Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Broadband’

Q&A on topsy turvy NBN debate

In NBN, Steve Jenkin on May 21, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Vintage Tech Prints from Apartment Therapy

Created by Sao Paulo ad agency Moma Propaganda as part of the “Everything Ages Fast” ad campaign for Maximidia Seminars

By Steve Jenkin

May 21,  2013

The Great NBN Debate is notorious for the high degree of emotion, insult, abuse and attack by many highly vocal proponents for the two political proposals. The response seems disproportionate; something strange is going on…

This piece frames simple, fundamental questions and seeks to answer them.

There is a simple truth, brilliantly summed up by the Bureau of Statistics in 2001, that is constantly overlooked in this debate. Since the 1850s Australians have been at the forefront in communications, and the NBN is just a continuation of that struggle to communicate in our Wide Brown Land.

A topsy turvy debate

What is important is not discussed and what is trivial, is cause for endless turmoil.

I’ve seen some very controversial and divisive public debates, including the Vietnam war and conscription, abortion, indigenous land rights, equal pay for women and abolition of the death penalty. These were life and death issues, or concerned fundamental human rights.

The NBN is none of these. It is a modern infrastructure choice, the selection of which won’t End the World. In fact, on a daily basis, it will be barely perceptible to many people. It will provide ordinary householders an Internet service that works the same for everyone, not that works, just.

The longest running wars Australia has ever been involved in, Iraq and Afghanistan, were entered into by John Howard with virtually no Parliamentary debate. Many Australians have died or had their lives permanently changed in the pursuit of a very nebulous Strategic Principle with no discernible benefit to our country or way of life.

This real Life and Death issue for servicemen hasn’t been costed, nor are figures publicly released. In 2011 it was estimated military spending increased by more than $30 s billion, with $2-$4 billion extra every year for on-going Field Operations. This was funded directly from our taxes, giving us no tangible benefit and was certainly never the subject of any “Cost Benefit Analysis” by the Coalition.

This is the topsy turvy nature of the current NBN debate – expensive Life and Death issues pass by while insignificant technical issues cause endless, raging debate.

It reminds me of Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” where the Lilliputians have a long-standing war that’s riven the nation: Which end of a boiled egg should be opened? The Little-end or Big-End? (A phrase well known to IT folk in a different context.)

In my life, I’ve seen technology change dramatically with little comment, let alone opposition. Even the most fundamental change recently happened almost without comment, while costing households directly many billions – the switch-off of Broadcast Analogue TV after 50 years – like the introduction of B&W TV in the late 1950s and and replaced by Colour TV in the mid-1970s, analogue Colour TV superseded by Digital this century, FM then digital radio, renumbering the AM band, touch-tone dialling, domestic dial-up modems, answering machines and later Caller ID, mobile telephones…

Why has the NBN been singled out for such a low and bitter campaign, rivalled only by the climate change debate?

It’s not obvious ‘Who Benefits’ nor does the usual tell-tale ‘Show me the Money!’ help.

At the very best, it seems to be politicians arguing over which way to open an egg: lots of noise, bluster and theatrics, but very, very little substance.

As far as I can judge, this whole debate revolves around maintaining a functional copper telephone network, the sole advantage of which is that you can plug in your 1925 rotary dial phone and have it still work Not, for me, exactly the strongest or most compelling of arguments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Time to get NBN active, GenY

In Federal Election, NBN, Steve Jenkin on May 6, 2013 at 5:24 PM
Fraudband vs NBN: Live Streaming over copper.

Fraudband vs NBN: Live streaming over copper.

By Steve Jenkin

Source: http://stevej-on-it.blogspot.com.au/

May 6,  2013

Josh Taylor of ZDnet conducted a 45-minute “Communications Debate” between Conroy and Turnbull today. He did a splendid job with a couple of unruly protagonists not out of place in a kindergarden.
My praise and plaudits to Josh: well done, for conceiving and carrying out this head-to-head.

The most reported part of the “Debate” was when Conroy got under Turnbull’s skin and was called “a grub”.

There are a few things about this “Debate” I think are imporant:

  • Turnbull had a very informed and tech-savvy audience, yet maintained his argumentative, “content-free” style, reiterated vague generalities and platitudes and trotted out the same old electioneering phrases.
  • The people who are very interested in the NBN are Gen-Y, but seem strangely silent in my world:
    • They are the “digital natives”, born since the release of the IBM PC and Apple Mac.
    • They know and care about computing and its most recent game-changer, the Internet.
    • Their lives, values and views are defined and shaped by the Internet, increasingly by Social Media.
    • They can expect to live with this decision for the next 50 years.
    • They are, or should be, highly motivated to get the best Value for Money NBN, not in the immediate term, but for the rest of their lives.
  • People came along to the debate wanting more than a slanging match and a repetition of the same hackneyed phrases.
  • Turnbull repeated the same “talk over what you don’t like” tactic that got his microphone turned off on Triple-J Hack.
    • He has still not learned to be considerate & respectful of the moderator.
    • Why would a politician whose electoral success depends on the media, deliberately “burn” media contacts, especially Gen-Ys for whom the NBN really matters? It’s bizarre in the extreme. Either he can’t help himself or means to do it.
    • The media places Turnbull is no longer welcome will soon become a story in itself.

I think Turnbull misjudged his audience, treating them like the usual Mainstream Media, and either underestimated Conroy or came unprepared (shown by retreating to personal abuse) and didn’t say anything new, nor clearly & succinctly answer the questions asked.
Yes, he talked, a lot, and in the moment always sounds plausible.
But as one tweeter opined: What did he say? I can’t remember now he’s stopped talking.
 
Turnbull threw away a massive opportunity: he could’ve sold himself and his plan to the technical influencers in the electorate. And done so easily & simply by clearly annunciating his intentions.
 
The bigger question, the headline of this piece, is the comparative silence of Gen-Y in this NBN debate. If Turnbull was bombarded with 5-10,000 emails and tweets after each of his obnoxious media performances, like today’s, would he moderate his behaviour? You bet!

Gen-Y can take onto itself using the tools that it understands and uses everyday to make its point. We’ve yet to see a spate of mashups or clips ridiculing Turnbull as he pompously stabs his finger making one asinine, misleading point after another. The way the “Kony 2012” meme spread displays what is possible, when driven by someone who cares about a topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Coalition’s 10% NBN cost save locks us out of massive upside

In NBN on April 29, 2013 at 9:34 PM
Taken at the Coalition Bikeshed

Taken at the Coalition Bikeshed – Created by The Geek

Editor’s note: Steve Jenkin is a geek who wants to make the NBN tech stuff accessible to all. He has agreed to be a @NoFibs contributor. so feel free to ask your NBN questions as a comment.

By Steve Jenkin

Source: http://stevej-on-it.blogspot.com.au/

April 29, 2013

The volume of words written and spoken about the NBN must startle many, producing far more heat than light. Is this a case of the “Bike Shed Effect” where trivial decisions dominate the discussion and the biggest decisions seems like an after-thought?

It’s complex, but we shouldn’t be having this debate at all: Frank Blount, Telstra CEO 1992-1999, forecast the customer network would be all Fibre by 2010. What happened on the way to the Future?

What should’ve been a Commercial decision, balancing technical and financial issues, has become political. We can’t unring that bell. As a nation, we now have to figure a path through the combined political, technical and financial/funding maze that will be good value and politically possible.

This three-way tussle is at the heart of the problem: Telecommunications is highly regulated in Australia because it has to be with single large player, Telstra, that can commercially block anyone else, as we saw with cable TV. For the ALP to pursue its broadband policy, it had to first deal with Telstra, deal fairly with its shareholders and create an environment where Telstra was happy and unable to block the new initiative.

There is a huge irony in this debate, each side of politics feels like the other is setting the agenda and dictating terms of debate while the commentariat vigorously defends their personal favourites from the sidelines.

Labor has defined the technical needs debate, “Fibre or not?” forcing the Coalition to respond on those terms with its policy. Read the rest of this entry »

@sortius on how and why the Coalition’s NBN policy is designed to fail

In Kieran Cummings, NBN, Telecommunications on April 12, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Created by BushfireBill @BushfireBill

Created by BushfireBill @BushfireBill

By Kieran Cummings (@sortius)

April 12, 2013

Since the release of the Coalition’s broadband policy on Tuesday it has become clear that the policy is designed to fail. Even if taken at face value it is clear that the plan will not be able to meet its targets. So why devise a policy destined to fail?

One simple answer is to keep the ‘free market’ free – free from regulation, free from anti-monopoly legislation and free from responsibility.

The policy itself is made redundant by the three separate reviews the Coalition is planning for the NBN – a strategic review, an ‘independent’ audit and a cost/benefit analysis. Having these codified into the policy ensures that no matter the promises made, the Coalition can build a case to limit or even cancel the rollout, or cancel it in line with its 2010 election policy, using its long-running austerity narrative.

Who will do the reviews?  I’d guess Peter Costello. After his Queensland Commission of Audit, we can assume that the Coalition intends to use the same tactics to remove any case for change to Australia’s telecommunication network.

This will set Australia back decades under the guise of ‘economic management’. With broadband speeds barely reaching 13Mbps on average in Australia, & Akamai’s data transfer caps reaching a measly 4Mbps, the Coalition cancelling the NBN would have dire consequences for Australia’s digital economy.

Who will benefit from a negative outcome? The people who benefit from slower broadband speeds are legacy content providers like Foxtel. With over 70% of the population covered (but only 30% subscribed) to Foxtel’s pay TV service, the NBN is a direct threat to their business model.

Recent developments in the IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)/OTT (Over The Top) market in the US and Europe mean Foxtel can see that its days are numbered as a virtual monopoly. The only way to prevent ‘cord-cutting’, a term used to describe disconnecting pay TV services, is to stymie broadband development.

The NBN’s plan to decommission Telstra’s HFC network that Foxtel runs on ensures that competition is fostered amongst smaller players in the content delivery market. Murdoch’s press has been very vocal against the ‘wasteful’ NBN since 2010, leading me to believe there’s more to the Coalition’s plan to deliver substandard services to Australian consumers than meets the eye.

The main take-away from Murdoch’s speech at the IPA last week was less regulation, less fostering of development and more ‘freedom’ for corporations. The idea that developing national infrastructure is ‘placating a nation’ is laughable, as there has been little to no development of broadband markets by private organisations over the past decade (transcript of Murdoch’s speech below).

It’s clear that News Ltd’s market reach would be drastically reduced if smaller content providers were able to gain a foothold in this lucrative market. Users would no longer be subject to the whims of a monopoly and Foxtel’s ability to use lock-in contracts would be diminished. Read the rest of this entry »

@NoFibs NBN policy articles curated by citizen journo @pascalg15

In NBN, Pascale Grosvenor, Telecommunications on April 11, 2013 at 4:44 PM
Credit: Malcolm Turnbull Facebook - Spoof by The Geek

Credit: Malcolm Turnbull Facebook – Spoof by The Geek

By Pascal Grosvenor
April 11, 2013

With all the claims and counter claims going back and forth via Twitter or Facebook I’ve been getting frustrated,because there’s lots of incorrect facts and sometimes outright lies being perpetrated. People on both sides of the political debate have been guilty of this.

My goal is to collate the articles I’ve read about the NBN Co’s FTTH or the LNP’s FTTN alternative in one place. I’ll regularly update this list.

FTTH is Fibre to the Home (sometimes referred to as FTTP or Fibre to the Premise)

FTTN is Fibre to the Node (the Telstra junction box at the end of the street)

I hope people find this useful.  I include articles from both sides of the debate – please post comments or suggestions for extra articles to include.  I won’t accept anything from the ALP or Liberal party websites or from politicians for obvious reasons.

Please post your comments or suggestions for extra articles to include.New links added 18/4/13 – they’re highlighted in yellow.

Disclaimer : I’m personally in favour of the ALP’s NBN. I think it’s the best option.

Note re Comments : Any comments with swearing or personal abuse of me (or anyone else) will not be approved. Play the ball not the person …

Technical/ IT based blog posts :

Credibility And The Alternate NBN (by @mwyres)
http://michaelwyres.com/2013/04/credibility-and-the-alternate-nbn/

Not All Technology Is Equal (by @sortius) http://sortius-is-a-geek.com/?p=2883

Coalitions NBN plan to stop consumers taking control of media (by @sortius)

Why not FTTN ? NBN Myths (comparing FTTN speeds) http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/why-not-fttn/

Coalition’s NBN plan: where’s the cost of the copper? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/14/coalition_broadband_plan/

@sortius on how and why the Coalition’s NBN policy is designed to fail (australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com)

Comments by ex Telstra linesman http://fibreorcopper.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/broadband-user-experiences/#comment-2

Articles in favor of FTTN :

Why the Coalition’s NBN plan makes sense http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/why-the-coalitions-nbn-plan-makes-sense-20130410-2hkx2.html

Broadband utopia is a pipedream: analyst
http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/broadband-utopia-is-a-pipedream-analyst-20130411-2hnl8.html#

Turnbull has saved the NBN http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/4/10/infrastructure/turnbull-has-saved-nbn

The case against /problems with FTTN – told by photos :

Worst of the worst: Photos of Australia’s copper network http://delimiter.com.au/2012/05/01/worst-of-the-worst-photos-of-australias-copper-network/

Some more articles :

#Fraudband is an #NBN fail, even for punters By Stephen Neate

A tale of two NBNs: the Coalition’s broadband policy explained http://theconversation.com/a-tale-of-two-nbns-the-coalitions-broadband-policy-explained-13304

News articles & opinion pieces from mainstream media :

The Coalition’s NBN policy is a triumph of short-termism over long-term vision (pcauthority.com.au)

NBN $17b cheaper, but slower (smh.com.au)

Coalition NBN Policy: Six Things To Think About (gizmodo.com.au)

Coalition’s NBN alternative bad for regional Australia : says telco expert http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/coalitions-nbn-alternative-bad-regional-aus/1823370/ …

NBN debate full of ‘erroneous’ information http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/government-it/nbn-debate-full-of-erroneous-information-20130404-2h8m9.html

Telstra will decide Coalition’s NBN: Hackett http://www.zdnet.com/au/telstra-will-decide-coalitions-nbn-hackett-7000013724/

Personal accounts of people now using the NBN :
(or who want to be on the NBN asap)

Imagining an amazing innovative future with Labor’s NBN
https://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/imagining-an-amazing-innovative-future-with-labors-nbn

Jack McCaw’s NBN story
https://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/jack-mccaws-nbn-story/

We are now connected to the NBN. Here’s a run-down on the install. And the speed!
http://alankerlin.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/we-are-now-connected-to-nbn-heres-run.html

Pass or fail? Kiama mum grades the NBN
http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/1356891/pass-or-fail-kiama-mum-grades-the-nbn/?cs=12

Why Jake’s impatient for the NBN
https://australiansforhonestpolitics.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/why-jakes-impatient-for-the-nbn/

Examples of other countries deploying FTTH :

Benefits of Ultra-Fast Broadband http://ufb.org.nz/benefits/

Japan launches world’s fastest home internet 2Gbps : http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/japan-launches-worlds-fastest-home-internet-20130416-2hxge.html

Taking on Provo, Utah failure proves Google is serious about FTTH http://www.tellusventure.com/blog/taking-on-provo-failure-proves-google-is-serious-about-ftth/

France Telecom strikes FTTH network pact with Bouygues Telecom http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/france-telecom-strikes-ftth-network-pact-bouygues-telecom/2012-01-17#ixzz2QnW70ZIF

Coalition’s NBN plan to stop consumers taking control of media

In Kieran Cummings, NBN, Telecommunications on April 9, 2013 at 3:40 PM

skynews_861870

By Kieran Cummings (@sortius)

April 9th, 2013

The Coalition held its broadband policy launch at, wait for it, Murdoch’s Fox Sports, And the press secretary handed out copies of Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph instead of policy documents. Guess what the final outcome of Malcolm Turnbull’s broadband plan will be. The policy debate will heat up over the coming months because there are massive amounts of detail missing from the policy.

Turnbull was combative, if not outright belligerent. From the outset he was unable to give details on even the basics of his policy in answer to questions such as ‘How long will the copper last?’.

I had thought that finally Turnbull would release a policy filled with cogent arguments and factual information, but this was not to be so. Instead the press conference was laced with misinformation, leaving me feeling underwhelmed and annoyed. Details are even more scant in the press release offered up by www.liberal.org.au. Most of the document is merely an attack on the current NBN and vague figures like ‘estimated $90b’ & ‘up to 100Mbps’. There’s no real meat in this policy, and the oft quoted ‘background documents’ are non-existent.

So because I can’t do deep policy analysis I have to go with this policy being a Claytons policy – lots of words, but nothing to say. The best any journalist can do is look at the assumptions and see how out of kilter with reality they are.

There are no details on the future plans of the Coalition or on what will happen to NBN Co once the build is completed. Unfortunately for Turnbull, Tony Abbott played his hand early, stating unequivocally that an LNP government would sell off the NBN. No details as to whether they would uphold the legislation that ensures NBN Co remain a wholesale-only company and be required to foster innovation and competition.

If anything, the build and sale planned, to deploy VDSL via FTTN, would stifle innovation and quash competition within the network. With Vectored VDSL, as Turnbull keeps stating will be deployed (but not mentioned once in the policy document), competition is incompatible. You cannot run multiple ISP’s vectored services via the same cable.

The next thing to look at is the LNP’s build estimates. Unfortunately there is no data to support the costs given, however there seems to be a large amount of information missing on ongoing maintenance costs, power consumption costs for running the cabinets and the cost of acquiring Telstra’s copper network. All of these together would seem to wipe out any reduction in the $40b-odd an FTTP deployment is estimated to cost.

There is no way the Coalition are anywhere near the mark with their $90b estimate to build FTTP, especially since even they have even said it would cost ‘several thousand dollars’ per user to run FTTP from a node. If we look at the BT example of FTTP upgrades and extrapolate an average user being charged ad-hoc rates close to $7000 per premises, it will cost users approximately $65b to upgrade all services. Seeing NBN Co is not charged ad-hoc rates, this cost would be far lower (closer to $30b for an end-to-end fibre service). So the savings from the Coalition are merely offloading costs from off-budget financing to end-user financing.

The main question is who benefits from the savings? It’s certainly not end-users. It’s certainly not businesses. It’s most certainly not retail service providers. The people who benefit will be the people who buy the network.

So who could possibly buy the network? Optus, iiNet, or even Vodafone? The three might be able to handle such a big fixed line network; however they do not have the technicians to maintain the copper. The only player capable of handling such a network is Telstra as they already have technicians and contracts with third parties to maintain the network.

So the end result would be Telstra selling their copper to NBN Co for an inflated price then buying it all back at a discount price, as no other company would want to take on such a liability as $1b per year in maintenance costs to run the copper network.

The fact that Murdoch’s subsidiaries have been so involved in this policy release betrays who is calling the shots. It’s not Turnbull (or as Abbott named him, Mr Broadband), nor is it Abbott. It’s clear that Murdoch’s media empire does not want FTTP – just read any of their papers on any given day to see the utter contempt for NBN Co in any article on the NBN.

The bottom line is that this is all about control. With FTTP the control is in the hands of consumers, giving them an opportunity to utilise Over-The-Top (OTT) services and remove the need for Foxtel if they wish to watch pay TV services.

With FTTN the need for satellite dishes and coaxial cable connections is vital to maintain internet speed while watching pay TV. Turnbull’s claim that VDSL is capable of carrying HD streams is myopic at best, as he ignores the technological advancements in broadcast systems such as the soon-to-be-released 4K broadcast standard.

@jtwyman John Twyman Speed difference between the #NBN & the Opposition's #fraudband proposal

@jtwyman John Twyman Speed difference between the #NBN & the Opposition’s #fraudband proposal

Even the most compressed 4K video requires at least 20Mbps of bandwidth, so the Coalition’s plans for a minimum of 25Mbps is severely lacking after network overheads are taken into account. The only way users on FTTN will receive 4K video is to utilise a dedicated connection to pay TV providers, meaning OTT providers are left out in the cold.

Essentially this policy ignores future needs of Australian consumers and business in favour of end-of-life technologies. Utilising such technologies ensures the control of media in Australia is maintained by the likes of Murdoch and his ilk.

If voters can take anything away from today’s policy announcement it’s this: the Coalition do not want to see Australia’s telecommunication network progress, but merely want to waste $30b delivering what’s there now to sell it off to the people who screwed up the network in the first place.

Read More:

Why Murdoch’s media is gunning for your NBN

Jack McCaw’s NBN story

Why Jake’s impatient for the NBN