One doesn’t need to be a ‘techie’. Just plain common sense makes it so obvious that the Australian Governments Internet Broadband plan (NBN – National Broadband Network) is ill conceived and wasteful to the extreme. Sure the need for wider access to the Internet as well as high speed Internet isn’t debatable. The method of achieving speed and accessibility are the points at issue.
What is the National Broadband Network and FTTP
The proposed solution by the Rudd government is to spend $43bn (yes, 43 billion dollars!) in connecting 90% of Australian households, schools and workplaces with optical fibre / fibre optic cable (the other 10% will get wireless and satellite connectivity). This solution will provide high speed access and, at a very high cost, widespread availability and is termed FTTP (Fibre to the Premise). But is fixed cable (i.e. optical fibre) really the best option?
If you have been on a train, ferry, bus lately, or to a coffee shop, the beach, the park or mostly anywhere else lately you would have noticed a trend; people now access the Internet on mobile devices away from home and in public places. Just think of the incredible growth in data access via 3G, iPods, iPhones, small portable notebook computers etc. Is the Rudd/Australian government living in a cocoon (the answer to this rhetorical question is that Rudd and the gang ARE living in blissful ignorance)? If Australia is to spend $43bn then surely it has to be for a product that is relatively future proof. Fixed Cable isn’t future proof, in fact it is already yesterday’s technology as people forsake fixed line broadband Internet for wireless technology. (UPDATE 14 Sep. 09: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released data showing decreases in the number of Fixed Line subscribers and increases in ‘Mobile wireless subscribers’ – yip, people want mobile internet connectivity!).
NBN Alternatives to Optical Fibre / FTTP
Here are two options (there are plenty more options out there):
- Partner with Mobile/GSM providers, both hardware (Alcatel, Ericsson, Nokia etc.) and services (e.g. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc.) to provide broadly available and high speed Internet access (remote areas may be services by satellite if necessary).
- Innovate. Partner with the likes of Google or Intel to advance existing wireless technologies to reach greater range and at higher speeds. Just imagine what return on investment new patents/technologies derived from this innovation could be returned to taxpayers.
$43 billion to Break Telstra’s Monopoly?
One has to ask with this whole debacle whether the government is trying to find a way of removing Telstra’s hold on Australian fixed line telephony (including Internet) or is the government really so way out of touch with reality? Spending $43bn is certainly not the way to resolve any issues with Telstra’s monopoly!
Telstra Disclaimer: Please note that at publication date of this post I am providing ITIL Process Mapping services for Telstra therefore advise that I do not represent Telstra in any information on this website. The views expressed in this post are mine only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra.