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  • Writer's pictureHannah Phillips

The NBN: Good, Bad or Just NBN

Kevin Rudd had a good idea, a National Broadband Network, but he failed to deliver.

Years on, the Turnbull government claims that one in two Australian homes and businesses are now able to access fast, affordable broadband on the NBN.

In an official media statement, the Turnbull government said: “The rollout of the National Broadband Network has surpassed the half-way mark ahead of schedule and ahead of budget, meaning more than 50% of Australian homes and businesses can now access fast, affordable high-speed broadband.

“At the end of the financial year, the NBN was available to over 5.7 million premises. That’s 313,000 premises ahead of NBN’s rollout target.

“Additionally, more than 2.4 million premises now have an active NBN service, which is 100,000 ahead of target.

“In contrast, when the Coalition came into government in 2013, fewer than 300,000 premises had access to the NBN and just 51,000 premises had an active service.

“Under the Coalition, the rollout has seen more than 11,000 premises become ‘ready for service’ on the NBN every working day over the past year. The number of premises able to access the NBN has doubled in the same period.

“The rollout remains on track and will be available to every home and business across Australia by 2020.”

The Coalition’s multi-technology mix has seen new technologies, higher speeds and greater download quotas introduced into the NBN: trials of fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) technology have already commenced, with the large-scale deployment of FTTC to follow in coming months – which will connect up to one million premises.

NBN’s fixed wireless service will soon double its fastest-available download speed to up to 100 Mbps, and will be launched in early 2018.

NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service has increased available data allowances, meaning users are expected to receive around 50% more peak data and twice as much off-peak data from October 2017.

While the Coalition’s NBN is ahead of its rollout targets, it is also keeping broadband prices affordable.

The rollout milestone coincides with the release of a new report by the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR), showing that broadband prices on the NBN are comparable to ADSL services, while offering a range of faster speed tiers and greater choice for consumers.

The BCAR report shows that regional Australia in particular is benefiting from more choice and reduced prices thanks to the Coalition’s NBN.

This is in stark contrast to Labor’s rollout, which would have seen a $43 increase in monthly internet bills.

Labor’s gold-plated NBN would have cost an additional $30 billion, and taken six to eight years longer to complete,leaving millions of Australians without access to high-speed broadband well into the next decade.

The opposition has been busy finger pointing but overall has not addressed some of the real issues that customers face.

The elephant in the room is still Telstra and, like it or not, its offerings in ADSL2 and other non NBN platforms like mobile 4G and soon 5G are more compelling than many of the NBN offerings from Telstra itself or its competitors.

Technically ADSL is a little bit like a rubber band: if you are close to an exchange the performance is terrific but it does degrade rapidly with distance.

You do not have that problem with fibre on the NBN but, guess what, the last leg on copper is literally on its last leg – in effect same problem: the speed dives with distance.

And yes, you guessed it, some of those last legs are not short.

On that point Labor’s criticism scores.

In fact, this observer and engaged commentator thinks that it’s technology like 5G that will get the government out of the performance hole it dug for itself with fibre to the node and a wholesale market at the NBN level that does not hold up to real competition.

The same holds true if the opposition should win government.

For example, for business, NBN is fine if you just want to download netflix, but what sort of business is that?

What about upload and having your own IP addresses to host your own backup in case the cloud provider wants to screw you or just goes out of business due to real competition.

These things have happened in the past.

Performance degrading will also be caused by all this data storage for security purposes and I’m told by some experts they will use the same bandwidth to check on all sorts of things.

And the official line just keeps getting better. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had this to say at the CommsDay Un-wired Conference held at the Kirribilli Club in Sydney a week ago yesterday.

“‘Unwired Revolution’ is a fitting name for today’s confer-ence, because I believe that the imminent arrival of 5G mobile technology will be a truly revolutionary event in the telecom-munications industry.

In fact, the arrival of 5G may well be an inflection point not just for the telecoms sector, but for the entire Australian economy.”

Roger Hausmann

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