Telstra bells the broadband cat and spays NBN Co

By LAURIE PATTON | 27 February 2020

Telstra’s decision this week to only offer a maximum 50Mbps plan to more than half its NBN customers is another setback in the quest for #BetterBroadband and further vindication of Labor’s plan to make Australia what Malcolm Turnbull subsequently dubbed an “innovation nation”. It’s the latest fulfilment of a highly political decision by Tony Abbott to instruct Turnbull to demolish NBN Co.

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School’s Out – Time for better governance and oversight in the education sector

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 23 February 2020

The principal resigned, his deputy stood aside, but apparently the school board knew nothing.

ABC Four Corners recently aired a comprehensive report in which it stated: “A top Catholic boys’ school is facing accusations of a culture of cover-up, after revelations its principal and dean of sport gave references for a now-convicted child sex offender but gave no support to the victim during the court process”.

Where does accountability ultimately lie when school children are hurt and it’s their teachers inflicting harm or covering up for those who are?

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How the OTIS group did Albanese a favour

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 February 2020

The OTIS group of disgruntled federal Labor politicians has helped Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in a number of ways they probably didn’t intend.

For starters, forewarned is forearmed. His supporters – which is a majority of the caucus and overwhelmingly the grass roots party membership – want ‘Albo’ to become our next PM and nothing else comes close to being second prize.

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NBN latest: Oh dear, what can the matter be?

By LAURIE PATTON | 12 February 2020

You know the tune, so let’s all sing along: Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Or, if you prefer AC/DC, “Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap”. As we approach the NBN’s nominal completion date of June this year the decision to dump 21st Century fibre and cobble something together using old copper wires and run-down Pay TV cables has left too many Australians humming a very sad tune.

The release this week of the latest financial report from NBN Co underscores what a debacle we have on our hands.

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It’s now or never for the NBN

By LAURIE PATTON | 21 January 2020

Last week submissions closed for a parliamentary inquiry into the National Broadband Network. TelSoc, of which I recently became vice-president, lodged a submission prepared by a working group of highly qualified industry experts. Unless the federal Government takes notice of two key recommendations millions of consumers are destined to continue suffering second rate broadband for years to come.

This massive infrastructure project is scheduled to be completed by mid-year, although as I have previously pointed out that’s at best a theoretical deadline given that replacing about a third of the fixed-line network will arguably need to begin almost immediately.

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My New Year’s wish – more collaborative technology policy development

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster!

By LAURIE PATTON | 2 January 2020

report released by communications minister Paul Fletcher has confirmed that so-called ‘Internet piracy’ declined dramatically following the arrival of Netflix and other online streaming services – debunking the need for ‘site-blocking’ laws controversially introduced following a well-funded lobbying effort by local representatives of the Hollywood studios. In the same week NBN Co announced it is cutting in half its pricing for new connections to encourage reluctant consumers to sign up to its troubled broadband service.

What these two incidents suggest is we need politicians to engage more with industry experts when making technology-related policy decisions. We also need IT / telecommunications groups to do more to ensure the government of the day is well advised. And we need more mainstream media focus on keeping everyone better informed.

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The Assange dilemma. What is journalism in the online age?

By LAURIE PATTON | 13 June 2019 (Updated 26 November 2019)

It’s time for more humane treatment of Julian Assange. Guilt or innocence aside nobody should be treated the way he is allegedly being treated. More than 60 doctors have now written an open letter to the UK authorities saying he suffers from psychological problems including depression, dental issues and a serious shoulder ailment. They want him transferred to a hospital. Clearly they have a point.

However, while I accept that Assange is not in good health and deserves better treatment let’s not applaud what was a dangerous practice and a dubious precedent – publicly exposing unverified data that could potentially risk peoples’ lives and create unforeseen collateral damage. How would you feel if it had included sensitive and confidential information about you?

In my opinion Assange is a whistle-blower not a journalist. He helped dump huge amounts of confidential material secured illegally from US Government computers straight onto the Internet, unfiltered and uncorroborated. If it had been leaked directly to the media outlets that subsequently, but very selectively, published reports based on some of his WikiLeaks files he probably would not be in gaol in the UK facing extradition to the United States.

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More broadband porkies. Buying an NBN pig in a poke

By LAURIE PATTON | 20 October 2019

To quote veteran IT journalist Sam Varghese, NBN Co’s latest attempt to put lipstick on a pig – the animal in this case being the network it is building and the make-up in question being speed – goes one step further than the ‘alternative facts’ which its former chief executive, Bill Morrow, used to dish out

The spin doctors at NBN Co are understandably annoyed at media reports reminding people that Australia has dropped from 30th to around 60th in global broadband speed rankings. So they came up with a novel solution. They made up their own numbers. The trouble is nobody in the IT world seems to believe them.

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Miscommunication. Paul Fletcher spins his top like turvey

By LAURIE PATTON | 9 October 2019

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.

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How Malcolm Turnbull missed his chance to fix the NBN

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By LAURIE PATTON | 26 September 2019

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 dinner at which then prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was one of the other guests. Toward the end of the evening 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.

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