Understanding the broadband election

Summary:High-speed broadband has now become an important election issue, with the two major parties offering vastly different policies. How do they compare?

High-speed broadband has now become an important election issue, with the two major parties offering vastly different policies. How do they compare?

Labor's National Broadband Network (NBN) is already building a fibre to the premises network to 93 per cent of Australians. Originally offering speeds up to 100Mbps, that has now been increased to 1Gbps. It's a public-funded $43 billion project, although the government-owned NBN Company would be sold once the network is complete.

The Coalition policy announced last Tuesday it will spend $6 billion, primarily in subsidies to existing carriers to improve existing hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) and ADSL2+ networks, with fixed wireless networks in outer suburban, regional and rural areas. Network speeds will range from 12Mbps to 100Mbps, although Liberal will leave most of the decision-making to a new National Broadband Commission.

On Patch Monday this week, network engineering consultant Narelle Clark spoke to us privately about the policies. Clark has a serious track record in internet technologies, and until recently was research director for the CSIRO's Networking Technologies Laboratory. She's vice-president of the Internet Society of Australia, and sits on the board of trustees of the Internet Society globally.

Clark confirms that it's quite feasible for NBN Co to increase the speed of its fibre from 100Mbps to 1Gbps. However, fixed wireless in suburban areas could require a base station at the end of every street.

Patch Monday also includes Stilgherrian's random look at some of the week's IT news headlines.

To leave an audio comment for Patch Monday, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 29 minutes, 43 seconds.

Topics: Broadband, Government : AU, NBN

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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