The National Broadband Network.  Bringing broadband to everyone in Australia.

Twelve months ago, I posted the following on another blog I had at the time.  I have updated it, and reposted here.

The problem with the NBN

The National Broadband Network.  Everyone who owns a computer, or has operated a computer, has an opinion.  The problem with the NBN as policy in the political sense is that every idiot that fits the aforementioned descriptions, thinks that their opinion is one coming from a place of “knowledge”.


I just read a comment on a blog that pissed all over the NBN, and stated that the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) is far more important.  It made me think for a wee moment…  Everyone in this house is on the Autism Spectrum;  I have a physical disability which is severely debilitating, my two kids inherited my physical disability genes, so while it’s only mildly affecting them at the moment, this will worsen as they get older; I have a mental illness; everyone has asthma (my husbands is very severe), as well as sleep apnoea; and then we all have allergies too, and various other “things” going on…  The NDIS is a great idea, and it will benefit this family.

The problem with the NDIS is that, well, for starters, it’s not been put on the cards yet in any “real” way… it’s still just a “yeah, we’ll do it, sometime” thing.  By the time it gets up and going (assuming it doesn’t get canned first), it’ll be that done over by special interest groups, that it’ll be fucked anyway.  So while it will benefit us, I’m not expecting it to benefit us much.  Actually, I probably shouldn’t even expect that it will benefit us at all just yet…

(The NDIS is now definitely happening).

The NBN on the other hand – it is very much needed for the good of the majority of Australians.  City dwellers may not see the urgent need, however I’m guessing that they can see specialists face to face without it costing them travel and motels in order to get there.  There is a specialist (the only one in Australia) that I would love to have my son’s see so that we can halt the progress of their “disability” as much as possible – but he’s in Sydney, I’m in Queensland, and it’s just not going to happen.  Not unless we get an NBN anyway…

There are a lot of good reasons to have an NBN, and it would take me all night to list them all, but for now, I just want to explain why people with no clue should just shut up about it.

They should shut up about it, because they have no clue.  They think they have a clue, because they own a computer, or know how to operate one, but they really don’t.  Or they think they have a clue because Tony Abbott, clueless extraordinaire, gets on television and lies his arse off.  Here are some of his biggest doozies…

#  Wireless is awesome for rural and remote Australia, as it will offer enough bandwidth and speed to do what is required.

ROFL.  The biggest failure of wireless is surprisingly not that people often think they have “wireless” when really they have Wifi connected to a router, connected to (usually) ADSL.  No, the biggest failure of wireless technology is that it is finite.  There is a finite bandwidth with wireless, so the more people using it, the less bandwidth there is to go around, and the slower and slower connections get.  It’s also terribly unreliable, particularly in bad weather.

To get an idea, in 2013, it still takes me an average of five minutes to get any given page up on the internet on my phone when I am in the middle of town.

#  The market will supply as consumers demand.

This can be summed up with a quick – doesn’t seem to be doing us much good so far, does it?  The market is demanding it, but as there is little profit in putting the infrastructure into rural and remote Australia, the telecommunications companies are never going to adequately provide it.  I live in a country town and have ADSL2.  Which doesn’t sound too bad until you realise that ADSL2 in the city has a download speed of up to 20 Mb.  Here in a country town, we have a maximum speed of 3.5 Mb.  Five minutes away, a friend is on dial up.  Yep, dial up.  That old-fashioned modem that makes a lot of noise.  Oh, and wireless doesn’t usually work unless you are smack bang in the middle of town.  And as we have seen above, it’s still next to useless most of the time.  This friend has no internet.  She also has a daughter with Autism, and could benefit greatly from all manner of internet related things.  The market doesn’t give a shit about her, and never will.

I just had another friend who signed up for 500 Gb of monthly data usage.  I asked my husband if we should consider upping our own usage.  He told me that it wouldn’t matter – if we were at full speeds 24/7, we wouldn’t use it all.  There is simply no point in paying for more than the 200 Gb we have now.

#  Current fibre optic networks in the cities, along with ADSL and wireless for the rest of Australia, is “enough”.  We don’t “need” anything else.

Sure.  Today (well, no not really, but what the hell – you either live in the bush and know what I’m talking about, or you don’t).  But not tomorrow.

The world is changing.  Technology is growing.  In other countries, there has long been a push for all communications to go through fibre optic networks.  In the not so distant future, Australia is going to need fibre optic, and it makes sense to start preparing for that now, rather than later.  We moved on from telegraphs, and we moved on from switchboards.  We moved on from the old dial up at 52kbps.  Well, most people think we did anyway.  And quite frankly, the copper is going to need replacing eventually (or even soon) – why not do it all at once, do it properly with fibre optic, and save ourselves in the long run?

Thankfully, for now, the television doesn’t go through the internet so we don’t need… oh wait… yes it does!!!

We moved on from the caves, and we’ll continue to move on, whether the government likes it or not.  The only question is – are we going to leave regional and rural Australia to fend for themselves, or are we going to include them, given that they pay their taxes too?

Feel free to leave argumentative comments below.  I’m more than happy to have my husband answer them 😉


Disability consumer and activist. Pissed off since 1995... Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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Pissed off since 1995. Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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