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Aug 16, 2010

Coalition broadband: a wireless tower in every street

“Wireless can never deliver equivalent services to fibre,” according to network engineering consultant Narelle Clark. But what the Coalition’s “affordable broadband” policy could deliver is a wireless base station at the end of every street in the outer suburbs and country towns.


“Wireless can never deliver equivalent services to fibre,” according to network engineering consultant Narelle Clark. But what the Coalition’s “affordable broadband” policy could deliver is a wireless base station at the end of every street in the outer suburbs and country towns.

Unlike most of Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), which uses optical fibre to deliver data, the Coalition’s Plan for Real Action on Broadband and Telecommunications would see carriers roll out fixed wireless networks where existing fixed-wire networks could not be upgraded. “We will commit up to an additional $1 billion in investment funding for new fixed wireless networks in metropolitan Australia, with an emphasis on outer metropolitan areas,” the policy says.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott continued to talk up the merits of wireless broadband on ABC-TV’s Insiders yesterday. “Let’s not assume that we should put all our eggs in [Labor’s] high fibre basket either,” he said.

In an interview recorded for this week’s Patch Monday podcast, Clark said that because fibre is a contained medium, you can use 100% of the available electromagnetic spectrum.

“In wireless, you’ve got to do a spectrum plan, where you carve up slices of the available spectrum, and only broadcast on the bits you’re allowed to broadcast on,” she said. The limited spectrum is shared by every customer who’s connected via the same cell tower. If fixed wireless becomes the main internet connection for every household, each customer ends up with only a small share of the total — unless you add more towers spaced more closely.”

What would that mean? “In order to get those 100 megabit speeds and beyond you’d need to be installing a base station around about on every suburban block,” she said. “At the end of every street there’d need to be a base station.”

It is possible to design base stations so they look like trees, or like street lighting.

“Certainly if there’s one at the end of every suburban block then you’ll get used to them and they’ll get very good at blending them in,” Clark says.

Narelle Clark is vice-president of the Internet Society of Australia and sits on the board of trustees of the Internet Society globally. She has worked with Singtel Optus and was until recently the research director of the CSIRO’s Networking Technologies Laboratory. (Clark said her opinions are her own and not those of the Internet Society.)


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81 thoughts on “Coalition broadband: a wireless tower in every street

  1. Astro

    Wireless broadband is a joke, the speeds are terrible.

    Labor plan is also a joke as they will allow the NBN to hang the fibre cable from power poles if Optus / Foxtel is already hanging on those poles.

    They will make our streets looks even more uglier.

  2. Meski

    What about the radiation? WONT SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!! :^)

  3. Russell White

    I smell an Abbott / Pell conspiracy to install very tall crucifixes at the end of every street, all cunningly disguised as Wireless Broadband base stations . . .

  4. Trevor Harrison

    One sidelight of the planned NBN is the reduced need for phone exchanges, by up to two-thirds I’ve read somewhere. These are all on prime development land which would become available once households were wired to fibre.
    There’ll likely be rich pickings for local developers, builders, tradies and estate agents in many communities around Australia, many of whom will be thinking of voting for the Coalition and thus denying themselves a piece of the action.

  5. Trevor

    Of course wireless technology will always be part of an overall broadband solution. I am a big fan of the govts NBN proposal & will go into a huge sulk that I may not come out of if Tony gets in winds up NBN Co. However assuming the NBN gets built I will still be carrying around my 3G stick so I can connect my notebook to the net while I am out an about similarly using my Iphone for online apps.

    To suggest it has to one or tother is nonsense, they both have their place. But anyone with a sliver of knowledge about how these things work will tell you wireless will never hold a candle to fibre for performance.

  6. shepherdmarilyn

    Most of the cable is going underground.

    My friends call Abbott’s “plan” nothing but carrier pigeon service.

  7. Deedzy

    2,000,000 people miss out on the NBN fibre to the home. Where do these people live?

  8. Douglas Mackenzie

    The Coalition’s “plan” for a broadband network is simply a technological mess: one step forward and several back. It would relegate Australia to the status of IT and communications “third-world” backwater for many years, if not decades.

    Much of Australia would be left with the old copper-wire network, with its abysmal speeds, congestion and unreliability. The Liberal Party policy document (on its Web site) glibly states that the plan will be accomplished “with the expectation of leveraging at least $750 million in additional private sector funding”. Anyone who believes that the private sector would willingly put such money into broadband networking outside the high-profit Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane triangle would have to be pretty naïve.

    Here is some of what Professor Rod Tucker* wrote in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on August 10:

    “The idea that we could use very fast broadband based on mobile technologies and existing fibre defies the laws of physics . . . very fast broadband . . . cannot be delivered to the entire population using wireless and existing fibre. It would require mobile telephone towers along every suburban street . . .

    “The result would be thousands of kilometres of new fibre – much the same as will be required for the broadband network – and ugly streetscapes across the nation. It would also consume about 200 megawatts more electricity.

    “It has been argued that market forces should be left to determine the future of Australia’s broadband network. But true competition in telecommunications cannot occur in the shadow of a large vertically integrated monopoly. And it is very difficult to achieve facilities-based competition in a sparsely-populated country such as Australia.

    “The national broadband network plan is a brilliant solution to both of these problems. By dismantling Telstra’s ageing copper access network . . . the [NBN] provides tremendous opportunities for innovative retail products and real competition.

    “. . . and the Australian public is provided with truly world-class broadband access and a rich variety of new services.

    A recent report commissioned by the city of Seattle found that a fibre-access network would produce indirect benefits of more than $1 billion a year. . . and reduction in annual greenhouse emissions . . . of 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

    “Scaled to a country the size of Australia, these benefits would amount to more than $5 billion per annum. The $43 billion price tag on the broadband network is starting to look like a bargain.”

    * Rod Tucker is Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) and Director of the Centre for Ultra-Broadband Information Networks (CUBIN), in the University of Melbourne’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

  9. Kristian

    Hehe, what a cleverly written piece. You haven’t written your opinion of the (albeit extreme) concept of base stations on every corner, but let the wackiness speak for itself. Well done.

    @Trevor, as far as I can tell from following NBN’s briefings, there still going to need the exchanges. Most of them, anyway.

  10. paddy

    [Where do these people live?]
    Sadly, at my place. Misses me by 5 Km
    Bastards!! 🙁

  11. Alex H

    Deedzy, 2 million without access to fibre means 20 million or so with access to it. You can’t expect identical services to be available to all Australians when some live in dense urban areas and some live in small remote communities. Expecting uniformity would in effect drastically curtail what is reasonably able to be done for the majority of Australians.

    What we should expect from a government is a plan to get a good system to as many as possible and to give consideration to other solutions for harder to service areas. This would probably mean that there would be more cost per person in remote areas to deliver lower performing services, but that is the reality of service provision.

    Urban dwellers shouldn’t begrudge the remote dwellers for costing the public purse more for their services and remote dwellers shouldn’t begrudge urban dwellers for having access to better services.

  12. Lee Wilkinson

    Point 1: A basestation at the end of every street means fibre to the end of every street to backhaul it. This is what people who think wireless is the answer always forget. Every mobile basestation or wireless broadband basestation is connected via fibre or point to point microwave to get it connected to the core network.

    Point 2: Pretending for a minute we can get 1Gb off a basestation sector (you can’t now, at least 4-5 years away) you can’t predict what sort of bandwidth any particular subscriber is likely to get. Compare this with fibre, where it just depends on the equipment you drop on the end of it.

    Point 3: How can any Retailer know which service they can provide from one household to the next? Can I get HD TV? Maybe with wireless, maybe not. You’re left with lowest common denominator services, a bad result for providers and consumers.

  13. Deedzy

    Many of the 2 Million people will live in “difficult” urban areas. There is no guarantee the cables will go down your street.

  14. Holden Back

    @ Alex H The lovely myth of the Universal Service Guarantee dies very hard. You’re robbing people of the opportunity to whinge – that’s un-Australian!

  15. paulieM3

    Wireless is a suitable option as opposed to digging up Australia and I thoroughly disagree with Narelle’s basic take on this…

    Initial testing of 4G networks shows speeds of ~ 50Mbps are possible. Telstra are also currently testing a wireless product capable of 172 Mbps

    This is only with the wireless carriers funding it themselves, imagine what could be achieved with some gov’t funding.

    Suggesting a tower would need to be placed on every street corner is near sighted and we are now all just stupider for having read that. Tough to swallow given how easily “non-tech heads” will accept it as truth from someone who should know better.

    One large issue is the various cabbage heads that populate Australia have been too cheap to upgrade to digital TV in a timely fashion, and as such the analogue TV frequency spectrum remains unavailable.

    Once this frequency band becomes available wireless will become a much better solution, however I can already get ~ 5Mbps even on Optus’ meager network, which is already competitive with current fixed solutions

    I, for one, would prefer the NBN as fibre to the premise can’t really be matched. However I felt compelled to comment given the general drivel quoted in this article.

  16. ggm

    @paulieM3: bit quick to call it drivel. AFAIK the number of people simultaneously on any wireless network profoundly alters the visible bandwidth to *all* of them at that time. Either you have more antenna, or you have less bandwidth per user. You can’t have it both ways.

    Finding spectrum to use for this class of service to a wide horizon with few towers represents a challenge. Hint: why did AAPT bid for a bunch of microwave licences a few years back. Hint #2: why did they use so little of them? Hint #3: why do the US carriers want to use the 700mhz ranges freed up from TV, and why do they want to use it for highly asymmetrical service delivery, not 2-way open-slather? -Those Gigahertz bandwidths being used for your local Wifi have sharp distance dropoff, but the longer the radio waves go, the more congested, and the slower the service.

    Radio can be glued together with microwave and radio, yes. But it suffers a range of problems, including rain-fade and congestion, because all the high-bandwidth point-to-point links start interfering with each other. In the end, you *do* wind up trying to feed them by buried fibres.

    If you believe the drivel being sold you about nationwide wireless ‘catching up’ with landline services, you’ve been sold a pup. There isn’t a network admin in the country who wants to choose radio over fibre, given pricing and regulatory parity.

    Open-access layer-2 national network? Bring it on!


  17. Meski

    Google “wireless network congestion” for some good reasons on why fibre is going to be better.

  18. paulieM3

    @GGM – By 2013-2015 etc, Telstra, Optus & Co will likely launch the next generation wireless product with a theoretical speed higher than 100Mbps

    All with their own wallets and no $43BN tax

    Yeah not as good as fibre but much cheaper and still effective.

  19. Stilgherrian

    It does seem to need repeating again: When you see wireless speeds being quoted, that’s shared amongst all users of that base station.

    All sorts of tests are being conducted with various wireless technologies under the name LTE for “long term evolution”. But all of the speeds you’re seeing quoted are for a single user with a clear line of sight to the base station.

    4G networks are indeed capable of 100Mb/s. Shared amongst all users. If you’ve got 20 houses in the street, at peak times that’s 5Mb/s per household. Assuming perfect transmission conditions. That is, around a quarter of what ADSL2+ delivers now. If there’s 200 houses subscribing to the base station, or 2000… well, you do the maths.

  20. mook schanker

    [quote]Labor plan is also a joke as they will allow the NBN to hang the fibre cable from power poles[/quote]
    Astro – Do you think wireless base station delivery has no cables? Of course they do and fibre most likely too….For an inevitable essential technology, just wear it and get over it, much like we do with roads, telegraph poles and power lines….

    Here’s a indicative pic of the infrastructure at street delivery…

  21. John64

    So really, the title of this item is wrong. It should be “a wireless tower on the roof of every home”.

  22. JamesG

    @douglas mackenzie
    if you don’t now how to insert a link into a comment you probably shouldn’t be entering into discussions about the internet.

    unless it’s Monday night and all those households are simultaneously illegally downloading the latest episode of True Blood then they will probably achieve on average something better than 100Mbs/N.

  23. harrybelbarry

    I think a lot of people have THEIR products to push and when NBN Fibre to the door, who will need Foxtel .

  24. Stilgherrian

    @JamesG: And how do they achieve speeds greater than the total speed available on the base station? I repeat, a base station that can deliver 100Mb/s is doing so in total for all users of that station.

    I agree that uses such as email and messaging and web browsing mean little bursts of traffic. In that scenario, users can achieve quite high average speeds — but obviously still less than the total speed available. But with increasing use of video and other continuous-bandwidth application — and that’s precisely what will drive the need for more bandwidth — it’s harder to share.

    The contention ratio — that is, the amount by which bandwidth is “over-sold” to multiple end users — will become ever more important. Wireless automatically has a high contention ratio.

  25. Tremere

    Wireless plant would consume a bit of power as well, take a look at this presentation out of the CUBIN research lab at Melb Uni (disclaimer for disbelievers: its authored by Rod Tucker)

    >150W per user and thats only at a paltry ~12Mb/s (slide 19). PON is around 8W per user up to 100Mb/sec

    This includes consumer premise equipment.

    Now, power prices are going to go up in the coming years, right?

    I haven’t looked but it wouldn’t surprise me if fibre-to-the-home has a negative (i.e reduces) carbon footprint.

    @PAULIEM3: Repeat after me, T-H-E-O-R-E-T-I-C-A-L. Hint: 4G wireless (and even 3G) are near the theoretical bandwidth limit of wireless technologies (Shannons theorem). If you want more bandwidth, you either decrease cell size, throw more spectrum at it or both.

  26. Syd Walker

    Are there any potential health issues associated with massively increased use of wireless communications at the frequencies that will be used for broadband?

    That’s a question, not a statement.

  27. sprocket_

    with a wireless connection, a boatphone will still work fine – and that is all that matters!

  28. mook schanker

    So says the so called “expert” Paulie M3. So you mention the wonders of wireless 4G and no mention of any extra the fibre infrastructure to deliver a projected increase in bandwidth? And wireless 5Mbps, pah! I sometimes use Optus wireless broadband at work in the city (Melbourne) and during the day it crawls slower than a 56k dial up and the Optus building is across the road! “Theory” is fine until people use it….

    I remember years ago arguing with a friend about 80Mb hard disks and he reckoned that no more was needed as Dos 5.0 was awesome! We even argued that HDD couldn’t get cheaper than a $1 per/Mb. All I am saying that in years to come businesses and people alike will certainly use the extra bandwidth on offer from NBN. People who cannot see possibly what for, lack innovative thought in this area…..This sums at the Libs policy….

  29. corbie68

    Anyone here heard of Moore’s law? Aside from a few posts it seems not, eventually we will probably be leaving behind silicon chip technology in computers and hand held devices, in favour of cloud computing… Which means we’re going to need a better network for us all to hop on the cloud to edit our word docs and the like that we store on the cloud. This doesn’t even begin to go into the benefits for Australia in terms of decentralisation.

    But it seems many are quite content to save some pennies now to remain a technological backwater that doesn’t produce anything other than crops, rocks and spots. Hardly giving us young people a future 🙁

    Which reminds me that I should call my grandma and tell her why she should vote for the NBN.

  30. Kristian

    Mr Tony’s radio will give me more of the G.B’s for my internets when I’m on the email.

  31. corbie68

    Didn’t see your post mook schanker, you summed up this debate beautifully 🙂

  32. JamesK

    To laugh or cry at silly self-centred lefties in full flight?

    $2000 for every man, woman, child and infant in the country.

    That includes the 2 million that won’t be able to have access.

    That includes the 10 million that won’t pay to subscribe.

    That includes the 12 million of the remaining that will not require but a small percentage of the speed of Labor’s ill-conceived-punch-drunk-response to frustration of their original NBN that they offered at the last election for a mere $4 billion.

    Hey there is that 10 times multiplication factor again.

    With the MSM’s help Rudd-style Labor insanity marches on.

  33. Douglas Mackenzie

    @JAMSEG Of course I know how to insert a hyperlink. I thought it would be more convenient for (almost) everyone for me to paste in a summary of the more cogent points that Rod Tucker made. If you insist, see Rod Tucker in The Age.

  34. harrybelbarry

    my mother is nearly 88 years old and is not interested in this inter-google net and have tried to put a computer in her house. Dead against it , but when doing those hard cross words , she rings me and i look it up while i talk to her. i think i will have to lock her in her house on Saturday ( Liberal voter ) She reads the c. mail in QLD , and watches ACA ,TT , enough said . How can they call it Wireless , when its connected by fibre between the Cancer Towers . Should we ask Abbott where he wants to put all those towers before the election.
    Corbie 68 well said, its not our future, its the young’s future that Abbott wants to wreck, to help his rich friends get richer. I am sick of paying through the nose for slow speeds and sharing it. 400 – 500 metres at the end of my street is a fibre-optic cable going past to Springfield Data Centre Tower (bullet- proof glass ?) and the going to be the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere , how can i hack into it ? I am less than 2 kms from my exchange by road and are on a 1.5 – 20 MB plan(adsl) and have just done a speed test and got only 6731 Kbps max on 4 attempts?

  35. harrybelbarry

    $2,000 per person is pocket money jamesk, to future proof this country over the next 50 years. fibre optic can be upgraded by changing the boxes at each end and it doesn’t matter how many users are using it at the same time. Its infrastructure that your grandkids will thank Labor for. China started back in 2001 laying fibre , Howard has really let us down and Abbott is Howard lite and will do nothing till 2014 except give away Billions to their mates to do nothing, that is waste. So even at $30.00 a month with a free phone line (just pay for calls) x your 12 million users = $3.6 Billion a year. So even on your half empty glass figures , it would pay for its self and don’t forget the old copper wires will be ripped out and recycled ($$$$$) $ 7,000 a tonne roughly. It would mean that you don’t have to live in big cities to fast B/Band and work , also needed for E-health , small and large businesses etc etc

  36. JamesK


    Whose pocket money Harry?

    Do you spe3ck for each of the $22 million of us?

    What bout that pocket money for the 2o million of us who won’t use or don’t require FTTH?

  37. JamesK

    Mind you Harry……… it only really matters if you are taxpayer or will become one…….

  38. ggm

    @jamesk go back in time and ask yourself how much the cost of the sewerage was in 1950 dollars and now dial forward. Likewise electricity, which was deployed during the great depression. If you tried to build it now.. you’ll wind up with the costs of Anna Blighs attempted desal solution for water. Not pretty. It won’t get cheaper by waiting for some phantom future technology (the first modems which did 1200/75 characters per second cost thousands btw)

    It wont be $2k per person. it won’t be $43b overall. its a wild over-estimate, its not a single-year spend, it even includes notionally $20b of capital from the market.

    Can you stop fudging this and crying poor because it invites a reductio ad absurdiam on how much of your bloody tax dollars go on things you ‘dont want or use’. Presumably you don’t want a neonatal ventilator, or Breast cancer screening either.

  39. EngineeringReality

    Time to explain the physics for a few people.

    Data transmission bandwidth is a function of the frequency of the carrier signal.

    Wireless uses radio waves as the carrier signal. Radio signals interfere with each other. As you go for higher frequencies (because higher frequencies are the only way to increase data transfer) the signals become increasingly line of sight – because GHz and above have smaller wavelengths and become more like light and less like radio waves. (i.e. they bounce off things and don’t penetrate through as AM (kHz) or FM (MHz) radio does)

    Also with more users you get more and more interference as hundreds or thousands of radio signals are all bouncing around the area. Its like being in a loud pub with everyone yelling to be heard over one another. All the other signals look like interfering noise from the point of view of your signal. The only speed increase wireless has been making lately is in the sophisticated signal processing to remove all the noise of the other radio signals in order to decode your signal.

    With higher and higher interference the only answer is to increase signal power. That increases the signal to noise ratio – but not if the noise is actually everyone else’s wireless signals. Very soon you reach capacity – as we have now.

    Contrast this with optical fibre. The carrier signal are lasers at PHz (petahertz) carry millions of more data per second than radio waves – based on the physics of light and radio waves – something no policy can change. Inside a fibre the laser light bounces inside & travels at the speed of light. You can shine lasers of different colours (wavelengths) down each fibre and the different colours don’t interfere with each other.

    Fibre optics are glass. They won’t degrade or corrode. Once installed they won’t become outdated because we are already sending light down them as fast as the speed of light. Nothing in the future will be able to travel faster.

    NBN is a necessary and urgently needed investment in the future of Australia. Without it we will become an informational backwater.

    Don’t forget Google was started in 1996 by two guys in their garage. Today it provides billions and billions of dollars of foreign income to the US – and it would never have been started without an internet. It is a business that was born out of the internet.

    Leaving Australia as an internet and telecommunications backwater will deny our country the opportunity to benefit from future technology and leave us with a mono-dimensional economy – vulnerable to commodity prices.

  40. JamesK


    Prove that the alternate to Labor’s hastily assembled ‘plan’ would imply that Australia would be left
    “as an internet and telecommunications backwater’ as you unquestioningly assert as if ’twere self-evident..

    Why would that leave us with a mono-dimensional economy – vulnerable to commodity prices”?.

    I think you are making unfounded assertions without a moments consideration, ER.

    Or perhaps you could provide evidence for those wild assertions?

  41. jeebus

    @JamesK, you could make a similar point about any government investment in infrastructure, be it water, roads, or electricity. If we didn’t run power poles or roads to rural properties, small towns, and mines out west, we could save a bucket load of cash!

    Though there goes a chunk of Australia’s export currency which is used to sustain imports of things like computers and technology for the city folk.

    Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of costs and benefits, mate.

  42. Oscar Jones

    While Labor’s internet plan sounds the best to me (apart from the filter fiasco) I am no expert and wouldn’t know if is actually the best. While I’m a confessed Labor voter at this stage, I reckon the whole broadband delivery debate-or should it be non-debate, is a perfect example of how the media has failed us since Rudd’s election.

    The media has allowed the Liberals to spend 2 years waffling now and indulging themselves , sometimes encouraging them, in leadership squabbles when they should have re-grouped quickly and started to formulate policy.

    The Libs had a highly intelligent leader in Turnbull who if given full backing from his party could have revived their fortunes. To his credit, Tony Abbott has surprised me with the quick re-make of his image in 6 months. If he had spent a few years doing that he wold be a shoo-in.

  43. skink

    interesting piece on Lateline about how Abbott has misread the strength of feeling in regional areas regarding internet speeds, with some poor bloke in the country with his feet on the table waiting for his business data to download.

    I like Jamesk’s argument about paying tax for things you don’t use.

    and as I don’t have kids, why should my tax pay for schools?

    since I am healthy, why should I pay for hospitals which are just transit lounges for the elderly?

    can I get a refund?

  44. Oscar Jones

    EngineeringReality- thanks for an understandable explanation which I’m taking as fact on your word.

    If I can get faster broadband in Bangkok-which I can-I really expect it here and I think even those who have lived under a rock for the past 10 years now know that the net rules our lives.

    Again I moan-we should have been having this debate since the end of the last election and if the media has a role in society it should have been forcing all pollies from all parties to put their cards on the table particularly with Australia’s short election cycle.

    But what have we had instead- the media have become the story so a Latham or Laurie Oakes can command centre stage plus endless waffle on a Tony’s swimming costume or Julia’s hair and living arrangements.

    And to make matters worse-whilst promoting all this flim flam stuff the popular press then turn around and blame politicians because they have been forced into a beauty contest.

  45. Spare US

    @#Qanda last night was pathetic performance by POTS (Plain Old Telephone System aka copper wires) Tony. Why doesn’t somebody inside his party tell the ‘boxer he has no clothes’ when it comes to the Internet and Broadband. POTS Tony got left behind decades ago along with Howard et al. How anybody can even contemplate voting for these navel gazers is just amazing and goes to show that education has a very long way to go in this country. Mind you he does belong to a long tradition of denying anything other than the ‘gospel truth’. Scary, very SCARY!!

  46. mook schanker

    JamesK or MPM or whatever your name is….

    [quote]$2000 for every man, woman, child and infant in the country[/quote]

    Thanks for your “economic analysis” on cost. Did you do the sums and give them to Tony? cost/population, is that all? P1ssweak……

    How about some form of “benefit” out of cost benefit analysis? Let me help you, the monetary benefits direct and indirect from:-
    * Annual revenue streams
    * Productivity
    * Improved communications
    * Asset transfer at end of period

    Or should we just look at the cost of any project on its capital costs?

  47. Spare US

    @SKINK – and you don’t plan to be elderly anytime in the future? You don’t use the mobile phone to call anybody? Oh, you do! Then VHSBB (very high speed broadband) is the product for you – try Skype over 3G network – free – try VoIP phones etc etc. Don’t watch movies at home? Maybe you do it the POTS Tony way – drive to a video (cassette type) store pick up a movie and drive back to return it. Good on you!

    Please go join POTS Tony, Howard and that lot of neanderthals.

  48. JamesK

    Obviously a full moon last night……….

    Your preferred Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull has something to say about Labor’s NBN:



    Besides, without spending a penny of taxpayers money two thirds of the population that Labor’s NBN could deliver to can almost instantly deliver 100Mbps to nearly three million households in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by tapping Telstra and Optus’s HFC cable networks.

  49. listohan

    How long will it take Tony’s wage index linked paid parental leave scheme targeted at the wealthy to reach the cost of constructing the NBN, an asset with a life of over 50 years?

  50. mook schanker

    Thanks JamesK for linking the dribble from Malcolm Turnbull.

    MT goes on about market forces should dictate the network but then talks about $6 billion subsidy, what the? Then he goes on about monopolistic environment. Hello MT, no need to duplicate the network just so we can have a “market”, a regulated monopoly will be fine, else we will have two train tracks everywhere else as well won’t we? (Let’s not talk about the Coalition efforts in privatised monopolostic behaviour in the comms market and where we are now eh?). Or if he is proposing wireless as an alternative to fibre then he really doesn’t understand the technology. And the horrors of Government control, I guess we better start selling off some schools, hospitals and roads I guess…MT also completely fails in assessing broader economic benefits (from a so called businessman). He also doesn’t even mention the lifecycle of the coalitions proposed patchwork compared to the NBN which pretty much shows a lack of vision from MT in capital investments requirements over many years….I guess he is trying to sell a dogsh1t of a policy though, nice try…..

  51. listohan

    @ JamesK

    According to ABS statistics, http://is.gd/ekP46 households were connected to the internet as follows:
    2000 – 3.9 million
    2003 – 5.2
    2006 – 6.65
    2009 – 9.1

    And you are saying as the population ages over the next 8 years and the older people who don’t have it now, move on to a better place, there will be no increase in these numbers which in any event are already near saturation? Don’t forget, fixed line subscribers are already paying Telstra $360 a year for line rental.

    These are households numbers, not people, many of whom subscribe despite Telstra’s best efforts to stop them. It used to be said of the ABC half the staff were trying to create content and the other half were trying to stop them. As the ABC has moved to providing more content on more devices (iView is a worthwhile service ALREADY if you are lucky enough to be able to get it), this accolade has now passed to Telstra.

    @moon schanker

    MT may be trying to sell a poor policy, but if Tony falls on his face over this issue, the knives may be out and MT could have been in a good position to say “I told you so” and grab the leadership back. This would be more likely to come to pass if MT stayed out of the debate now.

  52. Tremere

    JAMESK: Yes, the HFC network rollouts that were aborted and written off (huge loss) back in the late 90’s. The free market has definitely worked, by guaranteeing a current or future broadband hellhole to anyone unlucky enough to not have property in those areas that existed before 1995.

    In fact, its suggested Telstra deliberately built the HFC network in question at a loss to stem the free market the Libs love to bang on about.

    ACCC submission by Optus: Telstra overbuild of Optus HFC network

  53. harrybelbarry

    Jamesk , you really are a dumb basta#d , quoting from B.S and the Australiano. All these smart people on this blog are trying to teach you the real facts of this wonderful Infrastructure for the future generations that will keep on giving more and more , not like rabbitts idea of head in the sand. We want to be more than a hole in the ground and have been waiting along time for this, as Howards carrier pigeons have stalled my business. Lucky i started work at 15 years old (8 day week ) from 3am – 6.30 am every day. Paid cash for my 1st car at 16.5 years old and have paid more tax than Packer and are a land banker at the moment , but Abbotts plans will destroy my land values. Yes $2,000 is chum money in the big picture of things. I don’t go to church , so they should sell them off and get the tax payers money back from these smoke and mirror corparations. Last time i looked it was a NEW MOON , do your parents know you are on the internet ??

  54. JamesK

    Thank you Harrynotsobel.

    You say all that can be said by your side of politics.

    You tech genius you…..

    Stilgherrian should hire you as sidekick….

    You’re right up his alley…….

  55. EngineeringReality


    Once again showing you have all the economic grasp of a 4 year old given a $50 note and unleashed into the lolly shop.

    We are already a telecommunications backwater. When visiting Asia, Europe and the US (I’ve been to 28 countries in the last 4 years) we have far higher prices for much lower speeds.

    In the US for example there are no data limits on internet plans – its a fixed price per month and its full speed without limits.

    Why is that good? Well it opens up more business opportunities and therefore increases GDP and investment. In the US you can pay for and download HD movies on demand for a few dollars. Not only does it reduce illegal downloading but it increases consumption of movies (& GDP).

    Downloading movies and sending any data intensive signal such as video obviously opens up all sorts of opportunities for innovation, new business models and export earnings for Australia. The explosive growth in internet usage and online commerce is self evident as to the potential.

    For instance I subscribe to an online game EVE Online. It was developed by a few people in Iceland and with very little capital investment needed. It now has over 300,000 subscribers which is generating significant export earnings for Iceland (US$53 million p.a.) – and obviously in Iceland’s current state those export earnings are very important to the country.

    The fact is a fast internet is an enabler for businesses that generate massive exponential growth and high returns on investment (which consists mainly of intellectual property and small capital & labour requirements).

    Australia currently is far too reliant to mining for export earnings – look at the liberal party’s hysterics about it being the country’s golden egg laying goose – yet that leaves us vulnerable to commodity prices and our currency being seen as a commodity currency. When prices go down we suffer the double whammy – we get less for our exports and our currency drops making our foreign debt payments more expensive.

    For the twin effects of diversifying our economy and increasing innovation in new high tech internet based industries the price of a NBN is chicken feed.

    Science fiction movies when peering into the future don’t ever predict a world with slower connection speeds and lower levels of technology so it should be fairly obvious that having national infrastructure is the way to go. Thats apart from the few post-apocalypse Max Max style movies – and perhaps they best describe the world that the Liberals want us to head towards with their mediocre, p!ssweak proposal.

  56. mctarmac

    My my where to begin. Perhaps first we could push aside the geeks and nerds stumbling over each other to explain first how fiber has l33t UBER speeds.
    No one is disputing that fiber is the faster medium. Just as no one was disputing that Concorde would beat any other mass produced passenger aircraft. Unfortunately speed and speed alone is far from the only factor, more akin to reality is a trade off for consumers between speed and inevitably cost. It turns out that most people would spend the extra three hours in a slower plane if it was half the cost. But hey what do the European taxpayers who subsidized that fiasco care? Hmm.

    Lest we even begin to factor in the multitude of other factors that affect consumer demand. Spend more time on wireless devices such as ipads and smartphones? Here have a 100mbps connection to your house. The ‘best’ pure technologies don’t always win, and consumer preferences often turn out to be very different from what politicians, engineers and bureaucrats anticipate. Will Gigabit fixed line speeds, for which households can’t yet envisage a use, be valued above the convenience of mobility?

    “Look give up on the ipad and start up some more computational fluid dynamic calculations , better yet share the calculation over a cloud network and run a hundred copies at once, or here stream 70 movies within one hour.”

    Perhaps Turnbull says it best, “the reality is that broadband involves horses for courses: some consumers and many businesses will want fibre optics now; others will be fine with cheaper fixed line alternatives such as HFC (which can already deliver 100 Mbps) or very high speed ADSL; and yet others will prefer the flexibility of wireless. Only bureaucrats think in terms of one size fits all.”

    I sit here still rather astonished at the NBN proposal or more accurately the incredibly gullibility of the left. A $43 Billion project that wouldn’t be touched with a ten foot pole by private investment and cant withstand the most basic of commercial scrutiny (cost benefit analysis.) The implementation study (the workings of which still will not be released) estimates that for the NBN to earn merely the bond rate, real prices will need to INCREASE by 1 per cent a year rather than DECREASE rapidly as they have in recent years and will continue to do in other countries. Industry experts anticipate monthly bills that could be in the hundreds of dollars.

    And what for? To legislatively resurrect a monopoly over carriage of internet and telephony services.. I mean come on people are you for real, it takes a monopoly to kill a monopoly? And this is just the PLANNING side of things, oh BOY I can’t wait till the current Government, with their track record of implementation, get their hands on this. You thought half the computers promised at three times the cost was bad? HAH, managing to kill people with pink fluffy insulation? Now that is truly something only our wise benevolent rulers in Govt could manage.

    Grown up governments understand that you solve problems by empowering initiative and enterprise with policy and regulatory settings that steer, not row. Labor thinks it can row, but it invariably sinks the boat.

  57. davirob

    NSW Farmers’ Association President Charles Armstrong says the Association policy developed over a number of years has consistently called for quality, affordable and equitable telecommunications which the NBN is proposing to deliver. Are these guys left wing too?

  58. Plane

    NBN is also looking at wireless and satellite apart from fibre. I think they just released some papers on it

    But NBN is more than a technological project build

    NBN is also (and this list isn’t inclusive) the cost, to build and run; the terms of service, on-going maintenance, regulatory framework; impact it will have on delivery services, how will compliants be handled, will the data charges be the same in Melbourne or Sydney as in Coffs Harbour etc

    And the Coalitions plan should be looked with the same attention to detail

  59. EngineeringReality

    “No one is disputing that fiber is the faster medium.”

    Well actually Tony Abbott and the Liberal party ARE disputing that fibre is the faster medium.

    They are using words like “taking a risk on fibre” and raising the (insane) idea that somehow a technological breakthrough is out there ready to be discovered that will change physics and change fibre’s dominance.

  60. mctarmac


    Again I may be incorrect but I think you missed the point. They are not disputing the overall higher speed and higher capabilities of fiber, as you said to do so would be arguing against the laws of physics (a field which is remarkably stable in its understanding yes? 🙂

    Again no one was disputing that the Concords top speed was faster then any of the 7xx series Boeing craft. HOWEVER top speed is obviously not the only factor in consumer decisions otherwise we’d all be flying in Concords yes? As it turns out with most consumer service/product delivery you need “horses for courses” the best ‘pure’ technology (which fiber undoubtedly is) hardly EVER wins in the marketplace. The Coalition is not saying physics will change and fiber will be redundant, simply that we don’t know the future shape of the marketplace which could affect the demand for fiber. If you look at trends in telecommunications.. well its not such a strange concern is it? Such can be seen in that speeds of 100Mbps are already available but, who woulda guessed, demand is insignificant for those speeds and the market is already supplying those speeds to those that want and can afford.

    If you left it to the marketplace then surely what is demanded would be supplied, and by definition it will be what the marketplace (the people of Australia) wants.

    Or we can simply trust that Conroy knows best, after all hes undoubtedly seen a future without mobile internet devices.

    @PLANE Again none of these aspects that you list are publicly available. All that has been done in regards to this spending is an implementation study, the workings of which the Govt refuses to release. Reading the Hansard transcripts it seems the Govt also refused numerous offers to do a FREE cost benefit analysis. Undoubtedly because a) why do one if you’ve made up your mind, and b) private investment/capital which already wont touch the NBN will have all their fears confirmed. Of course the numerous expert witnesses (Economics professors) were all absolutely dumbfounded at how and why this project is being rolled out.

  61. mctarmac


    Perhaps, perhaps not, of course you don’t have to be left wing to support the NBN, and again like thats how the left works?? Of course not, they are fully aware of the fact that the left is to small to rely on getting hair brained schemes to pass. They need a large number of non lefties for support too. As with most of Labor policy in effect it ends up buying off and bribing significant sections of the electorate.

    Haven’t you been reading the comments of people in the IT industry? Granted most are educated in ICT and not Business Management so I wouldn’t be expecting that much regardless. But what I’ve been hearing is “hey man I’m gonna have a ton of work to do in the future”, “expanding industry” , “this will be great for the IT field.” Pretty blatant huh? But of course its the same with most of Labors policies, building the education revolution? Try and find a tradie who wont vote for us now! And hell I’m sure if they didn’t end up killing a bunch of insulation workers, they’d be right alongside too. Ditto for much of rural Australia who of course will accept speeds heavily subsidized by the taxpayer.

    I must say its working well, almost 2 out of 4 Australians consume more in Govt services then they pay in taxes already. As was seen with Scotland and Wales during the UK election, this form of politics eventually leads to static electorates of pie eaters who will never vote away the hand that feeds. Its a shame that such a malicious philosophy still enjoys such wide support from such supposedly progressive people.

  62. JamesK

    Engineeringlies stupidly asserts:

    “Well actually Tony Abbott and the Liberal party ARE disputing that fibre is the faster medium.”


    Where exactly?

    Perhaps a reference?

    Perhaps a quote?

    Fat chance?

  63. Astro

    @ Jamesk

    Thats right Abbott is putting fibre to the exchanges for $6b and letting competitive forces then have it to each address, saving $37 billion or more.

    Labor is stringing up the fibre from light poles where there are already cables that Labor (Sen Lee) allowed Foxtel and Optus to stick there and thus destroy our streetscapes.

    Competitive forces and sensible local council will insist any works make them underground

  64. davirob

    @ ASTRO,one of the reasons Telstra is being paid money is for the use of their infrastructure enabling cables to be put underground.I don’t know how much of it will be but that’s part of the plan.I have to say your statement re:streetscapes is plain silly,you can’t really be saying two extra cables messed up everything. @MCTARMAC,thanks for your lengthy reply,in the friendliest way I can,can I suggest you are a total cynic.Giving country people access to decent communications is bribery?Giving IT people and tradies work is bribery? Isn’t helping people to have good lives part of the job of govt? Look, I’m on a horse………….with apologies to oldspice.

  65. Meski

    And in other news iiNet have announced a 1 Terabyte data plan. Are you people still doubting the need for fibre, when a commercial ISP is announcing these kind of plans? Can you imagine trying to pull 1 Tbyte thru a 12Mbit (theoretical best-case) wireless connection?

  66. Astro

    @ davidob

    I am not sure if you wear glasses, but extra thick cables will look unsightly. The cable should have been placed underground in the first place.

    But Labor in 1995 did not care about streetscape and again 15 years laters its the same.


  67. davirob

    @ ASTRO,time to look in the mirror buddy.

  68. EngineeringReality

    @Astro “Thats right Abbott is putting fibre to the exchanges for $6b and letting competitive forces then have it to each address, saving $37 billion or more.”

    There is already fibre to all of the exchanges. Telstra has already done that.

    So shows how completely a non-event Abbott’s plan is doesn’t it? Paying $6 Bil to duplicate infrastructure that is already there.

    “…who woulda guessed, demand is insignificant for those speeds and the market is already supplying those speeds to those that want and can afford.”

    Wrong! You’ve failed Econ 101 – demand is outstripping supply hence the higher prices. Telstra has locked up its exchanges and competitors have been forced to use its equipment – they are prevented from installing anything major inside exchanges apart from a duplication of a DSLAM. There is so much unmet demand out there for 100MB & more – just not at the prices that Telstra charges all the resellers. So your argument is flawed.

    And you are all saying it has to be fibre at the expense of wireless. Wrong! You can still have all the wireless you want – around the house or out in the street – you’ll just be guaranteed sufficient speed at your premises to keep up with the rest of the world.

    I also read a report today that every country in the EU has decided to have fibre to the home installed by 2025. Even BT which trialled FttN & FttH has chosen FttH as the network model of choice.

    So you’re saying that ALL the EU countries are wrong and Abbott who has admitted he doesn’t understand anything about he technology is correct?

    What planet do you guys live on?

    @JamesK & @mctarmac I have heard Andrew Robb, Joe Hockey & Tony Abbott being interviewed about the NBN saying clearly that its risky to invest in fibre because technology changes so fast. So yes they were saying fibre isn’t as good as wireless. I’m not going to waste my time trying to find a transcript. And I know they all said the same thing because they were in election parrot mode.

  69. harrybelbarry

    Sorry Jamesk , i was putting another bible on the fire , its getting cooler here . Not the planet though , its getting hotter. Plane should just go to iinet site and check the plans they have on offer for Tassie and i think 3-4 companies are operating so far, sound cheap, no phone rental just calls , no limits ? Fast B.B all the time, no waiting ,will have to learn to type faster soon. No more clicking and going to make lunch and come back and wait for transfer of data. Sweaty smithy said that every person would get 5 carrier pigeons per week to send for free , in peak load times when everybody shares the love of slowband . Big Party Saturday night, i live near one of the sites that are planned for first lucky people, into the new fast world. A large Fibre cables run only 400-500 metre away at the end of the street , how can i hack into it ??? Any ideas ?

  70. JamesK

    Don’t worry Harrynotsobel……….. Wireless is the way to go.

    Well…… it travels at the speed of light. And do tell UltraRed Kerry that.

    But now, like the NBN, ‘they’ have now found ways to make it x10 times faster…. up to 100Mbs!



    Imagine that.

    And I had always thought nothing goes faster than the speed of light.

    Harry-not-so…. there is now no longer need to be a typical leftist lying thief to download your porn at lightening speed………………..
    unless you want to pinch a wireless stick or at most a satellite dish.

  71. JamesK



    Not: “Yes we will” …….. but: “So yes they were..” ?

    You don’t have a strong relationship with truth do you?

  72. Meski

    @Harry: well, this is one way.


    I’ve given up on answering the sockpuppets on here (you know who you are)

  73. Plane

    You wrote:
    ” Plane should just go to iinet site and check the plans they have on offer for Tassie and i think 3-4 companies are operating so far, sound cheap, no phone rental just calls , no limits ?”

    Ok, thanks I’ll check it out

    At an NBN briefing some time ago and in answer to a question from the floor, Will data charges be uniform across the country (and I would take that as at the wholesale level) – the reply from NBN was “that is a policy decision yet to be made by Canberra”.

    And that is a reasonable reply because telecommunications infrastructure is not uniform across the country and costs will vary.

    Who knows? the gamers in the city aren’t happen about paying what they consider are excessive charges to subsidy the farmers broadband in the bush – will NBN do the same?

  74. listohan

    My car is old, breaks down and can’t be relied on in an emergency. However, I’m waiting for wheel 2.0. I read somewhere (Liberal party website possibly) that it is coming Real Soon Now.

  75. mook schanker

    More dumb a*sed statements about the “market” and monopolies. Hello world is:- a) are public transport systems generally a monopoly? b) Do they have positive cost benefit? c) Then why do we do it?

    a) Yes, for like for like why have two of the same systems, thats inefficient. Ever heard of regulated monopoly????
    b) Show me one that is, buses may be in some cases, but unlikely with a portion of road Capex & Opex chucked in. They all generally make big losses year in year out.
    c) Broader economic gain!

    So people like mctarmac who don’t have a clue about economic benefit and just bang on about direct cost benefit should read up.

    Also, mctarmac what a rubbish application of cost benefit. How about comparing HFC model against NBN over 40 years? What’s the Capex & Opex of each? What will replace HFC in 10 years, will it last 40 years (like sh1t it will). And Concorde vs Boeing, sh1ttest analogy ever!

    And Astro, competitive forces in stringing up lines from the exchange to every house. You make me laugh! Should we do the same for electricity lines? How about water? Or what about gas? Duplication for markets sake? What about cutover from one to another? You really haven’t thought this through….

    And to ridicule the potential of NBN. The USA avoided ongoing recession in the 1990s. Why? They found it was due to increased productivity. How did they do that? It was from advancemenets in the utilisation of computers in business….

  76. listohan


    “Granted most are educated in ICT and not Business Management so I wouldn’t be expecting that much regardless”

    If it were left to economists, we would not be looking for cure for cancer, because it only helps old, non-productive people live longer and continue be a drain on the productive sector.

    Are you in favour of cancelling medical research?

  77. mook schanker

    And comments on here spruiking the HFC saviour (DOCSIS3) that has a 100Mbps “theoretical” download and a 2Mbps “theoretical” upload in 3 cities – awesome! ba hahhahah…

  78. Syd Walker

    My comment posted at at 6:19 pm 16 August 2010 is unanswered. I trust that’s oversight, not lack of interest.

    I’d hate to think that if the Libs get in we all end up with brain cancer.

  79. Plane

    @Mr Syd Walker

    Wasn’t there a report recently about it? And it concluded something like excessive use wasn’t good?

    Sorry, I am still trying to get over the trauma for making a petrol station explode by using my mobile phone while filling up my car 🙂

  80. Meski

    This thread is making me think of the quote about arguing on the internet.

    Arguing on the internet is like competing in the special olympics. Even if you win, you’re still retarded…

    Unkind, but sometimes true.

  81. Plane

    Cannot agree with you. Sure some of the comments strike me as bit out there but maybe people have the same view about what I have posted. I got something from the thread. So thanks

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