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.
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!
The contrast could not be any starker. As warnings emerged that Australia’s telcos are seeing their profits squeezed by the end of NBN Co’s short-lived wholesale price discount (with the likelihood that retail prices will rise), across the ditch came word that New Zealanders are about to see their broadband speeds greatly increase while the cost of connecting to the Internet will come down. How could this be?
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.
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 allows it to abandon FTTN (the trouble-plagued technology using Telstra’s ageing copper wires) sooner rather than later.
For those of who do not read our national broadsheet, Anthony Klan is the journalist from The Australian who penned no less than five false and defamatory articles in a row attacking not-for-profit advocacy body Internet Australia, which I was running at the time. It was a relentless onslaught, week after week.
Two stars collided in Canberra last week, but the big bang is yet to be heard.
On Thursday, a leak from somewhere inside NBN revealed that our nation building broadband company has been secretly trialling new, thinner, cabling that will significantly reduce installation costs for the entire fibre-optic backbone, including the technically superior fibre to the premises (FTTP) solution.