Oh, this is insane. Coincidences! A few days ago I remarked on the coincidence of the town of Moama in NSW cropping up in two unrelated connections in one week. It was followed soon after by a reference elsewhere to a video game character called Joseph Momoa.
Now, today, I read this: “Considering the gush-fest that was [Disney movie] Moana’s critical reception … ”
The NBN fiasco continues. A brief recap: ten years ago the Rudd Labor government in Canberra announced a nation-building program to lay fibre-optic cable to almost every house and building in Australia, to provide internet speeds of up to 100Mbits/sec. The only exceptions were for remote areas and places where it’s impossible.
Malcolm Turnbull, then in opposition as communications spokesman, immediately started rubbishing it, simply to provide a point of opposition. In the next year or two, he said it was all too expensive and slow to implement, and said he had a plan to lay fibre only as far as cabinets in the street, and to use the existing copper phone lines from there to your house or building. This was supposed to save $10bn of the initial $40bn estimated cost and save years in construction time.
The Libs got into power (mostly due to Rudd’s stupidity and bitterness, but that’s another story) and Turnbull got his hands on the levers.
Guess what? The costs blew out to as much as the original pure fibre plan cost, the delays started, the NBN Co had to buy Telstra’s copper cable network (what a massive bonus for Telstra!!) and it was discovered that the copper cables are in poor condition. Instead of a uniform 100Mb/s, with the prospect of technology allowing 1Gb/s not far off, the best that was promised was 25Mb/s. (Because copper wires are being used, there’s absolutely no chance of speeds above 100Mb/s). That’s all you need, says Turnbull. That ranks alongside IBM’s CEO Mr Watson saying in the 1960s that the world will only need 5 or 10 computers.
Here we are 10 years later, installation is still years away for many if not most households, speeds are intermittently slow, complaints are rising, and the cost has blown out so much that NBN Co has had to borrow another $20bn! Turnbull’s weak-minded plan is going to cost just as much and take just as long. Pathetic.
Here are excerpts from an article from the past few days written by Ann Hurley, executive chair of Internet Australia:
For more than twenty years Internet Australia, the NFP peak body representing Internet users has worked to ensure everyone receives fast, affordable broadband. More recently, complaints about the slow speeds being delivered to NBN customers and the extremely dysfunctional sign-up process that seems to be plagued with delays, missed appointments and general confusion has seen us take a more aggressive stance.
We have always maintained a policy of providing well-founded technical advice and encouragement for the Government to change its strategy, rather than attacking the people who work at NBN. However, when I recently became Internet Australia’s executive chair I was subjected to an unprovoked Twitter assault by one of NBN Co’s corporate affairs executives. This was followed by a bizarre attack by NBN Co boss, Bill Morrow, who made false and defamatory comments about me and others at Internet Australia under Parliamentary Privilege.
Old, slow and fundamentally flawed
Like so many, I’ve watched the second iteration of our broadband policy based on fibre to the node (FTTN) and reliant on old copper wires with increasing dismay. Highly regarded technical experts are speaking out and saying that this major infrastructure project is fundamentally flawed — for many reasons, but mainly because of the Government’s dogged commitment to persisting with already-obsolete copper-based technology.
Consumers are being lumbered with a network delivering internet speeds that doom them to lag behind the rest of the world and are subjected to installation procedures that seemingly have little or no ‘customer service’ component in them. Both of these issues have the NBN at the top of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s complaints table.
Two key external indicators confirm that Australia is not advancing up the global rankings scales as we need to. A recent OECD report has Australia fourth last on the table of 32 nations for broadband speed and penetration. The OECD observed that our future innovation and productivity gains are stifled by an “ineffective broadband policy based on high prices for mediocre speeds”.
The industry-standard Akamai State of the Internet quarterly report on average Internet connection speeds has Australia falling in its global rankings from 50 to 51, at a time when we need to be heading up the chart. Interestingly, the report noted that for broadband adoption, quarterly changes were positive in the Asia Pacific region “except for Australia, which posted a 1.9 per cent decline in adoption”.
Malcolm Turnbull should go down in history, among his many other flaws, as the Man Who Crippled Australia’s Fibre-Optic Network, single-handedly. He’s done this purely to give himself a point of difference from the ALP opposition and to cement himself in position as PM. Shocking! He puts his own position as PM ahead of doing the right thing, the technologically correct thing. Amazing.
Solar power has been on my mind recently and I read an article about it today, showing how to do the calculations about payback period. It inspired me to find my invoices and work out my costs.
My electricity is costing me very close to $1100 per year (varying from $133 to $347 each two months, highest last winter when I was using reverse cycle heating so much). I haven’t done the full calculation yet, but I don’t think it would pay me to spend around $4,000 on a set of panels yet, let alone the big extra cost of battery storage. I think I’ll be better to wait a few years yet. Prices are falling all the time and technology is rapidly improving. I’ll wait.
For interest, my gas is costing me $23 per month or $375 per year, almost constant. Water costs me $82-$98 per two months or $529 per year.
If I ever do look at battery storage, I’ll definitely be looking at Redflow, the Queensland company http://redflow.com/ and their product for home battery storage Z-Cell https://www.zcell.com/ They’ve developed a zinc-bromine battery that’s completely recyclable, uses a liquid electrolyte and can be drained and refilled. And it’s made in Australia. Tell Tesla, no thanks, we can do it here.
More aerial photos from my collection: