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 25, 2017
I Think The NBN Story Is Becoming So Worrying That The Blog Needs To Have More To Say On The Looming Disaster.
Let me first confess a personal interest. Presently I have Optus Cable with their fast option. I get 100mbs download and it is down about 2-3 hours every 2-3 months. So I am a happy camper and do not want to be pushed onto a rubbish slow NBN. (See panels at bottom of blog)
My internet speeds plummeted when I moved house recently. It didn't matter how expensive my broadband plan was, nor the fact I had only shifted a few blocks away.
Rather than being connected to the internet through the hybrid fibre coaxial cable, my new street was still back on the old copper telephone lines.
Adjustments to ADSL technology may have greatly improved speeds over copper lines but given the growing and massive demand for data, the result still seems like putting lipstick on an ageing pig.
Nor is it as if Telstra is too interested in investing much to upgrade either cable or copper given their previous network is being gradually subsumed into the government-owned monopoly of NBN Co, the owner of the national broadband network.
Yet even if my new address is within 20 minutes of the Sydney CBD and in one of Australia's most densely populated suburbs, the NBN is still MIA there. The NBN website tells me I will be waiting until the first half of 2019 before it arrives.
Patience, patience, patience.
But it's now obvious that the arrival of the NBN to millions more homes over the next couple of years is unlikely to mean the end of download and upload woes.
Even more importantly, it is only likely to accelerate the criticism of the Turnbull government's version of the NBN in the lead up to the next election.
It means more and more people will realise the long-promised nirvana of high-speed broadband via the NBN does not necessarily translate into reality.
There are plenty of technical and financial reasons for this but most consumers won't care. They will care they are not getting what they think they are paying for.
That will make them likely to blame the Turnbull government as well as the NBN and retailer service providers like Telstra and Optus.
So rather than the slow roll out of the NBN being a political problem, it will quickly become the reverse. The more households and small businesses are connected, the more complaints there will be.
As usual, it mostly comes down to cost. In this case, it's the requirement for NBN Co to continue the commercial fantasy it can provide a financial return on nearly $50 billion worth of taxpayer investment in the project.
This was an accounting trick first applied by the Rudd Labor government and continued by governments ever since. That's because the promise of a return on investment of a few per cent above the government bond rate means the tens of billions of NBN dollars don't get counted as part of the budget deficit.
Yet the economic forecasts of the NBN always relied on political hype over commercial rationality. As communications spokesman and then minister Malcolm Turnbull promised "cheaper, faster, sooner" broadband via a revised hybrid technology NBN.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield clearly believes in the slogan that a former Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, used in her last election campaign: moving forward.
Fifield has moved on to the next phase of his life: yesterday he gave a 2368-word speech at a telecommunications conference in Sydney and did not mention the word NBN even once.
He waxed lyrical about 5G, the proposed next telecommunications standard. You can see the entire speech here.
Fifield said: "I believe that the imminent arrival of 5G mobile technology will be a truly revolutionary event in the telecommunications industry. In fact, the arrival of 5G may well be an inflection point not just for the telecoms sector, but for the entire Australian economy."
One would think that the national broadband network, the project that's often called the biggest such endeavour in the country's history — NBN chief executive Bill Morrow sometimes calls it one of the biggest and most difficult in the world — would have figured even momentarily.
Telecommunications companies are misleading customers over broadband internet speeds and the worst offenders will likely face prosecution over dodgy advertising by the end of the year, the consumer watchdog says.
Chairman Rod Sims said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would conduct "compliance sweeps" of broadband marketing and telco websites later this year in a bid to keep telcos honest about speeds available on the national broadband network.
"Right now, consumers are not getting the basic information they need to make an informed choice. Indeed, they are often being misled," Mr Sims said on Thursday.
"We want to see consumers presented with information based on the realistic speeds they can expect to experience, particularly during busy periods. Not just best-case scenarios."
Broadband was an ACCC compliance and enforcement priority this year, he told a telco industry conference.
"We are investigating and expect to be taking action in respect of misleading conduct around broadband speeds," he said.
As more Australians migrate to the government-owned NBN, tensions are building between consumers and telcos over download speeds, particularly during peak evening periods.