Telstra bells the broadband cat and spays NBN Co

By LAURIE PATTON | 27 February 2020

Telstra’s decision 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.

If anyone knows about good and bad broadband it’s Telstra. And they know that anything other than fibre is second best.

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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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Telstra should stop whinging and help fix our dud NBN

By LAURIE PATTON | 16 October 2019

Earlier in the week Telstra chair, John Mullen, conceded the company must accept some of the blame for our flawed National Broadband Network due to its ‘recalcitrance’ back in 2007/2008 when it submitted a petulant bid that didn’t meet the requirements of the government tender to build a nationwide network. However, he then went on to attack the project, in particular drawing attention to NBN Co’s decision to compete more activley in the so-called ‘enterprise’ market – the provision of wholesale rather than retail products.

It’s all very well, if not ironic, for Mr Mullen to complain about a company offering a competitive service but let’s not forget that one of the biggest impediments to NBN Co’s financial performance, and thus its overall success, is the extremely generous terms of the deal the Coalition did with Telstra when Malcolm Turnbull followed Tony Abbott’s instruction to ‘destroy’ the NBN and opted to buy access to Telstra’s old copper wire network and its ageing Pay-TV cables.

In my view, NBN Co ought to consider renegotiating the deal with Telstra over access to their ‘pits and pipes’ and in return agree not to compete in the enterprise market. And Telstra should repair the damage it caused by negotiating in good faith – for Australia’s sake.

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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 rollout will not be finished until everyone has access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband. On that basis the rollout will take us well beyond the current official completion date 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.

NBN Co boss Steven Rue told Senate Estimates in late 2018 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. But in a year from now it will be his problem fair and square.

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 NBN Co has managed to get itself into.

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Generalists and specialists in the Australian public service. Why the ‘theory of empty spaces’ hurts public sector performance

By LAURIE PATTON | 19 April 2016

The other day I was talking to a friend who recently retired from the public service. After a career lifetime of studied discretion he now wears as a badge of honour his entitlement to express independent views. Many of these are critical of the processes that played a pivotal part in his rise to a very senior posting.

I have a number of colleagues who are now ex-public servants, having held extremely high level executive roles. I enjoy hearing about their work experiences more now that they are unencumbered by ambition. Continue reading “Generalists and specialists in the Australian public service. Why the ‘theory of empty spaces’ hurts public sector performance”