The killer app for the NBN: voice

The killer app for the NBN: voice

Summary: There's been a multitude of wild ideas about how the NBN will change our lives — but one big difference will be in how we make phone calls.


There's been a multitude of wild ideas about how the NBN will change our lives, but one big difference will be in how we make phone calls.

In fact, some NBN detractors, like Malcolm Turnbull, have been arguing that making phone calls will be much more difficult with the new network. Remember his cries that we'll all need to rewire our houses at considerable expense?

I've also started to see commentators using their experiences of best-effort VoIP services as an example of how voice telephony will be in an NBN world: emergency service providers won't know where you live, the line will conk out in a power cut and the call quality will be far worse than now.

A lot of this is pure rubbish of course, although it is likely that many people will, by choice, choose lower-cost voice services that might run over the top of their IP network and not be managed by their service provider. That's got to be bad news for Telstra, whose $6 billion in PSTN revenue is in serious decline.

The real opportunity lies in how voice services are integrated into other applications. In this week's Twisted Wire we hear about the future of managed voice services for business and home users, once we have reliable connections into the home and small office.

On the program you'll hear from:

  • Greg Bader, CTO at iiNet
  • Matthew Wilson, managing director of M5 networks
  • Paul Brooks, managing director of Layer 10 advisory

Running time: 31 minutes, 27 seconds.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Telcos, Unified Comms


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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  • Perhaps I can be educated on the plans to retire the CAN after structual separation and what that will mean to the population at large? Ie will all those odd people who have little interest in computers and technology need to have their homes equipped with an NBN connection? What will that mean to an opt in opt out option?
    Blank Look
  • Well, as I mentioned in the podcast, the idea of opt-out or opt-in makes no sense to me. It's like digital TV - if anyone refuses, then there's no digital dividend. If someone wants to stay with copper, then the copper network has to be maintained. If its an infrastructure upgrade, surely everyone gets it, otherwise it's a mess.
  • I understand that the costs will not be small to have national broadband for everyone (rewiring) but surely there are ways around that such as small increments into our rates and/or also redevelopments of budgets (the waistlines of alot of fatty politicians.. ohh too far?). The fact of the matter is that we need a nationwide rollout of broadband. It is embarrasing that Australia is behind many other developed countries (not entirely the fault of Australia but of companies such as Telstra for having a monopoly of internet lines). The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of 'having broadband. It's a no brainer and let's hope the majority politicians know that it's necessary.
  • Perhaps the only circumstance where they may want to opt out is where voice can be satisfactorily provided by a mobile phone service and there is no need for data, hence no copper too. Certainly I don't believe this will be the case for average family or professionals home. But for single aged pensioners, transients, holiday homes etc. there may be good cause to not incur additional cost either as a one of or as a recuring charge due to NBN.
  • Hi Phil, podcasts are not much use to me as my organisation prevents access to those services.
    Blank Look
  • Hi eddles, maybe you have a valid point, perhaps rather than all this nbn co and pretending that as a business, nbn co is viable, a tax surcharge could be applied to fund this thing, a bit like the medicare levy?
    Blank Look
  • Tell 'em to get with the program!
  • There is no reason to 'opt-out'. The government is paying for the initial connection and you will only pay a recurring charge if you sign up with a retailer/ISP. I think opting-out would potentially lower the resale value of the property. I consider the availability of ADSL2+ when looking at houses and, in 5-10 years time, I would be very reluctant to buy a house that wasn't connected to the NBN.
  • Sure but what about grandma's house?
    Blank Look
  • Despite all the anti-hype from the usual suspects, plus one newsgroup in particular, it makes as much sense to refuse to use NBN as it would make to refuse to use the road past your house because you didn't like somebody on the local council.
  • If you are refering to me as an anti-hype, that is not the position I wish to take. What I am attempting to have people consider is that amongst the population we have people who have no interest in technology including broadband. They may refuse a broadband connection. Will the CAN be deactivated and they lose the telephone service?
    Blank Look
  • The digital dividend comes into play when there is digital takeup, with digital TV the digital takeup is dictated by the shutting down of the analogue service progressively across Australia and the availability of extra digital channels and its better quality.
    Of course that's all dictated by the fact the end product itself digital TV is FREE!, the enthusiasm for digital TV would not be so great if the punters had to pay for it every month!

    With the NBN and FTTH the digital dividend is dictated by how many end users takeup the technical benefits of FTTH, such as IPTV and movie downloads to multiple outlets in the home, unfortunately a fixed line service like the NBN is up against the world wide trend away from fixed line connections altogether.

    This trend has nothing to do with end users getting off 'slow old copper' it is all about the ever booming end product like Smartphones, Netbooks, E-Readers, Ipads etc dictating the market infrastructure, that's why Telstra and SingTel are spending millions on extending and improving wireless, they know where the revenue is coming from.

    If all we are doing is spending $43 billion on a replacement for the PSTN telephone for the majority of end users who are leaving such a service anyway, then the term I use for FTTH - Fibre to the Hype becomes a very expensive reality.
  • Well if you don't use fixed line internet or phone at all and never will it would make every sense to refuse it.
  • Umm, Grandmas house won't always be Grandmas house...!
  • Update scouter, you do not need a fixed line service to get data, ask Apple what products their multiple millions of dollars of profit world wide are coming from, while you are at it have a look at Telstra's and SingTel's latest financial reports and look at wireless SIO's and ARPU's figures, and see what is driving their bottom line these days.
  • Yes, I guess after grandma dies, the house sold by those neglectful children, the poor new owner is expected to pay for a fibre installation. Either that or use "advocates" super wireless connection.
    Blank Look
  • Yes but who pays for the NTU which was thrown out by the last tenant or owner
    Blank Look
  • When you bought your house (if pre-lived in) if the previous owner hadn't have had the foresight to have hooked up the fan dangled new teleeephone, whether he/she used it or not, well...

    Plus I would have thought that that was another selling point for "potential" (speaking of your clone) house buyers.

    After all you couldn't wait for poor old granny to kick the bucket and grab her $500K+ or more home, surely you can now afford the NBN and to leave your life of FUD and doom behind, LOL
  • No tell them and Visionary (at home)... they need an NBN...LOL!
  • Mr. Contradiction...

    Once again I call on a previous posting from another, whom I believe conveys the fixed/wireless story best...

    Please at least read, before typically contradicting yourself or inevitably adding pointless and baseless FUD, thank you...

    "warren_s 9/8 Computerworld -

    "Bottled water, whilst convenient to pick up whilst you're out and about, is quite expensive on a per-litre basis compared to mains-based household water supplies. You certainly wouldn't use bottled water to supply your shower, flush your toilet or wash your clothes in. But when you're on the go, it's great to be able to grab a bottle to quench your thirst.

    If broadband were water, the Liberals would be focused on improving (probably by subsidising) the shipping of bottled water to rural and regional areas, rather than upgrading and extending existing inadequate water mains and supply infrastructure to 93% of the country, so that it will last the next 50 years.

    Broadband, like water, isn't a zero sum game... just because people buy bottled water, does not mean that they don't want mains supplied water at home"...

    Enter expected, unwarranted and inevitable FUD and contradictions... now!