Inevitable protests against NBN Co wireless towers remind us why the Coalition's wireless-NBN alternative would never have worked. But with 2500 towers planned and opposition already mounting, could obstacles placed by NIMBY protesters make NBN Co's delivery timelines slip dramatically?
A view from the trenches of Australian telecommunications. As the name implies, it’s a two-way conversation and we ask you not to pull any punches ... we won’t.
A bulletin board troll in the 1980s, David Braue has been online long enough to remember using the text-based Lynx browser to visit www.ibm.com, one of around 100 Web sites available back then. Telecoms has remained an obsession as he developed ever more complicated schemes to stay in touch with family overseas without going broke. After more than a decade covering Australia's ICT industry - and watching our telcos stumble time and again - he's eager to call them to task.
We're only days into 2012, but ISPs are already drawing NBN Co into a showdown over its Wholesale Broadband Agreement. Are they just testing its patience, or can their stonewalling push the company back to the drawing board yet again?
Greed and idiocy have pushed Africa's black rhino to extinction — but Namibian poachers aren't the only ones training the sights of their elephant guns. As we wrap up a busy 2011 for the NBN, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull will regroup, and, no doubt, reload their white-elephant guns. But are they right in opposing the NBN-driven industry restructure? Or are they just shooting blanks?
Medicare has run its course, and we should immediately shut down the organisation and repeal the legislative framework that enables Australians from getting quality healthcare. In its place, we should put a framework that lets commercial healthcare providers compete on a level playing field, charging us whatever they need to make adequate commercial returns. This is because Medicare is, as we all know, an anti-competitive, government-supported roadblock to fair and full competition in healthcare, which is a vital sector of the economy.
Discussions to date have assumed the NBN pie will be split between existing major ISPs — but it's important to remember that low barriers to entry could make the NBN an appealing target for overseas telcos or retail giants. Backed by miscegenation with content giants, the result could be broadband-content bundles to make consumers sing — and domestic ISPs weep.
Some may welcome it as a conciliatory and positive step towards resolving disputes between ISPs and copyright holders, but the industry's new code of practice also turns Australia away from the privacy protections of its European heritage, and towards an American-style regime where privacy is less sacred than commercial interests.
It is ironic that Optus celebrated the 20th anniversary of its establishment — the putative beginning of Australia's telecoms competition — in the same way that it began: by attacking a monopolist in a hail of vitriol and dire warnings of imminent systemic collapse. This time around, however, it's threatened not by Telstra or NBN Co, but by an upstart WA ISP with big dreams and the resources to make them real.
Optus' NBN pricing not only dispels fears that the NBN will be prohibitively expensive, but takes an interesting shift by replacing the oft-maligned bundled landline with incentives for customers to bundle a mobile. This confirms Optus' view that wireless is a complement to the NBN — and confirms the changing nature of the fixed-line land rush as telcos jockey to maximise their customer base before the NBN hits.
The heated debate about internet filtering has calmed down this year, with voluntary filtering at several ISPs drawing little of the chanting, marching and petitioning that we saw two years ago. Does this fact, paired with recent statistics showing that Telstra's filter is keeping at least a few sickos from casual child porn access, legitimise the case for moderate internet filtering?
Assuming that the NBN progresses as planned, ISPs need to plan their copper-loop investment strategies as they wind down their ADSL2+ services and shift to the NBN over the next decade. Yet, as a group of providers buys more DSLAMs and then clamours to be reimbursed for benefiting from the competitive market of the past 14 years, it's clear that the reign and importance of ADSL2+ is still not over.