Five pros and cons of the NBN

Five pros and cons of the NBN

Summary: It's fast, ubiquitous and it boosts productivity. Are there any downsides to the National Broadband Network (NBN)?

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband, Telcos

It's fast, ubiquitous and it boosts productivity. Are there any downsides to the National Broadband Network (NBN)?

It would be hard to say that the NBN will do any harm. The contentious issues tend to revolve around whether it will achieve the same — or more — in a better way.

This week on Twisted Wire, we summarise some of the arguments you have heard over the last few years into a half-hour catch-up on the major areas of debate.

On the positive side, the five pros are:

  1. It will boost productivity
  2. It will provide the latest technology, at a low cost, to all Australians
  3. It gives us a competitive advantage against other, less-connected, nations
  4. It removes the stranglehold that Telstra has on access provision
  5. It's a game changer that will change many things we might not have envisioned.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? So, what's the downside? Have a listen to the podcast to hear the views of the naysayers.

Add your views on the Twisted Wire feedback line: 02 9304 5198

Running time: 26 minutes, 59 seconds

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Telcos


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • The main benefit to the NBN is decentralisation.

    Currently all the big data based companies & call centres are located in cities, this is because the city enjoys the benefit of high speed connection to the internet at a relatively low cost.

    With the advent of the NBN these points of (fibre) interconnect will be available at towns with 1000 people or more.

    The problem we face in small country towns is that our towns are dying because we are losing the “young people” - the children & the grand children are going to the cities because they cannot get a job here.

    Currently “big business” will not invest in small towns as the points of inter-connect & the cost of backhaul is too expensive for these companies & they would have to pay a high price for dedicated fibres back to the capital cities.

    With the NBN in towns like Tumut NSW it would make it much cheaper for large companies to operate here as the cost of property are lower, the cost of wages are lower, there is no traffic congestion & these businesses would make more profit – which is really what business wants.

    This will bring many employment opportunities to small towns & even the people who don’t think they have a use for the NBN will see their children & grand children grow up in these towns which is very important to them.

    With this will bring higher house prices, because many people from the city will move to the country for a better life style, without the congestion & pollution of the city – This in turn will help reduce the congestion of the cities.

    Retired people do not want to sit in front of a computer & talk to their doctor. This is because they are unfamiliar with this technology & they feel uncomfortable using it. They would rather go out and see their doctor because this is probably one of their only social interaction they have when they get to that age.

    Being in the fibre optic industry I have a vested interest to ensure this project goes ahead. Not only because I will make a living from it, more importantly I want my children to grow up with me & my grand children to stay with us and this means more than any profit margin to me.

    This nation building scheme will bring far more opportunity than we could imagine. The social & economic benefits will far out last us & generations to come. We cannot let this opportunity be wasted because of the short sightedness of an opposition who object simply for the sake of objection.

    I hope this short insight into our lives helps you promote the NBN for the things that really matter to all of us – a better lifestyle for all families.
    • Nice story, but you need to understand that the NBN has NO PLANS to provide services to big business. It is only being designed for households which is why it is such a waste of money. All this talk of productivity gains is just fantasy, it is purely an attempt by Labor to buy votes.
  • Fibretech make a very strong point. It is a pity the Gillard government cannot get this message across.
    The benefits of decentralisation cannot be over-estimated.
    Having our population crammed into the capital cities is an insane recipe for social, environmental and economic disaster. As they have grown, these cities have become more violent, more depraved, more polluted and exponentially more stressful to live in. The city transport infrastructure has also become incredibly expensive to maintain.

    For those who have never lived in the country, this might be hard to understand, but not having to deal with long daily commutes in heavy traffic is absolutely wonderful. Being an easy 10 minute drive from work is just gives you so much more time to actually live your life.
    I moved to the city years ago because the work ran out in my country town. I thought it was the right move, but the city rat race has taken a terrible toll on my health and relationships.
    The NBN will at least give some country people the option of staying in the far more relaxed environment they are used to. It also provides an extra incentive for people from the city to move the country for a better life style, as they will not have to sacrifice their communication network. In many occupations work will also be available.
    With the NBN, there is no reason why a current regional town anywhere in Australia could not become a major centre of excellence in IT or some other discipline.
    • Unfortunately it is hard to get the word out to mainstream Aussies, when mainstream media is against the NBN, as they see it a threat to their empires, and they are so snugly aligned to the other side of politics...

      Welcome to reality
    • Its a pity regarding that everything Magnus said regarding cities being inefficient (socially and economically) is actually completely wrong

      Cities are actually much more efficient than having everything equally distributed, thats why civilizations have been building cities for millenia, there is nothing magical about it. Cities act as hubs, its easier to transport goods to a city than a whole country (or area), when you build transport you hit more people due to density and its easier to centralized any arbitrary service there
  • I'd like to make a comment on Pro/Cons 2 & 4 and say that my experience is that those assertions are false. My suburb and the residents of West End and South Brisbane in metro Brisbane is being roped with new fibre optic cable to replace the copper wire exchange in South Brisbane that was recently demolished to make way for the New Childrens Hospital.

    My $29.99 50Gb ADSL2+ service at 20Mbps will be discontinued and I will have no choice but to go with fibre optic at considerable xtra cost. In fact a 40% hike in price. It will jump to $49.99 per month for the cheapest plans available from two different and popular providers. One of those competitors cheapest plans is 20% less in download/upload size and slower (40Gb at 8 Mbps). If I want to reach the same speed I get with my current ADSL2+ service I have to pay extra to the tune of about $10 per month. I don't get anywhere near my current 50Gbs and I regularly upload a number of my own websites and download software.

    So in relation to the fibre optic being offered at a low cost is clearly not the case. The options are more expensive and I don't see how it will offer me greater productivity than I am able to achieve or substantially above my ADSL2+. Unless you are some of my friends who are eagerly waiting to stream their movies instead of hoping down to the local DVD shop. ADSL2+ is adequate and gives me what I want at a price I am prepared to pay. What I am currently being offer to replace it is not a game changer.

    Let's look at the competition alluded to as a Pro - Telstra's strangle hold on access. Below is a quote directly from my correspondence I received from my ADSL2+ provider (one of the largest in Australia).
    "Telstra has structured its commercial arrangements in South Brisbane such that we are only able to resell Telstra services in South Brisbane rather than using our own network to supply you service. Due to the fact that we are now obliged to resell Telstra's broadband services over the fibre, we will no longer be able to provide you with Unlimited Internet."

    That little paragraph says very clearly that Telstra controls access and if you don't want to play by Telstra's rules too bad.

    It certainly is a game changer back in favour of a monopoly. Have we all forgotten too quickly the misery we endured before there was a little bit of competition. All the Pros are a lot like Cons to me.
    • The Pro/Cons are for the NBN. You are not on the NBN, you are on Telstra fibre. You have just added another Pro.
      6. The NBN provides fibre access in a far cheaper and fairer fashion then Telstra does
      So much for the Liberal private enterprise can provider cheaper access through better efficiency. They ignore one element, corporate greed backed by a monopoly.
    • Dude, your on the South Brisbane exchange which Telstra have given consumers a lovely taste of what "their" fibre offering would be. No other choices either... doesn't leave a good taste does it? Especially when it costs you so much more.

      Now the NBN on the other hand means ANY ISP who provides a service in Brisbane can supply you with a service. The way its shaping up, healthy competition will mean we have low cost supply as well. Chalk and Cheese my friend. Sorry to hear about your situation but that's what a private monopoly gets you.
    • hoodwinked, welcome to the NBN critics nirvana...

      You pay more, I pay more and the NBN critics pay more, but that's ok, because the NBN critics political masters say.

      Clever aren't they...NOT!
    • Hoodwinked - does your $29.99 ADSL service include line rental of the copper loop? or is your cost more like $50+ when you include line rental on top of ADSL service charges?
    • "My $29.99 50Gb ADSL2+ service at 20Mbps will be discontinued" My heart bleeds for you, i wish I had the option of ADSL2+ & even more wish I had the option to get it at that price!
      Your problem is you are on Telstra Fibre, not NBN. If only the rest of the country had your problem, I'm sure they happy to have 1/2 the speed @ twice the price.
    • The case you outline, South Brisbane, is in fact the coalitions prefered model.

      They WANT the incumbent telco, Telstra, to provide the fiber network and dictate the wholesale price to the other retailers.

      The point of the NBN is that unlike Telstra, NBNco is banned from the retail market and has no interest in providing a better deal for one company or another.

      You overlook the fact that South Brisbane's copper network is owned and run by a monopoly, Telstra, but that monopoly, like NBNco's is tightly regulated.
      Telstra's price for rolling out broadband to both the Howard and Rudd government's (and which was rejected by both) was removal of that regulation, ie, the South Brisbane model on a national scale.

      This is the model that Abbott now says is best for Australia.
  • Is the coalition on crack? Who the hell leaves building infrastructure to the private market and hope that competition will deliver the best outcomes?!

    Why is telecommunications being treated different to roads, water and electricity?
  • Absolutely not, the NBN is a marvelous "investment", courtesy of Mr Kevin Rudd's initiative.
  • "xfire: Why is telecommunications being treated different to roads, water and electricity?"

    Good question, my guess is AUS is far behind in this technology compare to Asian neighbours asthey have it since 2005. People are online more and more everyday.

    Think about one day you got your Internet Protocol (IP) TV, IP-telephone and Internet with unlimited usage via a fiber-to-the-wall package cost a much as 100AUD! Does it worth to invest?
    • Water, roads and electricity were all rolled out by government because there private companies weren't interested as the ROI in the early years isn't there.
      Over the long term of course, they make money but company CEO's have no interest in the longer term. If it can't make a high return during their tenure as CEO then it counts as a minus regardless of the long term prospects.