[LINK] The data drought

Karl Auer kauer at biplane.com.au
Mon Oct 5 23:17:31 AEDT 2015

On Mon, 2015-10-05 at 11:08 +1100, Tom Worthington wrote:
> Who is playing the NBN for political gain? There would not seem to be 
> anything to gain for the incumbent government, whoever they are, to 
> deliberately limit NBN service in remote areas. Or are you suggesting 
> someone else is deliberately exaggerating the problem?

By providing a substandard service to as much of the country as
possible, they keep the embarrassing cost blowouts down, and/or save
money to spend on areas with larger voting populations and/or marginal
seats. This whole issue should have ripped the coalition apart two years
ago, I can only assume the Nationals are a bit slow to catch on.

The cynic in me also thinks that this could well be a deliberate
exercise in lowering expectations. By giving people 12Mb/s,
"shaping" (because "throttling" is such an ugly word), dismal quotas and
distant deadlines, they hope we will all be pathetically grateful when
they get access any time sooner, and get 20Mb/s or 40Mb/s and with luck
will forget that with FTTP they could have had 100Mb/s just for an
entree, and gigabits in a few years time.

> I have a wireless modem with a 10GB a month allocation, which then gets 
> "shaped". This is fine for on-line banking, large photographs, podcasts 
> and low resolution video (as well as for tutoring and being a student of 
> on-line university courses).

Your personal requirements are of very little relevance.

I want to work on remote servers and enjoy the odd online game, so
latency is critical to me and satellite access is useless, regardless of
quotas and bandwidth. I have a colleague here who uploads about 350GB
per month of original high resolution video; satellite worked fine for
him, but he has just been forced to MOVE HOUSE because of this new
limitation, or face the loss of his business. One of my clients in town
is a real estate business with a database application running on a
remote server. They can only get ADSL at the moment, so only three
people can work on the application simultaneously. They upload photos
all the time - and while that's happening, pretty much nothing else can,
and it takes ages because ADSL is limited to about a megabit outbound.
Moving the application in-house will cost them about 15K. They can't get
more ADSL because providers won't put in any more capacity because "the
NBN is coming" - this year? Next year? Sometime? Never. And so it goes. 

People's requirements are not geographically defined, so why do so many
people think it makes sense to provide service quality based on

> > "The new half-a-billion-dollar satellite was launched this morning, but
> > due to months of testing will not be commercially available until mid-2016.

And REGARDLESS of its capacity, it can delivery NOTHING of value to
people needing to use low-latency applications. And with the ludicrously
low data quotas, it will also provide nothing of value to anyone who
needs to transfer any significant quantity of data. 20GB is next to
nothing in today's terms. That's two strikes...

> Yes, commissioning a satellite really is "rocket science": it is 
> difficult and takes time.

Indeed it is and does! So why bother doing it? Why not spend those
millions on doing something useful, long-lived, and socially equitable?

> Remote satellite users can never receive the same speed as city users. 
> This is not a matter of politics, but of physics and geography.

Putting the word "satellite" in there begs the question. Take it out,
and you have something that is *entirely* a matter of politics. Yes;
poor service via satellite is a matter of physics (not geography), but
why should remote users be limited to satellite service?

> That said, 128 kbps should be sufficient for applications such 
> e-learning via Moodle. If not, there must be something seriously wrong 
> with the way the courses have been designed.

Jeez, Tom, you are supposed to be the expert here! Wann to learn
surgical techniques over a satellite link? Want to fly a
super-computer-backed jet fighter simulation over a satellite link? Want
to download a fluid dynamics dataset for local analysis over a 128kb/s
link? Want to learn cinematography by studying "Casablanca" at 320x280
resolution? Want to videoconference a class of ten students and a
teacher over a 128kb/s link? Or a satellite link? Hope, nope, nope,
nope, and nope. "E-learning" doesn't begin OR end with Moodle. 

Why is it so hard for people to see that data networks are the new
roads, the roads that lead to the future? And that by not building those
roads (or building only goat tracks), we cut off parts of the country
that could have been part of that future and now will not be.
We can run fibre to every corner of this country. Yes, it will cost a
bit - but the same people that cry poor on this then turn around and
support highly dubious and ridiculously expensive escapades in the
Middle East; think that American cast-off jet fighters are a great
investment; think that chaplains in schools deserve funding more than
the CSIRO.

Physics and geography? Those are solved problems in terrestrial
networking. We run cables linking continents through some of the most
hostile territory on Earth, kilometres beneath the surface of the ocean.
We have linked the east and west coasts of this continent - that's a
loooong way, and that goes through some pretty tricky country as well.

The problem is ALL politics. It doesn't matter whether you want to call
it lack of will, lack of vision, or a venal preparedness to use any
issue, no matter how important, for political gain. On this one we have
been most grievously let down by our so-called leaders. And it has
nothing at all to do with physics or geography.

Regards, K.
Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)

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