[LINK] NBN white-elephant-to-be: better spend the $$$ on other things

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Thu Aug 19 13:45:22 AEST 2010

On 2010/Aug/19, at 1:06 PM, Richard Chirgwin wrote:

> I think the argument of what one individual needs, in one place at one
> time, ignores several dimensions of the debate.
> 1. The infrastructure to a place isn't solely to meet the needs of
> today's householder
> I would probably buy a more budget 20 Mbps plan if / when the NBN
> arrives, reasoning that I don't need a gigabit per second. But people
> are mobile; and even where I live, I can see businesses near enough to
> be in the same putative fibre serving area, who may well need more  
> than
> my home.
> Installing a differentiated network - here are households, here are
> businesses, design different networks for the two - would probably be
> more expensive than saying "here's a connection, buy whatever you  
> choose".
> And we're a very mobile population - something like 17% of families  
> move
> each year? (no checked) - so it's impossible to judge tomorrow's
> customer based on today's occupant.
> 2. I heard the IPA's Oliver Hartwich on the radio a short while ago,
> putting the argument that the ISDN experience demonstrated why the NBN
> is a bad idea - because ISDN became obsolete so quickly. Instead, it
> demonstrates how easy it is to get an argument "nearly right".

ISDN demonstrates the problem well.  ISDN could've done well indeed  
but it was owned by a monopoly and priced using monopoly pricing,  
based on monopoly telephone call rates.  Even long after modems were  
getting far greater speeds ISDN pricing was still stuck in Telstra  
land.  They were never prepared to change it enough to compete.

> ISDN wasn't the copper network; it was the attached equipment. And  
> yes,
> it was obsoleted fairly quickly by ADSL. But note that ISDN and ADSL
> didn't obsolete the copper they ran on: either could be attached.

Having a monopoly own the last mile and compete on the content is  
basically a disaster.

> Attacking it based on analogy is a quicksand.
> The NBN can rightly be attacked on better grounds, such as the  
> business
> plan question.
> 3. Nobody else, except perhaps for builders of project homes, builds  
> to
> today's requirements alone. An example: the pylons of Grand Pacific
> Drive are designed to survive inundation, without maintenance, for 70
> years. Over-built? Yes: but the option would have been something that
> needed maintenance that probably wouldn't get done. The designers  
> chose
> to over-build the pylons because re-building them after the inevitable
> "we can't afford the maintenance" would be even more expensive.
> I am reminded of the notion that only rich people can really afford to
> live cheaply: if you can afford the outlay, you can buy shoes that  
> will
> last a lifetime, instead of buying ten times as many shoes at Target
> over the same period. So regarding the NBN: if we can buy shoes that
> last a lifetime, why would we go to Target?
> RC
> Ned Lukies wrote:
>> On 17/08/2010, at 11:43 PM, Robin Whittle wrote:
>>> Its a mistake to think all this could be done for $43B.  This sort  
>>> of
>>> massive expenditure would have to be at the expense of other vital
>>> priorities such as health, welfare, education, renewable energy
>>> research etc.  Most people having fibre is a luxury we can't afford.
>>> DSL is fine for most purposes.  The only thing fibre does better is
>>> support high quality video streaming.  Why spend tens of billions of
>>> dollars for the benefit of couch potatoes?

Our copper telephone network was put in when? At what cost?  Hint: it  
was a long time ago. It was a government funded and run project.  It  
had to be if we were going to have telephones in the country.  It was  
made for telephone calls, bad quality telephone calls.  It's amazing  
we can squeeze what we do out of it but in many parts of Australia we  
*can't* squeeze that out of it.

The worst part of Mr Rabbit's plan is to throw money at the companies  
that have not been able to fix the problem so far.  How would that not  
be a huge waste of government money?

>> I would be happy with DSL, even happier with ADSL2. My ADSL2+  
>> connection currently syncs at about 1900kbs, and drops out about 8  
>> times a day (more when it is raining, where it can become  
>> unusable). Telstra have looked at the line many a time, nothing can  
>> really be done about it. No, I don't live in the middle of nowhere,  
>> I am less than 2km from the Brisbane CBD.
>> DSL is great when it works, but there are a large number of places  
>> and situations where it doesn't and from my understanding, the  
>> problem is only going to get worse as more and more people use it.  
>> The situation at my work is even worse, the lack of DSL ports has  
>> lead us to purchase a 4mb symmetrical fibre connection with 60gb of  
>> data per month. All for the measly price of $140 per day, yes per  
>> day. At that rate, ~$2000 to install fibre to the house doesn't  
>> sound like a lot.
>> Some of us need a reliable Internet connection to work. I am sick  
>> of people assuming that just because I think fibre is the way to go  
>> I must sit around downloading pr0n and warez all day.

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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