Barbarians at the gate – don’t let them destroy Murray Valley National Park

By Laurie Patton | 12 July 2019

The New South Wales deputy premier wants to allow logging in a national park in the state’s Riverina. John Barilaro says he intends removing statutory protection of the 42,000 hectare Murray Valley National Park – either by de-gazetting the entire area or reducing its size.

Forty years ago we fought to stop the logging of a rainforest at Terania Creek in northern NSW. I cannot believe this issue is back on the political agenda.

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

By LAURIE PATTON | 13 June 2019 (Updated 22 July 2019)

Julian Assange dumped huge amounts of material secured from US Government computers straight onto the Internet, unfiltered and uncorroborated. If, instead, he had leaked it 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 facing extradition to the United States. His identity as a ‘source’ would have been protected. Ironically, any American journalists who used his material could quite possibly now be in prison for failing to reveal their source.

While there seems little doubt the material was genuine, that’s quite a separate matter from whether or not each document contained accurate and truthful accounts.

And while I sympathise with Assange’s perilous personal position and accept that he is not in good health, let’s not applaud what was a dangerous practice and a dubious precedent – publicly exposing sensitive and unverified data that could potentially risk people’s lives and create unforeseen collateral damage.

At the very least WikiLeaks arguably violated the privacy rights of people named in otherwise confidential documents.

There are calls for the Australian Government to help Assange, but it’s hard to see what can be done for the guy at this point.

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Multi-technology mess. Why the film and TV industry should be fighting for #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 17 June 2019

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.

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It’s the vision, stupid! Why we need #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 May 2019

While neither side of politics said much about our increasingly-maligned National Broadband Network during the election period, the fact is Australia is falling behind in the race to leverage the benefits – economic and social – of an emerging digitally-enabled future.

“It’s the economy, stupid” is the slogan attributed to James Carville, who was Bill Clinton‘s 1992 US presidential campaign strategist. It was about creating a clear message about the candidate’s plans for the country.

In 2015, newly appointed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull similarly coined the term “innovation nation” to describe what he saw as a pressing need to make Australia more innovative and agile – and an issue that would differentiate his approach to government. Turnbull’s problem was that two years earlier, under pressure from his predecessor Tony Abbott, he had laid down tracks leading in the opposite direction.

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UPDATE: A tale of two smart cities – life in the NFP sector

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 May 2019

Back in January I wrote about my disappointing time at the helm of the Australian Smart Communities Association. Since then all the Annual Reports have been taken down from the ASCA website. This happened only days after I’d asked for a copy of the latest report, having noticed that it had not been posted on the website along with all the others.

When I inquired about the return of these reports I was informed that they had been removed as part of a major website upgrade. While I couldn’t quite understand the logic of the argument (no other changes have been made to the site) I nevertheless accepted it and repeated my request for a copy of the latest Annual Report. Despite numerous subsequent requests I still have not received one.

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Labor spells out its NBN rescue plan – too broken for a quick fix

By LAURIE PATTON | 10 April 2019

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.

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Why I said no to the dud NBN

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 March 2019

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?

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My New Year’s Resolution – Keep fighting for #BetterBroadband

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 January 2019

2019 is shaping up as the year we’ll be forced to face the fact we are building a National Broadband Network that simply isn’t good enough. It’s also the year our major telcos will start rolling out their capital-intensive 5G mobile networks, having spent millions of dollars buying up spectrum from the federal government.

Nobody seems to have asked if we really need 5G right now. Or why Australia is rushing to be one of the first countries to adopt 5G when 4G speeds are more than most of us realistically need at the moment, or will need for some time? Too few commentators have delved into the ‘value proposition’, or asked if 5G, at least in its first iteration, will actually be all that some people are predicting.

As a nation keen to be a leader in the 21st Century’s digitally-enabled world we’d arguably be better off fixing the NBN before investing in mobile networks few in the know reckon will add much to the consumer experience.

Across the country people are coming to understand that the broadband network we are being delivered is a dud – especially in the bush!

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ACCC begins search for light at the end of the NBN technology tunnel

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 November 2018

The boss of the ACCC, Rod Sims, has told The Australian “its recent dealings with the retail telcos has highlighted a weakness with the fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) access technology”.

For numerous broadband experts, not to mention millions of hapless NBN customers, this might be seen as a classic ‘no shit Sherlock’ moment. However, it is probably the most significant recent development in the long running saga that began with Labor’s 21st Century fibre-based national broadband network, only to end in tears for so many when former prime minister Tony Abbott ordered his heavily-wedged communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to “destroy” the NBN.

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NBN: Won’t be finished on time. Simple as that!

By LAURIE PATTON | 24 October 2018

In my opinion, the National Broadband Network will not be completed until everyone has access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband. On that basis the rollout will take us well beyond the current official deadline of 2020. It looks like a lot of NBN Co customers are in for a long hard ride unless the Government instructs the board to abandon FTTN (the trouble-plagued technology using Telstra’s ageing copper wires) sooner rather than later.

New NBN Co boss Steven Rue told Senate Estimates they are still projecting that FTTN will be used until 2040. Yet experts, including Internet Australia chair Dr Paul Brooks, say FTTN will have to be replaced within 5-10 years of completion, preferably before then.

It’s not Mr Rue’s fault of course. He has been left ‘holding the baby’ – stuck with the flawed multi-technology mix (MTM) strategy introduced by his predecessor.

Surveys regularly show that people increasingly regard access to broadband as an ‘essential service’. Which is why it’s essential that we fix the mess that NBN Co has managed to get itself into.

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