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Australian Telstra Monopoly Dead

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the let's-see-what-happens-next dept.

Australia 100

philmarcracken writes "The Senate recently passed a bill through the Lower House for the separation of Telstra's retail and wholesale arms and now that same bill has just scraped by in the Upper House; 30 to 28. The deal is worth $11 billion AUD for Telstra and is welcomed by them despite Coalition opposition. This paves the way for the governmental body NBNco to use Telstra's existing assets and expedite laying fibre optic cables to the larger population densities."

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If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356900)

If a monopoly is happy to go along with a government decision to break it up, you can bet that there's some massive upside for the company. That doesn't necessarily mean better anything for the customer.

Re:If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356914)

And slavery is freedom...

Re:If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (4, Informative)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356924)

They've got no choice. They fought it as long and hard as they could. The only options for them now are the easy way or the hard way - and they're welcoming the easy way.

But, of course, the government wants to make it as favourable as possible for them as they're still major shareholders.

Mod parent up. (2, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356966)

They've got no choice. They fought it as long and hard as they could. The only options for them now are the easy way or the hard way - and they're welcoming the easy way.

The fact that this was not done years ago (heavy Kevvy was talking about it since he was elected) was the fact that Telstra fought it tooth and nail. But it's done now and there is nothing more Telstra can do about it.

Realistically this is something the Howard government should have done when Telstra was privatised in the 90's.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357488)

Calling someone a "hater" only means you can not rationally rebut their argument.

Untrue. Sometimes I can rationally rebut someone's argument but don't feel like doing so. Rational arguments and insults are tools you can use, amongst many others. Which you prefer will depend on your current objectives and state of lethargy. Horses for courses.

Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357982)

In the UK although BT (formerly British Telecom) wasn't broken up as a company, the retail and wholesale arms were 'forced' to become independent of each other. In practice this means that there is huge collusion between them to screw over both customers and other phone companies/ISPs.

Pricing structures are totally fixed to make it difficult for resellers. If you try and pay a third party provider for BT internet, they will make sure that you have technical problems, and drag their feet about dealing with them. Their retailer arm exploits the fact that most of their customers do not understand that they can get phone and internet from other companies over their existing line, by overcharging them wildly, but charging you much less if you happen to make an effort to shop around all their deals and packages. They pull stunts such as charging £150 to 'reactivate' a phone line, meaning that if you close your home phone account (with any provider) one day and someone else (maybe a new tenant in a rented premises) tries to get a phone connection at the same address using the same line the next day, they have to pay BT Openreach for the 'engineering work' they are supposedly doing to get the line switched back on.

The regulators OFCOM literally do not give a monkey's about this or any other corrupt and monopolistic practices BT use. They see it as more trouble than it's worth/politically awkward to make BT stick to its legal obligations. Obligations which were conditions of BT taking over a system owned by and paid for by the British public.

Mod Parent up (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358668)

Although I disagree with what Mr Coward has stated, it's important to state never the less.

Yes, the whole Telstra separation could go pear-shaped but I doubt it, BT was privatised under Thatcher, Gillard is far from Thatcher level of, shall we say extreme capitalist philosophies. But we should be aware of potential issues and work to prevent them. The separation is to ensure that Telstra retail and Telstra wholesale become different companies in entirety. * Julia Gillard is the current Australian Prime Minister which has a minority government (I.E. dependent on minor parties for power). She is leader of the Labor party.

Re:Mod Parent up (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363596)

Technically it is a parliamentary system, the leader is always reliant upon the majority of members to stay in power and can be tossed out in a single day, so not just minority parties, buts also the supporting party and even the main opposition party.

The reality is Telstra either accepted it or ended up competing against a government provided competing infrstructure, that would severely undercut it's dying copper infrastructure with a brand new fibre to the home infrastructure. The main reason for the buyout, there is a lot of foreign investment in Telstra that would have been screwed over without the buy out.

The big reason for the opposition to fibre, look no further than corporate mass media being right wing and the internet being left wing, advertising as news and the corporate voice being misrepresented as the peoples voice versus the actually really truly peoples voice, the rich and greedy versus the middle class and the poor. You would have to be blind, deaf, dumb and, stupid to have not noticed the change in politics over the last five years and, that is only the beginning. Fibre to the home 100Mbit broadband will further accelerate the reality of a government of the people by the people and for the people, not some corporate corrupting facade of government.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359374)

OFCOM is more spineless than a wet cabbage. When "you and yours" (a consumer focussed radio program) asked them what theyw ere doing about the companies that tricked people into signing for regular expensive text messages, believeing they were agreeing to a single payment (generally children downloading ringtones paid for by parents), The OFCOM guy said "We cant do anything: these people are criminals and they run away when we come after them!" Given that BT hold on to their payments for 90 days, and the complainst typically occur within 7 days, this is total BS.

Look at the charges for texts, and indeed, many other charges, well known to be rip-offs and concealed by excessively complex charging structures. OFCOM makes disappoving noises, but never takes any effective action whatever.

Re:If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357974)

There is no conflict of interest. To imply so is to imply that the Government should not be shareholder of anybody!!!!!!11

Bad Headline. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356982)

Telstra is not really a monopoly any more, they are a large telco but due to effective regulation cant force the market into following them despite owning most of the copper in OZ.

Telstra's wholesale arm no longer has any impetus to protect Telstra's retail arm. This will be good for the consumer as Telstra can no longer engage in (as much) anti competitive activities.

This is something that should have been done with the privatisation of Telecom Australia back in the 90's (Public utility Telecom Australia was sold off and became the private company Telstra)

Re:Bad Headline. (1)

imroy (755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357438)

Telstra is not really a monopoly any more, they are a large telco but due to effective regulation cant force the market into following them despite owning most of the copper in OZ.

Tell that to customers of Foxtel - Telstra ran the Cable Internet part of that venture and they dragged their heels moving to the DOCSIS 3.0 standard [broadbandguide.com.au] (providing 100Mbps). The reason? They had no competition. Why spend a huge amount of money providing a desired service when your customers are stuck on your service anyway? Just sit on your arse and keep taking their money!

And Bigpond still had preferential treatment for ADSL service. A bit too far from the exchange? Your chosen ISP said Telstra knocked back your application? Well, just ring up Bigpond and you will get a connection, even if it means they have to put in an extra rack/cabinet/whatever. A friend of my brother's had this happen just recently in a new development - the "rack" was full and nobody in his neighbourhood could get ADSL through other ISP's. Desperate for an Internet connection, he signed up for Bigpond. Suddenly his neighbours could get ADSL because of his sacrifice.

Telstra was a monopoly and abused their position, no doubt about it. I'm glad it's finally being broken up.

Re:Bad Headline. (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358840)

the "rack" was full and nobody in his neighbourhood could get ADSL through other ISP's

Happened to me too a few months ago. Still waiting for new naked ADSL slots to be made available.

Telstra was a monopoly and abused their position, no doubt about it. I'm glad it's finally being broken up.

Very much so.

Re:If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (2)

Pax681 (1002592) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357112)

a very similar thing happened to British Telecom and British Gas.. the retail and wholesale branches were split by law to allow for competition.....

same plan... different country is all. it HAS meant BETTER deals and increased competition here most notably for the telecoms industry

Re:If Telstra is for it, you can bet it's no good (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357444)

Telstra supports it for 2 reasons:
1.Not separating means they would be locked out of buying spectrum for next generation LTE services
and 2.By separating, they get to sell the copper network to the government for $11 billion whereas if they dont separate and sell to the government, the government builds the NBN anyway without Telstra and Telstra is left holding onto an obsolete copper network that cant compete with the NBN.

About time! (2, Insightful)

WillKemp (1338605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356908)

Not a moment too soon! Telstra should have been split up when it was privatised. Their constant anti-competitive antics have held Australian telecoms back ever since.

A correction, if I may. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356928)

The Australian Senate is the house of review - the upper house. It is the House of Representatives that is the lower house, and that introduces legislation. The legislation passed the House of Representatives; it passed with amendments in the Senate; and now the House of Representatives needs to vote on those amendments (it looks likely that they will pass). Only once all of this is done will the legislation be done and dusted.

In one sense, this could end up being a case of "out of the frying pan, into the fire", since the NBN will be a telecommunications wholesale monopoly provider - nobody's going to be in a position to compete against them on anything more than a very small scale, and in this game, if you're talking small scale, you're talking high costs. That's not necessarily an issue, though, since telecommunications is a natural monopoly. With the appropriate checks on NBNco's hold on telecommunications, it will be a net positive - certainly compared to Telstra (which had the infrastructure monopoly, plus a retail arm that took full advantage of that power - witness all the wrangling that ensued every few years when Bigpond dropped their prices to below what other ISPs could manage on reselling Telstra's wholesale service) it will be a huge win for Australia.

Hopefully the proposed privatisation of NBNco won't go ahead; I see too much value to Australia in keeping it as a government-owned corporation compared with selling it off a few years after the rollout is complete.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356994)

Hopefully the proposed privatisation of NBNco won't go ahead; I see too much value to Australia in keeping it as a government-owned corporation compared with selling it off a few years after the rollout is complete.

As much as I agree with you, as soon as the Liberal party gets into power they will sell it off regardless.

It doesn't make much sense to sell it off but these are politicians, since when do they do a sanity check on anything.

Re:A correction, if I may. (2, Informative)

muphin (842524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357066)

from what i've heard the greens and others wants a law preventing this, i hear its going through its motions, this will prevent one party from selling it off like it did with telstra. it had to ask parliament for permission.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

jellyfrog (1645619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357230)

Our governments just love to sell off vital infrastructure, don't they?

Re:A correction, if I may. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357388)

Nah mate, Just energy, telco, water, public transportation...wait.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358180)

All governments love to do that. Even the US (especially at the State Level) tends to privitize quite a bit. There are very few public utilities left. I mean I find it patently absurd that prisons have even been privatized.

Basically if a state/local public utility could be profitable, it is usually privatized. Those that cannot turn a profit are often, but not always kept public. If it would not be profitable the only option is for the government to pay the difference. The easy way to do that is to run it directly. For example, most fire departments are run that way, as are nearly all police departments[1].

There are cases of unprofitable entities being privatized though, becoming government contractors, dependent on the state to be profitable. One such example of this is Privately operated prisons. The contracting styles does leave the government ultimately in charge, but it still seems like an invitation for abuse.

Interestingly, at the Federal level the US has multiple public utilities. For example, Amtrak. Although not a government agency, Amtrak is a privately held company with the US Treasury as the majority shareholder, and is dependent on Government subsidies to remain profitable.

We also have the USPS (Postal Service) that could theoretically be be disbanded in favor of private non-subsidized letter carriers, although special regulations would be necessary if the flat-rate universal service for first-class mail was desired. On the other hand, the USPS generally has fewer serious complaints than the other parcel carriers, and is among the must trusted of the government agencies, which is likely one of the main reasons it is kept public.

Footnotes:
[1] There are a few police departments that are funded at least in part by non governmental entities. For example, some private universities have an actual Police department, which is funded in part by the university, since it has additional security duties relative to other departments.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

skegg (666571) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359798)

Liberals may be quicker to sell-off assets, but Labor is ALSO fond of selling our (taxpayer) property.
How many times has NSW Labor tried to privatise various utilities? (especially under Iemma)

Sell-off assets for billions -> promptly spend the billions -> look like heroes to voters

But what will they sell when there are no assets left?

And some assets are quite, shall we say, profitable [abc.net.au]

Re:A correction, if I may. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357048)

When was the last time bigpond was cheaper than anyone?

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357228)

Just a couple of months ago actually. A surprise for many, that's for sure.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357176)

Hopefully the proposed privatisation of NBNco won't go ahead; I see too much value to Australia in keeping it as a government-owned corporation compared with selling it off a few years after the rollout is complete.

As long as NBNco is only a wholesale bandwidth provider, their monopoly status doesn't matter because everyone's prices will rise at once.
Internet is going to become a regulated utility in Australia

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357518)

You see this is where a lot of the government's ideas are at odds. You'll either end up with a situation where the government privatises the company yet attempts to use legislation to control the company policy, in which case why privatise it at all. Or you'll end up with a monopoly, just like Telstra our only cable company of the time had a completely unlimited 10mpbs service only to introduce one of the most draconian caps western world after it was privatised and then raise the wholesale price to competitors get screwed.

In what right mind does it make sense to privatise vital utilities? A business the government builds up should not be privatised as it starts at an unfair market advantage thanks to the cost of market entry not existing. That and how does the government get the idea of selling shares in Telstra to me at the time? My taxes paid for the buildup of that company and now I should pay for it again? It's classic double dipping.

Re:A correction, if I may. (1)

cammoblammo (774120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357240)

The Australian Senate is the house of review - the upper house. It is the House of Representatives that is the lower house, and that introduces legislation. The legislation passed the House of Representatives; it passed with amendments in the Senate; and now the House of Representatives needs to vote on those amendments (it looks likely that they will pass).

A slight correction of my own: it reads like you're suggesting the Senate can't introduce legislation. They can introduce most types of legislation except appropriation and taxation bills. In practice you're probably right though---most legislation seems to originate in the House of Reps.

Replaced by a new monopoly..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356936)

Telstra was a government monopoly until about 20 years ago when oz gov let in competition and eventually sold off 51% of Telstra on the sharemarket

This deal splits the retail and wholesale arms of Telstra - the wholesale (infrastructure) arm will now more or less be run by the nbn (national broadband network) - which is a government run monopoly

So effectively we now have a new monopoly on infrastructure that is owned by the government and can only sell wholesale - not to the public.

However - I reckon this is a great thing for a whole bunch of reasons. Just don't be fooled into thinking this is not a new monopoly

Re:Replaced by a new monopoly..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356946)

Until the government of the day in the future decides to sell the NBN Co (as the current one has said they will)

And then we are back where we started, but with faster pipes that they will extract more dollars from us to use :(

Ahhh, the weekend... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356950)

...And here are all the Australian "stories".

NBN waste of money (0, Troll)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356954)

Our politicians have just blown a cool $43 billion (in some sources over $58 billion depending which paper you read) of our money on a network that will most likely be obsolete in years to come.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/billions-to-be-spent-on-dubious-benefits/story-e6frg6zo-1225961705602 [theaustralian.com.au]

Not only that, but it benefits for city folk are heavily debated, while the country folk will reap much of the rewards. I don't have a problem with country folk, but I do have a problem with us subsidizing their life choices by living remote from services offered in heavily populated cities. Hell, I'd love to move out to the countryside, and have all the services offered in a city location.

I lived in Sydney for 35 years before recently moving to London for contract work, and the last 6 years of that I had a 20 MB pipe, without the need for Telstra - the peddlers of an over the top expensive product.

The govt all the long wanted Telstra to stump up for NBN and when the pollies rubbished their proposal, it seemed like the smaller operators had a chance to collectively provide services at an equal rate.

Anyway guys, the NBN may come to your door, but in order to use it you'll have to shell out up to $450 and $750, and up to $3,000 to get a connection. Good luck with that.

These public-private consortiums are ruining our country, hiding our debt and placing the burden on the citizens to stump up extra for services that should spearheaded by govt - if they deem them so important.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

Michael Wardle (50363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34356976)

I think there are some real questions about the NBN, particularly the amount of government spending. But do you really think that fibre will quickly become obsolete?

Re:NBN waste of money (1, Informative)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357074)

He reads the Australian, of course he believes it.

The fact that it's not true would not influence his thinking in any way.

Re:NBN waste of money (4, Informative)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357002)

I do have a problem with us subsidizing their life choices by living remote from services offered in heavily populated cities. Hell, I'd love to move out to the countryside, and have all the services offered in a city location.

What "choice"? I live in the Australian countryside. I'd love to live in Sydney, but my house is worth about $350,000 dollars, whereas the smallest apartment in Sydney is well out of our league at more than double that, and it wouldn't be big enough to house my family.

I run my own software business from home, and this is possible because I have some form of broadband connection. It's not great - just ADSL (1) and we're so far from the exchange that the speed is well down on the maximum theoretical available. We also have no choice but to use Telstra here, there is no alternative service for this region.

By living here we suffer in terms of not having lots of services available on our doorstep - if it's not agricultural, you can't get it here. So anything "unusual" requires a trip to Sydney or Brisbane which is a 7 hour drive either way, one way. Even basic stuff like home furnishing can be a challenge.

Yes, it's nice to live here, it has many upsides, but it certainly is not convenient compared to living in the city. Roll on the NBN, it will give us many of the benefits that city folk take for granted, and will allow me personally to expand my software enterprise as well as reduce our environmental impact by eliminating many car journeys that are currently forced on us.

Re:NBN waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357040)

"that are currently forced on us."

Such the victim.

Re:NBN waste of money (5, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357090)

AC has never lived in rural Australia.

We are a big country, I mean big, you may think its a long way down to the chemist but thats peanuts on the distances in Australia. We are fucking huge.

I used to live in a mining town in North West Western Australia. If you wanted to get to the beach that's a 5 hour drive laddie at 120 KM/h. If you wanted to go to target, 7 hours drive to Karratha mate. If you wanted to get to Perth, the capital of Western Australia that was a solid 15 hours of driving in a land that is regularly above 35 Degrees C and very sparcely populated.

When I went up through South Thailand by road I was surprised as hell to see signs of civilisation everywhere, farms, houses, villages. You couldn't go a single kilometre without seeing something. In Australia it's not only possible but quite easy to drive for six hours at 100 KM/h and not see another soul. When I went to school, I travelled 85 KM both ways in the blistering heat, luxury I tell you, luxury.

Re:NBN waste of money (2, Insightful)

Barny (103770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357134)

Sir, you get:

+2 internets for reference to the late Douglas Adams
+1 internets for reference to monty python
+3 real life merit points for telling it how it fucking is

Good job.

Re:NBN waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357150)

Funnily enough I think the only ones who can empathize with you here are Americans. Brits get so accustomed to their city densities.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357200)

What are you talking about, it takes me 20 minutes to get to the bus station by foot! On top of that it takes me 7 hours to get to Germany on public transport from where I live. Some of us can empathise quite enough with the situation thank you!

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360304)

I hear that. Facts about my home:

* 2.08 people per km^2 here in Wyoming (Australia has 2.83)

* 30 minutes from a town with a four-digit population

* 1 hour from any McDonald's

* 2 hours from any Walmart

* Just over 10 meters of snow per year

* We've already had *highs* of -15c this year

* Highs above freezing are unusual between mid-november and mid-march

* The ground is completely snow-covered for 6-7 months a year

* Understandably, half the population moves away over the winter.

But, just to show that someone here has their priorities straight:

* FTTH, 3G wireless (unmetered!), and IPTV are available throughout the area.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357250)

Victoria is a tiny state compared to WA but when I lived in a small sawmill town in far East Victoria, it was still a 2.5 hr drive to the supermarket, 30 minutes to the petrol station, and worst of all 45 minutes to the pub!

When I say "small town" I mean 12 houses and a public phone box, OTOH it was bigger than the nearby town of Muddy Flat which consisted of one 1960's style caravan and two road signs that marked the border of the town.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357262)

and worst of all 45 minutes to the pub!

Luxury, we had to walk 3 hours to the pub and the only thing they had to drink there was watered down methylated spirits and it was bore water too.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359440)

I live in central London, and it sometimes takes 2 hours to drive to the local supermarket. However, I can walk it in fifteen minutes. Such is the traffic chaos: the busses were faster when they were horse-drawn. The local pub is only two minutes from my front door, and the nearest decent one is two minutes. Hell, I can get to Germany in under 7 hours worst case! I can be on the beach in Spain in 7 hours. However, get Sky to fix my broadband? Impossible!

Re:NBN waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357324)

mjwx (966435).. actually I have. fail.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357352)

To give you an idea of how sparsely populated Western Australia is, here are some facts: The state of Western Australia occupies about 1/3 of the entire Australian continent (over 2.5 million km^2). The entire population of the state is about 2.3 million. Of those 2.3 million, 1.6 million live in one city (Perth).

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357770)

In situations like that it sort of makes me wonder who owns all the land. In America you would be passing by people selling trinkets, roadside diners, etc. at least once every 1-2 hours.

Re:NBN waste of money (2, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358580)

In situations like that it sort of makes me wonder who owns all the land. In America you would be passing by people selling trinkets, roadside diners, etc. at least once every 1-2 hours.

What's to own? Road traffic is mainly road trains so why bother. Population density is 0.0001 in most of WA. As the poster above you pointed out, there are 2.3 million people in WA and 1.6 million live in a 80 KM radius of one place (land mass of Western Australia is 2,645,615 KM2).

Land that is away from Perth is essentially worthless unless you have it under good authority that there is something worth mining under it.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359004)

The government still owns most of it in one way or another. Large chunks of desert are Aboriginal tribal land.

You want a house for $20? I can't find the link, but there were economically collapsing small towns pretty much giving away somewhere to live. The catch being, you were expected to actually live there.

There's basically five cities in Australia, with long stretches of fuck-all between them.

(I'm living in London. One-third the area of Perth, five times the population. Wide open spaces or Ankh-Morpork? The grass is always browner.)

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

dafing (753481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359598)

I do have a question for you, why do it? Why have towns in the middle of nowhere, over such a massive CONTINENT? I genuinely mean this, it sounds a bit like the "super size" offer, "well....because its on offer...because its there....."

It sounds a bloody nuisance for all concerned! And what does anyone gain, mineral resources? I can understand a few such towns, but it really seemed, from my SINGLE trip to Australia a few years ago, that there are developed cities on the coastline of the country, and in the middle is one impossibly large burning desert. Perhaps the answer is for all over populated, freezing cold countries to "move to Australia", the continent, and fill that bad boy up?

Is there any practical way of covering such massive distances with highways, fibre etc?

Just being a (literally) dense New Zealander, who walked two city blocks to get to primary school, walked/cycled 4KM to get to High School, and to this day lives without a car.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361918)

I do have a question for you, why do it? Why have towns in the middle of nowhere, over such a massive CONTINENT?

Towns in the middle of nowhere are either digging stuff up, growing stuff or shipping stuff and most of this cant be done in cities. There is very little that survives on it's own or via tourism in Australia. Most of our population is centred in our cities along the coast.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

dafing (753481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361950)

Thank you for your post, I meant no disrespect.

Both sides of my family come from NZ mining roots. I can understand mining towns, its mining towns that are literally 10 hours from anywhere else that I find odd! :)

Re:NBN waste of money (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34362600)

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Re:NBN waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357340)

No, it's definitely by choice. You're choosing to have a house in the countryside rather than renting something in the city or buying something smaller in the city. I used to live in rural Australia myself, but made the choice to move to the city, in full knowledge that it'd cost me a lot more to live here, but that I'd gain convenience and connectivity for that cost. There is literally nothing preventing you from doing the same beyond your own unwillingness to sacrifice what you like about living in the countryside.

So why then should your NBN access be subsidised by those living in the cities? As you've noted, by choosing to live in the countryside your housing costs, for instance, are vastly less than they would be in the city for a comparable dwelling. You seem willing to reap the benefits of your remoteness, yet see unwilling to pay the costs.

Personally, I'd be all for the NBN if it weren't for the premise of equal access regardless of location. By all means, implement the infrastructure to allow people in remote areas to connect. But they should be charged their fair share of the cost of implementing and maintaining the extra infrastructure that's needed to deliver service to where they choose to live. At the end of the day, people in the city pay more to be close to the things they want. Why then shouldn't people in remote areas pay more to have the things they want brought to them?

Re:NBN waste of money (-1, Offtopic)

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Sigh, (1, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357052)

depending which paper you read

Just so everyone on /. understands, The Australian is the equivalent of Fox News when it comes to the current government. Nothing in that paper can be considered accurate about the NBN.

lived in Sydney for 35 years before recently moving to London for contract work, and the last 6 years of that I had a 20 MB pipe

The average broadband speed in AU is 1.6 Mbit/s. It's terrible. If you want a guaranteed 10 Mbit/s pipe you are looking at A$1400 per month. I live a bit over 3 KM from my exchange and get a sync speed on my DSL of 4 Mbit/s. More people in AU have a slower sync speed than a higher sync speed in this country.

Also when you do these rants, differentiate between MB (megabytes) and Mb or Mbit (megabit) and specify that it is per second (Mbit/s).

Anyway guys, the NBN may come to your door, but in order to use it you'll have to shell out up to $450 and $750, and up to $3,000 to get a connection.

Hasn't been the case in Tassie, outright lies good sir. NBNco will connect to one point inside your house the same as if it were a Telstra telephone connection.

If you don't have an active (copper) telephone line to your house at the moment, Telstra charge $400 for connection. This is just to get it made active at the exchange, then you need to pay any fees your service provider asks. You don't want to know the costs if you don't already have copper to your door.

Now Wireless, there's a plan that needs to be replaced every few years. HSPA networks that were installed 5 years ago are already at the end of their life, Telstra and Optus are testing LTE and WiMax is already deployed by Vivid Wireless. Wireless may only be 6 Billion now, but it's another 6 billion every 5 years not to mention that it will never match the speed and latency of multi mode fibre. Fibre has a lifespan of at least 40 years, the expected lifespan on fibre is 60 years if it's been flexed so independent MP Tony Windsor put it best when he said "You do it once, you do it right, you do it fibre".

These public-private consortiums are ruining our country

Uninformed Luddites are ruining our country good sir. For the last 50 years we've been technological leaders with things like CSIRO and world class universities, why do you want to throw this away. Really, if you want to save some serious taxpayer $$$ dump the baby bonus scheme.

Re:Sigh, (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357238)

Hear, hear. Every time someone tells me the NBN is a waste of money I want to strangle them. But that would not be polite. Thank you for your level-headed and rational argument.

Re:Sigh, (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357276)

"The Australian is the equivalent of Fox News"

Yes they have the same owner, which is a pity since it used to be one of our better rags.

Re:Sigh, (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358388)

Yes they have the same owner, which is a pity since it used to be one of our better rags.

Based on the month I just spent back home, it still is.

Re:Sigh, (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34359014)

Yes, the rest are actually worse. The only readable news outlet is Crikey.

Re:Sigh, (1)

gizmonty (1636241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360718)

Yes, the rest are actually worse. The only readable news outlet is Crikey.

Agreed. The $120 I spent on my Crikey subscription has been fantastic value. I just wish the mainstream media would pick up on some of the stuff they report.

Re:Sigh, (1)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358820)

+1 this guy. I'd never thought of comparing the NBN to the baby bonus but it makes sense. Both are investments in the future, and if it's my taxes on the line, I'd rather invest in infrastructure that benefits the whole country and will help the country stay competetive internationally than pay some idiots to have a kid so they can buy a bigger TV.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357328)

i smell astroturf.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358540)

hiding our debt

As an aside, you do know that 90%+ of Australia's debt is private?

Yes, most of our debt comes from people who can barely afford their first home buying a second house as an investment property.

Our national debt is less then 10% of our GDP, the US national debt is about 70-80% of it's GDP and Greece didn't get into real trouble until it was 110% of its GDP (being dependent on tourism, Greece's GDP isn't much either).

Not that it matters, as a taxpayer and net saver I'm going to be asked to bail the rest out in an emergency.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361760)

Not only that, but it benefits for city folk are heavily debated, while the country folk will reap much of the rewards. I don't have a problem with country folk, but I do have a problem with us subsidizing their life choices by living remote from services offered in heavily populated cities. Hell, I'd love to move out to the countryside, and have all the services offered in a city location.

Who is subsidising who? Despite our profiligate (private) spending practices, we as a country are not collapsing into debt, wheras other countries with similiar lifestyle aspirations (e.g. the US and the UK) are. Ever wondered why that is? Well, the reason is that we are paying for the lifestyles of the city dwellers by - literally - digging up regional australia and selling it overseas - mindblowingly huge chunks of the country on conveyors, trains and ships as we speak, making their way to power stations and steel mills in China. The town over from where I grew up has simply disappeared - there's a huge hole where it once was.

So our money is made in regional Australia and spent in the cities - on roads, hospitals, schools, and straight handouts to consumers for spurious reasons. No money goes back to the regions - they have no hospitals. The hoispital where I was born has just closed - despite the town being larger then when I grew up. My family has to make a 60km round trip to see a doctor - 200+ to see a visiting specialist. In Dubbo, the hospital is so underfunded they can't afford to buy meat, the patients go without. If you live in Cobar, the government expects you to travel to Orange, which might as well be across an ocean.

Even if ther $40bn spent entirely in regional Australia, it would be a drop in the bucket toward addressing the real, and constant inequity being experienced by regional australia.

Re:NBN waste of money (1)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34362598)

No money goes back to the regions

ha. 'the city', and by that we generally mean sydney and melbourne, have been propping up 'the country' for generations with tax dollars from manufacturing and tertiary services ( and the like )

and now, with the voracious chinese economy booming to provide a viable market for all that red dirt, the bleating about 'contribution' comes up.

Yay tempered socialism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34356962)

The general thought was that it was impossible to have natural competition in the infrastructure space, so the government may as well take care of that. Including all the "last miles". All businesses can do their ISP thing on the public fibre.
*Sometimes* socialism isn't just not bad. It's the dammed solution.

Telstra monopoly dead, new NBN monopoly on the way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357016)

While the Telstra monopoly on last mile infrastructure may be "dead", this paves the way for a monopoly that doesn't only include last mile, but backhaul access as well. This is potentially far worse than any monopoly under Telstra because the government is having to make radical changes to competition law to ensure that there is no competition to the NBN.

The only way the government can justify the NBN is to change laws to prevent competition in last mile and backhaul delivery.

While as a government owned utility this sounds ok, the broader problem is that the government has planned for portions of the NBN to be sold off to the private sector.

This is of great concern.

Re:Telstra monopoly dead, new NBN monopoly on the (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357496)

Can you point to actual statements from the government stating that they will prohibit other networks from competing with the NBN?

I havent seen such statements.
What I HAVE seen is proposals to require 3rd party network builders to provide wholesale access to their network on an open basis and to support the technical specs of the NBN (the intent of this is to ensure companies cant do deals with land developers (and others) to build networks independent of the NBN and gain a monopoly over the area the network is being built in (as is the case now with a number of providers in various estates and apartment complexes)

Re:Telstra monopoly dead, new NBN monopoly on the (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34362154)

The thing that made Telstra the nightmare it is would be that it was a beast with government roots that was told to go out and make as much money as it could. That meant gouging customers at home as much as possible to pay for failed financial adventures in China, a Rock Star style CEO that came to do nothing but plunder and cutting services to far more than anyone in a competitive situation could possibly get away with.
The NBN has one role and is not likely to attempt to become the diseased octopus that Telstra is. They will not be spending millions buying a Chinese company that sells pirated mp3s as ringtones or other similar bits of stupidity. Would you buy a pirated mp3 instead of getting the torrent and waiting ten minutes to get it for free?
However if it's run like the insane way we have pretend deregulation and pretend privitisation of electricity (copied from California's fucking disaster of a system in the 1990s) then it could be a new nightmare.

Now maybe we can get some decent internet limits (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357032)

No more ridiculous $70/month for 20gb or whatever the average is. The most you can get as a consumer is 500gb for something like $250/month, ridiculous.

Of course there is a limit both on capacity and overselling, but that was artificially increased through the monopoly. Now we should start getting fairer prices, and catching up with the rest of the world.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

muphin (842524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357060)

i'm with TPG and i have unlimited internet, no caps for $75/mo :p

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357156)

I have an unmetered and unshaped 10mbit/10mbit for 10e/mo. :P

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34362250)

While meanwhile in Australia my company pays more than $600 per month for 2Mbs/2Mbs because we need faster speeds going out than we can get for the $75.
That's right, we're paying the equivalent of 440e for one fifth the speed the AC above is getting for 10e.
How's that for a case for change?

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

tkdack (325771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357080)

Bullshit! Ahem, http://www.internode.on.net/residential/broadband/adsl/easy_broadband/ [on.net] 1TB per month for AU$130 a month, less if you bundle I'm currently paying $60 a month for 60GB naked ADSL2, land line on VoIP, so no monthly rental fee to Telstra for a service I don't use. The industry in .au is changing, slowly, but it is changing ... and the NBN is one of the catalysts

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357206)

That deal is upload and download, so still only 500gb download. worse it is split up between peak and offpeak.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

Starayo (989319) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357246)

500GB download assuming you upload as much as you download...

Furthermore, there is no on or off peak on that internode plan. It's a flat terabyte, anytime.

Add to that the fact that your upload speed will usually be 1/10th or less than your download speed and it doesn't seem too bad unless you're a super heavy user. I manage to burn my way through most or all of 200GB a month pretty easily.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357294)

Why on earth would you assume you upload as much as you download? There are plenty of Americans on unlimited plans to handle seeding, thankyouverymuch.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357532)

It clearly states on the internode site that the terabyte is split between peak and offpeak. It also states that it is a combined effort, so no, 500gb download MAX, half of which must be during offpeak.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

bds1986 (1268378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357998)

It is not split between peak and offpeak. See the part where it says "Monthly 'Anytime' Quota"? That's what the "Anytime" part means. Go read the T&C's if you don't believe me, there is no mention of peak/offpeak. If you insist otherwise please describe exactly where it "clearly" states this fact.

I assume by "combined effort" (I can't see that phrase anywhere on their website) you're referring to uploads+downloads being counted. The previous poster is correct; most users do not upload as much as they download, with the exception of torrenters. The small amount of ACKs sent in reply to packets received in the course of regular web activity does not result in a 1:1 upload:download ratio. You can definitely download a lot more than 500GB.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34358350)

Where does it clearly state that it is split between peak and off peak? The contracts don't even mention the quotas, so the only information is on the plan pages.

On http://www.internode.on.net/residential/broadband/adsl/easy_naked/plans/ [on.net] I see the following text:
"Massive 'Any Time' monthly quota - measured as the total of downloads plus uploads. No 'peak' or 'off-peak' restrictions - you can use the Internet whenever you like!"

That definitely sounds like there is no peak vs off-peak differentiation.

I also see: "The monthly quota allocation on Internode Easy Naked services is counted as the sum of both uploads and downloads".

That statement certainly looks like it is saying that there is only one combined quota, not separate upload and download quotas. If there were separate upload and download quotas, then that statement would qualify as deliberately misleading advertising. I'm not an Australian, but I would presume there are laws against misleading advertisements in Australia.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357084)

iinet offer a 1 terabyte plan for 99 dollars a month, although I will concede that it's 500gb peak and 500gb offpeak.

I understand why ISP's offer offpeak quota, that doesn't mean it doesn't annoy the piss out of me.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357214)

plus its divided between up and down....so 250gb down peak + 250gb down offpeak.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

gizmonty (1636241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360748)

250gb down peak + 250gb down offpeak.

No No No No No. I think you need to learn a bit more about how teh internets works.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357514)

Anyone paying $70 per month and only getting 20gb is paying far too much.
Even if all you can get is Telstra Wholesale ADSL, TPG will sell you unlimited at 8Mbps or 300GB at ADSL2+ speeds for your $70

Other ISPs like Internode have similar plans.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34360426)

Not likely, sorry. Prices are set by transit costs. Where only Telstra can offer transit, you only get the low quota plans available, but even where competition exists you face the basic fact that international transit is very expensive. We are a long way from everywhere, and those submarine cables are expensive to lay and operate.

I often wonder whether $43bn would have bought us a government owned cable to bring competition to international transit.

Re:Now maybe we can get some decent internet limit (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34362228)

prices are transit costs + whatever Telstra feels like adding on because they can get away with it.

futureproof... (1)

distantbody (852269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357330)

The NBN Co. spent $10b(?) dollars of Australias money to buy Telstra's current perfectly functional underground and cable/telephone network. They will own both the national fibre and copper networks, and in a few years they will rip up the copper network.

It's a needless loss of a proven piece of infrastructure, instead the fibre should go out to places that aren't adequately serviced by copper; the fibre should coexist with the copper network. Once all of the rural/under-connected areas are connected, only then should duplication of the copper network begin

I'm concerned that Australia is being mugged by Labor. I can't decide if Labor is doing it out of incompetence, malice, or for the gain of some private group.

Whatever I thought of Malcolm Turnbull before (the opposition communications minister), he has proven himself to be the only politician competent on the issue, and I hope he succeeds in stopping Labor.

They're stringing the fibre on telegraph poles (bushfires, storms) ... The first mass outage is going to cause a lot of pain.

Yes, futureproof... (2, Insightful)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357466)

Important point: It's not an infrastructure loss, it's an infrastructure upgrade, and no copper will be ripped up until all the fibre is in place.

Leaving in the copper for duplication was certainly considered, but the significant advantages caused by a relatively fast national switchover to high-speed fibre won the day (100% uptake = lower prices for all + much wider market for high-speed data services like IPTV, electronic health record transmission, next-gen internet applications etc).

Turnbull does have a few clues about this (that's why he has shares in Melbourne IT; he can see where this is going), and I don't think for a minute that he personally believes Abbott's plan of a little wireless bandaid around the edges is anything more than a stopgap response (it's hardly futureproof in any sense). However, since Abbott booted him from the top spot (shame that) he doesn't have much say in the matter anymore, and now has to toe the party line and just do his assigned job of "demolishing" the Government wherever he can.

Oh, and fibre on the poles? It's going alongside the copper, through Telstra's conduits, ducts, poles; wherever the copper goes - that was one of the main points of the deal with Telstra after all.

Re:futureproof... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357556)

The copper network is great IF you have direct copper back to the exchange AND your copper is in good condition AND you are close enough to the exchange to get ADSL. If you have crappy coper, if you are too far from the exchange, if your line contains equipment incompatible with ADSL or you are stuck on a RIM with no available ports or really slow speeds, the copper network isn't so great.

With the NBN, all those problems go away.

Also, they arent going to string the fiber on power lines or poles in most places. In most places it will go into the existing Telstra ducting (which is the reason that the government is paying Telstra all this money for access to said ducting. If your phone wires currently run along overhead poles then yes, the NBN may well follow suit and run along those same poles but where the phone wires are underground, the NBN will also be underground in 99.9% of cases.

If there is one thing I cant STAND its all the anti-NBN FUD being spread around, mostly by the liberals, by the Murdoch papers (including the Australian) and by various vested interests concerned the NBN will take away their current competitive advantage.

Telstra leased it, didn't sell it (1)

anti-NAT (709310) | more than 3 years ago | (#34360980)

Government spin hid that from the public.

The copper is old - keeping it going is not free (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34362364)

Most of that copper is old stuff with lead and paper protecting it and only has a few years left. That's right, most of it was from before plastic insulation. Telstra have done very little apart from quick fixes to the copper network since 1996 and they had cut back quite a bit even before then. A lot of that copper needs to be replaced immediately and pretty well all of it within a ten year time span, and the stuff is expensive. Replacing the lot with fibre apparently works out to be cheaper within a decade than fixing copper with copper.
Turnbull is the guy that killed HIH, bought his way into a safe seat and manufactured a scandal from nothing leaving a sick public servant to carry the blame. The only thing he actually did in government was a blanket ban on light bulbs - even those oven lights where there is no alternative light source that will work. He sounds impressive and is wonderful at "spin" but should never be allowed anywhere near public money. He is not acting in your interest, the countries interest or even in the interest of his party. If he brings up something useful then good for him, but it needs to be checked against a reliable source to see if it is another completely fabricated scandal.

Wha-a-at? (1)

ignavus (213578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34357408)

The Senate doesn't pass bills through the lower house; the Senate is the upper house. Perhaps you meant "The Government recently passed a bill through the Lower House..."

And what are these "larger population densities"? Do you mean "larger cities"? Probably better just to say that then.

Cost benefit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34357504)

[blockquote]The deal is worth $11 billion AUD for Telstra[/blockquote]For what was Telstra privatised - with ownership - over infrastructure?

The deal pays them for soon-to-be-redundant infrastructure.

comment (-1, Offtopic)

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It needs to be said (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 3 years ago | (#34361742)

  • The King Is Dead.
  • Long Live The King.

A monopoly by any other name is still a monopoly.

Having said that, there's a lot of good in theory in what The NBN might possibly do, if it is done well and properly.
Having said that, there's a lot of evil that may come about as a reuslt of the NBN, if it's done poorly.

The Devil is in the details.
Details which we do not yet have.
Details which are being defined and/or controlled by Them Politicians. (duh bahstids)

Not that I'm implying that The Will Screw This Up (if there's any way that is possible).
But Based On Previous Performance, Confidence of a Complete Charlie Foxtrot is HIGH.

Seriously Folks - Prove Me Wrong - I DOUBLE DARES YA - Get It Right (for once).

All the important points here are being missed. (1)

akayani (1211810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34363260)

Surely you guys read most of the slashdot articles? By 2040 at current rate of the expansion of internet services 50% of all the world's electricity will be devoted to the internet. The solution to this is optical routers which are < 10 years off.

What is costing the cash here is the laying of optical cable with a lifespan of over 100 years. Leaving the copper cable in the ground just isn't an option as it has a lifespan too.

The NBN is buying Telstra's old network to turn it off, mostly. The business case for NBN achieves a 70+% return WITHOUT factoring in the added benefits from high speed internet. Without considering that the move to optical routers is an essential to the future of the internet.

What we know for sure it that this is worth it. It removers the copper network and the microwave links. What would you rather manage, a networks of fiber, fiber/copper, copper and microwaves or a unified fiber network?
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