Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Fibre to the node

Just a little warning to be careful about what is being said/promised with regard to broadband in the run-up to the forthcoming election debacle!
In trying to outbid each other both parties are settling for less than the best technology when it comes to broadband for the nation.
I don't pretend to understand the multitude of variations that is being offered at this point in time, but both major political parties need to be encouraged not just to win the next election but also to ensure that they lay down the future for the next phase of technological development.
We are being offered increased broadband speeds of between 10 and 25 times current speeds. Which of course is good, until you look at the fact that world-technology is 100 to 250 times present speeds!
The issue for Australia may well not be "speed"at all, but roll out. Our unique problem is not particularly that we are small, but that we are spread out. And the rhetoric of the players in the last week or so, seems to be who can roll out the biggest network across the largest area. This is I think the issue. It is not the service that will be offered to the cities, but to the bush that will count.
On top of this we must also recognise the war between Telstra and Optus (and partners) that is going on.
Both are ruthless players seeking to maximise profits, and that is their job. But at what price? The Free Market dogma would seem to suggest that , if not 'greed', then ruthlessness is good.
The vitriol with which Telstra spoke of the new consortium yesterday....using jingoistic language...."A free ride is being given to a Singapore based company"....which seemed to expect that listeners shoudl somehow now be disposed to offer most-favoured status to the now privatised company. Well get real! Isn't that what privatisation is all about, and that is what they wanted? Personally I think the privatisation of public utilities is pretty hair-raising stuff.
As we are now finding. Instead of policy shaping the future for the nation, we are back to the thorny issue of political expediency and the ruthlessness of a free market which will take no prisoners.
Is this what we really want?

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