Fair trade or exploitation – the ‘warehousing’ of Internet domain names

By LAURIE PATTON | 27 March 2019

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.

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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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Thirty years on, it’s time to fix the Internet

By LAURIE PATTON | 18 March 2019

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”.

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It’s poor long term planning, not the size of the population, that’s the problem

LAURIE PATTON | 21 November 2018

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.

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

By LAURIE PATTON | 23 January 2019

Many of my friends and colleagues have asked me  “what happened at ASCA?” but until now I have not been in a position to reply.

Around the world there’s a buzz in the tech sector is about something called ‘smart cities’. This essentially involves using existing and emerging technologies, many of them communications based, in order to make our cities and communities more liveable and more sustainable. Along with a national decentralisation plan I believe we could use smart cities initiatives to dramatically improve the lives of millions of Australians.

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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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Planning for smart cities – Code of Practice released

By LAURIE PATTON | 31 October 2018

“Enhanced telecommunications connectivity, data insights, digital planning practices and innovation districts” will underpin the creation of so-called ‘smart cities’. That’s the theme of a Code of Practice released this week as part of Smart Cities Week Australia.

Developed by leading smart cities advocacy group the Smart Cities Council and the Green Building Council of Australia the voluntary code is designed to shorten the ‘transformation’ cycle and is aimed at both government and industry players.

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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 has told Senate Estimates they are still projecting that FTTN will be used until 2040. 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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Renewable water – The next ‘big thing’

By CHRIS MILLS | 8 October 2018

When cattle and sheep are dying in vast numbers across Eastern Australia, how sane is it for the driest inhabited continent in the world not to capture and redirect wastewater and stormwater from our cities and towns into food and beverage production? Energy is a major component of the cost of treating and moving water. Renewable energy sources can become an essential component of responding to the effects of climate change and climbing temperatures

Fortunately, there are some very bright and committed minds working on this issue, especially in our state and territory water supply agencies.

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