Return to ‘Dark Ages’ without NBN

A case of two steps forward and one step back? Shadow Minister for Finance Joe Hockey has stated the NBN will get ‘the chop’ in a federal budget response at the National Press Club last week. Targeting the Government’s budget forecast, the Liberal party plans to return the budget to a surplus by saving an estimated $18 billion that was otherwise designated for the National Broadband Network. However in reply to Joe Hockey’s announcement, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said the savings have no direct impact on the budget bottom line as the money would be used as an investment on an asset.

Perhaps the more alarming factor to surface (or lack thereof) from behind Mr Hockey’s speech, was the absence of an NBN alternative. It sounds a lot like the Lib’s are basically committed to scrapping Labor’s whole Digital Education Revolution which includes new high speed broadband, computers, networks and IT programs for schools and of course the entire National Broadband Network project.

It’s one thing to throw around speculative numbers on how the Liberal party can return the economy back into the black by scrapping this and that, but without making any real policy announcements on sound alternatives, suggests uncertainty for effectively mounting a credible case. This leaves significant doubt that the only achievable outcome that a new Liberal Government in power would bring, is a return to the lack lustred innovative and visionary ‘dark ages’ of pre 2007 Governemnt.

Published by Ronnie on May 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Optus Internet Filtering Trial Retort – Customers Outraged

Initial indications from many Optus customers suggest that they’re far from happy with the Optus decision to rejoin the Federal Government’s controversial Internet Content Filtering trial.

Broadband Industry analyst Paul Budde has also expressed his concern with the Content Filtering retort by Optus and stated that he suspects many Optus customers will be angered by such a decision.

“I thought the credibility of the whole situation was now so low that very few companies would actually put their weight behind it. It is clear the customers of companies such as Optus will not be amused about this sort of activity. So in that respect I am a bit surprised that companies do stick their neck out in a situation like that.” – Paul Budde

Not only does Mr Budde suggest that many Optus customers will be irate by the decision, he also ridiculed the Government’s process as unacceptable for a democratic society, which is also a view that has been aired by a significant amount of the online informed.

The Federal Government push to have mandatory content filtering introduced has appeared very ‘strong handed’, and capitalising further on Mr budde’s views, I too, am concerned with what might become, if such a potential precedent is struck.

Aust Gov to build $43 billion 21st Century National Broadband Network

And the winner is… The Australian People!

Putting the future of Australia first, the Federal Government today announced that it has scrapped requests for proposals on the NBN by effectively terminating this process on 7 April 2009 and simultaneously announcing a new $43 billion project in which the Australian Federal Government will build, own and operate a new high speed National Broadband Network over the next eight years.

The Government envisions the future broadband network to predominantly use FTTP – Fibre to the Premises (aka FTTH – Fibre to the Home) which consists of fibre optic technology. It’s still unclear what remote and regional parts of Australia will use for Broadband delivery, although it’s been suggested that developments in new Wireless technology could play a significant roll in these areas.

A new NBN process will commence immediately with the Federal Government to establish a company to build and operate the initial $4.7 billion stage of the broadband network. This includes an overhaul on ‘blackspots’ throughout the country along with work on a new FTTP and Wireless network in Tasmania to start as early as July 2009.

Telecommunication regulatory reform has also been announced with the Government seeking views and opinions on making the broadband regime more effective, especially in regards to the churning process which involves consumers migrating or transferring from their existing ADSL or Cable connections to new high speed broaband Internet access on the upcoming new Broadband Network infrastructure.

Stay tuned to Youcompare and Broadband Guide for further NBN developments!

Telstra announce BigPond 100Mbps Fibre Cable Network Upgrade

In the biggest broadband news to hit the Internet since Telstra was dumped from the NBN process, the incumbent today announced a Cable Broadband upgrade of 100Mbps which will triple existing speeds. Telstra’s timely media release has coincidently surfaced within days of an expected National Broadband Network decision to be made by the Australian Federal Government.

Work on the Telstra cable upgrade roll out will use the latest DOCSIS 3.0 software technology and has been scheduled to start immediately with completion targeted for December this year. The next level of cable broadband speeds is not expected to finish at 100Mbps either, as further upgrade capacities suggest cable broadband potentials can reach speeds of up to 200Mbps.

Although Telstra may be excluded from the Australian NBN process, the Telco still appears to be rapidly releasing upgrades and new features whilst expanding on their already impressive network coverage. It’s almost as though Telstra was seeking to obtain an early ‘upper hand’ against a prospective NBN rival that is due to be announced any day now.

By the end of this year, and provided that all forecasts go to plan, Telstra will have upgraded it’s 2.5 million subscriber cable broadband network to 100Mbps; possibly increased it’s Next G mobile wireless service from 21Mbps to 42Mbps; consolidated broadband Internet access to 99% of the population; and as a result, enabled the potential for millions of people to work from home, improve home automation capabilities and opened the door to an online world of entertainment that includes high definition content viewing.

Funnily enough, this Telstra blueprint could almost deliver high speed broadband of at least 12Mbps (as defined by the Government’s NBN guidelines) to the majority of the population without needing the NBN funding of $4.7 billion? If Telstra was to provide minimum broadband Internet speeds of 12Mbps on both of it’s existing ‘Next G’ and ‘Hybrid Coaxial Cable Networks’, it would only leave an ADSL2+ upgrade to VDSL2 technology in it’s path of meeting the NBN speed requirement.

VDSL2 (Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2) is a broadband Internet access technology that could supercede ADSL2+ services and can theoretically support speeds of 250Mbit/s at the source. However, beyond this distance the speed quickly deteriorates to 100Mbps at 0.5kms, 50Mbps at 1km, then to ADSL2+ speeds (24Mbps) at 1.6kms.

Telstra has already tested VDSL technology and ‘all bets are off’ that this type of technology will be the next in line for a roll out beyond the upcoming cable and Next G upgrades. If VDSL2 does become reality, then Telstra will basically have all the mechanisms in place to compete against an alternative National Broadband Network structure based on the Government’s pre-requisite minimum speed of 12Mbps.

Telstra Media Release.

Hubris to see Internet Content Filtering introduced?

Will Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and the Australian Federal Government go ahead with mandatory Internet content filtering after so much negative feedback from the ‘informed’ public arena?

Results from an Australian Broadband survey conducted recently that attracted approximately 20,000 respondents overwhelming voted against the new content filtering proposal. The survey  found that only 1.2% who voted for Labor at the last election actually supported the proposed policy of Internet filtering, while almost 90% say they would opt out of a filter if introduced.

Although many of the participants in the survey are highly informed and or technically sound, it still asks the question of just how many people in mainstream society would also agree with the survey finding’s. Furthermore, if this were to be the case, would the Federal Government proceed with an Internet content filtering policy just to ‘check’ so called election promises?

One irate content filtering opponent in a online news forum labeled the Government as ‘hubris’ and waved goodbye to democracy whilst saying hello to China/North Korea. A silly remark perhaps, or does this statement have a basis for concern? The general consensus of the survey results, and from many opinions found in corresponding online forums, suggests there’s a significant amount of conjecture behind the underlying principles of what a ‘mandatory filtering policy’ may bring to the table.

The impeachment of ‘Freedom of Speech’ and a ‘Big Brother’ type government are two such concerns, and although this may sound a little overboard, many believe that whilst the general public have good principles and morals that would welcome the eradication of pedophiles and explicit material, which the Government have based their whole policy around, they feel that mainstream Australia may overlook the bigger picture and what’s really at stake.

Does a 20,000 thousand strong survey that heavily weighs against the introduction of Internet Content Filtering warrant a reversal of policy? I suspect not, but then again it does give the Government something to think about.

Upsetting a minority is a ‘rational transaction’ that any Government obviously has to execute from time to time, however introducing a policy that evokes grave fears for ‘human rights’ that may, over time, grow louder and louder in the public sector, is certainly something that a Government cannot ignore.

Sol Trujillo to leave Telstra Helm

If the writing wasn’t already on the wall, the imminent fate of Telstra chief ‘Sol Trujillo’ was definitely made more evident after blundering the NBN bid. It’s been officially revealed that the Telstra CEO will in fact step down on June 30th this year after 4 years with the incumbent.

During his period at Australia’s largest telecommunication provider, Mr Trujillo says the results he’s achieved in this respective time has made him incredibly proud. He certainly has Telstra’s world leading Next G Mobile broadband network to his credit, however others would argue his success was limited, especially Telstra’s shareholders.

There’s no doubting that Mr Trujillo’s almost ruthless approach at dealing with the Industry’s challenges; it’s competitors; Australian Government relations; and regulatory conflicts earned him some stripes if not stars, however history will possibly reveal down the track that the one thing that he didn’t know too well was the environment he worked in and it’s people.

So who’s next in the seat? If the board share similar opinions to those just described, I’d be inclined to lean toward an in-house appointment. Telstra may be twice shy when it comes to obtaining a foreigner for the top roll, and someone that will be subject to an unfamiliar, and at times, hostile environment. My guess Telstra’s next boss is an Aussie!

Almost 80% Disagree with ISP Level Content Filtering!

In a recent survey conducted by Aussie ISP ‘Netspace’, inital results showed that 78.9% of participants disagree with the Federal Government on making Content Filtering compulsory at an ISP level. If this is anything to go by at a national level, it appears that the Government has it blatantly wrong.

Around 10,000 customers took part in the survey, in which Netspace said was an ‘overwhelming response’. Only a mere 13.6% supported a proposed content filtering mandate, with the remaining 7.1% undecided and 0.4% not responding. It really does send out a loud and clear message…. Australians do not want content filtering implemented at an ISP level!

Perhaps the average Aussie can see a bigger picture here than filtering child porn alone, and that it may refer to other fundamental principles such as the real motive for the introduction of filtering at an ISP level; Precedents that it will set; Effectiveness of an ISP filter to work appropriately; and the potential consequences that a decision like this may bring.

What are you concerns? Do they fit into any of the following categories:

A. Will an ISP filter stop illegal content completely? Industry experts are in agreeance and say ‘No’, as there are many different avenues to bypass or transmit content around an ISP filtering system.

B. What is the real motive behind an ISP content filter?  Is it to check election box promises? Control more than just illegal Internet content?

C. Once implemented, where does the filtering stop? Could the bodies in power that be impeach an individual’s freedom of speech by removing content at will, regardless of agenda?

D. How much content will be ‘wrongfully’ removed by accident or otherwise?

E. What kind of consequences are involved for the ISP and end user? Will it slow down the Internet dramatically and or cause other types of technical conflicts?

I, for one, believe that it comes down to ‘choice’ and more to the point, a parent’s responsibility, and that it should extend into respective Institutions (to a certain degree). However, just who should the primary responsibility of nurturing and protecting our children fall upon?

Are we now too busy to do this ourselves to the point that we need ‘Big Brother’ to intervene? Surely not. Could ‘FREE’ protection software act as an adequate alternative opposed to pre-emptive control, which in essence, may take away an individuals right to act ‘freely’.

Internet content filtering should be available, but to what extent and controlled by whom? If you have something to say on this topic, by all means feel ‘FREE” to post a reply.

Conroy’s Internet Censorship Plan labelled ‘Embarrasing’

Colin Jacobs, Vice Chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia, has published a very interesting article on the controversial topic of Internet Censorship that includes findings from a study by Brooklyn Law School (Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray Into Internet Censorship) which he has deemed a ‘serious embarrassment’.

Outside Eastern countries, if the Internet Censorship plan was to be passed through the legislative process successfully, then Australia would become the first Western democracy to have such communist like controlling laws.

Mr Jacobs has begged to differ with the Government’s censorship experiment by questioning it’s legitimacy. In a blog titled ‘The world smirks at Conroy’s censorship plan’ the study has shown, through a process based methodology, that there are serious doubts over the legitimacy of such an experiment.

The study’s author applies a process-based methodology to determining censorship’s legitimacy by asking four questions. Is the country open about its censorship plans and the reason behind them? Is it transparent about what is to be restricted? How narrow is the filtering? And finally, are the processes and decision makers behind the scheme accountable? While the Government earns praise for openness (Internet filtering was a central campaign promise), serious issues are highlighted in the other three areas.

The blog is certainly an interested read, so if you aren’t up to speed on the whole Internet Censorship uproar, I recommend you check it out.

Furthermore, the ‘Filtering in Oz: Australia’s Foray Into Internet Censorship’ study can be downloaded here.


Telstra NBN Litigation Backdown

Telstra’s public policy and communications representative ‘David Quilty’ has stated that the telco is not considering legal action against the Federal Government after being booted from the NBN tender process.

Speculation has emerged stating that Telstra would seek compensation claims in excess of $80 billion from the Government if another proponent was to win the rights to build a national broadband network which accessed Telstra’s existing copper network.

Senator Conroy has withdrawn from making any hypothetical remark on the possibility of compensation claims by Telstra, although he did point out that Telstra had already brought the access issue before the courts (unsuccessfully). 

“In fact, Telstra decided to take this matter all the way to the High Court,”

“Even (chief justice) Michael Kirby joined the other six members to say that when Telstra purchased the network, they purchased it with an access regime in place. Get used to it,”

Telstra is certainly showing signs of backing down, however Mr Quilty once again stood behind his company’s ongoing broken record excuse that ‘puts their shareholders first’  by saying that Telstra were unable to submit an extensive NBN proposal through fear of vertical separation which is something that Telstra cannot contemplate.

Quilty also played down any possibility that the board, including chief executive ‘Sol Trujillo’, faced uncertain futures following their ballsup with the whole NBN process that witnessed billions wiped from Telstra share prices which infuriated Telstra shareholders.

YOU’RE OUT! Telstra rejected from NBN process!

Telstra will not build the $4.7 billion National Broadband Network! The Government’s expert panel has made extraordinary headlines by making a decision to reject their non-compliant bid based on a technicality. Telstra was dumped from the process on grounds that it did not meet a section of requirements surrounding a ‘small to medium enterprise plan’ which was a mandatory part of the NBN criteria.

In the biggest Broadband news to hit the industry this year, Telstra boss ‘ Sol Trujillo’ may have called his last bluff by submitting a pitiful 12 page NBN proposal to the Australian government. Trujillo was believed to be somewhat bewildered by the decision as he had not yet had any correspondence with Minister Conroy, thus receiving the news secondhand.

“We are a bit surprised at taking this action on a triviality, which we are very clear in our minds, we were fully compliant in the language of the RFP in terms of how we handled this matter. I don’t want to speculate beyond that, because we’ve not had any conversation with the Minister or the appropriate people involved yet,” – Sol Trujillo

Many Australians have been made buoyant by the sobering decision to dump Telstra from the NBN process as they believed the incumbent was too powerful in holding out competition; slowed down innovation and market growth; and charged extremely high prices for telecommunication services.

On the surface, this latest decision by the government is statement of strength and unity which suggests they will not be taken lightly with the national broadband network process, and furthermore, will endeavour to create an ‘open access’ network with ‘fair’ regulatory conditions for Australian consumers along with an equal playing field for Industry competition.

At the same time this decision will also force Telstra to re-evaluate their strategy on the NBN. This may included succumbing to the NBN process guidelines and submitting an eligible comprehensive proposal, if the door is still open that is? Or possibly considering business (on their own) beyond the NBN.

If this latest slap in the face doesn’t awake the arrogant giant, it’s quite likely that Telstra’s shareholders will, or the perhaps the possibility of declining stock value? You’re move Telstra, the ball is well and truly in your court now.

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