Senator Alstons' Position Paper
Tue, 4 Mar 1997 08:43:58 +1100 (EST)
RE legislation based on technology arguments.
Unfortunately many people do not understand that in the engineering and
scientific world, definitions are often arbitrary and relative as opposed to
Where Senator Alston and his advisers have got into trouble is to believe
that there is a fundamental different between voice and data communications.
They have tried to differentiate between the two for legal purposes but will
fail because, from an engineering perspective, there is little difference.
>From the day of the first automatic exchanges, the network has carried both
voice and data. The signalling and switching facilities have been
implemented over the same set of wires as voice. The only difference is that
the telephone companies were the only ones to use the data channels. Now,
others wish to do so as well.
Telstra has made things very difficult for themselves (or had them made
difficult by others) by being responsible only for the network up to the
first socket in the house. If they were responsible for the telephone as
well they could have based the differentiator on the use of that phone and
hence the network. Now anyone can connect anything (provided it is approved)
including modems, fax machines, answering machines (and if an answering
machine doesn't switch, I don't know what does) etc.
I suspect that Telstra and their masters do not understand what business
they are really in. IMHO, they are in the business of providing a national
communications infrastructure where the user decides what goes over it.
Users may decide that they need a private (not public) broadcast (not
switched) data (not telephone) network. Somebody should provide that on an
infrastructure basis. Where does that leave Telstra and its PSTN concept?
The technology is exactly the same, only the use is different, and it is the
user who makes it different.
Lets face it, the battle was lost years ago when communications was viewed
as a money making business not as an essential national infrastructure
component that should be priced as low as possible so that the community,
business and the economy would benefit.
User pays works only if you identify all the users. In this case the major
user is the community (in its broadest sense). The community should fund
this type of infrastructure through the taxation system. BTW why is the user
pays principle not applied to Defence?
Charging for communication services is a political issue, it is not based on
the cost of service provision. You have to fight politics with politics,
rational, logical arguments can assist but are no guarantee of success.