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99% of Australians With Broadband By 2009?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the it's-strine-for-"fast" dept.

The Internet 313

Recently a study of broadband penetration rates around the world was in the news, because the US has fallen to 24th place worldwide, at 53%. Now comes word that the Australian Prime Minister has announced a $1.68 billion (US) plan to move Australia to 99% penetration within two years. If they accomplish this goal they will be the most-wired nation (South Korea currently occupies the top spot with 90%). The Prime Minister's plan was attacked by his political opponents because it would create a two-tier system with the country's vast (and almost empty) interior served by wireless at "only" 12 Mbps.

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The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (4, Interesting)

tpgp (48001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561575)

Remember - This is the same Prime Minister of Australia (John Howard) who phone spammed [theage.com.au] the continent prior to the last election, then paid his smug looking son to email spam the nation [smh.com.au] .

The reason Howard's talking about broadband (apart from the fact that he's running scared from a buoyant & surprisingly competent opposition with a better broadband plan) is because this will give him access to more Australians to spam, spam spam.

My apologies for being ontopic. I now return you to your scheduled 'why broadband is crap in the US' offtopic flamewar.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561689)

My apologies for being ontopic. I now return you to your scheduled 'why broadband is crap in the US' offtopic flamewar.

Uhuh, and what do you say about how every single thread ever posted on Slashdot about the state of US Broadband is spammed by Australians whining about the state of Internet services in their country?

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561697)

Not only that, the government is proposing WiMax for rural areas. Labor may be spending a bit more, but at least fibre is a tried, tested and reliable technology.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (2, Funny)

kgbspy (696931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561881)

Good to see Labor (bless their cotton socks!) turning their attention to the weighty issue of irritable bowel syndrome.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (0, Troll)

nighty5 (615965) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561737)

This is the most ridiculous comment I've heard on Slashdot in a while.

The reason why the interest in the broadband is because each party now feels that if they can clinch the outer seats it will tip the balance in the votes.

The Libs want to spend money on wireless ($900 million), Labour want to spend the money on fibre ($4.7 billion (!)).

Labour love wasting money, taking 4.7 billion from the Future Fund is a direct abuse of powers....

At least the Libs want private sector to fund it, it shouldn't come from our pockets.

I have yet a more ridiculous comoment to make: (4, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561797)

...to move Australia to 99% penetration within two years. If they accomplish this goal they will be the most-wired nation (South Korea currently occupies the top spot with 90%)

I say that 99% penetration will do wonders for Howard's hopes for an increased birth rate, and will also satisfy many social liberals on the other side. We'll probably become the most screwed nation on earth, beating Niger at 48.91 per 1000 head of population per annum.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (5, Insightful)

tpgp (48001) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561813)

Labour love wasting money, taking 4.7 billion from the Future Fund is a direct abuse of powers....

How can it be a direct abuse of power, when its an election promise? Surely they have a mandate to fullfill their election promises?

At least the Libs want private sector to fund it, it shouldn't come from our pockets.

How do you think the private sector's going to recoup their investment? Go on, have a think about it. Do you think it will come from corporate altruism, or perhaps from our pockets?

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561971)

How do you think the private sector's going to recoup their investment? Go on, have a think about it. Do you think it will come from corporate altruism, or perhaps from our pockets?

You silly hippie... The free market will solve it all with its magic invisible hand. You know, the one that no one ever sees, but everyone always believes is there.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562023)

No - selling off the telecommunications infrastructure for very little and then having to dig deep into public money to duplicate some of it is the problem. The private sector is not going to fund this or they would have already done so. The reason this is going to be expensive is due to the sale of Telstra and the problem that the current fully imported management team refuses to be directed by either it's shareholders or the regulating authorities.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19562043)

Howard has already spent [whirlpool.net.au] the ~$1bn on this "broadband plan". So it is concrete, not just a promise.

Maybe this is a move to undermine Labor's attempt at a broadband plan, as Labor now have to go back and change it to accommodate whatever mess has been signed onto with OPEL.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (3, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561847)

taking 4.7 billion from the Future Fund is a direct abuse of powers
They aren't just going to take the money out and blow it, they are investing in the infrastructure, meaning they expect to get some return on that money. Assuming their plan works I think it would be safe to say it could prove very profitable.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561885)

Oh, the Future Fund. Right. Is that what it's called? For over 10 years now the government has been taking insanely high taxes and spending it on nothing. In fact, they've been cutting costs and paying back international debt (like we're some kind of third world country). Now you tell me they are spending it on The Future, well why didn't they say so? Boy, that makes me feel much better.

Of course, the "Future Fund" will eventually be used to buy gunships from the US.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (1)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561915)

... taking 4.7 billion from the Future Fund is a direct abuse of powers. Whereas selling the public back their own asset in order to fund the government employee superannuation fund isn't?

(Hint: If sucessive governments - both Labor and Liberal, so no bias there - hadn't treated the government employee superannuation funds as consolidated revenue over the years, it would have been completely self-funding.)

(Hint #2: The same goes for the 'Social Services Contribution' - a tax / levy designed to pay for pensions - which dates back to early last century. You're still paying it; it's just been subsumed into general taxation - but it no longer goes towards paying for pensions...)

The whole 'Future Fund' is a con. The name is brilliant - it sounds good ; a visionary creation by a government focussed on looking ahead - until you realise it's nothing of the sort. It's sole purpose it to either a) replace money that's been misappropriated by governments in the past, or b) be absorbed onto con. revenue once everyone has forgotten its real purpose.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (1)

0mni (734493) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562013)

Is that worse than letting telstra make it so expensive that any person living in country areas can't afford it?

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561853)

My apologies for being ontopic. I now return you to your scheduled 'why broadband is crap in the US' offtopic flamewar.
The problem with that sort of flamewar is Americans are complaining about 10mbps not being fast enough to be called "broadband". Or that there is a lack of reasonably priced gigabit backbones for them to host servers off.

Here is Australia we're still using the good old tin can bush telegraph system provided by a now "private" and utterly substandard Telstra, which the government goes to for all telecommunications needs (ignoring other private company efforts). 10mbps is the speed at which the WHOLE of Australia communicates to the world with. Or at least it feels like it.

In Australia, 512kbps (yes, you read KILOBITS/SEC correctly) is considered broadband. Lower the standards enough, and 99% reach is very easy to accomplish. We don't need "Fibre to the node" (which is really just another way of saying SOME people will get ADSL2+) - we need international submarine cables to the rest of the world.

If Australian companies can't host servers within Australia because it is 10-20 times more expensive than equivalent hosting in the US or Europe, there is NO incentive for growth in Australian broadband.

What Australia really needs is a huge overhaul of the telecommunications systems. Rip out the copper and put fibre in its place, which will solve the problem for decades to come. And this is certainly not cheap. But what you have to realize is that new housing estates are STILL having copper cable put in, and NO attempt is made to use fibre to new housing estates. For these new projects, there is no/minimal difference in cost between laying copper vs fibre. We're actually going backwards in Australia, not forward.

Re:The Real Reasons Howard Wants Broadband = Spam (4, Informative)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561995)

Further to this, they're focusing broadband roll-out on marginally-held seats (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/06/19/195 5664.htm) - if that doesn't highlight what a cynical election ploy this is I don't know what will.

Fags (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561581)

Fags

Re:Fags (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561713)

White man always oppressing black man.

the measurements are wrong!!! (5, Interesting)

flukus (1094975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561597)

I saw our communications minister (Helen Coonan) on lateline last night. She had the perfect solution to change all our broadband woes, change the way the measurements are taken. That sums up the current government though. If you don't like the statistics change the methodology.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561695)

Hey, that's how we're doing so well here in the USA. The international (ITU) standard for broadband is "Faster than a T1 (1.5 Mbps up/down)". Here in the USA, the standard is "200kbps in at least one direction". If you Aussies want to upstage us, just define broadband as "able to receive radio transmissions". You can have 100% coverage and beat everyone!

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

flukus (1094975) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561783)

Yeah, she mentioned changing the "standard" with US pressure too.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (4, Interesting)

Snad (719864) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561929)

Here in the USA, the standard is "200kbps in at least one direction".

Here in New Zealand, the definition of "broadband" is essentially "anything that isn't a dial-up modem". Hence the telecoms monopoly gets aways with a 128kbps ADSL link being referred to as "broadband" and although I've never actually seen it as such I'm sure there will be those who consider a 64kbps ISDN line "broadband".

Note for the geographically challenged : NZ isn't part of Australia (yet ... give it time) but we like to whine with the best of them...

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561973)

I've seen ISDN (128k) advertised here (oz) as iDSL. couldn't f**king believe it. however having said that, im quite content with my 16mbit ADSL2+ for now.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

0mni (734493) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562041)

I would be happy with my 1.5mbps connection if I could get an unlimited download plan.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (2, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561997)

NZ isn't part of Australia (yet ... give it time)
Are you sure you want that?

Under the Howard government we have practically been turned into the newest US state.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

kaptink (699820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561729)

yes, a very shady approach to say the least. It's a response to the opposition government who want to build theyre own infrastructure with telcos outside of current government favourite, Telstra. The transcript of the interview with the current minister for communications - http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s1954846.h tm [abc.net.au] or video - http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/200706/r152558_545863 .asx [abc.net.au] . Helen Coonan is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (4, Funny)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561949)

So, she was still referring to "a gigabyte of power" like she was on the 7:30 Report [abc.net.au] a few hours earlier, was she?

(Silly Americans are still dicking around with tubes - whereas we in Australia have Gigabytes of Power!)

Re:the measurements are wrong!!! (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562245)

So, she was still referring to "a gigabyte of power" like she was on the 7:30 Report a few hours earlier, was she?

She actually said "a gigabit" - and while the terminology is grating to people with Clues, what she actually meant was perfectly clear in context (for those who didn't - or couldn't - watch, a gigabit of bandwidth ("power") [into the home]).

However, people with such a poor grasp of the technology shouldn't be in charge of it. While I can excuse Howard for clearly not having the foggiest clue what the bloke meant when he was talking about "spectrum", for the Minister of Telecommunications, etc, not to know the terminology (or to get so flustered as to bollocks it up) is ridiculous.

The scary thing is, compared to the biggest luddite in history [theregister.co.uk] she's a towering intellect regarding the Intarwebs.

99% Accessability != 99% uptake (5, Insightful)

L0k11 (617726) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561613)

There is a difference between being able to get a product and actually buying it. To say that 99% of Australians will have high speed broadband is ridiculous.

Re:99% Accessability != 99% uptake (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561679)

However if it does turn out to be true that 99% of Australians could get broadband if they so desired then that would be a very positive step.

Re:99% Accessability != 99% uptake (1)

Yoda's Mum (608299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561711)

In the case of the network the Australian Government is proposing, uptake in areas where FTTN will be installed (ie, most non-remote areas) will be very close to those area's accessibility. The plan is to remove the old telephone system completely from the equation in the majority of areas.

Re:99% Accessability != 99% uptake (1)

0mni (734493) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562053)

The difference between the 98% of labour and 99% of liberal is the people who don't get access to a landline phone. OR Maybe they will kill people who live in the outback.

Re:99% Accessability != 99% uptake (2, Informative)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562055)

It is a bare faced election lie which will be dismissed later as not being a "core promise". My workplace has to rely on a 512/512 DSL connections because they are the best available 15km from the centre of a state capital - and those two lines are expensive - that has been the state of Australian broadband in many areas for the last decade. Communications in Australia have stagnated for a decade while the government has been arguing about selling off all the infrastucture at bargain prices and finding the worst of US management to run the decaying mass of it.

And like most Australians here (4, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561627)

I think I speak for most Australians that post here when I say that I'll believe it when I'm connected to it.

Howards just doing the oneupmanship thing (5, Insightful)

largesnike (762544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561631)

As per normal, Howard's doing this because, after attacking the opposition over more or less the same plan, he discovered that the polls show that Australians want this. So he's decided to adopt the plan, but make it even better than the opposition's idea, by increasing the penetration by a massive 1% from 98% to 99%.

sigh

Re:Howards just doing the oneupmanship thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561715)

Yes, because they managed to put a $2 billion plan together, out to tender, consider the tenders and choose someone in the few weeks since the opposition started talking about it. This has been in the pipeline for a very long time.

Re:Howards just doing the oneupmanship thing (1)

largesnike (762544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561865)

You've got it around the wrong way, OPEL (a consortium lead by Optus) has been working on this for a while, they made a completed submission a couple of weeks ago, which the Government decided to adopt. They didn't start the process. Also, it was not a billion-dollar contract, but the first 958 million or so for upgrading the existing ADSL network. The wireless part will be put out to tender later.

There is no commitment to fibre in this, not even to the node. But as usual, the Government has taken credit, and there's always an army of drones to believe them.

Re:Howards just doing the oneupmanship thing (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561719)

You forget the arse kissing he's giving us by delivering it 3 (or 4?) years earlier as well...

Problem is links going out of Australia. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561637)

As discussed in:

    http://australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,2192 6920-5013040,00.html [news.com.au]

the real problem is that the lack of links out of Australia means we are being charged way too much. This will only get worse if more people are able to get connected.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561931)

MOD PARENT UP

Re:Problem is links going out of Australia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19562123)

Exactly.

On high-download-quota plans, 90% of the cost comes from the price of international data.

Re:Problem is links going out of Australia. (1)

TrickiDicki (559754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562239)

Quite right - Australia only has 2 major international links. There's 20 million Aussies. Lets be generous and say 10 million households. That would work out at about 2kbps per household overseas.
 
Australians - no YouTube for you.

metrics (4, Informative)

bobby1234 (860820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561649)

99% looks great on paper but is most likely political vapour ware (or even worse not a core promise)

The Australian Government has allowed the Telstra monopoly to restrict ADSL broadband in this country to an artificial limit of 1.5Mbit downloads for years now (only just releasing the full 8M plans). We also have restricted downloads (quotas per month).

So the metric of 99% looks like we would be miles ahead but considering it is a political promise and the quota on downloads it isn't as good as it sounds.

Re:metrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561793)

Bollocks. Nothing is stopping other telcos and ISPs from installing their own equipment in exchanges and providing any damn speed they want, which is exactly what has happened with ADSL2. It's the companies wanting to make a quick buck by reselling Telstra's product that could only offer 1.5M.

Re:metrics (1)

bobby1234 (860820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561933)

Bollocks. Nothing is stopping other telcos and ISPs from installing their own equipment in exchanges and providing any damn speed they want, which is exactly what has happened with ADSL2. It's the companies wanting to make a quick buck by reselling Telstra's product that could only offer 1.5M.
excuse me but do you have any idea how much that costs. especially at the rates that Telstra charge (it only became an option for isp due to Telstra lack of adsl2+ infrastructure (until recently) and the ACCC (watchdog)'s intervention).

there is a fundamental problem when the wholesaler (infrastructure provider) is also one of the retailers (selling the product). Telstra have used their monopoly of the wholesale business to control and slow down broadband (literally).

Re:metrics (1)

zaydana (729943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562169)

Not true. Telstra is restricting access to new estates where RIM [whirlpool.net.au] s are installed. Even relatively suburban ones (such as where I live). Even if other ISPs wanted to install their own DSLAMs in them, they wouldn't be allowed. Which means until recently, I havn't been able to get anything higher than 1.5M. I'm still with a limit of 8M, which I'm not using because they charge through the roof for it.

Potential Problem (4, Interesting)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561657)

While this would certainly be a great improvement for Australia I have to wonder if we will have enough offshore bandwidth to keep up with the demand this network will create. Australian offshore bandwidth is in short supply after Telstra gave everyone access to 8mbps ADSL1 plans, I can only see this getting worse. As far as a short term solution I think it is time that the Government reformed library laws to allow an "Australian Online Library" that hosted television shows and movies for the country. It wouldn't be popular with the media companies, but then again Australia is its own nation so there isn't much they could do about it. I know it would never happen but it would be sweet.

Re:Potential Problem (1)

largesnike (762544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561707)

I'm afraid Australia is run by vested (not public) interests.

Offshore Bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561767)

I have to wonder if we will have enough offshore bandwidth to keep up with the demand this network will create

Whilst we probably do have the capacity of more concern is whether it will be made available, and for how much ... see http://australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,2192 6920-5013040,00.html/ [news.com.au]
I believe that the Southern Cross Cable has spare dark fibre available, but how much they charge to bring that capacity online is another erthing altogeth

Partisan submission much? (4, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561665)

The reason that this proposal has been attacked, is because its way of delivering that 12mbps to the country, is with ADSL2+ and WiMax, instead of any real infrastructure upgrade.
Obviously that 12mbps will only be available to those with an apartment on the roof of the telephone exchange itself, or who have access to the unproven WiMax option.
The opposition has promised to upgrade the entire country's infrastructure to fibre-to-the-node, unlike the govt which is only willing to encourage private investors to do this in the cities where it is profitable.

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561721)

Actually if you lived a stones throw away from the exchange you would be getting 24mbps with ADSL2

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561965)

I'm about that far away from the exchange, and my data rates on an uncapped ADSL2+ plan (iiNet) are:

Download Speed: 3375 kbps (421.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 802 kbps (100.3 KB/sec transfer rate)

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

PenguSven (988769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562003)

I'm about a KM from my exhange and i get about 16mbit (reality is about 1.6mbyte/sec max) down and 1mbit (reality is about 130k/sec max) up

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562057)

"Actually if you lived a stones throw away from the exchange you would be getting 24mbps with ADSL2"

And indeed I do - and I do. Or at least that's what the modem pretty much says - 20mbps. In fact I live about 500m away (let's say 500 yards for metrically deficient people - no idea about how many rods that is, sorry).

The restriction seems to be from there on, though. I can certainly measure an 8mbps connection to a test site in Canberra, but many sites are still pretty slow.

Australia is the most urbanised country on the planet. Thus most of us live in fairly densely populated areas (Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, etc). The idea of all these vast numbers of folk living in "the bush" is, in fact, a myth. There are some, but not many and they are really, really sparse - a satellite service to cover them sounds great to me. Probably them too - a heck of a lot better than a struggling land line.
There are of course a fair number of folk living in country towns (like the wonderfully named Orange) where service is pretty poor. For the townsfolk wimax sounds good, and the more suburban would do well with satellite. What's the problem with that?

Gosh this all sounds pretty sensible doesn't it? Well, yes it does. It's not often I support anything from Mr John (slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan) Howard, but this seems pretty reasonable. (I still won't vote for him though).

I don't think it would be a good idea to try to connect every station, township and run down cattle farm in Australia with fibre. Don't they live in the bush to get away from it all?

Re:Partisan submission much? (4, Insightful)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562157)

*sigh* and in less than 10 years, when your absolute bare minimum quick-fix wimax is once again well BELOW the bare minimum required, you now have to a) roll out a completely new and better wireless technology (presuming our wireless technologies keep improving at the same rate as broadband consumption) or b) roll out almost the same fiber optic lines to what you should have rolled out now.

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

Marlor (643698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562185)

The problem is that there are plenty of people who live in "semi-urban" areas in the outer suburbs of cities, or in "satellite towns", with terrible connectivity.

I'm in the Hunter Valley, in a satellite town of Newcastle, and ADSL only became available at our exchange a couple of years ago. ADSL2+ is still way off.

They would need to run less than 10KM of backhaul to connect us with the nearest ADSL2+ exchange, and the backhaul could keep on running to the Upper Hunter. However, nobody is willing to do this.

There have been wireless internet trials around here, but the performance was totally erratic and unpredictable when compared to ADSL.

I'll be supporting which-ever plan is most likely to give the hundreds-of-thousands of people in semi-urban "blackspots" the best broadband.

Re:Partisan submission much? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561859)

How does FTTN help people on farms? I spent a few years designing telephony systems for rural areas in Australia, and many, many of them have their phone line over wireless links. There is no cabling out there at all. The only way they are going to get broadband is via some sort of wireless.

Re:Partisan submission much? (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561923)

The amount of farms that get their phone over wireless, even in Aus, is pretty damned insignificant compared to the population living in rural towns.

I'm not saying there shouldn't BE a solution for them, but it's not even a blip when forming a national broadband strategy.

Very misleading submission (5, Insightful)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561913)

I thought the exact same thing.

A foreigner would get the impression that our brilliant Prime Minister is taking innovative steps to bring Australia to the bleeding edge of Internet accessibility and uptake.

The reality is that we are effectively in an election campaign, the Government is getting thrashed in the polls, and the opposition Labor Party announced an attractive broadband policy designed to lift Australia from its current woeful speeds and levels of access (256kbps is described as "broadband" in this country, and you pay upwards of $60/month for a capped allowance of 10Gb of downloads). This move by the Government is reactive at best, and a political stunt at worst. There is a widespread perception that the Prime Minister does not understand the slightest thing about broadband and the Internet.

As others have pointed out, Australia's real problem is a lack of big pipes to the rest of the world. Add to that a government-created-then-privatised monopoly (unlike the US we didn't split our telco into "baby Bells", we just privatised it, gave it all the essential infrastructure, and let it dominate/distort the hell out of the market), and you've got broadband fit for the late 1990s.

Re:Very misleading submission (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562019)

I saw "our brilliant Prime Minister" on TV last night, he was talking to a guy sitting at a PC and asking insightfull questions such as: "How long does it take to download a movie?".

Re:Very misleading submission (2, Informative)

shmackie (1049632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562219)

Just a few pointers: The coalition isn't getting 'thrashed in the polls' anymore it seems. The truth of the matter is that Kevin Rudd's broadband plan is insane. Firstly, before any of this started, OPEL were designing a submission for infrastructure investment for the national broadband network. They had already invested hundreds of millions of dollars and were planning to invest a couple of billion. If Labor's plan goes ahead they'll loose all of that because the government will be doing it all themselves (and we all know how efficient state owned organizations are). Secondly, they plan to take the money from the future fund. A fund which was setup using mostly the proceeds from the sale of Telstra (more about that later) to handle the massive increase in super payouts caused by the large public servant retiring population in the next 5 to 10 years. This problem was compounded by the super contribution bonus's setup by this government, to encourage people to contribute to their own super fund. Using this fund to invest in a broadband network will NOT have the economic return needed to handle the super payouts. No where near. I agree with you about the PM's understanding of the internet and its importance. This certainly wasn't helped by the previous IT Minister, Senator Richard Alston. Labeled as the worlds biggest luddite. I have been following and using broadband in Australia since 1994, and Telstra has been slothful, monopolizing barstard company since before then. Since privatisation, it has become more competitive, but there's still a long way to go. I don't think splitting the company into smaller ones would have solved the problem because we just don't have the same market as the US did. What was considered was splitting Telstra wholesale and Telstra retail, but that was shelved, and I'm not sure why.

Slightly offtopic but... (5, Informative)

Matthew Strahan (1083417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561669)

Why is the Sydney Morning Herald running an AFP report on an important Australian issue? The report's badly written, misspells the name of one of the two major political parties in Australia and measures costs in US$...

For the record, much more accurate and informative news on Australian Broadband can be found at Whirlpool at http://whirlpool.net.au/ [whirlpool.net.au] .

not penetration... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561673)

...only availability.

Don't you just love election campaigns? The politics of envy are a glorious thing.

The Liberal Party doesn't seem so liberal (1)

definate (876684) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561675)

Great, so we're going to pay twice as much, than if the entire market was de-regulated and Telstra was completely sold.

Additionally, a lot of people don't want broadband. We don't live in a densely populated country, we can't provide these facilities economically, however the government now wants to provide it to use forcefully an inefficiently, and force everyone to pay for it with taxes and inflation.

Great, I can't fucking wait.

Re:The Liberal Party doesn't seem so liberal (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561701)

In reply to your signature as well as your post; they built the copper network.

Re:The Liberal Party doesn't seem so liberal (4, Informative)

abcgi (1081263) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561825)

"The Liberal Party doesn't seem so liberal"
The Liberal Party (a conservative party) in Australia is big "L" Liberal not small "l" liberal.
Therefore your subject line I perceive to be a non sequitur.

Oh yeah? (1)

The Bandit (17525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561705)

My country of 5 acres in Florida has 100% broadband. A T-1 actually. Since DSL stopped 200 feet from my house and BellSouth (now AT&T) refused to bring it to me, I made them install a T1. :) You should have seen the look on that tech's face. WHAHAHAAHAH

Bullshit. (3, Informative)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561733)

I live in a very well populated part of regional Australia. I can barely get DSL at 1500/256 and I pay through the nose for it.

The state of Australian telecoms is utterly shameful and no amount of empty promises by this clusterfuck is going to change things.

Re:Bullshit. (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562131)

I totally agree. I used to live in a unit 2.5km from Brisbane CBD and I could not even get the phone connected !!!???? WTF?

Very difficult task. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561741)

Let's put this into perspective here.

Australia is a big country. Really big. We're talking roughly the same size as the forty-eight states (ie: not counting Alaska or Hawaii.) All this space to hold a population that's one third the size of the United Kingdom (roughly - 20 million people or so).

Rolling out broadband to the big cities, where the majority of the population lives, isn't all that hard. It's also pretty damn profitable. The trouble comes when you try to roll it out in the country; the population is pretty sparse (as you can imagine from the size of the country versus the population), meaning that you have a much higher amount of infrastructure to roll out, for a much lower return.

The regulations require equality of access, as much as possible. That's a large part of what killed ISDN in Australia; it was priced at a level that allowed Telstra to at least break even regardless of where it was requested, making it too expensive for most people.

To be blunt, I doubt that current technologies can make even a reasonable stab at providing universal fast access across the entire nation, or even 98% of the population. I'm more comfortable with the Labor party's proposal as being workable than the Liberals', but even then, I have my doubts. All this strikes me as being political hot air that won't go anywhere once the election is decided.

Re:Very difficult task. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19562109)

how is the Labor Party's proposal more workable? they want cables run to everywhere? liberals at least acknowledge that is economically moronic and want wireless to much of the country.

Heck, No (2, Interesting)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561743)

Heck, i could not even get Optus to provide a telephone connection to my apartment in Ashfield, Sydney, let alone getting me a broadband.
My employer was in Hurstville and he has a 2 Mbps broadband line as small business.
Most of the time, the line was out and Telstra support sucked.
If this is how broadband is going to be, i guess Aussies are worse off than Indians in reliability of broadband.
My colleague who was in production support for Westpac Bank, was "advised" not to rely upon the company-funded broadband connection to his home to remote telnet into their servers as it was not reliable.
If Westpac could say Telstra was unreliable (and they are as high as Woolworths), imagine for poor folks at home who see their modem lights blinking...

Heck, even in India (Chennai/Madras) my Tata broadband had a failure rate of 3 hours in a full year.

Good luck aussies. Telstra will deep fry your b....

Re:Heck, No (2, Funny)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561845)

The safest computer is one that isn't connected to the Internet. That's why I use Telstra Bigpond ADSL.

Re:Heck, No (1)

Kangburra (911213) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561893)

The safest computer is one that isn't connected to the Internet. That's why I use Telstra Bigpond ADSL.


LOL so true! One of my customers put the mail servers in as mail.bogpond.com and I have been calling them that ever since.

Snicker (5, Funny)

psaunders (1069392) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561761)

In the context of election promises made by Howard's government, I think the term 'penetration rate' begins to take on an entirely different meaning...

Re:Snicker (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561809)

In the context of election promises made by Howard's government, I think the term 'penetration rate' begins to take on an entirely different meaning...
.
Actually the term "penetration rate" refers to John Howard s new Industrial Relations policies.

Slightly OT but (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561769)

I think this story is a great spot to point out that once again Telstra has taken down their online polls [nowwearetalking.com.au] on their propaganda site because it wasn't swinging their way. When will they just accept that people hate their service, and that having an American group running the show is just adding insult to injury.

Re:Slightly OT but (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562097)

and that having an American group running the show is just adding insult to injury.

Currently this group is complaining about the Australian workplace culture. It turns out we never had slavery here and they are actually calling some groups of workers at the company "savages". Are US management typically nasty idiots with criminal tendancies or do you just ship the worst of them to places like Australia?

Re:Slightly OT but (1)

badman99 (674229) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562247)

The US is the land of unpaid overtime, however generally they get paid a reasonable base salary. Since the privatisation of Telstra, wages for full time Australian based I.T staff have dropped an average of 35%. It's hard to get people on 50k AUS a year to work weekends and be on call 24x7 for that sort of money.

To be fair... (2, Interesting)

distantbody (852269) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561773)

...this plan is largely a catch-up response to the the opposition Labor Party who announced a similar plan a few weeks ago. IMO, the oppositions plan is superior because it doesn't rely on half of the funding to come from the private sector who would surely (and currently do) rape customers above and beyond what is a healthy profit and go into price-gouging territory. It is also FTTH (fiber to the home) as opposed to the government who, although are promising the same, are almost certainly lying and will default back to the FTTN (fiber to the node) that they so short-sightedly love.

Re:To be fair... (2, Informative)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561817)

Actually, the opposition is FTTN for everywhere funded by government money as an investment. (expensive outlay, good return)

The govt's plan is FTTN in the cities funded by the private sector (as they're profitable), and a mish-mash of ADSL2+ and WiMax in the country, in other words outdated and unproven junk. (inexpensive, zero return, no future)

Gee, no wonder it's so cheap.

Wait a sec (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561799)

interior served by wireless at "only" 12 Mbps.

What is that in US Megabits?

But seriously can you even get wireless that fast and have any range?

BS (1)

BladeMelbourne (518866) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561801)

There's a big difference between broadband penetration (how many people have access to broadband) versus the actual number that will choose to sign up to a monthly service. A service that has a fairly decent monthly fee, and hardware requirements (modems, wireless gear, etc.).

To say that Australia will knock Korea off the top of the list is absolute bullshit.

99% of my family on the internet? Oh the pain. (1)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561805)

At the moment I'm lucky enough that only my sister is experimenting with using the internet. I can't imagine the pain of having to provide tech support to 99% of my family who would be trying to work out this new internet thing.

At least there's the hurdle of neading to be able to be able to buy and operate a computer. What would be interesting is if broadband connection was made to be mandatory when you bought a telephone connection. Then people would feel compelled to use it. That would really open up the market for internet appliances.

Re:99% of my family on the internet? Oh the pain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561957)

Why don't you and your sister appear on a webcam together "playing" with each other.

The Gospel as spoken by John (5, Informative)

dleigh (994882) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561823)

The current Australian PM has a history of announcing shit like this, allocating X billion dollars to it, with no results a year later. This is the guy who invented the phrase "non-core promise", from the same administration that spent 12 million buying every family a copy of net nannying software. Australians will take this announcement with a Liberal amount of salt (pun intended).

Internet access in Australia seems similar to the US horror stories posted here. All exchanges are owned by Telstra, a company created when the telephone system was privatized. They charge each ISP a rental of around AU$30-50 for each ADSL line, which pushes up the cost of casual user low quota plans. Most people can't get anything faster than 1500K, and dialup is the best available in rural areas. Cable providers are few, come with anal restrictions (e.g. you aren't allowed to run servers), and have limited coverage even in urban areas. The government was subsidizing new ADSL2 DSLAMs, but they canceled that program earlier this year, so the only ADSL2 coverage is in capital cities.

Whirlpool [whirlpool.net.au] is a good place to look if you want more background on the state of broadband down here.

99% of Australia upgraded, but read the fine print (4, Interesting)

jimmybishman (1117297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561849)

According to Tasmania's leading newspaper, The Mercury, the whole state is classed as regional and does not get the upgrades. Currently down here, the main connection we have is ADSL 1.5mb/256k. Some have a connection with a theoretical maximum speed of 8mb, but they have to pay twice the cost and, in practice, may only get 4-5mb based on how far from the phone exchange they are. The contract only says a minimum of 1.5mb. I currently pay AU$49.95 for my 1.5 meg plan with a 10gig download limit per month. Download any more and it's slowed down to a 64k connection. This is actually the fastest and best value plan available to suit my needs and I live in a suburb within 10kms of our state's capital city centre!

Some really lucky people get ADSL2, but AFAIK, that's only 1 exchange down here in the whole state, servicing Hobart (the capital city) with a radius of only a couple of kilometres.

So, while we're classed as broadband, we'll still be stuck on connections with a fraction of the speed of our other Aussie counterparts. And forget wireless. Unless they lower the prices significantly, only businesses and the wealthy can afford that!

Source:http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,2288 4,21929477-3462,00.html [news.com.au]

Summary wrong. (2, Informative)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561861)

The summary is completely incorrect. They're not aiming for 99% to actually *have* a broadband connection, they're aiming for broadband to be *available* to 99% of the population. So 99% will be able to get broadband, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll all get it.

Re:Summary wrong. (2, Funny)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561967)

they're aiming for broadband to be *available* to 99% of the population

...so long as those people are willing to move to Sydney.

its easy (2, Funny)

doktorjayd (469473) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561869)

just change the definition of broadband.

then change the definition of 'internet'

then pay a consultant $A2b.

now, about my fee...

99% penetration? (0, Flamebait)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561871)

Hmm, how, by tying together the rear legs of all sheep?

Re:99% penetration? (1)

tuxette (731067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561891)

Um, I think you would have to spread them apart...

Government controlled internet access? (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561887)

Is that really such a good idea?

If the gatekeepers are the same people who hold power in the country, there's kinda a big conflict of interest going on.

Much better to have a competitive market-based model (i.e. competition regulated by government to ensure there actually is competition) than to have the politicos in charge. Especially given the track record of Australian politicos..

Re:Government controlled internet access? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561981)

No it's not, there is precisely zero reason a company would roll out regional broadband. It just isn't cost effective and I doubt it would turn a profit for many years.

AWESOMME fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19561907)

Other members in be 'very pporly Of an admittedly uncover a story of here, please do

Population spread vs. broadband saturation (2, Interesting)

Asterra (1087671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19561969)

Not sure why this persists as being such a big deal. The US is perpetually under the spotlight but the statistics are fond of ignoring just how much land (per population) needs to be covered in order to accomplish broadband penetration. Korea, for example, being a country the size of a small US state but with a highly disparate population, has no excuse for failing to be 99%+ broadband; if anything, their 10% presence of non-broadband solutions is conspicuous.

99% is misleading (1)

pls_call_again (920752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562047)

A friend recently requested broadband near a major Australian city, and was told that the exchange had broadband, and there should be no problem getting broadband in the area. However as it turned out there were no more available ports at the exchange. The politician (both sides) count broadband at the exchange as broadband to everyone in the area covered by the exchange which is plain wrong. -- An expert learns more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

This pisses me off (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562107)

Little boy Johnny is running scared about the upcoming election and is making a two-bit effort to 'fix' his last ten years of office. This tight-wad is only spending money because the other guy has made it a major priority to upgrade *every* household in Australia with fibre to the node. This announcement will hurt Australia's future Internet connectivity. This quick hack will bring our Internet to a bare basic level and nobody will attempt to fix it for another decade. Essentially this means that Australia will continue to live in the dark ages. Infrastructure on a national scale, like this, requires a budget similar to that of roads and shit.

Smells strangely like the same that happened to our health system.

Boo, Howard. Shame on you, you dumb-shit, Coonan. Stop pretending you know what you're talking about. "Gigabit power" - dumb-arse.

All this complaining! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19562143)

I live in Dianella, a central suburb of Perth, Western Australia. The most isolated capital city on Earth. I have 2, count 'em two, DSL2 lines in my *house*. one 24mbit (iiNet) and one 8mbit (Westnet). I get about 16mb and 6mb respectively, for the speeds. Oh, it's rock solid btw. Probably less than a day downtime, combined, over the last 3 years.

All these people complaining we have no infrstructure wake up and look at options other than Telstra. iiNet's had 24mbit DSL for years, guys...

As for the costs, well i get a 40GB limit on each per month, which is ample and I charge one single company some money a month to host their offsite backups with me... and I run it at a profit...

Re:All this complaining! (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19562195)

Lucky bastard. I lived in a unit 2.5km from Brisbane CBD and could not even get a phone line. Optus - no. Telstra - no. Perhaps I should have made the journey west.
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