Australia

Aug 29, 2014

Broadband is just a toy for bored geeks, right?

The Coalition's independent NBN modelling appears to be based on spurious (and sometimes laughable) assumptions about the way Australians use the internet, now and in the future, writes board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia Colin Jacobs.

The Abbott government’s “independent cost-benefit analysis” of the NBN has clearly failed to settle the debate about Australia’s broadband future, with politicians and industry rounding on the report for bias and questioning its conclusions.

One of the report’s obvious eyebrow-raisers is its assumption regarding low growth in consumer demand for broadband, as Stilgherrian discussed yesterday. There’s not much wiggle room in the costs of either approach, so in order to get the desired (if not preordained) finding that Labor’s fibre plan is too costly, some other assumptions had to be made. They appear to heavily discount the benefits of connectivity for Australia.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions

24 comments

Leave a comment

24 thoughts on “Broadband is just a toy for bored geeks, right?

  1. mikeb

    The problem seems to be that most of the Govt and its cheer squad think that fast internet is only good for downloading movies and porn. Science, health and educational uses are all a bit foreign to them, and best left to future 457 visitors.

  2. Ulor Boxo

    In the early days of electrification, electric motors replaced steam motors and electric light replaced oil light.

    Since then electricity has been used for intelligent control of a wide range of industrial and domestic processes.

    In the early days of broadband, downloads replaced DVDs and TV.

    After that the internet of things will allow intelligent coordination of large sectors of social and economic activity – but not under this government

  3. Dogs breakfast

    Not sure whether the authors of this report were dolts, neanderthals, Luddites, or just deliberately obtuse.

    It is a classic economists argument, measuring the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    This will be seen in future as one of the great visionary ideas of the early 2,000’s, people will line up to argue how quickly they got on board to support it, economists will be doing sums to work out how many tens of billions of dollars it cost the Australian economy by not going full-steam ahead, and how much was lost by this ridiculous hybrid model that relies on copper wires which are already at the end of their life.

    It’s laughable, and yes, much of this report will be held up as a case study in stupidity and short-sightedness for decades to come.

  4. graybul

    Abbott Govt. continues to redefine future of Australian Nation’s aspirational need to access, identify, future technological opportunities.

    NBN, Renewable Energy Industries but two opportunities now gone begging!

    Can one call Government a Luddite or, must the term be restricted to responsible, individual Ministers??

  5. FunkyJ

    Every day, in my job working for a start up about to turn over A$1 million per month after only 2 years of being in operation, I have video calls with at least 3 people around Australia, 3 video calls to India, and 1 video call to San Francisco.

    There are 4 people in a role similar to me, all who have similar calls, all around the same time.

    Then there are the sales team who are always on the phone (which is connected to the net and not landline). Our media editor uploading videos to youtube, our designers calling Eastern Europe, and our web developer on calls to Indonesia.

    As well as our boss playing music through spotify.

    80% of the time, we are going “What? Sorry, I didn’t get that, can you repeat that please?”

    It’s an abomination that we are working with ADSL 2+ speeds. It’s an abomination we’ve waited over 3 months to get fibre installed AND we’re still waiting for it. It’s an abomination that a company with nearly $10 Million a year turnover whose bosses voted Liberal are treated with such contempt.

  6. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    @FunkyJ – maybe you should block spotify, youtube etc to everyone who doesn’t need it – i.e. Management, maybe then they’ll think twice before they vote next time..

  7. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    I’m pretty lucky that I have good ADSL2 (via copper) in my inner city flat but I just have to look out the window at the coax wired to the building and down the street (which is mostly used only by the possums to get around) to see the lost opportunity we had in the 90’s when the foxtel network was put in.
    My neighbors stand outside to talk on the mobile (Telstra btw, Optus is even worse) while it goes unused because it is not cost effective for people to pay for the foxtel monopoly they don’t want just to get a high speed connection.
    When the hell will Economists learn that it is not good idea to privatize infrastructure. It’s a failed model.

  8. paul holland

    The connection with Australian users of Skype seems to be very slow when connecting from Japan. This is despite the fact that I want to have my daughter and other of my customers access the excellent internet educational programs which are coming out of Australia. If the speeds are to slow then the users will have to switch to alternative sources and the possibility of other countries.

    Abbot and co must expect us to pray to god that what Australia has will keep us up to date for awhile. I hope that a lot of people stop praying and do something to get the country into a new millenium. This report is not worth the paper it was written on. Industry groups should be shouting that was is on offer as we stand is an insult to our integrity.

    Across the straits Korea is in another league and reaping the benefits.

  9. michael r james

    #3 Dogs breakfast at 5:27 pm
    “Not sure whether the authors of this report were dolts, neanderthals, Luddites, or just deliberately obtuse.”

    It’s actually worse. Far worse. Hit your own-head-against-the-brick-wall worse.

    Sure there are a few Luddites and maybe a few who actually believe in the faked-up free-market bullsh!t. But a considerable majority of the LNP are only doing this for one reason. Because Abbott opposed it in opposition. He opposed it just to oppose it. He himself actually has no ideological inclination on the issue at all. He simply doesn’t care. (He might be a bit of a Luddite; probably gets his secretary to print out his emails. But on the issue of a fast efficient internet for the nation, he really doesn’t give it a moments thought. He could care less, which is to say, he couldn’t care less.)

    Then there are those who have to support this ridiculous policy of destruction, against their better judgements, all the while knowing that Abbott didn’t give it a moments thought when he demanded the party oppose it in opposition nor another moment’s thought when pursuing the destruction of Labor’s NBN when in power. In fact his main thought on the issue (or perhaps Peta’s) was how cleverly it wedged Turnbull, forcing him to sell a policy against his better judgement. (It was a win-win; if Turnbull refused Abbott would be free of a future threat, verifying what the party thinks, that Turnbull is not a team player; if he failed to devise and sell the alternative, ditto. Even if Turnbull “succeeded” the party knows how he hates both the party for making him do it, and himself for acceding to the perfidy.)

    Turnbull’s soul is shrivelling every day this goes on. As it should.

    One day in the future he will unlock that attic room (maybe a virtual one! on Instagram! lo-rez of course so downloading is not a challenge) and look squarely at the portrait that slowly turned so ugly he kept it covered all these years, then he himself will finally manifest the ugly horrorshow in his own aged visage. Too late he’ll realize there wasn’t much point in being so clever most of his life, when at the time it really mattered–for the nation not just his self-interest–it came to this.

  10. michael r james

    #3 Dogs breakfast at 5:27 pm
    “Not sure whether the authors of this report were dolts, neanderthals, Luddites, or just deliberately obtuse.”

    It’s actually worse. Far worse. Hit your own-head-against-the-brick-wall worse.

    Sure there are a few Luddites and maybe a few who actually believe in the faked-up free-market fantasy nonsense. But a considerable majority of the LNP are only doing this for one reason. Because Abbott opposed it in opposition. He opposed it just to oppose it. He himself actually has no ideological inclination on the issue at all. He simply doesn’t care. (He might be a bit of a Luddite; probably gets his secretary to print out his emails. But on the issue of a fast efficient internet for the nation, he really doesn’t give it a moments thought. He could care less, which is to say, he couldn’t care less.)

    Then there are those who have to support this ridiculous policy of destruction, against their better judgements, all the while knowing that Abbott didn’t give it a moments thought when he demanded the party oppose it in opposition nor another moment’s thought when pursuing the destruction of Labor’s NBN when in power. In fact his main thought on the issue (or perhaps Peta’s) was how cleverly it wedged Turnbull, forcing him to sell a policy against his better judgement. (It was a win-win; if Turnbull refused Abbott would be free of a future threat, verifying what the party thinks, that Turnbull is not a team player; if he failed to devise and sell the alternative, ditto. Even if Turnbull “succeeded” the party knows how he hates both the party for making him do it, and himself for acceding to the perfidy.)

    Turnbull’s soul is shrivelling every day this goes on. As it should.

    One day in the future he will unlock that attic room (maybe a virtual one! on Instagram! lo-rez of course so downloading is not a challenge) and look squarely at the portrait that slowly turned so ugly he kept it covered all these years, then he himself will finally manifest the ugly horrorshow in his own aged visage. Too late he’ll realize there wasn’t much point in being so clever most of his life, when at the time it really mattered — for the nation not just his self-interest — it came to this.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details

Sending...