Australia – Broadband backwater

August 10, 2006

One thing I knew when I emigrated to Australia was that broadband internet provision was somewhat behind the rest of the planet. Remember how the UK was in 2000, when BT was supposed be running trials of ADSL? The current situation reminds me very much of that.

Telstra, Australia’s equivalent of BT (ie they own the copper wires), recently shelved plans to roll-out a $4bn fibre network to provide Fibre To The Node FTTN broadband, countrywide. As I understand it, they objected to having to lease parts of the network to other providers at comparatively low cost. Seeking a return on investment (ROI) of 15% per year for what amounts to infrastructure (like roads/rail/power grids) is simply greed, in my opinion.

But that’s not entirely what this rant is about. I’m complaining chiefly about our Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, who says that we should “be happy” with the current piss-poor provision in our cities. Bollocks. I have 10mb cable internet (yay), but only 256k upload (boo). I’m also capped at 40Gb off-peak (12pm-12am) and 20Gb peak (12pm-12am). What the blue blazes is the point of a fast connection if I can’t download a decent amount of data?

Australia is ranked 25th out of 26 OECD countries evaluated for broadband provision. Our Asian neighbours all get connections far faster and truly unlimited for a lot less money than we’re paying. As it is I have one of the most expensive connections out there with the highest data cap I’ve seen, and I’d be paying more were it not that my mobile phone is with the same provider.

There is a possible alternative though. A consortium of ISPs and telcos have loosely joined together to form the G9 Group. (Way to confuse politicos, guys), and they’re talking about building a fibre network to rival Telstra’s. If only. My main bugbear is that nothing is happening, and as long as nothing happens we will stagnate, then fall behind. Our economy will suffer and we’ll continue to be a laughing stock.

Feel free to discuss this more in the forums. http://thegreatcritic.proboards24.com/

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