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Milton Caine

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This Weeks Featured Article

Some thoughts on this week in politics…

Mobile Phone and NBN Internet

Mobile Phone and NBN Internet

Mobile Phone and NBN Internet!

The various governments decided that there was a strong case to privatize the telecommunications network and this was to deliver better and cheaper phone and other services to all of the communities. The plans for the high-speed NBN network has shown the fumbling way that governments have handled all of the telecommunications portfolio. There has been no effective savings and we are still struggling to get a good phone service in Australia. With the rise and rise of the internet it was decided to install fiber optic cables to give all Australians high speed internet. Where are we at the moment? We have a very peace-meal instillation that has not delivered anywhere near the claimed speeds and the cost blow out of the NBN program is beyond belief, while the completion times are still nowhere in sight.

On a recent trip to Lavers Hill in Victoria I found that the internet was almost non existent and mobile phone coverage was hopeless even if you were with the best network in the area.

    

Lavers Hill is only 200 Klms from one of the most densely populated cities in Australia and a very popular route through the area being on the Great Ocean Road. But we have no sign of the NBN here or possibly likely to be here in any time soon.

 

This world wide known site also on The Great Ocean Road has no internet and very poor mobile phone coverage away from the tourist center and the likelihood of the NBN being there in the near future is dream-time stuff. The whole plan was a poor plan from the start to finish as it was never anywhere near costed well and it was never able to deliver the speeds that were claimed.

The correct process would have been to use the mobile network to deliver the National Broad Band internet and phone connections to all Australians. If we cannot deliver a mobile phone network 200 klms from a major city we are not in the right ball park in the mobile phone technology. The sad truth is even in the major cities there are so many mobile phone dead spots that we have an extremely unreliable mobile phone service at best anywhere in Australia. Is there an effective solution????? yes but it is not a fiber optic cable to every bodies home as that would take many times more than has been talked about in any budget estimate. The physical laying of the cables will take an army of workers many times larger than we currently have doing the job to even get 50% of the nation covered within this decade – The cost is beyond our capacity to complete in any time soon and we have far more important and pressing matters to deal with first that are being ignored by government.

When we look at the privatization of the telecommunications not only was it a bad decision from the get go it was never a privatized market as the original land line was owned by one company and other companies came in and effectively the billing process was privatized as there was a single cable a entering homes and businesses and any company paid for access to the system to the holder of the cable. and land line fault was reported to your billing company and then the landline company was requested to fix the fault.

With the rise of the mobile network we essentially have two mobile networks and several billing companies for the mobile network, so we again have coverage via two companies having mobile towers and if you use a billing company other than the mobile network owners you effectively have companies renting network space from the two players. both companies have huge gaps in their coverage areas and there is little incentive to fix the black spots as they are not capable of lifting the game to claim correctly that they can cover the whole area completely so they both make the claim that they give coverage to a high % of most Australians. This is deceptive and unable to be successfully challenged because of the vagueness of the claims. 

The trend of governments to “raise money”is to essentially sell or lease things that can have many transactions cast across a wide network of people so that a small component increase may return huge profits to the owners of these businesses that are essentially purchases of financial transactions. Whether it be the “leasing of poles and wires”, the leasing of shipping ports or airports”, “the sale of toll roads” and so many other things these are not real competition policies they are just selling the right to bill something that a charge can be made on and financial organizations love it because they can just sit back and count the money; while the government (and the people) have lost any control of the service and complaints do not produce improvements but continued red tape so that the service can face no real improvement. The NBN Company has zero experience in what they are doing and they lay the cable to a point but at connection there sloppy business arrangement as to who is responsible to do what and so far too often customers, who have no choice as the old network is shut down, are shoved between their billing company and the NBN Company with resolutions taking from weeks to months before a resolution of the connection. Once connected then the problem is that they speed of the internet claim are never met as they again are seen as “up to” whatever speed you are paying for. The contract is really saying you will get no more than a certain speed at anytime but we will grantee no speed at all at any time of the day. The billing company will say, “Well the fault of the speed is the NBN Company” while the NBN Company will say, “They have not purchased enough “speed” for your connection”. So the merry-go-round continues in a business that ought never to have been privatized. 

I am convinced that the NBN will never achieve the proposed outcomes within a reasonable time frame and within any reasonable budget considering the so many budget over runs up to this stage. It seems that we should seriously consider whether we should re-consider the process to deliver high-speed internet to every Australian and perhaps an Australian wide mobile phone network coverage and not just a mobile network coverage to the highly populated areas with the huge black holes we currently have in our mobile phone services at this present time.   

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