Coonan v Conroy: Submit your broadband election questions

Coonan v Conroy: Submit your broadband election questions

Summary: Coalition Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Labor communications spokesperson Stephen Conroy go head-to-head in a televised debate this week -- and it's your chance to ask them both the burning election questions you want answered.


Coalition Communications Minister Helen Coonan and Labor communications spokesperson Stephen Conroy will be going head-to-head in a televised debate this week -- and it's your chance to ask them both the burning election questions you want answered.

Coonan and Conroy will face off in the hottest debate of the season, taking place this Friday on Sky in conjunction with ZDNet Australia.

From 4pm to 5pm, Coonan and Conroy will debate the red hot issues of communications and broadband in a special one hour edition of Agenda -- and ZDNet Australia wants you to join in the discussion.

What would you ask the Minister and her Labor counterpart? Use the feedback system to post your questions below -- questions that will be used to guide the subjects tackled on the live debate this week.

To watch Coonan and Conroy face off, tune in to Sky on Friday at 4pm or visit ZDNet Australia for all the coverage of the event.

Post your questions below for a chance to make sure Coonan and Conroy tackle the issues you need to know about.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, NBN

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  • Q and A

    1. Whys is copper cables still being run in the country, the pricing difference between it a fiber is minimal! USE FIBER!

    2. The Gaming Companys sould get the same consesions as the movie industry. To reply to my Letter of Pettion saying that there are provisions for the gamming industry in the movie subsidy is a joke, i know that the gamming industry deserves the same conditions not to be tacked on the end with minimal beifits.
    3. Why the hell was telstras wholesale and retail arms not split? Tail Waging dog?? The prices that telstra chage for the ports is resonable stop trying to screw them lower ACCC, the problem/cost for a ISP is the AVGC!!! which can be worked around with a simple cable but telstra dont like that becuase that is were the revenew is.. so yes i suppose telstra has been pretty smart whinging about port prices it keeps the attention away from the gapping black hole that is AVGC.
  • Telstra

    How are both sides of government going to tackle Telstra's bullying tactics and create a competitive telecommunications industry?
  • Q&A

    Coonan: Do you accept responsibility for the Telstra privatisation disaster? (Not retaining infrastructure)
    Both : What are your plans for correcting the disaster?

    Both : What are your plans for censoring internet content?
  • Q and A

    1. Why are new estates being wired with paired gain that makes it harder to have broadband? Surely you have a vision for the future which would mean all new development work that is done takes these things into consideration.

    2. Why is broadband so expensive here in Australia compared to other countries? There was once a claim in this country to try and make internet cheap and affordable for every citizen in order to try and encourage a "knowledge nation". What has happened to this view for the future?
  • Broadband Availability

    What is being done to rectify all those arears that have been wired with 'pair gain' that are not capable of using ADSL - this appears to cove most of the new sub-divisions creatied in the last five years. Only alternative that these residents have is wireless (if available at a much higher cost and lower speed), satelite etc.
  • Qestions for Coonan / Conroy

    Conroy - Australia may have over 7,500 "RIM" boxes and related broadband limiting sub-systems where direct connection to the exchange is not present, particularly in marginal, outer suburban and regional centres. Please explain how Labor's program will work where the normal connection "node" (the RIM / Multiplexor box, pair gain terminator, etc) is owned by Telstra and users' copper lines connect directly to it.... Will Labor force a broadband tenderer to buy those RIMs etc and Telstra to sell them if Tesltra is not the successful winner? In this case what is meant by "fibre to the node"?

    Coonan, Why choose a fixed position WiMAX standard rather than the current standard (802.16e)? Will that standard be safe and secure for small business and home users who are NOT expert in configuring highly complex wireless data networks and how would a coalition government address that vital security issue in an exposed wireless environment?
  • Please Explain???

    Helen, could you please enlighten the IT Industry as to what the term "Gigabit Power" means exactly?? (as mentioned by yourself in a previous 7:30 Report interview)
  • Questions that need answering

    1. Are you considering making it mandoratory for all New developments to have some flavour of fibre to be installed installed of copper?

    2. At what cost will be to the consumer for there internet and what what will be the amount of data allowance under a fibre network? As if it is more than what people pay now then who would wan't it let alone afford it?

    3. Are you doing something to increase the Competition in the Data market not just the speed of the internet? As the data cost is one of most significantly expensive options for ISP's in Australia.

    4. Conroy will you do a back door deal with telstra at any cost that means current users could not afford Fibre internet?

    5. Will you give the games ratings system a overhaul to have it similar to the Movies market so that r18 Games can be made available in australia ie the Postal seriers and the recently banned Soldier of Fortune 3?

    6. Will you make more IT Certifications Cheaper? So that more people are encouraged to enter IT? or at lest provide some more benefits for it?

    7. Will do a education campaign to get more women in IT?

    8. Would you allow for Fibre over the power lines if it were viable? i.e. Economically even knowing it may be "ugly" to look at?

    9. Will you make people who do Tafe Certifications and Diplomas more appealing to Buisness? especailly IT related coures?

    10. Will you fix the current holes in the DET's Internet Proxy for schools? so that do not need a third party firewall to properly block inappropiate content instead of being able to bypass it via an ip address? (unless that ip has been blocked).

    11. Do you have a plan to upgrade more Public school & tafe systems? especially the aging computers that can only just run windows xp or upgrade them to vista?

    12. When do you think you will get the appropiate licenses for schools to use windows vista?

    13. Would you consider using linux in schools instead of windows vista to reduce the licensing costs and issues? but increase the complexity and the requirement of someone who knows linux ie a teacher to maintain the system if needed?

    14. Do you have a national plan For telecommunications for schools?

    15. Will you Guarantee at least 12Mb/s so roughly 1.2 MegaBytes download speed or will be be less for your planned National Broadband scheme?

    16. Will you remove the limiation that if a company puts something in place that it has to share it? ie dlams? with other providers? as to make the infrastructure market place more competitive and to reduce overheads for the big companies but these companies need to guarantee there service will work?

    17. Why isnt opel going to use the mobile wimax solution instead of the fixed location as it is more viable as a buisness option with the benefit of being able to be used for mobile phones? Would it get extended to the cities as well if it were successful to make wireless commications even mroe competitive?

    18. what regulation will you change and would it increase IT/Telecommunications prices?
  • Q and A

    1. Why push forward with a FTTN when the rest of the world is already working on their FTTH strategy.

    2. Why set only a 13Mbps targetr, it should be a minimum of 100Mbps withing 3 years and 1Gbps within 10 years?

    3. Will the parties commit to a breakup of Telstra into a wholesale and a retail company for the good of telecoms in Australia.
  • WiMAX Spectrum

    To Coonan:

    How can OPEL deliver on their commitments around WiMAX when they do not have access to appropriate spectrum?

    Why was this not addressed prior to awarding the funds?

    How is appropriate spectrum going to be identified now given AUSTAR (and Unwired in the cities) has the 2.3GHz and 3.5GHz and the Telsvision stations use the 2.5GHz?

    Why shouldn't people view this major oversight as negligent on the part of the government?
  • FLOSS, Filtering privacy.

    Question for both party representatives- Will mandatory ISP filtering be used under a "insert party name here" government ?

    Is your part aware of Free open source software and if so why has it been left out of information policy.(encourage awareness and or increased use by all Australians -- government, business and people.)

    For the labor party
    In addition, will the Labor party consider providing grants for open source software. Will it consider promoting it. If I choose open source software can I still get a tax rebate ?
    Why not promote awareness of it ?
  • Questions

    1) What is being/will be done to ensure that Telstra removes RIMs/CMUXes and other line-sharing technology that is preventing thousands of Australians - particularly in newer housing estates - from accessing even basic ADSL?

    2) If FTTN goes ahead, what provision is there to ensure that there will be proper competition, and not a backsliding to the Telstra-dominated monopoly of the 90s and early 00s?
  • Government! POLICY ? is FLAWED!

    1a. Why FTTN when FTTH is the better choice to replace all the old copper and RIMs/Pair gain.
    1b.Why does Government policy favour Tel$tra all the time, which is what FTTN will do without more regulation which isn't a real good option.

    2. When is government policy going to STOP Tel$tra from gouging the public for their own & shareholders benefit?

    3a. When is government policy going to separate Tel$tra into 2 organisations..Wholesale & Retail, to prevent the internal fudging of costs for the benefit of their Retail operation & stop undercutting of the competition?

    3b. When is Government policy going to force Tel$tra to thrown the Broadband switch to give all those in range access to ADSL2+, instead of the farce we have at present!

    4a. Why do Australians pay "THE" highest costs in the world for Broadband services?
    4b. Why are Australians the only Broadband user in the world (ignoring a few piddling countries) paying for download?

    5. Why do you tolerate arguing & bickering about FTTN/H due to the failure of Government policy to direct Tel$tra policy, when other countries are already installing FTTN.

    6. Why are we still dithering over BPL to the home, due to the lack of Government policy or direction, when the technology has been defined for over a decade?

    7. If FTTN is too hard & going to be delayed for a decade longer due to Government inaction, why hasn't policy already been defined for WiMax in all exchanges (it's easy to install & doesn't require high cost cables to users) immediately as an interim policy and give ISP's a write down as an incentive to do it?

    8. Why hasn't Government policy provided education departments with a subsidy to install Broadband for the benefit of ALL education, instead of leaving it up to Tel$tra & ISP's to gouge the schools and bicker over cost charges. It seems to be more a case of allowing them to profit over education rather than providing the advantages of Broadband to ALL schools?

    I could go on, but if sensible and practical answers and outcomes to these questions are provide, we might just make some progress, instead of the stalemate we've put up with for the past decade. It would help, of course, if the Politicians running the portfolio knew & understood the technologies they were responsible for! None in the past decade have!
  • Questions for both Ministers

    1. If there is no technical requirement to cut the copper under FttN would they consider to do so, simply to ensure a commercially non-feasible system becomes feasible
    2. If the answer to 1 is "yes", then would they accept that they should also disconnect both HFC networks and all mobile/wireless broadband networks for the same non-technical reasons?
    3. If your answer to 1 is "yes", will the government provide a "telecommunications fairness test" to ensure users are not financially disadvantaged by any FttN plans or is FttN going to be the "Workchoices" of the Telecommunications industry?
    4. Much is hyped about the FttN "triple play". Assuming watching HDTV consumes 5Mb/s of bandwidth per end user, what will it cost for a provider to deliver one HDTV stream from a US channel hosted in the US to an end user per month? (noting that it costs approximately $250 per month to get 1Mb/s of wholesale Internet capacity)
    5. Will you implement an FttN monopoly and interconnection framework against the express opinion of the ACCC that it is against the interest of consumers and competition? If so, why and/or on what basis?
    6. With so much importance being placed behind OECD numbers and statistics, has either party sought the opinion of the OECD on any proposals to reduce competition and its effect on the market and if not, will they?
    7. There are already two FttN networks in metro Australia being the Optus and Telstra HFC networks which can provide over 30Mb/s+ to the end user. If there is such a compelling requirement for high-speed services then can you please explain why according to OECD reports these networks have achieved such a poor penetration compared to "inferior" xDSL technologies?
    8. To ensure that any FttN monopolist does the "right thing" will government make it a "Condition Precedent" that any FttN monopolist must first provide FttN services to all of the portion of 98% of Australia not currently being serviced by competitive carrier ADSL/HFC infrastructure BEFORE they get access to the areas which have? Surely you must agree those who are currently living without need to be serviced before those who have?
    9. Much is hyped about "Health" benefits for end users. With most Australians having access to telephones for decades how often have you been able to consult your doctor over the telephone without going into his/her practice (and given the choice how many would want to)?
    10. Finally, of the countries in the OECD broadband rankings higher than Australia, which countries have a government sanctioned FttN monopoly? More to the point, which countries in the OECD rankings have a government sanctioned FttN monopoly in which the government has agreed to disconnect all competitive carriers ULL/LSS access to ensure the FttN monopoly investment "makes sense"?
  • Q and A

    Ministers, I have two questions:

    Question 1
    Will you be able to guarantee that everyone will be able to get broadband at a minimum speed which is comparable to those in 1st world countries? At the moment, as a Software Engineer, I get frustated that we can develop really cool aps but are held back by our 'third world' broadband.

    Question 2
    Will price of broadband be regulated as well to INTERNATIONAL standards. At the moment, countries like Singapore have faster broadband but is much cheaper when compared to Australia.
  • Q & A

    When Telstra was floated, Howard made a fundamental error in not keeping the infrastructure under government ownership and floating off the rest as a marketing company on a level playing field with the other competitors.

    Are either Coonan or Conway and their respective parties, ready to accept that 'Invconvenient Truth'?

    And if so, how would they see the situation being remedied, remembering that until that happens, Telstra will continue to be a thorn in the side and a problem for every successive Australian government?
  • Focussing on Telecomms Infrastructure

    Seantors Coonan & Conroy:
    The Davidson Report (1982) mooted the competitive Optus Experiment - which has proved to be an absolute disaster with multiple duplicated networks and multiple managements along with out of control marketing advertising and sponsoring which have all produced incredible inflationary pressures that have apparently caused only 26% (Coonan's words Meet The Press) decrease in end user costs over the last 10 years. My brief estimation of technology advances along with massive bandwidth increases at comparitavely equal costs would have caused a drop in effective end user costs by at least 73% over that same period. Handouts like NTN and other 'incentive' schemes have clearly shown that the competitive regime is not working and radical surgery is urgently required.

    What timed process to be completed before 2009 do you have in place to split Telstra into a non-competitive infrastructure business (Telstra Infrastructure) providing wholesale telecomms services to resellers including the competitive ASX listed Bigpond, and in this process terminate Optus, split it too, and hand that infrastructure back to Telstra, now ASX delisted?

    What strategy do you have in place to conduit the new Bigpond to be competitive with other telecomms retail resellers, and provide a return for these shareholders?

    Senators Coonan & Conroy:
    In the past 11 or so years we have seen multiple so-called telecomms companies come and go (once they realise that they actually have to contribute and not blatently steal telecomms infrastructure).

    What is your schedule to be complete before 2009 to rein competitive telecomms infrastructure businesses back to Telstra Wholesale Infrastructure?

    With Telstra separated and the ASX securities moved to Bigpond, what tiered wholesale pricing strategy do you have to make Bigpond hold its security value, compared to other resellers that are also holding competitive infrastructure? (Hint: there are two pricing structures for Wholesale - one for resellers with competitive infrastructure and a far far cheaper pricing structure for resellers without competitive infrastructure.)
  • Question to Conroy

    Would an ALP government allow IN PLAY online betting on sporting events? The current government will not allow it as they believe it encourages impulse gambling, but what this means is thousands of Australian punters are at a massive disadvantage when competing with overseas punters.
  • TV Questions

    Australia lags greatly in community communication channels, not only by lack of broadband but also from the absence of a national digital community TV channel.

    Does either party have a commitment to ensure that the legislation, spectrum and funding is in place to implement one by the demise of analogue TV?
  • Q and A

    Will either party consider implementing Simon Hacketts plan to foster competeting in the rural broadband market by essentially getting the "...ACCC to declare access to Telstra long haul regional fibre into Telstra exchanges - to simply declare that the Line Sharing Service also applies to monopoly fibre runs, not just monopoly copper ones."

    So Telstra can no longer charge monopoly rents in this backhaul market.

    Plan is detailed here: