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Raising Doubts About Australia's Broadband Upgrade Plan

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the doubt-doubt-doubt dept.

The Internet 98

RcK writes "In addition to the rising controversy of the possible Australian version of the Great Firewall Of China already mentioned several times of late here on Slashdot; the viability of the proposed AU$5Billion internet infrastructure upgrade promised by the Federal Government during their 2007 election campaign is under fire. The MD of arguably Australia's leading internet company, iinet, has branded the proposal a waste of taxpayers money. Steve Ballmer, during his current Australian visit, has also weighed in on the topic and diplomatically indicated that Australia should get on with the job. Much of the current criticism appears to surround the likelihood of people in remote areas being left out of the proposed plan. Ironically, where I lived previously (remote town in central Aus — nearest town over 400km away) everyone had, at the absolute least, subsidized satellite internet, and most had ADSL. In my case a flawless 512k connection for ~4years. However, I now live 5 minutes from the center of a capital city and due to archaic telephone infrastructure cannot get ADSL, and even line noise is too great for dialup!" Today's front page at Whirlpool Broadband News also features several articles relating to the saga.

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Good job... (4, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672601)

> "However, I now live 5 minutes from the center of a capital city and due to archaic telephone infrastructure cannot get ADSL, and even line noise is too great for dialup!"

Must have taken hours just to type that sentence. That's what I call d e d i c a t i o n!!

Re:Good job... (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672635)

> "However, I now live 5 minutes from the center of a capital city and due to archaic telephone infrastructure cannot get ADSL, and even line noise is too great for dialup!"

Must have taken hours just to type that sentence. That's what I call d e d i c a t i o n!!

Actually, with a little practice you can get pretty fast with a telegraph. But tapping out the http headers probably slowed things down a bit.

Re:Good job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672681)

> "However, I now live 5 minutes from the center of a capital city and due to archaic telephone infrastructure cannot get ADSL, and even line noise is too great for dialup!"

Must have taken hours just to type that sentence. That's what I call d e d i c a t i o n!!

Typing by shorting two telephone wires shows amazing dedication. I'm even more impressed if he typed it on Google Apps.

Re:Good job... (3, Interesting)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673933)

What I can't figure out is why he can't get dialup. Even on noisy hotel lines, I can still get 19-24 kbit/s connections. And on clean home lines, the U.S. Congress passed a bill in 1996 to upgrade everyone to digital phones. That way even rural residents can get at least 50k connections via their digital modems. I'm surprised Australia didn't have a similar analog-to-digital phone upgrade.

The quickest-and-fastest way to provide broadband to rural communities is to simply install DSLAMS on existing phone connections. No need to dig everything up, or install new wires. When my phone company did this, I instantly went from 50k to 6000k connections. Now a rural farmhouse in the middle of nowhere might not be able to go that fast, but they should still be able to achieve ~500k connections using DSL.

Re:Good job... (2, Insightful)

Aramgutang (620327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674957)

At least he's lucky enough to even have a home line. I live 20 min away by foot (or 5 min by bus) from Sydney CBD (Central Business District), and my house isn't even wired for a phone line. The house in the middle of a heavily residential area (Glebe), it's not too old or new, and it's got 3 floors with 3 one- or two-bedroom apartments on each floor.

Telstra demands $700 to connect the house to the phone line, and neither the landlord nor the tenants will cough up the money. Hence I'm stuck with a wireless HSDPA (3G) plan from Three, which is $20 a month for a 2 GB download+upload cap. One day, my girlfriend left LimeWire open on her laptop when she left for work in the morning; that month we had a $360 bill. I thank $deity every day for unlimited Internet at uni and ImageShack's Torrent Drive [imageshack.us] .

The Internet situation in Australia truly is atrocious. I have no doubt that the OP had a better experience out in the outback. It seems that all the plans the government has been proposing put the sheep farmer's interests first. I guess they need to track their flock via GPS or something.

Re:Good job... (-1, Troll)

shirro (17185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675847)

my house isn't even wired for a phone line.

Your choice. Perhaps the rent was cheaper for a reason?

Telstra demands $700 to connect the house to the phone line, and neither the landlord nor the tenants will cough up the money.

Who should cough up the money? Seconds after they install the line it will be on a naked ADSL2+ plan. Landlines are not a good investment for phone companies anymore.

One day, my girlfriend left LimeWire open on her laptop when she left for work in the morning; that month we had a $360 bill.

Perhaps your girlfriend should buy her doggie porn instead of steal it.

I apologise to the rest of the world for the minority of whinging Aussies.

Yes we have a hopeless government, bastard phone company and an awkward geographic location. But it could be a lot worse. This is still the best country on earth and those milliseconds of lag are distance between us and war, famine and countless other miseries.

Re:Good job... (1)

Aramgutang (620327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676565)

Your choice. Perhaps the rent was cheaper for a reason?

Sure, if you consider $270/week for a 1-bedroom cheap.

Perhaps your girlfriend should buy her doggie porn instead of steal it.

That was uncalled for.

All I'm whinging about is the, as you put it, "bastard phone company". It's a bit ridiculous that a house in the middle of Sydney wouldn't have a phone line, while the outback seems to be getting all the attention. Not to mention the overpriced ADSL plans the Aussies who do have a hard line get to choose from. When I lived in the Czech Republic, the main telco was a nationalised monopoly, and still provided better service and rates than Telstra (even with the purchasing power parity difference taken into account).

I suggest you cool it. Australia is probably the best place I've ever lived, and I've lived in quite a few places. House prices, Telstra, and its distance from the rest of the world are its only disadvantages really. I guess its inhabitants could also use a bit less defensiveness.

Re:Good job... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676989)

I found some rooms for rent in suburban Washington D.C., and they didn't have any phone service either. When I asked the manager why not, he said the central switch had "died" and he didn't feel like fixing it. He claimed everyone has cellphones anyway, so why bother with landline service?

I thought that made sense, the only problem is without landlines, there's also no internet so I didn't bother to stay there. I stayed at an extended-stay Motel 6 instead.

Re:Good job... (1)

shirro (17185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683447)

Getting ripped off while ripping other people of with Limewire then complaining on /. and you don't expect to get trolled?

I am sure the Czech Republic and their socialist ways are just great. But welcome to capitalism mate. A land line, and free pirate downloads are not a right guaranteed by the state here.

Anybody with half a brain would be on a capped plan or have some bandwidth monitoring. If you did your research before signing your lease you could have ADSL2+ from a non-Telstra ISP and be filling it with bittorrents. You didn't think to ask where the phone was?

Re:Good job... (1)

Aramgutang (620327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684573)

I'm sorry, but where I'm from, personal attacks of the nature you made warrant a trip to the nearest alley where I could beat your face in.

And yes, Czech Republic and their socialist ways were just great, I'll take big government over the free market any day.

If you want to argue about liberal vs. conservative economics, or the ethical issues in computer piracy, maybe you should find another thread. Slashdot is full of people more than willing to discuss those issues with you. And I know this isn't Wikipedia, but it's generally a good idea to refrain from personal attacks (unless you're clearly joking and it's really funny).

Anybody with half a brain would be on a capped plan or have some bandwidth monitoring. If you did your research before signing your lease you could have ADSL2+ from a non-Telstra ISP and be filling it with bittorrents. You didn't think to ask where the phone was?

The first 3G capped plan offered in Australia was introduces by Vodafone a few months ago. Three still doesn't offer capped 3G plans to this day. Yes, perhaps I could have used some sort of software bandwidth monitoring, but we hadn't gone over the cap for the previous 6 months, so I didn't think it was necessary. The $360 bill was an example of how dearly you pay for mistakes like that when you're on a 3G plan.

I'm sure that when you're looking for a place to live in rural South Australia, you have the luxury of "asking where the phone was" and having the answer to that question be a factor in your decision process. Things are quite a bit different in Sydney (and AFAIK, other major Aussie cities). Last time I was looking for a place to live in Sydney, I was applying and being rejected from 3 different places every week for 2 months before I found a place. Things like this [smh.com.au] are not uncommon. I have personally counted over 75 people at one of the house inspections I went to in Enmore. When your rental agent tells you he's found a place you can actually have, the only question you have the luxury to ask is "can I afford it".

Re:Good job... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25675085)

What I can't figure out is why he can't get dialup.

Starts with a "T" and ends in "elstra".

Re:Good job... (2, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675333)

What I can't figure out is why he can't get dialup.

Probably on a pair gain [whirlpool.net.au] line.

Re:Good job... (1)

Rakeris (1114111) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675379)

U.S. Congress passed a bill in 1996 to upgrade everyone to digital phones. That way even rural residents can get at least 50k connections via their digital modems.

The quickest-and-fastest way to provide broadband to rural communities is to simply install DSLAMS on existing phone connections.

Not sure where you live, but where I live it's AT&T land, and they don't give a rats' ass. I am 5 minutes outside of the capital of IL. We have one dial up line at the house and we consider connecting at 41k fast.

DSLAMS, I wish. Everyone in the area and I have been trying to get them to do that for a decade. But there is no competition and there is no way for anyone to compete, so they don't care.

The only thing remotely like competition, is there is one WiMax and a couple WDSL providers in the area. But their plans are very expensive for very limited bandwidth... (like $80/m for 5GB)

Re:Good job... (2, Interesting)

shirro (17185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675533)

The previous Australian government subsidized ADSL DSLAMS for rural communities and subsidized wireless and satellite for people beyond DSL range.

Some farms do have unbelievably bad land lines. I have seen some that can't sustain 9600 but these are line faults. I have seen others that are not much better where it is an infrastructure issue - the phone company refuses to lay more copper, fix ongoing problems or is using obsolete pair gain systems. Affordable digital line plans got withdrawn by Telstra, perhaps so they could push people onto more expensive cell phone plans.

Your farms might be closer to your towns than here. Someone on a farm 20km from town is not going to get DSL, would be lucky to get a digital land line, possibly doesn't have cell coverage for 3G but could get subsidised 2 way satellite.

When people buy a house in a flight path and complain about the noise I get a bit skeptical. I live in a rural town of 4000 and sync at 8M and could get 20M if I wanted to pay for it. I own a vacant house which thanks to drought and global credit crisis is worth less by the minute. If the original poster wants to upgrade to an area with broadband access there are options.

Re:Good job... (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683057)

20km from CBD is a town block.

Re:Good job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25683623)

"Someone on a farm 20km from town is not going to get DSL, would be lucky to get a digital land line, possibly doesn't have cell coverage"

I'm 43 km out of Brisbane, and I get 1.5M ADSL and cell coverage fine.

Re:Good job... (1)

CaptainDefragged (939505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683149)

I'm not surprised. Since the sale of Telstra many of the line techies have been riffed and those left are under enormous pressure to get repairs done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Add that to the debacle with the faulty sealant on the cans and it is surprising that any lines work at all.

I think it comes down to... (5, Interesting)

Laser_iCE (1125271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672649)

The point that they're playing on the fact that the majority of Australians have no idea how technology works, nor do they have any understanding about the terminology behind it. Simple things like you mention to someone, "I use a 512k connection" -- they would assume that you would be downloading at 512kb/s, not 1/8th of that.

Couple this with the fact that IT has always been the sort of subject that kids used to figure out ways to get around their schools proxy (so they can waste time on bebo at school instead of actually hanging out with their friends), rather than learning how a computer works.

This is also the reason why Australians get sucked into those stupid Nigerian scams so easy -- because a lot of us don't use common sense. Not saying that Australia is alone in any of these aspects, it just seems to be that because our Government has no idea how the series of tubes works, the rest of the country hasn't really taken any interest. Discussion about things like the proposed internet filter are great for the general public, because it gives them a chance to understand how intricate the internet and networking in general is...

Or they roll your eyes at you and put their iPod headphones back in -- they won't have to worry about security with Web 2.0.

[/rant]

Re:I think it comes down to... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672703)

you mean kB/s

Re:I think it comes down to... (5, Informative)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672787)

I'm not sure which Australia you're living in, but I think the general public here has pretty good tech knowledge. The government, on the other hand, is made up of idiots like Conroy and Fielding - who, from their public comments, are puritan Luddite's.

The party's good intentions are there, it's just that those charged with delivering a product (Conroy) have no idea what they are doing. I think he's been so sidetracked with his little pet project of internet censorship, that he's forgotten what the "Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy" is actually supposed to do.

And none of this is helped by the resident monopoly Telstra [theage.com.au] who, following privatisation, have abused their monopoly on telecommunications infrastructure in an attempt to keep competition at a minimum. The Howard government simply didn't ensure healthy competition was possible following the transition of Telstra to private ownership.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673283)

Fielding isn't in government, just the senate.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

CaptainDefragged (939505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683431)

That is true, but his vote is required by the government to get legislation through the aforementioned senate.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

Alphax.au (913011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675185)

Here's an extract for an advertisement for graduate positions at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy:

Degree/disciplines:
Economics | Science | Public Policy | Law | Commerce | Arts | Social Science | Accounting

Nothing about Computer Science/IT or Engineering (Electronic, Telecommunications, Computer Systems, Software); they Just Don't Care about the technological issues. Granted, that was an ad for graduate positions, but it wouldn't surprise me if they don't have a single geek at the management/policy level either. Sadly that's the way most of the world is going; management is made up of people completely unrelated to the field they're managing (or have been out of it so long that they're completely disconnected from current issues).

Re:I think it comes down to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25693531)

are puritan Luddite's

"Luddites".

are there, it's just

"there; it's".

Nonsense. (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672831)

The point that they're playing on the fact that the majority of Australians have no idea how technology works, nor do they have any understanding about the terminology behind it.

You seem to be claiming that Australians are somehow different from other humans. I am not Australian by birth, but I've been living there for a few years, and I've observed that the geek quotient of the population seems to be quite high. What makes an Australian any more likely to get sucked in by a scam than, say, an American?

The simple fact is that we (finally) have a change of government, replacing the morons who had had their heads up their asses for so long they had obviously started to enjoy the view in there. The trouble is, the new government doesn't really want to actually _do_ anything, their preference being to push pieces of paper around and bleat platitudes.

Re:Nonsense. (3, Insightful)

Laser_iCE (1125271) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672887)

Well you obviously didn't read the rest of my post when I clearly pointed out:

Not saying that Australia is alone in any of these aspects

The trouble is, I see a lot of kids who say they know a lot about technology, they're interested in gadgets and high tech gear, but when it comes down to actually being able to google for something, or to trouble shoot software when an unexpected error occurs, or even something as simple as going through the options in a program to see what you can change/customize -- these sort of things are beyond the average Australian. Don't be naive and believe that the rest of the country who loves only sports and hot women, are like your friends who enjoy IT and are IT savvy. I don't want to burst your bubble, but a lot of Australians are very shallow, and generally very "sheepish".

Don't get me wrong, I want to see this country thrive and strive with it's IT industry just as much as you do, but it only takes 5 minutes to step into any Government workplace to realise that most of them have no clue beyond checking emails in Outlook and reading news sites in Internet Explorer.

Re:Nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672943)

Well you obviously didn't read the rest of my post when I clearly pointed out: Not saying that Australia is alone in any of these aspects

Oh right, you're not hassling Australians. You're saying that everybody in the world is clueless about technology and easily sucked in by frauds and scams. Ha ha ha it is to laugh. If that was true, there should be evidence of everybody in the world losing trillions of dollars in a gigantic banking fraud or something!

Re:Nonsense. (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673883)

The problem is most people (I am including world here) don't have any clue about technology and appear quite happy not to learn. Back in the 1980's I used to train clerical, engineers and scientists on using Unix and I never met anyone I could not train, be it command line or GUI (I am still talking early 1980's).

When PC's finally started to make their appearance I found it harder to teach clerical people because they seemed to have developed a GUI based mentality and thought it was quite normal to boot their PC's many times a day, then PC viruses appeared and still people thought it was a normal hazard of using a computer. I think after a while people just feel so powerless they just give up.

Maybe I am very much in minority but when the company I work for brings out a web application or even a page that does not work in Firefox I normally complain. There are a few of us that do this and we enjoy annoying the web designers since the company has a policy of supporting both Firefox and MS IE so they have to fix the issue. They do try to ignore us in the hope that the problem goes away but that just makes us all the more vocal. Why don't we give up and roll over to the Microsoft way of thinking? I think the best answer to that, it's fun in a rather perverse way and it does not cost us anything and it does not upset management. It annoys the designers but it's very hard to browbeat senior Engineers.

Re:Nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25674207)

They don't read Slashdot ?

Re:Nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25695341)

strive with it's IT industry

"its".

Re:Nonsense. (2, Insightful)

imroy (755) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673097)

The trouble is, the new government doesn't really want to actually _do_ anything, their preference being to push pieces of paper around and bleat platitudes.

Just as soon as they form a taskforce to investigate which pieces of paper to push and which platitudes to bleat. I voted Labor last year and I'm still waiting for them to do much beyond repealing Work Choices. Fucking do something!

Re:Nonsense. (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25685963)

To be fair, there was Kyoto, and that "Sorry" thing. But it has been pretty much "Okay, now what?" since then.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673767)

The point that they're playing on the fact that the majority of Australians have no idea how technology works

Replace Australians with people and you get a more global sense. Probably close to 30% of all computer users understand the difference between kB/s and kbps.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673959)

that's an awefully generous figure your quoting there. i would say more like 10-15% the fact is the average person shouldn't have to know it. UI are for the most part horrible, and artificially and sometimes randomly limiting in choices one can do.

Burnt Mod Points Akimbo (2, Interesting)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673881)

<rant>

I remember watching the National Press Club Address about five years ago from the then-current parliamentary technology adviser who lamented that Australians have the highest acceptance of technological devices in the world, yet most people have no idea, or intention, to use them beyond their rudimentary functions.

For example, the majority have a multimedia phone, and the majority of those people use call and text at most. 60% of households (circa 2003 figures) have a computer connected to the internet in the same room as the main TV (average of two TVs per household), yet what is it used for but Facebook?

To further complicate matters, University students entering IT, Electronics and related fields are down because of the perception that "everything" already works, so why shouldn't they just be using the technology available? What is the point of working to improve it?

I'm pleased I'll graduate soon in a technological environment where people with my skillset are thinning, yet I fear a future as foretold in Idiocracy: people just don't look beyond the nose in front of their face any more.

</rant>

Re:Burnt Mod Points Akimbo (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673981)

Have you ever thought people don't use technology to its fullest simply because *they don't want to*? I am an engineer, and I understand how things work, but I still don't use my cellphone for anything except voicecalls. I don't even text. It's not that I don't know how, but I simply don't want to pay the expensive bill. Not when I can "text" on the internet for free (email and usenet and livejournal).

As for enrollment being down, I don't understand that bit. Maybe it's just part of the natural ebb and flow. A few years ago the Penn State Computer Engineering/Science department was so full, it was nigh-impossible to get in (you had to have a 3.5 or better average).

Re:Burnt Mod Points Akimbo (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675743)

And what is it like now? So desperate they let you in?

Re:Burnt Mod Points Akimbo (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676225)

Cute. :-) But I already graduated.

Re:Burnt Mod Points Akimbo (1)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684719)

Have you ever thought people don't use technology to its fullest simply because *they don't want to*?

Yes. That was the point. People aren't interested in technology beyond their immediate needs.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673943)

"I use a 512k connection" -- they would assume that you would be downloading at 512kb/s, not 1/8th of that.

Um... if you have a 512k connection then you ARE downloading at 512kb/s (kilobit/second). Maybe you meant something else?

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674223)

Simple things like you mention to someone, "I use a 512k connection" -- they would assume that you would be downloading at 512kb/s, not 1/8th of that.

They would be assuming correctly. They would be assuming incorrectly if they were to think that you would were downloading at 512kB/s.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674357)

It's not about technical capability. From reading the Australian, it seems to me that Telstra wants to win the contract but make it a monopoly, the other group (Optus, et al) want to slow Telstra down so their crappy old lines stay competitive for as long as possible, and the government wants Telstra (or the other guys) to build the network, then rent it to their competitors at a good rate. I bet that all the players have massive PR budgets, so the papers just re-print the fluff that the lobbyists wrote.

Re:I think it comes down to... (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684251)

Or they roll your eyes at you and put their iPod headphones back in -- they won't have to worry about security with Web 2.0.

That sounds like home...

It's really not just Australia. I think it's just that, because Australia is sadly not a big content producer, nobody wants to link up to it, and nobody wants to produce content there because no big names are there, because nobody wants to link up to it, etc.

Ignorance about computers (even the basic of security, as in, "be careful") is widespread no matter where you are; but I think it only changes based on how many "geeks" (um, EXPERT INTERNETS? the slashdot crowd...) you've got around.

Huh? (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672663)

People are still paying attention to Steve Ballmer???

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672723)

Wrong story.

Off-topic and flamebait!

Re:Huh? (1)

teh moges (875080) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672739)

Nope, he is mentioned in the summary

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672825)

Fuck. You're not supposed to RTFA!

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672903)

I meant summary!

Re:Huh? (4, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673035)

Steve balmer if you RTFA says highspeed internet is a good thing, he says that the future of computing is online. And he says 21mbps wireless is fucking awesome. All of these things /. agrees with. Try not to trash the guy when he's not throwing chairs thats just flaming.

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

bain_online (580036) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673633)

You must be new here... now repeat after me "We _do__not_ listen to Steve Balmer".

Re:Huh? (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673763)

People are still paying attention to Steve Ballmer???

The man is CEO of the company that produces the most commonly used desktop OS (with between 90-95% market share, from browser IDs). Microsoft has a market capitalisation of US$230billion, which is more than the annual GDP of Venezuela. His company's web browser has something like 80% market penetration.

You would have to be an absolute moron not to listen to this man, with the amount of power he has.

Re:Huh? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684827)

You mean the man who has been behind the accelerating decreasing market share and endless other problems Microsoft has faced recently, now that Gates is out of the picture?

His company HAD about 80% market penetration. Even that has been declining rapidly. Safari, Firefox, and even Google Chrome, with it's terrible name and worse architecture, are grabbing larger and larger chunks every day. Explorer 7 was successful only to the extent that Explorer 6 sucks (which is a great deal) so 7 is a great improvement. It still isn't good. Maybe they'll finally get it somewhat right with 8, but I wouldn't count on it. Their track record is abysmal. They still haven't learned to play nice with others.

Most Office users I know have upgraded to Open Office rather than pay for an upgrade from Microsoft.

And so on.

It's really sad to see someone falling from the top, but falling they have been, and rapidly.

You would have to be an absolute moron to listen to this guy.

Re:Huh? (1)

Blappo (976408) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674519)

"People are still paying attention to Steve Ballmer???"

More than are paying attention to your pathetic flame attempt.

God, what an obvious karma whore...

Competition is a problem (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672769)

Quite a lot of people in Australia can already get a working ADSL connnection. They aren't going to rush out to sign up to a new network if it will cost twice as much per month and not necessarily offer higher bandwidth. I've read that this is one of the obstacles to the "build an entire new network from scratch" approach.

Another idea of building lower-cost add-ons such as wireless where coverage isn't currently available was planned by the previous government administration, and cancelled by the current.

Re:Competition is a problem (2, Insightful)

Goldenjera (1040584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672863)

Most of us are still on ASDL 1. Anything to upgrade the country's internet!

Telstra ...have abused their monopoly on telecommunications infrastructure in an attempt to keep competition at a minimum

I am sick of the deals Telstra offer (poor speed, not much usage, and steep prices) telling us that they are "great deals". I'm not well read about the rest of the world, but I'm on a cap of 5Gb, which gets used up very quickly, and my parents seem to believe that that is "impossible".

While people of the younger generations are quite smart (@ Laser iCE: Have you seen the blacklist in schools now-a-days? We can access wikipedia,the Board of studies, and that's about it, my schools own website is even blocked. 'Tis no wonder we spend all our time finding an unblocked proxy server) it's the older generations that have the money that would support the upgrade, meaning it probably won't happen until my generation can afford it :(

Re:Competition is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673383)

To elaborate on this point - a few days ago, there was a story about AT&T introducing capped plans, with a $1 per gigabyte excess usage fee. Contrast that to Australia, where a 20GB plan is already considered "extremely generous" (actually, there are ads on TV here claiming that 1GB is generous, for ADSL2+ connections....), and excess usage is typically charged at a rate of anywhere between $0.15 per megabyte (yes, $150 per gigabye is the low end of excess usage fees) and 1c per kilobyte (not uncommon on wireless plans, and yes, that is $10,000 per gigabyte. And yes, there has been at least one lawsuit over it when someone's son left bittorrent running overnight).

Add this to the non-existant infrastructure, and you've got net access which sucks, with a future outlook of continuing to suck while typical internet usage requires increasingly more bandwidth. One of these days IPTV will really take off, and then the providers will have to explain why it is that watching TV for a few hours every night has cost $9000 in excess usage fees - oh, wait, no they won't, they'll blame the consumer.

Re:Competition is a problem (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673641)

To elaborate on this point - a few days ago, there was a story about AT&T introducing capped plans, with a $1 per gigabyte excess usage fee. Contrast that to Australia, where a 20GB plan is already considered "extremely generous" (actually, there are ads on TV here claiming that 1GB is generous, for ADSL2+ connections....), and excess usage is typically charged at a rate of anywhere between $0.15 per megabyte (yes, $150 per gigabye is the low end of excess usage fees) and 1c per kilobyte (not uncommon on wireless plans, and yes, that is $10,000 per gigabyte. And yes, there has been at least one lawsuit over it when someone's son left bittorrent running overnight).

Add this to the non-existant infrastructure, and you've got net access which sucks, with a future outlook of continuing to suck while typical internet usage requires increasingly more bandwidth. One of these days IPTV will really take off, and then the providers will have to explain why it is that watching TV for a few hours every night has cost $9000 in excess usage fees - oh, wait, no they won't, they'll blame the consumer.

Yeah, but how would building a new network change the data pricing issues? What makes you think data will be any cheaper on the new network, once all that money has been spent on cabling?

You should consider finding a new ISP. Some of them don't charge for excess usage, but instead slow down the connection for the rest of the billing period. You can also find excess bandwidth at $2.50 per gigabyte.

Re:Competition is a problem (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683343)

Try supernerd.com.au Im reasonably happy with them... and they shape rather than bill excess.

Re:Competition is a problem (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673987)

I feel for you - I only recently upgraded from a crappy Telstra connection to iiNet - they were the only ones who provided ADSL2+ in my area, and I got a 60 GB quota as well :D

I know what you mean about the blacklist - at my school, we don't even get full access to wikipedia; they've blocked all the images. Real fun when you're trying to read a math-based article without any equations :(

Re:Competition is a problem (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672873)

Quite a lot of people in Australia can already get a working ADSL connnection.

Indeed. At my home in Perth, I have an excellent ADSL2+ connection, but where I work, only 160km away, the best available is only 512K. And that is only a recent fixture. A couple of years ago we had to use a satellite connection, which blows goats if you're trying to use any kind of VOIP. The real trouble is, the country is too big and sparsely populated (outside metropolitan areas) to make it attractive for telcos to spend money on infrastructure.

Re:Competition is a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673217)

Wait... only 160 km away? And I thought my commute was bad.

Southern Crosstikas (2, Insightful)

Firrenzi (229219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672813)

One thing that I cannot understand about Australian, particularly in Brisbane is the attitude of 'Australia: love it or leave' combined with the surreptitious nationalism. Our easy going nature is simply apathy that we will not admit to. When constructive criticism is made, it is often met with derision by the general populace because it is not the Australian way. For all the multiculturalism in this country, tt concerns me the bigotry, racism and provincial mindset that so many have on this island.

Sadly enough, it makes me want to hand in my pass at the door. We are the 51st state of the US (foreign policy, economic policy, etc) , and have learnt it's lessons and bettered them. (ie we are more litigious per capita then the US). A country that chooses to play second fiddle instead of stand on our own two feet.

I guess we shouldn't knock bacteria, after all it's the only culture that some people have in this country.

Re:Southern Crosstikas (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673147)

"I guess we shouldn't knock bacteria, after all it's the only culture that some people have in this country."

I thought you all had Vegemite too :).

Re:Southern Crosstikas (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673197)

We are the 51st state of the US (foreign policy, economic policy, etc) , and have learnt it's lessons and bettered them.

The real problem is that Australians believe this, because we want it to be true, yet it's actually entirely false. Even though we are dedicated to the ideal of shedding our "embarrassing" Aussieness in favour of "sophisticated" and "important" Americana, we're still just a bunch of kids playing dress-up in their mum and dad's clothes. As much as we love to believe we're really American, we're not. We're nowhere even near that goal. But what's really sad is that we can't even see that's a GOOD thing. It's the curse of the eternal inferiority complex.

Re:Southern Crosstikas (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673463)

You are full of shit. Most people in Australia I know and hang-out with have quite negative view of America and would hate to be thought of as being American. Perhaps you meant to say "some Australians".

Just because you are embarrassed to be an Aussie, don't assume the rest of are thanks.

Re:Southern Crosstikas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25684541)

I lived in Australia for a little under three years, but I have worked amongst Australians here in various parts of North America for a lot longer, and I agree with those who state that Australians want to be Americans even more than Americans do. Almost every facet of life in Australia in some way consiously imitates that in the USA, as does the (self-) conscious behavior Australians themselves.

I don't just mean that Australia and Australians have been influenced by the exported culture of the United States as many (if not most) other countries and cultures have been. I mean that Australians have been more enthusiastic about trying to actually become Americans, or simply be perceived as Americans, than any other national or cultural group I've ever encountered.

You guys seem to lose sleep worrying about whether Americans notice you, and what Americans who have noticed you think of Australia and Australians. You work so hard to please the Americans, and copying the way they live and play is one aspect that's completely obvious to visitors before the flight's even touched down at Sydney or Melbourne, or wherever.

I still haven't decided whether it's a form of hero worship, or if you think you'll somehow benefit from being, or taken to be, American, and I guess it's kind of touching and a little quaint, but frankly it's also very weird and makes you guys seem embarrassed about who you are, and as a consequence makes you appear embarrassing. (No offense intended, I love Aussies!)

When you Australians let your guard down and just be Australian, you are much nicer people than when you're trying to be Americans, and I'd love it if you'd finally accept the fact that there can be only one USA, and you're definitely not it and never will be, which is something you should be thanking whatever god you worship for.

Re:Southern Crosstikas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673285)

"One thing that I cannot understand about Australian, particularly in Brisbane"

I've lived in Brisbane for 29 years and have not seen this. Perhaps you hang around the wrong people. People that can be found all over the world.

Re:Southern Crosstikas (1)

kubrick (27291) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673629)

surreptitious nationalism

Surreptitious? It's overt nationalism and racism if you ask me, and I was born here.

Back to square one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25672817)

Pff...by the time we get this, the filters will be in place and it'll bring us back up to our current speeds anyways...Filter + Upgrade = Waste of money that could be better spent extending broadband availability to regional and remote Australia.

One word to explain why (1)

kunkie (859716) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672939)

TELSTRA (don't even get me started on this rant...)

Re:One word to explain why (1)

skaet (841938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25672999)

Sweet jesus have you paid any attention to what's going on with the proposed filters? Or even what the summary is talking about? It's ignorant conclusion-jumpers like you that make us Australians look like an uneducated hoarde.

Telstra has nothing to do with this story! The only relevance Telstra has to this story is that they will be subject to the same filter as every other Australian ISP.

Re:One word to explain why (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683489)

Huh? While the filter was mentioned, the story is about the communications infrastructure upgrade. Telstra is reputed to have been very begrudging with its upgrades. It is also supposed to be the most profitable company in the western economies while maintaining a monopoly to make Microsoft jealous. Telstra is central to any national communications network upgrade.

Re:One word to explain why (1)

skaet (841938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25684329)

This is NOT a network upgrade. A network upgrade would suggest we get faster, more reliable ADSL. This probably won't do that.

Re:One word to explain why (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25715389)

Okay, what do you call a national communications system of a material in a cable format installed over/instead of/in addition to/ the current network to ensure the majority of Australian residents have first class connections to the internet?

That was what was 'promised'. It was implied (Kevin Rudd is good at doing --- and I voted for him) that it would be a package to encourage the construction of FTTH.

Is there some kind of competition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673175)

...Among Slashdot editors to post the greatest number of Australia-related stories or something? Is there any chance they'll tire of the game and begin posting stories from countries other than Australia? Or is this some freakish form of patriotism at work by Slashdot's Aussie editors? I ask because I am so over stories from-and-about that country. Especially when they're of such little relevance to anybody other than Australians. I could understand if it was a Great Nation(tm), but there are, what, 20 million people there? At most. Suburbs of Mexico City have more people in them than that.

Re:Is there some kind of competition... (1)

gronofer (838299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673313)

...Among Slashdot editors to post the greatest number of Australia-related stories or something? Is there any chance they'll tire of the game and begin posting stories from countries other than Australia? Or is this some freakish form of patriotism at work by Slashdot's Aussie editors? I ask because I am so over stories from-and-about that country. Especially when they're of such little relevance to anybody other than Australians. I could understand if it was a Great Nation(tm), but there are, what, 20 million people there? At most. Suburbs of Mexico City have more people in them than that.

There are a few, but they are well and truely out-numbered by US-centric stories, and probably also the UK-centrics.

Re:Is there some kind of competition... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25673935)

If you think Australian government plans to filter the internet doesn't affect you, then you are a deluded idiot.

One of the main arguments by Senator Conroy is that countries like Sweden have done it, so why can't we (he ignores the fact that their filtering is nothing like what he is proposing, instead choosing to bury that detail beneath all the "save the children from child pornography" hysteria).

So when a democratic western government begins doing this stuff, other governments will start going "hey, we can do this too! Lets collude and do it together!"

Freedom of speech surpressed anywhere affects freedom of speech EVERYWHERE. It must be protected everywhere or it will be gone. Do you understand this?

You are of course free to ignore the Australian stories if they offend you so much.

In the mean time though, get off your high horse. You sound like an attention starved little brat, one that has no understanding about the issues of censorship and freedom of speech at all. Maybe you should spend your time educating yourself instead of making idiotic posts to slashdot.

Be honest. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25680777)

You don't really give a crap about any of the issues you just mentioned.

The only thing which does matter to you is the orgasm you have whenever you see the word "Australia" on Slashdot.

"Oh my God, we're eeeeeempordeeend! We're sufeeeeeeteeeeeecateeed! We're reeeelly Amereeeeeeceeeeeens!"

L.O.L.

Re:Be honest. (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683575)

err... We are really Spanish?

Telstra: No problems here and better agree with us (3, Interesting)

Raindeer (104129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673415)

Paul Budde [buddeblog.com.au] an Australian Broadband honcho had the following experience with Telstra and the way they see broadband:

Telstra and Freedom of speech Last week I was involved in an interesting but disheartening incident - one that further highlights the problems we are facing with Telstra in Australia.

Tomorrow I will be chairing Day One of the Broadband World conference, organised by terrapin. This event included a panel session entitled 'Can open access regulation truly work in Australia without retail separation?' in which Telstra had agreed to participate.

At the last moment, however, Telstra asked the conference organisers to withdraw two people from the panel, saying they wouldn't participate otherwise. It was also very interesting to see that they even came up with the names of the people they would like as replacements. more [buddeblog.com.au]

Not Suprising (1)

boyter (964910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673561)

What really ticked me off about the proposal by the Rudd Government was that they said they would bring everyone on to a 10 mbit connection. WTF? If you are going to spend 5 billion dollars of taxpayer money, and build new infrastructure anyway why not shoot for 1000 mbit connections for everyone? Whats the point in aiming so low that in 5 years time it wont matter if you succeed anyway?

Ultimately I never thought it would go through. To those in the USA, if you think your Telcos are bad, you need to come to grips with the ultimate in evil and greed that is Telstra.

Why is this such an issue? (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25673785)

I'm not being funny here. Why is broadband rollout, even if only to metropolitan areas, such an issue in Australia? I honestly would like some knowledgeable people to explain it.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674121)

Because Australia generally has low quality broadband distribution. It's concentrated on the major metropolis's, and costs a lot more then services in other areas. Even our ISPs have given up on peering agreements - with download caps now, even downloading within Australia chews your bandwidth (and why though? The big expense for us is undersea cables so internal traffic should be cheap).

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

shirro (17185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674945)

Broadband access is not bad in Australia. It just isn't as good as some other places.

We have a small population and we are a long way from the rest of the world.

We all speak English (debatable I know) and consume massive amounts of US culture (and UK,Canada,NZ etc). So our links to the rest of the world work hard, we have download caps and lag! Arghhh! So a fast national network doesn't mean the same thing to us that it might to a country like Korea.

Unless there is a cavern with a big switch buried somewhere that can move the island we are screwed on this bit.

As far as ADSL generation broadband goes we are well served.

I live in a rural town pop. 4000, 160miles from the nearest city. No problem getting ADSL1 or ADSL2+. The previous government made sure nearly everyone had access to affordable broadband.

We have a low population density. Consider spreading population of tri-state area over 48 contiguous states of US. Except nearly everyone lives in major cities, so there aren't a lot of excuses for poor infrastructure in the major cities.

The nature of ADSL technology means though ADSL access is almost universal some people miss out due to line quality and distance. Ignore them for a moment as they are a statistical inevitability. Most cities are well served with ADSL2+ and most people get good speeds.

But we have to move forward. So where do we go from here...

The federal governments grand solution is to build a new national network. Ofcourse it will be too expensive and we would have to move the country to Canada to get any benefit since we all want to download from the US, not locally but anyway...

Investment by the dominant telco, Telstra is (they claim) threatened by government regulation which could erode margins so they want a free hand to establish a new monopoly. Investment by anyone else is threatened by the dominant telco so they are happy to keep the status quo. Instead of trying to address the fundamental issues the government is resorting to its core competency - wasting taxpayers money.

Fortunately their incompetency is so great it might be decades before they work out how exactly to waste the money. By which time the private sector could have delivered something far superior if they hadn't frozen their investment waiting to see what the government was doing.

Fortunately the US led recession is finally having some flow on via China and as tax income from the resource boom dwindles the whole project will most likely be scrapped soon.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

Alphax.au (913011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675341)

Go to the Whirlpool Broadband Choice Plan Search [whirlpool.net.au] and have a play. Then compare with broadband access in <insert your country here>. The conclusions are left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25683005)

Interesting experiment, thank you. Tried to spec up a plan like the one I have here in London (£18 pcm, 1.3meg up, 18meg down, no limits, no shaping, included (PoS) wireless modem router. It just doesn't exist, even in Sydney.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675589)

Its all the fault of Telstra (the company that owns all the phone wires).
During the 80s and 90s and up to today, as all the many new housing estates were being built, Telstra took the cheap way out and installed RIMs. A RIM is a box which takes a whole pile of copper wires from the local area and combines them into a fatter pipe (which may be a copper wire or more likely these days is a fiber optic link) back to the exchange. Thing is, if you are one of the unfortunate people stuck on these RIMs, you generally cant get ADSL. Some RIMs have had ADSL DSLAMs installed into them by Telstra but they only have a small hand full of available ports so you have to be VERY lucky to get a port.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25682579)

Its not so much owning the phone lines but owning the conduit its in and charging $7 per meter per year for anyone else to use it. If the local councils took back ownership of that as a right of way (like it was back in the day when the PMG ran the phones), then local carriers would be able to run fibre to the home. Right now my house is about 300 meters away from getting fibre but it might as well be half a world away.

Aussie suck at Broadband... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25674333)

...and this is only ONE reason they should never try to build & operate Nuclear Power stations, no matter how many treaties they have or will sign on non-proliferation... Non-cooperation is a hallmark of Australian technology... overpriced, underwhelming, restrictive in offerings/service levels, etc.

Local (Aussie) business doesn't want to see their sales go off-seas, so, they're happy with all the news of costly broadband, currently slow uptake, problems finalizing the so-called National Broadband Network (NBN).

They're happy that - if / when the nonsensical Aussie Gov't's proposed forced Internet filtering come - it will further slow an already slow broadband Internet for its citizens & resident (a.k.a. consumers).

We -need- more access to the world, but we're going to get more S-L-O-W, monopoly (read: Telstra)controlled
C-R-A-P.

Even out Internet "Service" Providers can't cooperate to push monster Telstra into its place.

Break-up the monster, then let remaining players strive to compete, for a change... At this stage,
by force of habit, they're mostly fat, dumb (and seem to aim to keep their customers just as sumb) &
happy to live from exploitative over-priced "allocated" downloaded data...

Enough of Telstra's nonesense. Enough of ISP's that don't know how to do any more than imitate costly
Telstra's "big fee wallop" for naively exceeding pituful ~200 MB data quotas.

We've had enough of this nonesense!

Dark side of the Node (2, Interesting)

bobby1234 (860820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25674399)

I live in a new suburb in Melbourne and the infrastructure installed in the new suburb by Telstra (the local monopoly) is Fibre to the Node. Which is great. Except they go an put rubbish equipment at the nodes. So across the suburb about 40% of people can get ADSL1 and the rest get nothing (except a basic phone line).

I spent 4 months sending applications to the local ISP until eventually one of my neighbours sells up and disconnects from the node and luckily I get his spot.

This is not as uncommon.

Save some for taxes (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675139)

But if the government encourages faster Internet speeds, the government-required filtering equipment has to be bigger and more expensive in order to handle the larger amount of data. So it only makes sense to spend less on filtering by using slower Internet connections.

Line noise too great for dialup? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676125)

Surely you can get 2400 bps with error-correction protocols enabled.

What, your service provider doesn't offer 2400 bps connections? Well, don't blame that on phone line noise.

Survey: Who has loaded a web page over a 300bps or less dialup connection? I'm not talking a nominally-faster connection with low throughput I'm talking an actual, 300bps connection.

subsidized internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25676269)

[quote]Much of the current criticism appears to surround the likelihood of people in remote areas being left out of the proposed plan. Ironically, where I lived previously (remote town in central Aus â" nearest town over 400km away) everyone had, at the absolute least, subsidized satellite internet, and most had ADSL.[/quote]

I've never understood the need to subsidize internet (or water or anything else for that matter) for people in remote areas. Living in the middle of nowhere is a choice- why should everybody else have to pay higher taxes to subsidize your choice?

Re:subsidized internet (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 5 years ago | (#25699629)

Because we want them to keep growing the food we eat, mostly.

Americans... (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25676273)

take fast internet for granted.

I met a young Australian guy (about my age) in a bar last summer. He was shocked that FREE wireless (hotel/coffee shop) internet was faster than ANYTHING he could dream of buying at home.
We really need Australians on the internet... I don't want to seem racist- but the one's I have met all seem to have the greatest personalities (much more interesting than us...)
As an aside- it's funny that the ONLY thing Americans know about their culture is what we see in movies... and vice-versa. His big shock in talking to me was that a lot of Americans get summer jobs in HS and college... According to television shows I guess we all just hang out!

Re:Americans... (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25677707)

take fast internet for granted.

Not those of us that live in a rural area. When one has to put up a 200 foot tower, with beam antenna, amp, and 600LMR cable just to get EV-DO access, and that is intermittent, because the only option is dial-up at 18k on a good day, one does not take it for granted.

Re:Americans... (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25677959)

but those areas voted for McCain... so I tend not to include them in my "America" (intended as a joke- I hope not too offensive...)

Southern Hemisphere (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25678675)

Since they are on the southern hemisphere they need to remember to turn the routers upside down before they install them, assuming the routers were produced in the northern hemisphere. Otherwise it really would be a waste of money because everyone would have to browse upside down, or at least flip their monitors over when using the Internet.
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