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NBN Discussion

wafliron

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I would have cut out the $3 bil or so wasted on the insulation program.
Obviously others disagree, but I still reckon that was a pretty good idea for an economic-stimulus program. Clearly it was very poorly implemented though.

The $32b (?40 ?50) for the broadband network
Which is:

1) A rare example of a truly innovative and forward-looking piece of government policy

2) Importantly, not an expense, but rather an investment. If you "cut" this you'd actually be hurting the long-term budget position, even if you just look at the investment case and ignore the social / economic / etc benefits the NBN will bring.

And for the record, the project cost was originally $43b, which has since been revised down to $35.9b with the Australian government contributing $27.5b of that.

$16 bil on school renovations
Again, I personally think this was a good idea for needed (at the time, based on what was going on worldwide) economic-stimulus. And before you trot out lines about wastage, etc, do what not many people have bothered to do and read the Auditor General's report into this program (http://www.anao.gov.au/uploads/documents/2009-10_Audit_Report_33.pdf - for the cliffnotes read the "Overall conclusions" section starting on page 14) - it's not all positive, but overall it is.

But I completely agree that winding back Howards middle class welfare is a small step in the right direction.
I'll finally agree with you on someting here ;-)

Now it probably will surprise you to know I am from the left side of politics - which puts me left of most people in the government. But I am sick to death of overly complex tax/rebate/subsidy/cap/benefit/penalty systems. Every $ that people earn should be taxed and everyone should be entitled to a good health and education system. The current merry-go-round is a waste of space and the only positive aspect is the number of people it employs to maintain it. Of course it would be better for Australia if they were actually producing something.
I don't think your view is all that surprising - there is no inherant incompatibility between being "left leaning" and wanting government efficiency / simplicity, or wanting social support to go to those who actually need it, etc. Being on the (moderate) left side of politics (which is also what I'd identify as) is about believing in social welfare / justice / etc - and a more efficient government should equal these goals being more efficiently delivered upon.
 

drron

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Now cutting the NBN would not change the surplus/deficit because it is not on the books.
Cost-revised down because the $11 billion to Telstra was taken out of the costings.
Forward looking-Hmm a matter of opinion.My feeling is it will be superseded by advances in technology.
Great for productivity-doubtful.Studies in South Korea when hi speed broadband was introduced showed a reduction in productivity as more were tempted to play games.
 
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wafliron

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Now cutting the NBN would not change the surplus/deficit because it is not on the books.
Actually, it would have a negative impact on the future budget position as the investment returns (profit) the NBN generates would go away.

Cost-revised down because the $11 billion to Telstra was taken out of the costings.
Yep, I was just posting the figures to make sure they were correctly quoted. It's a common ploy to muddy the waters in a discussion about the NBN by suggesting it will cost way more than current estimates.

EDIT: Actually, I don't think what you posted is correct... I'm pretty sure the $43b figure was an original, conservative estimate, and the downwards revision in cost was purely to do with updated and more precise modelling / forecasts. Can't find a definitive answer either way from some quick Googling though.

Forward looking-Hmm a matter of opinion.My feeling is it will be superseded by advances in technology.
Your feeling is almost certainly wrong. I say that pretty categorically - it's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of physics.

I'll spare you the technical explanation and examples (unless you want them), but we are now in my area of expertise, and there is no alternate technology that has even been proposed as a feasible / practical replacement for fibre-optic cable. That doesn't mean a new idea won't come along eventually (it probably will), but not within the sort of timeframe that makes the NBN a bad investment.

And if you were thinking of wireless, it's a complete non-starter - it has its place as a complementary technology (and will certainly continue to grow in popularity), but it is not a replacement for fibre. Anyone who tells you wireless is a replacement for fibre for moving large amounts of data is either badly mis-informed (which I can't blame them for too much, given the huge amount of FUD in the media / coming from the Liberal Party on this topic) or lying to you, it's as simple as that.

Great for productivity-doubtful.Studies in South kora when hi speed broadband was introduced showed a reduction in productivity as more were tempted to play games.
I'd say that's more of a social issue than a broadband issue - you don't need ubiquitous fibre to spend 22 hours a day playing online games. The The majority of the Australian population could be doing that now if they wanted to.

When it comes to future economic / social / health / education / etc benefits of the NBN (everything except raw investment returns), no one can really quantify at this point what they will be. That being said, I think it's a long bow to draw to say that there won't be some of these benefits, and many people (me included) think they will be very significant, particularly as the world continues towards further "globalisation" and the economies of countries like Australia need to focus more and more on "knowledge" industries rather than agriculture / manufacturing / etc. At the end of the day, even if you don't see any of these extra benefits being realised, the fact that the NBN will generate a positive investment return on its own makes it a worthwhile project, and you get the added potential upside of a host of other benefits if your predictions turn out to be wrong.
 
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rechoboam

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Thanks for clearing that up wafliron. Perhaps you could post a link to the comprehensive business case for the NBN that was done before the announcement?
 

rechoboam

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By the way I'm at the cutting edge of this in health. I use Skype over adsl.
 

wafliron

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Thanks for clearing that up wafliron. Perhaps you could post a link to the comprehensive business case for the NBN that was done before the announcement?
Was that meant to be a rebuttal of the points I made re the NBN? Because it wasn't - trotting out a line about something that was (or more likely, I'm happy to admit, was not) done a few years ago isn't relevant. Not to mention ignoring every other point I made in my previous posts.

The reality, as it exists now (which is what matters), is that the NBN is projected to make an IRR of ~7% based on conservative estimates over a conservative lifespan. The detailed business case for this is on their website (NBN - National Broadband Network - Australia | Home Page) if you want to read the details. That makes it an investment, regardless of whether it was originally conceived to be or not.

I'd also add that I, along with most people who appreciate what the NBN will mean for the future of this country, would have been quite happy to see the money spent even if it never returned a cent of revenue. I'm confident that the economic / social / health / education / etc benefits over the next ~50 years will far outweight the cost. I certainly can't think of any other infrastructure project I'd rather have the money spent on. That being said, I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with this point of view, which is why when the topic comes up I prefer break it down to an economic argument rather than one about other benefits that are still hypothetical at this point in time.

By the way I'm at the cutting edge of this in health. I use Skype over adsl.
I'm glad to hear that - but given your experience in the area, I'm also surprised you don't recognise the limitations of the current networks / technologies for e-health.

What happens if your patient lives in a broadband blackspot (of which there are plenty - including much of rural Australia)? If you move into one of said blackspots? If you want to do more than have a low-res video chat with a patient? Transfer and view/analyse high-res medical imaging data? Be able to properly visually examine a patient remotely? Remotely monitor their (sensors / data, not conversations)? Get multiple clinicians involved in a remote patient's case at the same time? And so on - this is just stuff I've come up with off the top of my head in a couple of minutes, in an industry I know very little about.
 

wmetz

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

p.s. I live about near the cbd and wireless internet is (I let u fill in the blanks) _ _ _ _ . The other day my neighbor who just got a super-duper new mobile on the fastest network has to go out side so she can get a signal. aaaarrrrrr Wireless cannot match cable. Why do you think they still run cables not just on land, but between countries under the sea.
 

drron

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

Look I am a dinosaur and really do not understand the way technology is taking us.On the other hand i have been around for a long time and have seen so many new technologies introduced with fanfare that in the end was meaningless.
Then there are also individuals to factor in.Many is the time I have had a patient say to me-Thank goodness you dont have a computer on your desk-I never know if Dr. x is listening to me or not.
As well in some of the places I go patients have the opportunity to have a consultation with the top specialists in the field via IT or coming and seeing a dinosaur like me.Most still choose the dinosaur.And yes i know that will change as us oldies die out but it is not going to be fast(excuse the pun).
And I dont doubt that you feel the NBN is the way but i still read some(possibly so called) experts in the field that have a different opinion-I dont bookmark them so can not bring them up at will.
And as to their business plan-well have contracts been signed yet for the delivery of services?And to take up-I work a lot in Tasmania and the take up is quite pathetic.Indeed the NBN decided to do a bus tour of Tassie trying to get people to sign up.Unfortunately somewhere between Devonport and Burnie last month it broke down and will be off the road for a month.
As for wireless we have had friends over today.Her new fangled super duper new phone had no signal,my old Samsung had a strong signal.In Tassie I find my Telstra wireless broadband is faster than the hospital's cable-mean anything,almost ceretainly not.
 

medhead

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I read scientific American (~10/2010) yesterday while waiting for my dentist. They were bemoaning the poor quality of Internet services in the USA and how it lags behind the rest of the world. Just reaffirmed my belief that NBN is the right way to good.

On a related note the dentist charged $18 just to write out a prescription! :shock: Maybe something for all the doctors to consider to make up for their lost PHI rebates. :p


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rechoboam

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Was that meant to be a rebuttal of the points I made re the NBN? Because it wasn't - trotting out a line about something that was (or more likely, I'm happy to admit, was not) done a few years ago isn't relevant. Not to mention ignoring every other point I made in my previous posts.

The reality, as it exists now (which is what matters), is that the NBN is projected to make an IRR of ~7% based on conservative estimates over a conservative lifespan. The detailed business case for this is on their website (NBN - National Broadband Network - Australia | Home Page) if you want to read the details. That makes it an investment, regardless of whether it was originally conceived to be or not.

I'd also add that I, along with most people who appreciate what the NBN will mean for the future of this country, would have been quite happy to see the money spent even if it never returned a cent of revenue. I'm confident that the economic / social / health / education / etc benefits over the next ~50 years will far outweight the cost. I certainly can't think of any other infrastructure project I'd rather have the money spent on. That being said, I certainly don't expect everyone to agree with this point of view, which is why when the topic comes up I prefer break it down to an economic argument rather than one about other benefits that are still hypothetical at this point in time.



I'm glad to hear that - but given your experience in the area, I'm also surprised you don't recognise the limitations of the current networks / technologies for e-health.

What happens if your patient lives in a broadband blackspot (of which there are plenty - including much of rural Australia)? If you move into one of said blackspots? If you want to do more than have a low-res video chat with a patient? Transfer and view/analyse high-res medical imaging data? Be able to properly visually examine a patient remotely? Remotely monitor their (sensors / data, not conversations)? Get multiple clinicians involved in a remote patient's case at the same time? And so on - this is just stuff I've come up with off the top of my head in a couple of minutes, in an industry I know very little about.
Like drron I have experience in this area. You have come up with some interesting situations but I can't see any particular use where the NBN is really a make-or-break thing. For example, a low res video chat is fine. Transferring high res medical data- that is fine in theory. In practice in the sorts of situations where this matters, for example stereotactic brain surgery, the patient needs to come to a tertiary referral centre anyway and the local nurse can confirm increased brain pressure by looking at the back of the patients eyes. Multiple clinicians? Again, skype, conference call. Remote data? Like ECG traces? Not bandwidth intensive. Where it really matters we have been using simple techniques for years with no issues (eg faxing ECGs and initiating treatment after a phone call). unfortunately in the hospital I work in, there aren't ANY computers in the operating suite and no wireless network! The laptops have to be wheeled in on a 6 foot trolley apparatus! No phone reception! 32 billion dollars is being spent on the NBN when I literally can't get an SMS or text email sent to me at work! Now can you see why it drives us mad? And let's not even mention indigenous health, lack of dental coverage, TB in the Torres strait or any number of worthy causes that 32 billion could help make better...
 

medhead

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

! No phone reception! 32 billion dollars is being spent on the NBN when I literally can't get an SMS or text email sent to me at work!
Interesting example. Do you think Internet services (ie NBN) should have been left to private industry to do? Because it private industry that has provide you with the mobile phone network that doesn't work wherever you can't get a message.
 

wmetz

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

Doesn't that show that you cant get simple sms (the service in my area is terrible), that the current providers are not spending in the communication network not just to service profitable areas but also towns across the country. In US they already found their networks are at reaching max usage, and now the gov there is spending money to fix the problem , as private companies wont spend the money to service the whole and not just the few. The gov is not spending 32 billion in one go, its spread out over 5-8 years. Its also means many companies can access the network which will cut the current monopolies. And eventually the new network will be sold and costs recovered. We end up with a full integrated network and remove ad-hock systems. If you want dental and greater health services (I would like too) well you realize that would be ongoing cost of at least 5 billion extra a year. In less then 10 years the money be spent up and no returns. And if you havnt had any major dental work then you do not understand the costs involved.
 

rechoboam

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Doesn't that show that you cant get simple sms (the service in my area is terrible), that the current providers are not spending in the communication network not just to service profitable areas but also towns across the country. In US they already found their networks are at reaching max usage, and now the gov there is spending money to fix the problem , as private companies wont spend the money to service the whole and not just the few. The gov is not spending 32 billion in one go, its spread out over 5-8 years. Its also means many companies can access the network which will cut the current monopolies. And eventually the new network will be sold and costs recovered. We end up with a full integrated network and remove ad-hock systems. If you want dental and greater health services (I would like too) well you realize that would be ongoing cost of at least 5 billion extra a year. In less then 10 years the money be spent up and no returns. And if you havnt had any major dental work then you do not understand the costs involved.
I'm heavily involved in dental work and I would happily pay tax for all children to have two dental appointments annually, no matter what the costs

The other points raised- mobile phone coverage is done, the public hospital needs to invest in its own stations. A wireless network would help too. I'm sorry but I don't believe anything at all when it comes to the NBN. I think everything you say re that will not happen but let's agree to disagree and we can reassess in 10-15 years. With that I will go get my coat...
 

medhead

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The other points raised- mobile phone coverage is done, the public hospital needs to invest in its own stations. A wireless network would help too. I'm sorry but I don't believe anything at all when it comes to the NBN. I think everything you say re that will not happen but let's agree to disagree and we can reassess in 10-15 years. With that I will go get my coat...
Sorry how is it going to help if the hospital buys a mobile basestation? The telephone companies install those not the hospital. And the mobile phone network is not "done" it is constantly changing and being expanded.

I would also guess one thing that you do believe about the NBN - expensive waste of money. No?


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wafliron

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

Look I am a dinosaur and really do not understand the way technology is taking us.On the other hand i have been around for a long time and have seen so many new technologies introduced with fanfare that in the end was meaningless.
I assume the "technology" you're referring to above is fibre-optic cable as a method of connecting to the internet, not the internet itself - I'd say it's pretty self-evident the internet isn't a fad :)

Anyway, I can certainly understand that sort of skepticism - as you point out, the history of IT is littered with plenty of examples of the "latest and greatest" fad that has, in the end, amounted to nothing. This just isn't the case with fibre-optic communication though - and the current government has done a really, really crappy job cutting through the FUD to communicate this.

Let me provide extra info - this is gonna be a bit wordy, but hopefully you will find this interesting (or at least informative):

Firstly, some history: fibre-optic communication has been in commercial use since 1975 - so it's already been around for over 35 years. Since it was first introduced, right up till now, it has been the way of transmitting large amounts of data over distance - it's been far faster than any competitive technology throughout its commercial history (except for perhaps the very early days of its commercialisation).

Fibre has come a long way over that time too. I'm not sure what the current data-transmission speed record is, but in 2010 it was 72,456,601 Megabits per second, compared to 45 Megabits per second in it's first commercial offering back in 1975. So, due to a variety of technological advancements fibre has gotten roughly 1.5 million times faster over the past 35 years or so, despite the underlying idea - transmitting data by shooting pulses of light down a thin glass/plastic cable - not having changed. (If you're interested, the 2010 record of 72,456,601 Megabits per second was achieved using a single, milli-metre thin, strand of fibre-optic cable over a distance of 240km - that's the equivilant of transmitting ~300 complete copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica, or ~4 full-length Bluray movies, per second.)

I mention the history and speed increases of fibre for two reasons: one, to show it's not a "new" or "faddish" technology, and two, to show how much faster it has gotten over time without changing the underlying idea. This latter point is important as it is what makes the NBN "future proof" - as technology advances the NBN will be able to be upgraded to much higher speeds whilst still using the exact same pieces of fibre-optic cable being laid right now / without making the effort of running fibre-optic all over the country redundant. Most future speed upgrades will require changing the equipment at each end of the cable, but this is a relatively minor cost / simple change compared to the actual fibre-optic cable rollout.

I should mention at this point that the type of fibre technology the NBN is using for residential connections is a bit different to what I've been describing above. Without going into too much detail, it's a system called GPON, which lets multiple houses share one piece of fibre. It's slower than "point to point" fibre (what I've been describing above) can achieve, but still way faster than alternative technologies, and represents a sensible cost/benefit choice for residential deployment (and is being used in many similar deployments worldwide, not just by the NBN). It also offers significant future upgradability - a new standard called 10GPON is currently being finalised, which is 10 times faster than GPON despite using the same physical fibre-optic cables.

Secondly, how it's used: Today, almost all data we send between continents and countries is sent via fibre. Data between states, cities and towns - also fibre. From Telstra / ISPs to the thousands of local telephone exchanges - fibre. From the mobile carriers to their thousands of base stations - fibre. From ISPs to many businesses (historically large businesses, but more-and-more often medium and small busineses too) - again, fibre.

The point I'm making here is that, as I mentioned briefly above, since it's introduction fibre has been the way to move large amounts of data from point A to point B. As the amount of data we need to move has steadily increased, fibre has been creeping closer-and-closer to our homes. With the NBN, it's finally bridging the "last mile" and connecting directly to our homes and businesses - the next step in a logical evolution as our demands for data continue to grow exponentially.

Thirdly, comparison to alternative technologies: there are only really three possible competitors for fibre - wireless, DSL and Hyrid Fibre-coxial ("HFC" - the type of cable used by Foxtel and Optus to deliver their pay TV services).

HFC I won't spend much time on - it's a good technology capable of moving data at very high rates, but it also suffers from the same downside as fibre (need to run a cable to every house) whilst being inferior to fibre in every other way (far slower right now, doesn't offer the same future-upgradability that fibre does, relies on "shared" bandwidth that can lead to slowdowns, etc). If we already had HFC cable covering most of the population it would be a reasonable option (for now), but currently only a limited subset of the population is covered, and if you're going to run new cable you might as well go for the better option (fibre).

DSL is likewise a good technology for moving data around, and as you probably know is currently used to provide most broadband connections in Australia. It's big advantage is that it utilises copper phone lines, which are already laid to the vast majority of homes and businesses.

DSL has significant downsides though: it's range is short (you can't get DSL at all if your phone line is longer than a couple of KM), it gets much slower as the phone lines get longer, and it also gets slower as the quality of the phone line degrades (which is a significant problem in Australia, where much of our copper phone network is very old and hasn't been maintained properly by Telstra in recent times).

More importantly, DSL also doesn't offer nearly the same level of future upgradability as fibre. There are types of DSL - both already in existance, and proposed - that are much faster than what is currently in wide use in Australia (ADSL2+). However, these other variants of DSL rely either in-whole or in-part on the length of the phone line carrying the DSL connection being much shorter than what is normal in Australia. This distance problem can be partially overcome by moving the end-point of our phones lines from the current telephone exchanges to local "nodes" (which is what the NBN originally proposed to do), but this is really just a poor stop-gap solution. Creating this sort of setup would still require very significant re-engineering of the phone network, and would still not come anywhere near offering the same type of speeds / future upgradability as a fibre network - basically, we'd spend less money now, but we'd be back in the same situation in 5-10 years time and would likely then want move to fibre anyway, meaning the money spent now is essentially wasted on a sub-optimal, short-term solution.

Finally, wireless, the technology most often proposed as an alternative to fibre. The fact is that this is viewpoint is simply wrong - wireless is not a viable alternative. Broadband delivered over mobile phone network is a good and very convenient way of transmitting data, but it is a complementary technology to fibre - it's a great way to provide data on the move, and it's usage will continue to increase over time, but is simply is not capable of handling our current data-transmissions needs (if everyone relied 100% upon it) nor does it offer anywhere near the future-upgradability of fibre.

This just comes down to physics: data is transmitted wirelessly by breaking up the electromagnetic frequency spectrum into little chunks, and allocating a chunk (or multiple chunks) to each user (phone / broadband dongle / whatever). Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of available spectrum, so as you add more and more users (or as each user transmits more and more data) you eat into this available spectrum until you reach the point where you quite simply run out of "space" - all available spectrum is in use, and you can't physically squeeze any more data into it.

There are two possible solutions to this problem of running out of spectrum. The first one is to install more mobile phone towers, because a user connected to one tower can use the same chunk of frequency spectrum as a user connected to another tower. But the question then becomes how many towers do you need? Even based on current data usage by Australians (let alone how it might grow in the future) you would need an incredible amount of towers to provide fast and consistent coverage, to the point where you'd quite literally need a tower at the end of every street. Even ignoring wireless' other flaws (more below), I can't imagine people seeing this as an attractive option (both literally and metaphorically) - not to mention the fact that you'd need to run fibre from each of these towers back to central hubs, so why not keep going the last few hundred metres to people's homes anyway?

The other possible solution to running out of spectrum is to use what is available more efficiently - that is, find smart ways to transmit more data over the same amount of frequency spectrum. This is one of the drivers behind evolving mobile phone standards (2G -> 3G -> 4G/LTE, etc) - these new standards normally deliver a range of benefits, but one of the main ones is more efficient spectrum usage. This may seem like a solution to the wireless-capacity problem, but it's contingent on mobile standards' spectrum efficiency increasing at faster rate than the population's data-transmission needs, and all signs are pointing to this not being the case. Most efficiency gains have already been exploited, and the next generation of mobile standards (LTE/4G) is a perfect demonstration of this: whilst it offers significantly higher speeds than the previous generation (HSPA+), almost all of this extra speed is delivered by allowing each device to use more spectrum, not by using that spectrum more efficiently. Yes, it's possible that a new idea may come along and change this, but given the amount of R&D money already being poured into mobile networks the chances of a revolutionary change do not look strong.

It's probably worth noting at this point that the huge increases in data transmission speeds that fibre has achieved over it's lifetime have actually been achived in the same way I just described. That is, they've been achieved by making more "efficient" use of the piece of fibre-optic cable - so you could mount an argument that it has similar limitations. This would be a false argument, however: in the case of fibre the opportunities to be more "efficient" are much larger (demonstrated by both historical and current progress), and more importantly, if we ever reach the point where we can't make fibre any more "efficient" there is an easy alternative - just lay a second (or third, or fourth, or whatever) piece of fibre and you instantly create more capacity. You don't have this option with wireless as you can't "create" new frequency spectrum.

A final point on wireless: I haven't even touched on many of it's other problems / limitations here, namely it's tendancy to be affected by weather / interference / whatever and drop out, loss of signal strength / speed when indoors, relatively high latency, the fact that whilst current-tech data transmissions speeds are extremely fast on paper those speeds are rarely realised in the real world, and so on. I figure I don't need to explain these issues as everyone has experienced them and should understand why they'd present a problem if you were trying to replace proper broadband (even current tech, let alone fibre) with a wireless solution.

Given I've just written a lot about wireless, to sum up, the simple facts are:

1) Wireless does not have anywhere near the capacity to replace fixed-line broadband at the moment, and to even come close would require a massive investment in infrastructure, a ridiculous number of mobile phone towers, etc.
2) Even if you made this investment you'd end up with a solution that is slower than either point-to-point fibre, or the fibre system the NBN is using (GPON, as mentioned above)
3) Even if you made this investment you'd be running into capacity / speed issues again before too long, without much hope for a viable "upgrade what we have" solution.
4) Even if you made this investment, you'd still have a host of other annoying issues to deal with (dropouts / latency / variable real-world speeds / etc).

And therefore does not offer a viable alternative to fibre.


So, to sum up, there is no doubt amongst experts in technology / the internet / data transmission that fibre-optic cable is currently the best option available, future-proof, and the correct choice for this sort of project. Hopefully the above goes some way to explain this point of view. I'll finish with one practical, local example of this: Telstra recently had to decommission one of their old telephone exchanges (and hence thousands of residential copper phone lines) in Brisbane to make way for the expansion of a hospital (can't remember which one - in central Brisbane). To replace all the affected phone lines, they didn't choose to run new copper, or HFC. They didn't choose wireless, even though this would have been far cheaper for them. Instead, they chose to run fibre-optic cable directly to every affected home and business. I raise this as an example because Telstra, as a commercial entity, could be forgiven with chasing the cheapest option or just continuing on with existing technology - instead they did not, because they recognise that fibre is the right choice, and the way of the future.

Wow, that turned out to be quite an essay - to be honest, in hindsight I'm quite embarrassed about writing so much basically unprompted and technically OT (typical of me), but now that I'm finished I mind as well post it. And I guess if it helps convince even one more person that the NBN is a great idea, I'm happy I spent the time writing it :)


Then there are also individuals to factor in.Many is the time I have had a patient say to me-Thank goodness you dont have a computer on your desk-I never know if Dr. x is listening to me or not.

As well in some of the places I go patients have the opportunity to have a consultation with the top specialists in the field via IT or coming and seeing a dinosaur like me.Most still choose the dinosaur.And yes i know that will change as us oldies die out but it is not going to be fast(excuse the pun).
Those are fair points, but I don't think anyone is proposing that e-health is going to replace face-time with doctors anytime soon (I'm certainly not) - it's a useful complementary thing, particularly in specialised cases / for remote patients / etc (/ uses we haven't even thought of it), not a replacement. And e-health just happened to be the topic on hand, it's far from the only reason to build the NBN :)

And I dont doubt that you feel the NBN is the way but i still read some(possibly so called) experts in the field that have a different opinion-I dont bookmark them so can not bring them up at will.
I think "so called" is the key phrase here - or perhaps "conflict of interest".

There are very, very few examples of people speaking purely from a technological point of view who are opposed to the NBN - in fact most are wildly supportive of it. There certainly are plenty of other examples of people against it, but these are almost exclusively:
- people opposed due to economic factors (which are pretty much entirely invalidated by the fact that the NBN is a profit-generating investment)
- people with significant conflicts of interest (e.g. politicians, biased / ignorant journos reporting things that are factually wrong, CEOs of companies which will be disadvanaged by the NBN in some way)
- people with concerns around competition (which is probably one of the few valid counter-arguments, but not a strong one)

Either way, if you come across these sorts of examples in the future I'm more than happy to rebut them ;-)

And as to their business plan-well have contracts been signed yet for the delivery of services?
No, but with the deal the government has struck with Telstra to shut down their copper network the financial sucess of the NBN is pretty much a done-deal.

And to take up-I work a lot in Tasmania and the take up is quite pathetic.
It's low in some areas (TAS), strong in others (Armidale in NSW). Either way, it's very early days and the government is still doing a crap job of communicating with the public about the benefits of the NBN. And probably most importantly, the government / Telstra deal to shutdown Telstra's copper network will make early uptake rates pretty much irrelevant anyway.

As for wireless we have had friends over today.Her new fangled super duper new phone had no signal,my old Samsung had a strong signal.In Tassie I find my Telstra wireless broadband is faster than the hospital's cable-mean anything,almost ceretainly not.
Which is actually a perfect example of why wireless is not an alternative to fibre, and why we need the NBN :)
 

straitman

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

No, but with the deal the government has struck with Telstra to shut down their copper network the financial sucess of the NBN is pretty much a done-deal.
So what happens for those of us who are not going to get the fan dangled new system :?:

Do we go back to smoke signals :?:





.... and what has this got to do with Health insurance rebates :?: Do we need a new thread :?:
 

wafliron

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

I read scientific American (~10/2010) yesterday while waiting for my dentist. They were bemoaning the poor quality of Internet services in the USA and how it lags behind the rest of the world. Just reaffirmed my belief that NBN is the right way to good.
The USA is a great example of what happens when you leave telecommunications entirely up to the private sector. In some parts of that country their telecoms setup is world-leading, with multiple competitive options, low prices, superfast fibre-to-the-home (ala NBN), etc. But in the majority of their country they have limited options, high (monopoly) prices, restrictive services, and no real sign of or hope for improvement or change as the companies which own the infrastructure have no competition and hence no incentive to upgrade / innovate / whatever.

Like drron I have experience in this area. You have come up with some interesting situations but I can't see any particular use where the NBN is really a make-or-break thing.
Fair enough, and I'm happy to defer to your (and drron's) experience in this area when it comes to the ideas I was throwing around - I openly acknowledge health is a long way from my area of expertise :)

But please also bear in mind that whilst you might know health inside-out, combining health with technology (especially something as revolutionary as the NBN) is a whole different ballgame - just because you (or I) can't think of specific benefits the NBN will bring to health doesn't mean they're not there. I say that because there seem to be a lot of people in the health industry getting very excited about the NBN, so there must be something there...

For example, a low res video chat is fine. Multiple clinicians? Again, skype, conference call.
Skype / other low res video chat works, but it's pretty painful - in my experience it definitely hinders the ability to have a fluent conversation. Perhaps your experience is different, but you should try to experience "proper" high-res video chat if you ever have the opportunity so you can see what a big difference it makes.

Remote data? Like ECG traces? Not bandwidth intensive. Where it really matters we have been using simple techniques for years with no issues (eg faxing ECGs and initiating treatment after a phone call).
I was more thinking of realtime, constant remote monitoring of sensors. Definitely not bandwidth intensive either, but does require a reliable internet connection (one of the other NBN benefits other than sheer speed).

Also, in all this discussion around potential eHealth benefits of the NBN, don't forget one important factor: the NBN will bring ubiquitoushigh-speed internet access to all Australians. Even if the NBN brought nothing "new" to the area of health (unlikely), at the very least it extends current benefits (be it Skype-based consultations or anything else) to everyone. As I mentioned in one of my earlier replies to you there are plenty of broadband blackspots in metro Australia, let alone regional and remote users who have limited-or-no options for broadband at the moment - amongst other things the NBN fixes this problem.

unfortunately in the hospital I work in, there aren't ANY computers in the operating suite and no wireless network! The laptops have to be wheeled in on a 6 foot trolley apparatus! No phone reception! 32 billion dollars is being spent on the NBN when I literally can't get an SMS or text email sent to me at work! Now can you see why it drives us mad?
I actually don't see why this would make the NBN drive you mad, sorry. The points you raise are real and very-annoying issues, but I don't see how they're caused by the NBN? They're a problem of your hospital / mobile phone companies not investing enough money in infrastructure.

In actual fact, the NBN should indirectly help to fix the issues you raised: by making the internet a larger part of health it's likely to encourage significant IT infrastructure investment by hospitals and other health-care providers, and in the case of mobile phone providers the NBN will actually make it cheaper / easier to expand their coverage as it will provide access to cheaper, faster and more widely available "backhaul" (the fibre connections mobile phone networks use to connect their towers to their central networks).

And let's not even mention indigenous health, lack of dental coverage, TB in the Torres strait or any number of worthy causes that 32 billion could help make better...
Completely agree that a lot more money needs to be spent on these areas, but the NBN has zero to do with whether this money is spent or not.

You keep ignoring the fact that the NBN is a profit generating investment - the NBN is not consuming funds that would otherwise be available spend on other things, because it's not an expense. Everything else you raised is. It's a case of investing $32b and making a profit over the next 20 years (same as if the government bought $32b of shares or property or anything else), and the government making a completely separate decision about if they want to spend money on dental care / indigenous health / etc, the same as they would make if the NBN did not exist. I hope I'm making sense here?

I'm sorry but I don't believe anything at all when it comes to the NBN.
Which bits / why not?

I think everything you say re that will not happen but let's agree to disagree and we can reassess in 10-15 years. With that I will go get my coat...
And perhaps that's where we'll have to leave it :)

The problem is solved by regulating minimum service criteria in licensing arrangements - not by creating inefficient government enterprises.
I think it's a bit early to make that call ("inefficient government enterprises")... NBNCo has been structured very differently to most government initiatives, and is being run as a "proper" commercial entity. The proof (either way) won't be known for a number of years, but so far they're doing a damn good job. The bloke they've hired to run NBNCo (Mike Quigley) is passionate about the NBN's goals, understands technology, and importantly, comes from a business background rather than a government one.

So what happens for those of us who are not going to get the fan dangled new system :?:

Do we go back to smoke signals :?:
Not smoke signals - I hear that NBNCo is hard at work training a crack team of carrier pigeons :p

I assume you already know this, but everyone is getting some form of "fan dangled new system" that is vastly superior to what they have available now, even if it's not fibre. Personally I'd prefer the government had pushed the fibre footprint out further than they did though.

.... and what has this got to do with Health insurance rebates :?: Do we need a new thread :?:
Zero, but in my defence we were already OT before I took OT to a whole new level ;-)
 

drron

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

I gues we probably should have the NBN teased out into a separate thread.
but wafliron just a couple of your definite statements I would question.
Will bring highspeed internet access to all Australians.Well no-93% is the target,the rest by wireless and satellite.And of course the slight problem of uptake.
The NBN IS a profit generating investment.Very definitely not proven.Their business plan is full of holes.And you report that they will sell it 20 years down the track.Unfortunately no one knows what the economic future is but if the world keeps following the Japanese experiment of borrowing and stimulus packages we may end up just like the Japanese economy where their sharemarket is still at 1990 levels,Tokyo property worth a fraction of its 1990 worth.Would take a lot of accounting sleght of hand then to prove it was a profitable investment.
As to the Health sector the bureaucrats are the ones that are gung ho for technology.They need to justify their existence.Sure there are some clinicians eager for the new technology but when I question a couple of them I know their vision is not necessarily what I would call an improvement.
 

wafliron

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

I gues we probably should have the NBN teased out into a separate thread.
Looks like we got one.

but wafliron just a couple of your definite statements I would question.
Fair enough - and I will defend ;-)

Will bring highspeed internet access to all Australians.Well no-93% is the target,the rest by wireless and satellite.
I'd still call that high-speed to all Australians in a relative sense. Yes, 7% aren't getting fibre, but their 12Mbps wireless/satellite services are a vast improvement over current offerings, and enough to take advantage of at least some of the benefits the NBN will bring to everyone.

As I said previously I'd personally prefer that the fibre footprint was extended further even if that meant the NBN was no longer a profit-generator (treat it as a public utility / service instead), but unfortunately I can't see that happening. It's worth noting that at least NBNCo is providing councils / towns (even individual people) who aren't scheduled to get fibre the ability to get it if they help pay for it, which is a nice touch - by the sound of it there's quite a few towns / councils outside the fibre footprint considering this option too.

And of course the slight problem of uptake.
The government has struck a deal with both Telstra and Optus to migrate their copper / HFC customers onto the NBN over the next ten years - that means almost every single fixed phone line, ADSL or cable-internet customer in Australia at present will be transitioned onto the NBN in the near future, before we ever mention new signups / connections.

So, you're looking at a take-up rate at least equal to the current penetration of fixed phone / ADSL / cable, which is huge and more than enough to make the NBN a financial success.

If you had other fixed-line providers in the marketplace competing with the NBN than take-up rate would be a valid concern, but due to the above deal it's just simply not.

The NBN IS a profit generating investment.Very definitely not proven.Their business plan is full of holes.
No, it's not proven (either way, I'd remind you) - but all currently known facts point to it being a success. The take-up rate is assured (as per above). The early parts of the rollout are going well. The demand for data is only going to grow in the future (exponentially, most likely). About the only thing that could scuttle it's profitability would be a massive blowout in costs, but based on what we know / have seen so far (which is better data than speculation) that doesn't look like it will be the case.

Also, re "their business plan [being] full of holes" - how so? I haven't read the entire business plan document but I don't know of anything that stands out as a "hole" - in fact, it largely appears to be pretty conservative to me.

And you report that they will sell it 20 years down the track.Unfortunately no one knows what the economic future is but if the world keeps following the Japanese experiment of borrowing and stimulus packages we may end up just like the Japanese economy where their sharemarket is still at 1990 levels,Tokyo property worth a fraction of its 1990 worth.Would take a lot of accounting sleght of hand then to prove it was a profitable investment.
I actually didn't report it will be sold down the track, although that appears to be the current plan - my personal preference would be to keep it govenrment-owned, otherwise we'll be back in the same situation we have now with Telstra.

Are you perhaps referring to my comments about it being profitable? That isn't contingent on it being sold - the NBN is projected to be profitable in it's own right as a going concern. Selling it would allow the government to recoup the debt incurred in creating it faster, but even without a sale it will pay for itself through profits generated after the start-up phase - it'll just take longer.

As to the Health sector the bureaucrats are the ones that are gung ho for technology.They need to justify their existence.Sure there are some clinicians eager for the new technology but when I question a couple of them I know their vision is not necessarily what I would call an improvement.
Fair enough - I'll happily defer to your experience in the area, with the caveat that just because you / your colleagues can't envision what improvements it may bring to health doesn't mean there definitely aren't any. I don't mean any offense by that - simply pointing out that it's not typically a doctor's job to figure out advanced uses of technology, it's something that would require collaboration between doctors and technologists.
 

straitman

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Re: Private Health loss of Rebate for some

I'd still call that high-speed to all Australians in a relative sense. Yes, 7% aren't getting fibre, but their 12Mbps wireless/satellite services are a vast improvement over current offerings, and enough to take advantage of at least some of the benefits the NBN will bring to everyone.

As I said previously I'd personally prefer that the fibre footprint was extended further even if that meant the NBN was no longer a profit-generator (treat it as a public utility / service instead), but unfortunately I can't see that happening. It's worth noting that at least NBNCo is providing councils / towns (even individual people) who aren't scheduled to get fibre the ability to get it if they help pay for it, which is a nice touch - by the sound of it there's quite a few towns / councils outside the fibre footprint considering this option too.



The government has struck a deal with both Telstra and Optus to migrate their copper / HFC customers onto the NBN over the next ten years - that means almost every single fixed phone line, ADSL or cable-internet customer in Australia at present will be transitioned onto the NBN in the near future, before we ever mention new signups / connections.

So, you're looking at a take-up rate at least equal to the current penetration of fixed phone / ADSL / cable, which is huge and more than enough to make the NBN a financial success.
From the perspective of where we live, what you have said is contradictory.

Only 210 km from Melbourne in a regional centre that, initially at least, falls within the 7% but that already has a good ADSL2+ service. The 12Mbps is not 'a vast improvement over current offerings.'

Does the Telstra/Optus deal work for us or not :?: :confused:

I'm not trying to be argumentative with this. Just trying to get the facts.

I personally believe that the country currently has much greater needs than this NBN but I could be persuaded with facts as distinct to rhetoric and emotion.
 
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