Archive for the 'NBN' Category

NBN update

I’ve purposely waited for the dust to settle before writing about Conroy’s NBN proposal. At first, I thought it sounded pretty good. Who wouldn’t want fast Intertubes?

On closer inspection, major holes can be found in the plan. Rudd-Labor went to the election promising FTTN for 98% of the population at a cost of around $4.7b. After a lengthy and expensive tender process, that plan has been abandoned. Now, up to $43bn of taxpayer money will be spent to provide FTTP to 90% of the population. On top of this, the time frame has doubled to eight years from the original four.

To put $43bn into context, Telstra’s entire market cap is around $40.5bn.

Labor claims that the NBN will be sold within five years after the project becomes operational, but unless the project can deliver a decent commercial return (which remains to be seen), any sale price will likely be considerably less than the $43bn investment.

I am automatically sceptical of any large government projects. Generally the budget and time estimates are too low, and the utility and quality estimates are too high. We’ll all have to wait and see.

To the people blindly supporting the project, I simply ask: if you wouldn’t trust this cunt to filter your Internet, why would you trust him to responsibly build completely new infrastructure on time and on budget?

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Make sure there aren’t any solid objects around your TV

I’ve already put my shoes under lockdown to make sure I can’t throw them at my TV. Stephen Conroy will unfortunately be on the Q&A panel tonight. If you don’t have too short a temper, check it out on the ABC at 9:30pm AEDT.

UPDATE: Conroy was pathetic. He didn’t address why the abortion sites were blocked, didn’t mention that refused classification material isn’t actually illegal, made up some nonsense about technical glitches at ACMA (how hard is it to type a URL into a blacklist, really?), and was generally a giant bore. He used his usual Senate question time tactic of not directly addressing the questions asked of him to great effect.

Conroy even made the point that clicking on some of the material on the blacklist isn’t criminal. Doesn’t it then follow that he is blacklisting legal material?

The best news to come out of the show is the Liberals are starting to sound like they’re against the filter on a party level.

The questions asked of Conroy were basically softballs which let him make any point he wanted, and only Greg Hunt seemed to have reasonable points to counter him. Louise Adler just came off like a fruit by saying we should let anything be published, although I have some sympathy for that position.

Poor form, Conny.

EFA, Mark Newton, Stormcentre, Duncan Riley, Somebody Think of the Children, and OzSoapBox have write-ups about the show.

NBN rumours fly

Canberra Times reports that Acacia may have won the NBN contract. We’ll wait and see.

Acacia counts high fliers like Solomon Lew, Doug Campbell, Paul Bassat, Steven Skala, Andrew Bassat, and Matthew Rockman as shareholders.

Cries of “call off the NBN” grow louder

When Telstra started running ads on TV saying that they were building a “national broadband network” two weeks or so ago, alarm bells should have started ringing. Telstra was, of course, quite publicly disqualified from bidding for Conroy’s Government sponsored National Broadband Network (NBN). Unsurprisingly, they’re going to build their own network in parallel with his.

chimproyThis has accelerated calls for Conroy to throw in the towel, admit he’s a moron, and stop the NBN bleeding. The next person to join the already quite long conga line is Alan Kohler of Business Spectator (free registration required):

Telstra’s decision to upgrade its cable definitely now means that the National Broadband Network won’t get built.

It has been the beginning and end of communications policy for two years, but this policy is no more. It has ceased to be. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. It’s run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. This…is an ex-policy.

Well, to be precise it is now a bush broadband subsidy policy, rather like the previous government’s Broadband Connect policy, which was gleefully cancelled by the new minister, Stephen Conroy, last year in favour of a “12 megabits for 98 per cent of Australians” election promise policy.

This has gone through the motions, but it was already in trouble when the global financial crisis hit because the rest of the funds, on top of the Government’s $4.7 billion, will be hard if not impossible to get.

So essentially, the Howard government’s OPEL plan for regional Australia which was to be built for less than $1bn of Commonwealth funds and was scrapped by the incoming minister Conroy, is now looking pretty good in comparison to the $4.7bn NBN joke he has failed to enact. After all this, it seems very likely that Conroy will actually revert to a plan similar to OPEL. Some might call it a waste of time and money. I just call it a farce.

Serious questions need to be asked about Conroy’s worth as a minister. It’s without doubt that, as the face of these failed policies, he has greatly diminished the public’s view of the Government . He has achieved nothing during his time as minister, and it’s not like he hasn’t had a decent chance.

Conroy’s NBN “a dud”.

CeBIT, where Conroy chose to waste his time.

CeBIT, where Conroy chose to waste his time.

While Stephen Conroy’s been in Germany speaking about “smart” sensors in all the new infrastructure to be built using Labor’s $42bn stimulus, everyone in Australia has been realising that the National Broadband Network (NBN) that he’s staked his reputation on is unworkable. He should have addessed the Germans via satellite or something so he could spend some time countering, or at least listening to, his critics.

Kevin Morgan, an independent telecoms adviser, has a piece published in ailing left wing broadsheet, The Age, outlining some of the ways the NBN is doomed to fail in its current state. This generally reflects the opinions of most experts, including Michael Malone, MD of iiNet.

The most promising bid is Axia’s. The CEO seems very grounded and his proposal is non-confrontational with our incumbent, Telstra. As Kevin Morgan says in his piece, the Axia bid is targetted more at regional areas, with metro areas served by various wireless technologies and existing copper. This would probably lead to overall coverage (both NBN and non-NBN) comparable to the government’s target of 98% of population. Unfortunately, the target is for the fibre NBN itself to cover 98%, which isn’t the case in Axia’s bid.

Other proposals on the table call for massive regulation of Telstra which is probably unsustainable in the longer term. There’s no consensus yet on the best way to move forward, but almost everyone agrees that Stephen Conroy made a terrible mistake when he said he would sign a contract in March.

When the process falls through, Conroy and Rudd will no doubt have to find a scapegoat. They’ve never admitted they were wrong before, so there’s no reason to think they’re about to start. Likely scapegoats are Telstra, the Victorian bushfires and Queensland floods, and the spooky “international forces” of the global financial crisis. Even if Conroy actually manages to sign something this month (unlikely) he will still need to be held accountable either for breaking an election promise (in the case of Axia not building a fibre network for 98% of the country) or for constant prattling over unworkable regulations and massive compensation costs to Telstra for use of their network. I expect he won’t have to worry about any of that, as we are more likely to be talking about the complete failure of Stephen Conroy and his entire NBN process.

It’s clearly evident that Conroy shows little regard for getting this done right. He went to Germany to talk about sensors in bridges while his NBN plans and his reputation were crumbling around him. What a cunt.

iiNet MD interview highlights Conroy’s idiocy

In a timely follow up to yesterday’s post, Business Spectator has interviewed iiNet’s Managing Director, Michael Malone. It’s somewhat long-winded, but does touch on some of the areas where Stephen Conroy is failing as a Minister, including the incredibly wasteful National Broadband Network and universally denounced Mandatory Internet Filter.