Teacher lectures lesser mortals

In a letter to The Australian Pauline McCarthy from Kingswood, SA has her say.
Back in the 1950s, copper wire was rolled out in our suburb, but it was not until the early 60s that we could afford the telephone. It changed my life, for with three pennies knotted in a hankie I was able to freewheel through the illicit delights of adolescence. But the telephone was essential for our neighbourhood schools, the hospital, business and industry. It's the same today. The ordinary homeowner may not see the necessity of the NBN, but as a school teacher, I can tell you it's essential. Whenever we have two classes on line in our primary school, the rest of us have to whistle Dixie interminably. It's the local businesses, hospital and schools which need this rollout. Soon our students will be adults, and then broadband connection will be as endemic as the old dial-up telephone became.
I think Pauline is a bit taken up with her being a teacher as she points out she is much smarter than the ordinary homeowners but she really misses the point that these non Dip Ed punters are making. Her case is for for improved broadband, not NBN, and no thinking person would argue that isn't a good cause. What people are arguing about is the cost of the NBN as proposed by the ALP. Do we go from the current situation straight to $50 odd billion or is there a solution somewhere in between and do we put all our eggs in the fiber optics basket or is wireless broadband going to improve as the younger generation throw off the shackles of being tied to the home. Reasonable questions that the ALP refuse to answer while it would appear that Pauline isn't even aware that the questions exist.


  • Quite clearly this women knows very little about what is involved in data communications. The old twisted copper pairs run out back in the 1950’s provided a simple voice service that either worked or it didn’t work.

    As a Network Engineer of about 15 Years experience in a major Telco if you want to run out a data service you look at lot of factors. I can’t see she has any understanding of what Core Backbone, Last Mile carriage, Scalable versus Non Scalable , average latency and redundancy mean.

    Don’t get started on the madness of running fibre to the node in metropolitan area so you can say 100 Mbs services are for sale. The Company Powertel ran fibre in the Sydney CBD and could not even sell that bandwidth at a profit to Corporate Clients which gives some idea of the losses the NBN will get.

    Bandwidth prices always fall over time so the way Telcos build is this way, Core Backbone first in redundant format i.e. thumping great pipes of data like STM64 links with a redundant figure 8 shape. Secondly they roll out to data nodes in smaller exchanges again using the exchanges in a redundant mesh (here is the only place the government should spend any money and it would be a fraction of 50Billion).

    Lastly comes the “last mile” and here what you do is decided by what the customer requires and what solutions you have at hand. In a metro area you might run fibre straight to the curb if you are going service a block of flats. In a more regional area you might put in a series of repeaters at sub 3km distance to let you roll out ADSL 2, you might run Wireless 3G if it’s a hilly place.

    The only thing the Government needs to do is establish a minimum service level that must provided to all homes (Super remote and Technical Issue places dealt with separate)and constantly revise it upward. I would say at present about 4Meg sub 300 Millisecond (So VOIP can run) Where Telcos say the Capital Expense does allow either the Core or the redundant mesh to be built, build it at public expense and take a percentage of what is billed across the public infrastructure (Telcos won’t lie about the CapEx cost if they are paying a percentage of their revenue)

    Although I am glad he is not leader of the opposition. Malcolm Turnbull in the interview below is talking a great deal of sense, especially when he says “you need to build the network as they come, not build and hope they arrive”


    Lastly every large Telco in the country will only ever make the most guarded criticism of government NBN as they simply do too much business with the Government to risk slagging them off.

  • I attended a briefing on the NBN rollout in Roma last week delivered by a bloke from the Commonwealth Department and Digital Economy. Attending were locals from both Catholic and state education systems, mostly techies, curriculum people and allied health professionals. The map of planned installations in Queensland is – http://www.nbnco.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/982c9480439fdd788af6fec5166da634/Coverage+-+Queensland.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
    They came away from it impressed with what is coming, and excited by the potential.
    The most impressive aspects of the rollout for people in Roma are –
    1. Roma’s getting fibre. If they had to wait for private industry to provide this out there, their grandkids might have seen it if they lived long lives.
    2. The speeds available will allow conferencing between schools and the local base in real time. The dream of conducting a video sesion with a kid with disabilities, a physio and an OT, will be a reality next year. This will bring the services available to these kids to the same standard available now to kids in metropolitan areas. It also gets around the major barrier of access to specialists who prefer not to live in the bush.
    3. The cost of an NBN connection to a school in Roma will be the same as for a school in Brisbane. This is a great advantage to small bush schools who lacked the money previously to sign up for the same standard of service as is available to large metro schools.
    4. Schools such as Thargomindah, Eromanga and Eulo will be linked by satellite or wireless off the node, providing a much higher quality service than what is currently available.
    “The only thing the Government needs to do is establish a minimum service level that must (sic) provided to all homes”
    Why should people in the bush put up with “minimum service”?
    They pay the same taxes as everyone else.

    • “Why should people in the bush put up with “minimum service”?
      They pay the same taxes as everyone else.”

      Because that is what we are getting you fucking idiot.

      I’m forking out my share of $50 Billion + (and rising) to get a 3rd rate Satellite connection, some years down the track, when I am physically 1.3 kms by cable distance from what will be an abandoned ex Telstra fibre optic cable. Plenty of other rural users that I know have the new F/O cable going past their properties and will not be connected.
      I have a neigbour who will lose their perfectly functional ADSL connection and be put on Satellite when the plug is pulled on the copper network.

      So don’t go lecturing those of us who are living it and paying for it about how good it is.

      Oh, and only a total moron refers to the NBN ‘maps’, they don’t account for terrain, you can tell that by the fact that all the wireless coverage is in circles – a huge amount of the people who think they are getting wireless fed by F/O are actually getting stuck with Satellite.

      If you read the disclaimer on the map, you’d know that it is a PR document, not a rollout map.

    • Are you deliberately ignoring the cost factor or is that just a Teacher/Left wing type of response. No one denies that the facilities you mention are a good thing. In fact it is really a ‘motherhood statement’ to say so. The point that all us non DipEd people are going on about is the cost.

      THE COST!


  • Hmmmm….

    1735099, I’d like you to address Kev’s point:

    “Do we go from the current situation straight to $50 odd billion or is there a solution somewhere in between and do we put all our eggs in the fiber optics basket or is wireless broadband going to improve as the younger generation throw off the shackles of being tied to the home.”

    and Kev, I’d like you to respond to the points in 1725099’s post.

    Your mate

  • Costs? –
    “The National Broadband Network will pay its way and return the Government about 6-7% on its investment once it is rolled out and privatised, the Government’s implementation study has found”
    Source – Report by by Bernard Keane in The Stump – May 6, 2010 – See – http://blogs.crikey.com.au/thestump/2010/05/06/nbn-can-be-done-on-budget-on-time-and-itll-cost-35-a-month/
    I doubt you’ll find a write-up of the McKinsey and KPMG report in the Oz – it doesn’t suit their ideological spin.
    You can find it here – http://www.dbcde.gov.au/broadband/national_broadband_network/national_broadband_network_implementation_study

    In any case, talking cost, given recent experience, I’d rather trust my hard-earned with a unit like NBNCo than with the Gordon Geckos who cost me personally $80000 during the GFC crisis in a clear demonstration that private greed in an unregulated market is toxic.
    To go further, I wouldn’t want to see NBNCo privatised (as Telstra was by Howard), because in the end, people in the bush suffer when their services are left to the mercy of the market.
    BTW – I always found (as a teacher) that the best way to deal with juvenile verbal behaviour was simply to ignore it. If another commentator (whom I’ll ignore on the basis of his foul personal abuse) had read the report of the Besley Inquiry he might begin to understand the origins of his bitching about Telstra.

  • I like to point out 1735099 that if you want to pay the market price for a connection you will get what the market delivers for that price.
    If the market cannot deliver to you at the price you are willing or able to pay, and I’m guessing running fibre to Roma won’t place enough paying subscribers on the end of the cable or a Telco would have run fibre by now and in these cases yes you can ask your fellow taxpayer to chip in but the question is how much?

    Just because it’s a School in a regional area does not mean its entitled to get the same connection service for the same price as school in metropolitan area. The taxpayers collectively only pay the Metro Schools connection fee and pay for nothing else and all their parents are taxpayer, however taxpayers collectively are being asked to pay the regional schools connection service plus pay the capital expense for network infrastructure which will not return revenue.

    It matters not that you can show that taxpayer funded infrastructure is beneficial or that there are taxpayers at each end. A road build to say the standard of the M2 in Sydney and then built at taxpayers expense between say Dubbo and Bathurst would almost certainly save lives amongst other benefits, but it ain’t going happen, it’s too much money for not enough taxpayers to benefit, sorry guys you get a 2 lane road and the best we can do for the price is keep the pot holes to a minimum and keep the centre line painted bright.

    All the above applies to building network infrastructure at taxpayer expense, hence it is quite reasonable to establish a minimum service level (at city prices)which the taxpayer will fund. However I emphasis a Government should keep revising the standard up.

    IMHO the only thing the Government should build is some core backbone fibre and some fibre spoke links it should leave all last mile up to the Telcos relying on it’s minimum service level agreements. The Telcos under the possibility of loss will a a strong incentive to deliver in the most cost effective way for their shareholders and all at no cost to the taxpayer.

    Of course my solution might not be good politically as many would respond like 1735099 with “Why should people in the bush put up with “minimum service? They pay the same taxes as everyone else.” missing the point that they only pay at the same rate not in the same number and thus a Sydney suburb like Edgecliff pay way more tax in total than the residents of Roma. However I would argue a approach of “core and mesh only at public expense”, “last mile at Telco expense” would see regional areas with services near enough the city and at the same prices as the city (at least for the Government’s minimum service level) and the service would keep improving.
    It gives me no pleasure in predicting the NBN will be a financial disaster of South Sea Bubble proportions as Labor propaganda machine shows a few high schools doing a video conference call, a few patients doing a call with a city specialist and they will try to take it to the next election. What the public won’t see is all this could be done for a fraction of the cost.
    I’m hoping Malcolm Turnbull will shine here and stop or at least limit this colossal waste of public revenue

  • As noted above those in the bush still get a 3rd rate service, but have to subsidise a 1st rate service in the cities and towns.

    Avoiding that issue doesn’t fix it, nor does being precious about your demonstrated stupidity change it.

    If you want blinding F/O BB for rural townies, stick your hand in your own pocket.

    Talk to some bush Drs, not one that I have spoken to has been impressed by the “sending X-rays/MRIs to specialists and videoconfencing” argument.

    summary of responses –

    “what sort of idiot would risk videoconferencing with a patient, if anything went wrong subsequently we’d get sued for malpractice, not having bothered to examine the patient would make it indefensible”.

    “sure you could get imaging to Sydney/Melb/Bris faster, but it won’t get you an appointment to consult with the specialist any faster, given the timeframes involved there, you could send the imaging by Aust Post and still have weeks to spare”.

  • “Just because it’s a School in a regional area does not mean its (sic) entitled to get the same connection service for the same price as school in metropolitan area.”
    That’s where we part company.
    I believe that every Australian student should have access to the same standard of educational support, irrespective of disability, physical location, ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender. If you read the policies of every school system in the country, you’ll find this principle embedded, and it has been since the early seventies. It’s also bi-partisan.
    If you believe that education should be provided on the basis of what suits the market, then perhaps you need to be putting that as a political philosophy.
    Good luck with that.
    For an excellent illustration of what happens when pure market principles are applied to public services go to – http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/222206
    As for crusty anecdotes from bush doctors, they’re well out of step with that well-known Coalition lobby, the AMA –
    And – http://www.zdnet.com.au/coalition-e-health-black-hole-worries-ama-339305054.htm
    And –
    So the rural nurses like it as well….
    The flying surgeon that I travel with routinely also shares local enthusiasm for eMedicine, as do the people providing FOGS*.
    Perhaps he’s sick of being bounced around in light twins in turbulent western storms at great cost to the taxpayer when he could be consulting on-line both with his patients in remote hospitals and also with easy access to his metropolitan peers when he needs it.
    *Flying Obstetrician and Gynaecology Services

  • Well idiot, not every school is getting Fibre Optics so what is your point?

    We are spending $50 billion+ to make sure that some areas get a connection that is 8X better than others, if we spent less on the Ferrari grade side of the Broadband, we’d be able to ensure a lot more people got the Audi grade connection rather than the clapped out Sigma grade connection we are getting.

    So why force people in the bush to pay for the Ferrari version you are so keen on when they are not actually getting it?

    Your Gyno buddy (if he isn’t another of your lies) won’t get to consult with Metro peers, they like other specialists, will require appointments be made and from the perspective of scheduling, he won’t get to crash the queue because he is on F/O – it will be weeks, and in that case his patients are better off actually going to see the specialist and being examined by him so he has all the facts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *