Exetel chief: 'God help us all' on NBN

Exetel chief: 'God help us all' on NBN

Summary: The outspoken chief executive of internet service provider (ISP) Exetel has issued a blunt reaction to the news that the National Broadband Network (NBN) project is likely to go ahead: "God help us all".


The outspoken chief executive of internet service provider (ISP) Exetel has issued a blunt reaction to the news that the National Broadband Network (NBN) project is likely to go ahead: "God help us all".

The revelation yesterday afternoon that rural independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will support Labor to form government means the NBN is likely to go ahead, with both citing the flagship project as one of the key reasons they decided to support Labor above the Coalition. However, Exetel's John Linton, a long-time critic of the project, repeated his earlier concerns with the project when asked for a response by email.

"Oakeshott and Windsor know even less about communications than Gillard, and that's a ridiculous way to decide on how taxpayer's money is wasted," he said.

The Exetel chief said that nothing about the viability of the NBN project had changed, repeating the Coalition's line that the project remained "a hugely expensive white elephant that will pauperise the Australian taxpayer every year the Labor Party pours borrowed money into it".

Furthermore, Linton said, Australia would be poorer generally, and the local telco sector would "continue to be destroyed" because of the "pantomime" played out as the independents decided who they would vote for.

"God help us all," he concluded.

Linton has been one of the most outspoken critics of the NBN project from the early days of its inception. Just this week the ISP chief wrote on his blog that the government was foolhardy to try and pick a winner from the ongoing development of technology.

"The real point is that technology moves so quickly and offers so many diverse 'paths' that then split into so many more diverse paths that no government (command economy or quasi democracy) has the knowledge necessary to make such decisions," he wrote.

"The reason that technology is delivered to the possible buyers by multiple commercial vendors is because some decisions will be wrong at any point in time and those companies will collapse, but others, who got that particular call correct, will continue. In the meantime the end users will continue to get a service at the best possible price and at the greatest possible 'technology level'."

Like some others who have criticised the NBN, Linton's general thesis has been over time that the development of wireless technologies, such as 3G mobile broadband, has the potential to make the predominantly fibre-based NBN redundant.

"By the end of 2011, wireless broadband will be faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous in Australia than Telstra's own ADSL2 network, which is three times larger than any of its competitors," he wrote on his blog this week.

Topics: Broadband, Government AU, NBN

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • "By the end of 2011, wireless broadband will be faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous in Australia than Telstra's own ADSL2 network"

    With less than 18 months until "the end of 2011", I wonder where this "faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous" wireless is going to come from?
    Dean Harding
  • Yep. wireless is the faster (to deploy) & cheaper option all right...but for the supplier, NOT the consumer. Blatant self interest here.
  • What a load of bull! Fixed and wireless broadband are poles apart and will remain so for the foreseeable future. All credible broadband providers support the fibre network.
  • Very accurate observation. It has already been shown that it would be cheaper for a telco to install a wireless device in homes instead of fixed lines, yet consumers are still paying premium prices for a cheaper-to-implement technology. I wonder if these companies are stashing the extra profits to pay all the health costs associated with EMF damage?
  • HAAHAHAHAHAAAAAAHHAAAAAAAAA......linton...I mean, really...

  • God help Exetel with a chief exec that continues to damage the image of his company. Even if his claims weren't absurd, his views are clearly unpopular and people are taking notice in a bad way.
  • Obviously none of you NBN supporters know whats happening with technology in the world at present, like Intel who has lauched their new satilite to provide the new Intel WiMAX 2 which should provide average speeds over 100Mbps, this is wireless and will be in commercial use by 2012. Also by the time they finish building the NBN in 2016 (knowing the Labour Party probably more like 2020 & costing $60billion) how many people will want to be restricted to a cable connection? By then Ipads will be everywhere not to mention all the other portable computers that will be comming onto the market in the next 12months, the world is going wireless, and our country will be left with a dated technology, hardly anyone willing to fork out the money to connect the fibre from the street to their house and also a massive bill and debt. And if they can't make money of this technology of yesterday how will they ever sell the NBN? They wont, the public will just have to foot the bill with interest.
  • brando1... If WiMAX2 does actually do as they claim in 2012, great. I'm sure all the NBN supporters (like me) who welcome technology with open arms, will welcome it, as long as it is a vast improvement on current wireless...

    I do find it strange though, that you will exaggerate the downside of the NBN, plucking 2020 and $60B from thin air, but will believe basically unproven technology will save the day, in 2 years time?

    Anyway, back to my paragraph 1 where the word "current" is the optimum word... Governments can't legislate and build networks that don't yet exist, they can only offer what is currently available (obviously). So should we wait another 2 years and hope WiMAX2 is more than hype or do we actually do something now?

    What about in 2012 when WiMAX2 is available and the governemnet of the day says, WiMAX2 it is. Then brando2 comes out saying... idiots WiMAX3 is the only way to go...just wait until 2017...!

    Seriously do we just wait and leave everyone without, without, or do we bite the bullet and do something...?
  • Speaking of WiMAX SingTelOptus was right behind it back here:


    Now apparently FTTH is the way to go, if you want taxpayer funding you tap dance to whatever tune is required it seems.
  • What we must always remember is the other side of the coin to people's comments...

    In this case it would be:
    "In a sea of liars... the position that attracts the greatest attacks, is to tell the truth"
  • Of course Optus were, they were going to get a $1B gift... my goodness you show you naivety. They will all jump on the best bandwagon (hence the ABB are against the NBN)...!

    As such, what we (those without a vested interest - oh, so me, maybe not you?) need to do is ascertain what is best for all, or at very least, the majority of Australians, keeping in mind the vested interest of these companies, splinter groups and poitical stooges.

    After doing so, the choice is clear, the NBN is the only way, imo...

    But glad to see that you are finally catching on, at last...!
  • To some extent RS... what alternative options have been proposed? Would we really be doing ourselves a disservice IF we evaluated other options available to us??

    For example, the NBN says gigabit via land cable is the way to go.. and that isnt really that difficult. There will be a heck of a lot of cutting through concrete slabs in buildings to get that cable (in whatever form) to each floor of thousands of buildings.. including the vast majority that were constructed prior to "one copper pair" for a phone line.
    We currently have a 3G mobile phone network and mobile phones are one of the few devices with a >95% saturation to the population. What about leveraging of existing technology and installing a 4G network that I believe is 100 megabit. Naturally Telstra and Optus would be the best placed to do such an installation.. ie the ones that would benefit from gigabit cable anyway.
    What advantages would 4G mobile technology have? Well not everyone in a street has a computer, and not everyone needs/wants such a bandwidth. A 4G wireless network would be available to those that wanted it... so the users that want it pay for the service rather than all paying regardless if you need it or not.
    As well as 100 megabit connection to the internet will give you a very comfortable 1440x900 video at 30fps. Quite capable of video distance learning and consultations with a doctor as the NBN TV advertisement suggests.
    As you dont have to go digging/ cutting through concrete slabs in buildings/ hooking up cable between power poles, a mobile network could be installed to the same or greater the percentage of people in Australia for at least one fifth ($8.6 Billion) of the cost and probably one tenth ($4.3 Billion) in cost of the $43 Billion NBN. Think of all the tax we could save /debt we could pay off/ education we could fund/ hospitals we could improve with 80-90% of $43 billion being available for other projects??

    What other ideas could we come up with? What about part gigabit via cable and part 4G network... what advantages would there be above 4G wireless alone??

    Rather than insisting that we are right or wrong.. why don't we plow our energy into developing a plan that will serve Australia not only in the short term, but for as long as possible with current technology. Would that not benefit the most Australians to the highest extent??

  • RealWorld, I get these bl**dy double posts too, annoying eh. I know I just press the mouse button once, but...LOL!

    Agree 100%, if there are better (or even equal/less expensive) technologies out there, then use them, simple. Why wouldn't I or anyone agree with that? Thing is from my perspective, fibre is the best by far (at the momemt and in the foreseeable future) which is why I promote it.

    We have had many posters here saying, stuff like, yeah but what if WiMAX2 takes off in 2012 or other technologies come to the fore. That's of course, possible, although improbable...But regardless, do we wait until 2012 to see. Or as I mentioned to one WiMAX2 fan, what about in 2017 when WiMAX3 is maybe available, do we then wait, instead for it?

    Governments can only make policies on what is available now, and the question is, do we do it properly now and pay, or do we half do it, to save dollars (now, but maybe have to pay even more in the future)?

    Wireless supporters seem to think wireless or nothing, whereas NBN/fibre supporters believe they work hand in hand. Remember the inital NBN announcement was for 90% of Aussie homes to have FTTP and the remainder to have wireless or satellite anyway...

    I say do it properly now, if new wireless technolgies appear, then use those to supplement the NBN.
  • RS.. you say you agree 100% and then by the end are saying, "do it properly now, if new wireless technologies appear, then use those" they appear to be two statements that are not completely in alignment...?? :) Can you please clarify.

    You say from your perspective that fibre is the best by far for the forseeable future. What fibre technology are you referring to? And what technology are you comparing it to? Was PON technology one of them? As you can imagine, saying 'fibre is the best' is one thing, backing it up with sound analytical investigation is substantially different :)

    As for WiMAX, and I beleive you are referring to IEEE 802.16e-2005, please correct me if you were referring to something else.
    Assuming you were thinking of IEEE 802.16e-2005... that standard has been around for 5 full years. The IEEE 802.16 standards have been available for production for years.
    It is currently avalable in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney www.vividwireless.com.au you may be interested in looking at their coverage maps.
    Or watch the video on the site where they regularaly get 8+ megabit/sec on a laptop.. I know a few people with ADSL 2+ that get less than that currently.
    But lets not get bogged down in IEEE 802.16e-2005.

    You next point is.. "Governments can only make policies on what is available now".
    Maybe I should leave this point for later with IEEE 802.16e-2005 being available now.

    You then mention "Wireless supporters seem to think wireless or nothing". You seem to be intilligent and I was sure that you know that wireless base stations are connected by cable/fibre to the base network. So I think we will take that as a momentary 'blip' and that you agree that wireless supporters, certainly with IEEE 802.16e-2005 supporters, that they are all for wireless + fibre.

    As I am also interested in doing something propery and looking at the facts regarless which technology they eventually support, shall we look at one residential unit block as an example.
    Average residential block of units, say 50 units in 14 levels, 4 units per floor, say 2 units on the top floor, and 1 floor with a gym/sauna/services.

    A. Fibre NBN only
    - approval from body corporate to work on the property
    - time and cost to cut through 14 concrete slabs in all 4 'stacks' (a stack is a set of units 'stacked' on top of each other where their services are grouped.)
    - time and cost to install fibre to the MDF (Main Distribution Frame)
    - time and cost to install fibre up each stack
    - time and cost to install fibre to each unit in each stack
    - we will assume that all minimum radius bends for fibre cable are strictly adherred to
    - time and cost to install a base plate (much like a TV antenna base plate) on the wall of each unit
    - time and cost to check each connection in each unit for successful connection to base network
    - time and cost to rectify any units with substandard connections, involving searching out any cables with kinks or poor coupling connections and replace
    - assume that the backbone connection to the unit is commissioned already, otherwise need to wait until that is completed
    - cost for any unit residents to purchase a fibre modem (even though all 50 were connected)
    - connect residents computer to fibre modem and they now have 'fibre to the internet'

    B. Wireless (+ fibre to base lol)
    - approval from body corporate to work on the property
    - Skip this step if the residential unit block is within range of another wireless transmitter. Or if not in range, time and cost to cut through 14 concrete slabs in central service duct and locate wireless transmitter on the roof.
    - cost for any unit residents to purchase a wireless modem (only those that want it)
    - connect residents computer to wireless modem and they now have 'wireless (+ fibre lol) to the internet'

    Each of those 'time and cost' entries referrers to time and wages of workmen to perform concrete core drilling or technicians to make physically sensitive fibre connections or similar and ignoring onflow costs for the moment.

    As from my previous post I ask what tax reduction/national debt payment/education improvements/hospital waiting list reductions could be made with the monetry savings from Option B instead of ONLY the NBN installers gaining the benefits (wages and materials) in Option A? Especially when you consider that the wireless transmitter in one residential block can service other unit blocks as well.

    Getting back to governments can only make policy with what is available now. I am wondering how something so plain could be missed without very effective blinders?