This blog is totally independent, unpaid and has only three major objectives.
The first is to inform readers of news and happenings in the e-Health domain, both here in Australia and world-wide.
The second is to provide commentary on e-Health in Australia and to foster improvement where I can.
The third is to encourage discussion of the matters raised in the blog so hopefully readers can get a balanced view of what is really happening and what successes are being achieved.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
I Have Yet To Read Anything That Makes Me Feel We A Going To Wind Up With A Good Implementation of the NBN.
Eight years since its inception, the $49 billion National Broadband Network reached its halfway point this week with one in two Australians now able to connect.
But a major technical shift in direction by the Coalition federal government — which it claims will see up to $30bn slashed from the ultimate bill — is expected to see more problems emerge with many users already finding they are achieving speeds slower than before they had the NBN but are paying more for the service.
The Kevin Rudd ALP government in 2009 launched its grand plan for a nationwide internet network, underpinned by the philosophy that fibre cabling was the key to the online future.
“Do it once, Do it right. Do it with fibre” was Labor’s mantra at the time. The ALP declared 93 per cent of homes would be connected directly with fibre — known as fibre to the premises or FTTP — with the remaining 7 per cent in remote areas to access the NBN via satellite.
However, the fibre-to-the-premises approach proved extremely slow and costly, with private contractors required to run fibre down every street and connect every home.
By 2013, when the Coalition came to power, there were under 300,000 premises able to connect to the NBN and just 51,000 had signed up for an NBN service, and the rollout costs were ballooning.
Malcolm Turnbull as the Coalition communications spokesman campaigned hard on reducing the number of expensive fibre-to-the-premises connections and delivering a mix of technologies, predominantly fibre to the node or FTTN. FTTN involves connecting fibre cabling to nodes, which each service about 200 homes. Each home is connected to the node by existing copper cabling, which is a much cheaper and faster approach.
This week NBN Co has revealed the network is available to 5.7 million people and more than 2.4 million people have signed up.
FTTP connections for existing properties have cost an average of $4404 since the NBN rollout began, while FTTN connections have cost an average of less than half, at $2170.
However, as more people sign up to using the NBN, it is becoming apparent the Coalition’s fibre-to-the-node alternative has some serious flaws, with opponents claiming it is a Band-Aid fix that will need to be replaced in a handful of years, particularly when internet applications, such as high-definition TV, require far higher speeds in the future.
And with the NBN ramping up its rollout into metropolitan areas after concentrating on the easier access of regional communities, meeting customer expectations will be a huge challenge.
Even the network’s chief engineer, Peter Ryan, concedes there will be difficult times ahead.
“There will be some extra challenges as we enter the metros as the complexity increases,” Ryan told The Australian this week to mark the NBN’s halfway point. “There will be areas with heritage associated with them, there will be heavy traffic areas and paved areas that will have to be tackled.
“But we have spent the last four years dealing with a lot of these issues and there’s nothing we haven’t seen and nothing we haven’t prepared for.”
Critics claim that speeds under the mixed technology of FTTN are generally substantially lower than speeds achieved by FTTP connections, and the existing copper networks are far more susceptible to connection interruptions, often dropping out when it rains and pits fill with water.
The costs of average FTTP connections also have been questioned by Labor and lobby groups, who point out it is politically convenient for the Coalition to claim hooking up individual premises by fibre is vastly more expensive than FTTN connections, and that FTTP connections here are among the highest, if not the highest, in the world.
As revealed by The Australian last week, FTTP connections in Australia cost $4404 per premises, compared with $NZ2800 ($2677) in New Zealand and $US1719 ($2259) in the US.
In a statement recently submitted to the Senate committee that oversees the NBN, Rod Tucker, a telecommunications expert and professor at the University of Melbourne, says NBN Co connection costs are failing to fall with the advent of new technologies.
In the US, operator Verizon substantially has reduced costs per connection, while in France and Spain operator Orange has managed to reduce connection costs by 10 per cent each year.
By contrast, Tucker says, “NBN Co claims that this cost is fixed”.
This very long, and apparently thorough, article is really quite worrying as it seems to infer there will be a large number of people who will have their internet service badly degraded with the coming of the NBN. This was, bluntly, not the intent of the NBN and one really gets the sense we might have all been snowed.
I would love comments from readers on their experiences both good and bad.
Since I wrote this blog on Sunday we have had even more bad news. From the Australian on Tuesday 18 July, 2017 we see the following:
NBN costs put brake on internet speeds
Australians will see their internet speeds fall when they are moved on
to the National Broadband Network, despite still being charged the same
The cost structure of
the superfast internet project — required in order to pay back the
federal government $49 billion in construction costs — has meant telcos
are being charged very high prices for downloads.
high bandwidth charges — tiny under the nation’s existing Telstra and
Optus broadband networks — has meant telcos are buying the minimum,
resulting in NBN speeds plummeting during peak times, such as after 5pm
NBN Co has admitted its
bandwidth pricing is a key factor behind speed issues, problems not
seen in New Zealand where its broadband network does not levy such fees.
Co has been forced to levy the high bandwidth or “CVC” charges in order
to pay back the money it has borrowed from the federal government to
build the massive project.
NBN, every home will be connected to broadband internet, with many
regional and rural users to get vastly improved internet services.
the cost of providing those services to regional Australia is being
borne by the millions of city residents on the existing Telstra and
Optus networks who are being forced on to the NBN where peak time speeds
can fall to as low as 1/40th of what they now get.