I was asked to comment on the coalitions NBN alternative the other day. Part of which appeared here.
Here is the full response:
Really, I despair. But ok, here is my view on the main points:
1. Deliver 25Mbps by the end of the first term.
Why is it stupid:
Right now, ADSL2 delivers up to 24Mbps. So the promise is a 1Mbps increase, for only 20 Billion dollars. But without spending 1 cent, the current broadband service providers would have, if the NBN had not killed off all investment, reached that mark in the not too distant future anyway.
Why it is better than the current plan:
Spending $20 Billion is better than Labors plan to spend $40 Billion+++, for still, essentially what we already have.
2. Fibre to the Node vs Fibre to the House
The statement "unlike the government’s fibre-to-the-premises technology, the coalition’s network would not be easily upgradable." is wrong.
The fact is, copper is a cheaper technology to deploy for short distance signaling, and even has advantages over fibre for ease and flexibility of installation. It is also easier and cheaper to replace a copper based network switch than to replace or upgrade a fibre switch.
Ask yourself, is your desktop or office server connected by fibre? No. It is connected by copper wire. To say that high speed data mandates fibre, at least for short distances, simply ignores physics, as well as the evidence in front of your eyes.
So fibre to the house, much reducing the roll out cost, is a point in favor I would say, if it weren't for the pointlessness of it all re: points 1 and 3.
3. Completed in 2019
Since it is 96% completed now - 24Mbps on ADSL2 vs 25Mbps, it is hard to see how that promise couldn't be kept.
4. Sell the network once it is ready
Well, we, taxpayers, already paid for the first network - PMG/Telecom/Telstra, which has been partly sold. Now we are paying for a second network, which will be sold. So I guess we can all look forward to a reimbursement check from the ATO once the sale goes through? Excuse my cynicism.
5. "opposition claims the government’s NBN plan could blowout to $90 billion – a claim the government venomously denies.'
And well they may deny it. $150bn is a more likely figure.
In this blog post in 2009 I calculated the cost of a 1Gbps home user broadband service to be $8bn, so even allowing for inflation, $20bn still seems to high by a factor of 2:
Unlike me, Google can put some serious money where their mouth is, and deliver a 1Gbps service:
If it is inevitable that we have to spend the money on a new communications infrastructure, then 1Gbps is where we should be. That is what the technology of today can give us. So why does everyone want to spend so much just to end up in the same ballpark we are now?
7. “We will deliver a better NBN.”
The criteria for a 'better NBN' are:
- 1Gbps to the home
- at the same cost to the user as ADSL is now
- with a declining user cost over time as technology becomes cheaper, down to $20 per month after 5 years
Now that would really be something significant for the country and truly deliver the promise of an NBN.