Citizen Journalism

Posts Tagged ‘Foxtel’

@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 »

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Why Murdoch’s media is gunning for your NBN

In Kieran Cummings, NBN, News Limited, Telecommunications on February 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Kim Williams, ex Foxtel and now CEO News Limited.

Kim Williams, ex Foxtel and now CEO at News Limited.

By Kieran Cummings (@sortius)
February 27th, 2013

It seems a day doesn’t go by where articles are being posted to News Limited (Murdoch) websites with nothing but negative spin for the NBN. Most, if not all, are founded on poorly constructed arguments that ignore technology & the reality. They all seem to point to one solution: anything the Coalition are saying they’ll deploy.

While this does reek of patent bias amongst Murdoch’s Australian arm, I feel this goes a little deeper than just wanting a Coalition government, but a fear of becoming obsolete in the age of IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).

While FTTN (Fibre to the Node) can offer basic IPTV, it cannot offer multi-set full HD broadcasting as FTTH/P (Fibre to the Home/Premises) can. With this in mind, it doesn’t take long before it’s apparent the likes of Comcast & Time-Warner in the US, are bleeding subscribers or seeing a slowdown in subscriber uptake due to internet streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon’s Prime service.

While we haven’t seen a drop in subscribers here in Australia, there has been a slowdown in subscriber uptake that is sending a message direct to News Limited/Fox: kill off any advancements in broadband speeds before it kills off your business model.

WHAT MAKES FTTN BETTER FOR PAY TV PROVIDERS

One thing to remember is that the main differences between FTTN & FTTH are, speed, service area, & reliability, with FTTN failing on all three. These differences can mean someone can happily use an IPTV service, or you are relegated to stuttering pixelated video. The one (& only so far) pure IPTV example I can give in Australia is FetchTV, with others like Quickflix not quite making their mark due to limited outdated content.

FTTN, which a large portion of Australia already relies upon, can be of many flavours, but the generally accepted limit is VDSL2+ up to 1km, VDSL2 up to 2km, & ADSL2(+)/ADSL1 after that. Looking at these numbers, even if VDSL2+ is used, a large portion of Australia will not be able to stream more than one channel to one TV comfortably in HD. Some will not be able to receive HD video at all, having to opt for 1.5Mbps “lite” services offered by IPTV providers.

sdtv-vs-hdtv-vs-4k-uhdtv-graph2-706px-a (1)

With this in mind, we can see that opting for slower, less reliable, with a smaller service area for higher speeds, broadband benefits satellite & cable TV (pay TV) providers by limiting customers’ ability to utilise lower cost IPTV services. Don’t get me wrong, Foxtel are dabbling with IPTV with massively crippled plans that are far more expensive in dollars-per-channel than their set-top-box contract locked services.

Essentially FTTN offers a moderate speed boost to allow for slightly faster speeds, but not so fast as to make pay TV obsolete. This benefits pay TV providers, but not customers or content producers, leaving a monopoly in place to reap the rewards of archaic infrastructure that’s way past its used by date. Read the rest of this entry »