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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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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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 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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Ten things you need to know about changes to Australia’s Internet domain names system

By LAURIE PATTON | 23 September 2018

Australia is a country in transition. Although we don’t hear as much about the ‘innovation nation’ these days as we did a few years back, the reality is our future prosperity still lies in embracing a digitally enabled world. As the problems plaguing the National Broadband Network remain unresolved, another critical debate is now reaching a climax. At stake is the management of Internet domain names. These days, nearly every business has a website, so a meeting later this week is shaping up as a watershed moment.

Here are ten things you need to know about what’s happening to the management of our domain names.

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Active travel – Why children should walk or ride to school

By LAURIE PATTON | 14 September 2018

Walking, riding or catching public transport to and from school has long been a rite-of-passage for Australian children. However, a range of factors have increasingly seen parents choosing to drive their offspring.

How old children should be before they no longer require parental supervision, and how far they should be permitted to travel alone or even in groups, is often the subject of hot debate around the barbecue and in the media. Sadly, it’s one of those ‘back in my day’ age indicators – and a symbol of a more cautious and guarded society.

The proportion of Australian children using active transport to travel to or from school has declined by about 40 percent over a generation. Active transport is now the usual mode for less than one in three school children. Fifty-four percent of primary school children in NSW are driven to and from school every day.

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Decentralisation is a solution to population growth

By LAURIE PATTON | 6 August 2018

As Christopher Pyne recently pointed out, Australia has roughly the same land mass as the United States yet a fraction of the population. Despite accommodating 300-plus million people only a handful of American cities are anywhere near the size of Sydney or Melbourne.

Government agencies all argue immigration creates economic growth. So it’s not about how many of us there are, it’s about where we all live.

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It’s not about the size of the population, it’s about where we’re all going to live

By LAURIE PATTON | 29 July 2018

Another week, another newspaper devotes thousands of words to the vexed question of population growth. The conclusion, once again, is that we need a more rational discussion – and, above all, a plan.

Sadly, some people are using the size of our population and its growth to justify campaigns that are simply racist and uncalled-for in this country.

The way I see it, we keep asking the wrong question. It’s not about how many people live here, or where they come from. It’s about where we’ll all live in the years ahead.

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