Let me start by saying that I am a fan of Malcolm Turnbull. From what he has shown, I believe him to be a rare find in politics; a politician with intelligence and a conscience. When the gay marriage proposal was put before parliament, he (gasp, shock) polled his constituents, so he could represent their views on the matter. As they were for gay marriage to be legislated, he planned to vote the same way. Unfortunately Tony Abbot did not allow his Liberal perty members to conscience vote on the matter, so the proposal failed.
I say this, so that when I say that the coalition NBN plan is terrible, I’m not being political, just giving an honest appraisal.
25mb/s is a waste of money. At the moment, I get about 14mb/s. This is fine, for now. I still have trouble streaming HD videos, and any simultaneous downloads can add to the delay considerably. This is with today’s technology. Predicting the needs of the future can be a tricky affair, but if we liken it to other government infrastructure projects, well, they do not really have a track record of success in that area.
Consider the highways. Is there a single one in Sydney or Melbourne that does not become a parking lot on a daily basis? After twenty years, their traffic forecasts were woefully inadequate. The Eastern freeway in Melbourne is terrible, and now they’re talking about removing the land set aside for a rail link to Doncaster to add a lane for each direction in the middle.
Internet use isn’t a steady growth. All technology use increases exponentially. 25 mb/s will be OK for five years time. It might even be OK for 10, but within 20, it will be a joke, a useless sham that is unusable. And to top it off, with fibre to the node (FTTN), as the Liberal party proposes, it will not be upgradable without significant expense. It is significantly limited by the usage of existing copper wire, where speeds will be affected by an old network, set up in the 60s.
The Labor plan of Fibre to the home (FTTH) involves laying fibre optic cable to 93% of homes. To upgrade this is simply a matter of upgrading the software and exchanges, as the network is only limited by how fast light can travel through fibre optic cable (hint: really freaking fast!). You will not need a separate phone line.
How will this affect you?
With the Liberal plan, you’ll get quick internet, at a reasonable price fairly soon. Then in ten years, when the government of the day is still paying off the debt, it’ll be useless. Australia will fall behind technologically and have to reinvest in another system.
With the Labor plan, in ten years time the system will still be current, even high end. in twenty years time, when the network is getting overused and congested, it can be upgraded cheaply.
The other option bandied about is a wide access WiFi system. I can’t see that being a solution in the near future. There are still houses with poor phone reception in every city, and I can’t see this being any different. Then there are the security concerns; If you are using a wide access WiFi, you can be tracked and hacked much easier than using a land line based system. To intercept the signal, you just need to be within the cell, which can be a kilometre in diameter or more.
I’m sure Labor will be inefficient. They’ll waste money on something useless like a filter that will never work, but at least it’s an investment in the long term future, not just for the next term of office.