speed of 115+ Mbps. Why would I switch?
In the wake of horrendous events in New Zealand high profile Australian politicians are calling on social media outlets to take action against people spreading violent hate speech. They could start by banning anonymous posts.
Marking the World Wide Web’s 30th anniversary last week its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, warned of the Internet’s unforeseen dysfunction, telling The Australian “there are a lot of people out there who believe in bizarre things, have fallen for atrocious conspiracy theories and are manipulated into scams”. Berners-Lee added, “This is not just about technology, there’s a people problem here as well”.
As Christopher Pyne has pointed out, “We don’t need to put a handbrake on population growth, we need to manage our population growth sensibly in a country which quite frankly can take a lot more than 25 million people”. Pyne comes from Adelaide, of course, where the state government says it would like to see a lot more people living.
We do need to think carefully about how we make our cities more liveable and more sustainable however, and we need to question whether so many people should be crammed into already congested capital cities like Melbourne and Sydney.