Wireless could beat NBN’s fibre, claims AFR


news In its main masthead editorial, The Financial Review newspaper this morning published a number of heavily disputed statements regarding the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network project, including backing the controversial claim that a new generation of wireless technologies could make the NBN’s fibre rollout obsolete.

In an article entitled “NBN delay will crimp returns”, the newspaper broadly repeated a number of claims which have previously been made with respect to the NBN by the Opposition and other groups critical of the project.

Perhaps most controversially, the newspaper claimed that there was “a real risk” that the NBN’s fibre infrastructure might be overtaken by technical breakthroughs in areas such as “wireless technology”. “One such breakthrough on the technological horizon is Data In Data Out wireless technology, which promises wireless speeds up to 1000 times faster than those offered today,” the newspaper claimed.

The idea that Australia’s broadband needs could be served in future by wireless technology — especially 4G mobile broadband — is not a new one. It has been raised repeatedly by the Coalition over the past several years as an alternative to the fixed FTTH-style rollout which predominantly features in the NBN. The case for wireless as a future broadband replacement for fixed infrastructure has been strengthened by the huge growth in uptake of 3G and 4G mobile broadband services in Australia, with telcos like Telstra adding on more than a million new customers a year.

However, the AFR’s statement that wireless technologies could overtake the NBN’s fibre is also very heavily disputed in technical circles, representing by far the minority view amongst technologists. So far, wireless networks such as the 4G component of Telstra’s Next G network, which is one of the leading 4G networks globally, have shown real-world download speeds far below the projected 1Gbps speeds which the NBN fibre will eventually offer, and usually far below the 100Mbps speeds which it offers in limited areas today.

The speed of wireless technology, particularly in the 4G area, is rapidly advancing, but it is not believed that these speeds will come close in the foreseeable future to the gigabit per second (1000Mbps) speeds which the NBN’s fibre to the home network will offer in the near future. In addition, the NBN’s gigabit speeds will suffer far less than wireless speeds from congestion as additional users are added to the network, and latency (responsiveness) is vastly improved on fibre networks. Australia’s 3G networks currently suffer heavily from congestion. Because of these various reasons, the view that wireless technologies could provide a viable replacement for Australia’s copper customer access network is currently a minority one.

The AFR also reported that take-up of the NBN in the areas where it is available so far has been “minuscule”.

Unfortunately, this claim is also heavily disputed. In general, Australia-wide, NBN take-up rates have been strong. In fact, in communities such as Willunga in South Australia and Kiama in New South Wales, the take-up rate in the short time the NBN has been active in those areas has been north of 30 percent. This rate is expected to accelerate as Telstra’s competing copper cable is shut down in areas where the NBN has been rolled out, forcing Australians to migrate onto the NBN fibre.

Most of the billions of dollars in funding for the NBN does not appear in the Federal Government Budget, as, according to accounting standards, it is not an expense as generally understood, but is actually an investment expected to generate a modest return. This handling of the NBN’s finances has been backed by a report into the matter published last year by the Parliamentary Library of Australia.

In the long term, NBN Co’s projections show the network is slated to make a return of between 5.3 percent and 8.8 percent on the up to $44.6 billion that will be invested in the network — meaning it will return an amount ranging from $1.93 billion to $3.92 billion, as well as delivering Australia a fibre optic telecommunications network to replace Telstra’s aging copper infrastructure.

However, despite the NBN’s projections — detailed in its corporate plan — in its article, the Financial Review alleged that there was no “commercial analysis” to back up the expectation that the NBN would make the return that it has projected, backing Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s demand that the Productivity Commission conduct a cost/benefit analysis into the project.

The publication of the article comes a day after the AFR published another article on the NBN stating that two key NBN contractors weren’t bidding for the next round of NBN construction deals due to rollout delays in the network. However, after the publication of the article yesterday, NBN Co and the contractors publicly denied the AFR’s allegations as “patently untrue”.

Over the past several years, there have been a number of misleading articles published by various local newspapers about the NBN. In December, the Australian Press Council expressed concern about the Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network project, backing a local critic’s complaint that three articles in a short period of time had contained “inaccurate or misleading assertions” about the NBN. Similarly, in March this year, another News Ltd publication, The Australian, published a correction to a story after it inaccurately alleged that a school in South Australia would have to pay $200,000 to connect to the NBN; in fact, the school will receive NBN access as part of the normal rollout.

I believe a stronger focus on fact-checking would serve the Financial Review well in its coverage of the NBN.


      • Enjoyed this article much more than yesterdays, very balanced and sticks to the facts i reckon.

      • You do know that you can now buy Z77 motherboards and devices that do Gigabit WiFi right now.

        By the start of next year LTE will be the standard of mobile services in Australia.

        This moving to LTE services has already begun, by Telstra in 2010 and now Optus and Vodafone this year.

        • And how does that gigabit wIfi CONNECT BACK TO THE INTERNET?
          Over your 512 kbit ADSL in the coalitions view of the future.

          The BEST speed I have ever gotten on Telstra’s LTE was around 50mb/s. A long way short of 1Gb/s available on the NBN.

  1. “No, just didn’t think there was that much more to say!”

    Perhaps something along the lines of – Media outlets that deliberately mislead the public by continually providing factually erroneous information in an attempt to alter public perception to advantage a specific organization should be investigated and if found guilty have substantial fines imposed in the first instance and suspension of license if the trending continues.

  2. There is a very simple reason wireless can NEVER deliver the speeds of fixed. In short, wireless relies on fixed to move the data about once its hit the receiver. That alone means, at best, its only going to deliver the same speed as a fixed line.

    There is also the extra duty a wireless transmission needs with encrypting. That slows the process down, no matter how much or little, so instantly you’re working below the speed of the fixed line, which doesnt need that encoding at either end.

    I’m surprised people dont push this, its a very easy way to show that wireless can never ‘beat’ fibre.

    Any test that shows faster speeds than the 100 Mpsbase of NBN has been in a controlled situation, has optimum conditions, and is years away from being a commercial product. If you look at fixed line developments, they are also coming along at a rapid pace, and will extend the capacity beyond what even these reported speeds suggest for wireless.

    2.6 Tb/s has allready been done with fibre. Story on Gizmag (http://www.gizmag.com/twsited-light-data-transmission/23096/) repeated on news.com.au’s tech section – not to mention Jonesy’s laser thingy that did 10 times that number…

    That’s no different to what’s being reported as what wireless is capable of – in development, years away from practice. When those developments hit the market, FTTH will be primed to deliver them. As will wireless. But wireless cant and wont deliver faster, its technologically impossible.

    • Your encryption point is invalid as the ITU standards for GPON DO use encryption on the downstream path. Most cable/HFC network also use it. It’s also a bit of a gray area comparing fixed line connectivity using a shared medium such as GPON and point-to-point connectivity such as what is typically used for wireless backhaul. Both wireless and GPON technologies are are subject to contention ratios, although GPON and eventually 10GPON will have much higher capacity than any LTE or even LTE Advanced bearer.

  3. Not disputing what you are saying re wireless getting to 1Gbps, and some FUDy reporting, but for the majority of people, wireless doesn’t need to deliver 1Gbps.

    It only needs to deliver the bandwidth they need at a price point just a bit less than NBN to be successful.

    Time will tell if Testra can build a network capable of that. They have quite a warchest.


    • This is true Unfortunatly what wireless offers is MUCH slower speeds at a significant premium.

      UP TO 40mbps may sound great but try and get that on a congested network you will be lucky to get anything at all I had to put up with that BS for 6 months and I can tell you wireless is not the answer to home broadband EVER

      • Hi AJ,

        I am in furious agreement with you when we talk about today’s wireless not being up to the job, totally agree.

        All I would say is imagine the future capabilities of wireless, it won’t stand still. Telstra have $11B of yours and my money to spend on a 4G/5G/6G network.

        While the speeds attainable on that maybe won’t be good enough for you or me or Renai, with an aging population of people retired on fixed incomes (like my mother, father, in-laws, aunties, uncles, grandparents) if they can get 1,2,3 or 4Mbps on a wireless service that is transportable and costs them say $10 less per month than an NBN service, what will they go for?

        Just playing devil’s advocate.


        • I know you’re just playing devils advocate on this Douglas, but see my post above. It doesnt take much to prove that wireless cant be as fast as fixed line. The simple step of encoding for transmission takes care of that.

          If you send identical information through fixed line and wireless, you end up sending more information wirelessly for that reason. So more data, on the same transmission technology, it HAS to be slower.

          As for the rest, well I’m still waiting for prices to improve to the point they are even viable, let alone comparable. Your point is valid, but as things stand that should mean people tilt in favor of a fixed line. When given the option of paying $10 more for the same speed but 50 times the capacity, its not a hard sell.

          Yes, there will be some who put the $10 ahead of capacity, but they must be in the minority just like they are now. There will always be a portion of the population that just dont fit the model, just like there are still people on dialup now. Those arent the people the NBN it focussing on anyway.

          For most, that group will still need a fixed line phone, so the packaging of net and phone combined will also be a factor. If they get a discount for having both, thats going to be a consideration as well. Old Mabel may not want that fancy interweb thingy, but she sure as hell wants to talk to Beryl down the street.

        • Actually, we are nearing the limit of improvement in wireless technologies.

          5g/6g/7g are only going to provide more bandwidth as we start allocating more spectrum, in increasing the density of towers.

          more spectrum usually also implies more towers (because after we exhaust our current useful spectrum, the other available spectra are either too low bandwidth – wont actually give us much more capacity – or don’t propagate very far, which means you need more towers to get a good signal).

          So, we need more towers. Now we come back to needing a wired network to handle our wireless traffic. Why were we building wireless again? oh yeah; to avoid the need for a wired network!

          So; your wireless network effectively requires a wired network, why not let customers deploy their wireless towers (home-router) using frequencies that are vastly better for bandwidth (but don’t propagate very far), all on the back of their fibre wired connection.

          Oh and; when will we get our new 5g+ services?
          from wikipedia, Next G:
          The network was built between November 2005 and September 2006, and launched in October 2006

          So; 4g was rolled out in 2010.

          It will be 2015 before they even start rolling out 5g.

          But; as per the article, don’t let facts get in your way.

          • “I think there is a worldwide market for about 5 computers” – IBM dude
            “640K ought to be enough RAM for anyone” – attributed to Bill Gates, but possibly never uttered
            “We are nearing the limit of improvement in wireless technologies” – PeterA


          • The first two points are human demand.
            Point 3 is physics and cannot be compared with the first two.

          • Graham – in the early 90s we were about to run out of IPv4 addresses. It was a doomsday scenario. Then RFC 1519 laid out the framework for then unused CIDR, and the Internet marched on (now we need to make the leap to IPv6!).

            Sure, all known modulation methods may be reaching their theoretical limits, but my point is you do not know what is around the corner, much like people didn’t know what they were going to do until one day CIDR bobbed up.

            Anywho, I’m off to the pub on a lovely friday afternoon in ol’ sydney town. Have a great weekend everybody on Delimiter!


          • I’m sorry Douglas, but why are we arguing about this again?

            Fibre has the capacity NOW and for the future. We don’t know its’ current limits. Nor do we have any idea of its’ ultimate limits. Wireless, we KNOW its’ current limits, but not its’ ultimate limits.

            FTTH does NOT preclude wireless being rolled out if/when its’ ability to handle huge data AND speeds (currently it can do one or the other, NOT both) increases. In fact, because wireless stations have to be CONNECTED to something wired, it, in fact, makes it EASIER to rollout wireless. It will also make any subsequent rollout of wireless cheaper.

            Imagine this, EVERYONE has fibre to their home, then everybody has a pico-cell, which they’re rebated a certain amount per month by their telco, to operate and allow people surrounding (in an area of, say, 1km around their home) to connect to. This, simultaneously, increases MASSIVELY, the ability of the individual to have fast, cheap, reliable fixed line services (over wifi to most of their devices) while MASSIVELY increasing mobile coverage AND getting rid of cell contention in the majority of cases, MASSIVELY increasing the data throughput of wireless overall. And this saves the telco HUGE amounts too.

            This is ONLY possible with FTTH. And it is ALREADY being trialled in some countries. Certainly, there are operational issues to be worked out, such as cell interference. And there will ALWAYS be those who think the radiation is too high (even though it would be no higher than a single Macro-Cell producing coverage for everyone) but, it is a LONG-TERM solution to the current problems we have.

            WHY is it so hard to believe FTTH is COMPLIMENTARY as well as VITAL for furthering of Wireless technologies??

          • 3.5G can go to 168Mbps DL 34Mbps UL

            LTE (There’s no real 4G it’s all changing from *G naming)
            around 300Mbps DL and 75Mbps UL

            Wanting to get up to 1Gbps DL speeds.

            LTE-A has been on the books since 2008 and is progressing fairly well I think, in 1 year it’s gone from a think tank to having the start of white papers and stuff on how to get it happening.

            The problem with Fibre is that you can only get it for the home you can’t take it any where.

            With mobile devices booming you have something like 60 million mobiles sold around the world every month, you can’t really expect FTTH to last as a main connection platform.

            The article says all so of numbers but currently it’s all pie in the sky numbers the sign ups have been very low some areas only have 3 people signed up to a NBN connection.

            Tech is moving so fast toward a mobile device market that companies are now starting to say the PC market will be dead in 10 years, the next console will be a mobile not a plug in box. This is being said right now some game companies are starting to only do IPhone and android only games.

            Newpapers are moving to a mobile digital paper now and thinking about dropping their paper version.

          • Sorry Zag, but all those mobile speeds you listed are theoretical. Have you EVER gotten anywhere near them?? I have a 4G phone, it gets MAXIMUMS of 35mbps DL and slightly lower UL. When in diverts to 3.5G I’ve never seen higher than 8mbps. And this is on Telstra, the LEAST congested network. Congestion is the reason these wireless speeds will NEVER been seen in the real world.

            There’s no question our devices are going mobile. But what do 99% of us connect to in the office, at home, in a cafe, on some trains….WiFi. And where does WiFi get its connection….fixed line….

            The fact is, ABS statistics show fixed line DL’s increasing by 30%….while mobile wireless DL’s DECREASED by 2% in the same time (2010-2011)

            The future IS wireless….but that wireless bandwidth at home, in the office and everywhere else we use WiFi comes from a solid, fast, reliable fixed line connection….just like NBN will give us. Mobile wireless’ contention issue will ALWAYS play a HUGE part in how much we can download over cell towers. It WILL go up, but nowhere NEAR fast enough to keep up with increasing content consumption from music and VOD. As you say, newspapers are going digital….you’re average newspaper online is a few tens of MBA. You’re average half hour tv Show? A couple of hundred. Mobile wireless simply doesnt have the capacity to handle our increasing data consumption needs.

        • And to answer your question,
          They’ll pay 10 dollars less than the wireless solution for the super-low quota fibre service. Because at the end of the day its *still* cheaper to go fixed line. (unless you go prepaid and don’t use it every other month)

        • Douglas, I always find it interesting when people claim but wireless will, when most of the same people then refuse to accept well fixed already does and if wireless will, then fixed will even more so… and as fixed is already so far ahead of wireless, well…

          Personally I see them as complementary… mobile for the ease and fixed for the hard slog abd the stats suggest this too, with both increasing (download wise)…

          But while you are guessing about 5G or 6G… it seems Ericsson (who iirc have 40% of the world using their networks) suggest there will never even be 5G.


        • @Douglas: But see as they say the devil is in the details! The point of contention isn’t whether wireless “is good enough” or not. (and yes for the low end user Wireless speeds will be more than adequate) The contention here is the claim that wireless technology in itself will be rendering fibre obsolete at the end of the roll out because technology evolves so fast.

          And technically speaking that is a whole load of bollocks. As someone has mentioned people are so quick to jump the bandwagon on what wireless “will be capable off” and completely disregarding the fact that fibre is *ALREADY* capable to doing the same thing and w/ less quality loss.

          It’s a rather blinkered view of technology to apply the speed of technology evolving on one aspect (ie. wireless) and completely disregarding that such advances would also be applicable to the other (ie. fibre) more so when the other technology is already capable at present of such “theoretical” speeds for the other medium.

          Also there’s another moot point you raised. Implying that NBN and Wireless Technologies are mutually exclusive!. You need to remember the towers *still* need an existing wired connection for towers.. guess whats going to replace the shoddy old copper lined towers the wireless stations will be using? Thats right the NBN fibre!

          The NBN is a “wholesale” provider. Not a retail provider! They deal w/ two very different products! Going wireless just means you will be dealing w/ a retail provider using the NBN network. It’s up to the actual providers on how the pricing will be tiered and the service they will give. All the NBN cares about is having the infrastructure for the retailer to use!

          To put it into a somewhat different market perspective. Think of the NBN as the farmer growing cattle for beef from different states (each breed/state would be a different infrastructure service providing bandwidth). And the ISP as the restaurants/butchers. The Butcher/Resto (ie. ISP) would buy the cow (ie. the bandwidth) based on its grade/quality from the farmer (ie. NBN) for set prices. Then its up to the butcher/resto how to sell/price the beef whether as prime steaks cuts, ground beef, burgers or as steak meals. As the customer for the resto/butcher all your looking at is the end product (service) and deciding which one of those “providers” will give you value for money! Whether that beef was bred in WA, QLD, Tassie (ie. different services – wireless, satellite or fibre) is irrelevant to you as the customer at the resto/butcher as long as your getting the “value” for the beef (ie. net service) you are purchasing!

          Yes that’s a very over-simplified view of the market process but in essence that is how the NBN as a structurally separated wholesaler business is meant to be run.

          And yes I’m hungry for some steak! hence the beef analogy!

        • 5G doesn’t exist yet as an official standard, nor even any official push to become a standard. It gets bandied about a bit as the logical label for whatever may come after 4G, whatever that may be.

          6G is just pie in the sky.

          The other point is that nobody, anywhere, ever, has even hinted that when we do eventually see 5G, maybe around 2020 based on prior timings on generational changes in wireless, will exceed the 1Gb/s that is the ultimate aim of 4G. More likely it will be changes in the technology that allow longer battery life or new features, but the 1Gb/s of 4G is expected to be about as far as wireless can be pushed in any practical sense.


          • Wireless speeds > 1 Gbit/sec are indeed possible but only using frequencies like 5 or 60 GHz that won’t penetrate walls or even a few metres of air and are only useful within a single room – eg. wireless USB, HDMI, SATA replacements, WiGig


            But this will still require another technology like NBN to move data between the room and the rest of the internet.

  4. DIDO would be “Distributed-Input-Distributed-Output”, not “Data In Data Out”. Think MIMO on crack. Theoretically it allows every user in a network full use of the available bandwidth without interfering with each other, solving the biggest problem with wireless (the fact that it’s a shared medium). But for DIDO to work it requires every node in the network to have perfect, real-time channel estimation not just to the node it’s talking to but to every other node in the network. You can probably achieve that well enough in the lab, or even in small-scale test deployments, but I don’t think it’s going to be achievable for a real commercial-scale network.

    • I see the main limitation with DIDO is the number of towers, and the backhaul to each.

      DIDO gets 10x the speed only by packing in 10x as many towers. I’m sure everyone would love more towers.

    • Oh no, not DIDO again!


      Yes, the 10x speed increase requires 10x towers, which require power and backhaul

      The long distances quoted require long wavelengths huge power and huge antennas and can’t achieve the 100 Mbps speeds.

      The small Access Points quoted can do the speed but only support short distances

      The distance vs power/size “gains” are tradeoffs inherent to different sized waves and have nothing to do with DIDO. And you can’t get both gains in the same wavelength.

      The DIDO white paper mangles these distinctions together and creates the impression you can have your cake and eat it too.

    • The reality so far is that the small scale tests that have been done with DIDO have required more base stations than users.

      DIDO works by modulating several base stations signals such that the incoming waveforms enhance in just the right manner as to produce the signal required for that particular mobile. Each mobile thus rteceives the signal required for it and it alone.

      Simple to say, hard to do in practice.

      In the real world, the computational overhead goes up exponentially with the number of users
      Aslo in the real world, base stations are unlikely to be in the exactly correct locations needed for perfect wave shaping.

      This might go some way towards explaining why the number of simultaneous data links to stationary units (actually moving the mobile adds another order of magnitude to the computaion) achieved in real world testing can be counted on one hand and was less than the number of base stations needed to transmit the signal.

      • @Goresh

        Cheers for the explanation on DIDO. I’ve not actually read much about it. I had thought already it would be a mainly fixed wireless, short range solution, much like MIMO.

        The full-duplex thing at Houston Tec. seems to me to be VERY similar in use. The distance between antennas needed to achieve good cancellation to allow full-duplex is HUNDREDS of times higher than available room in a mobile. But they STILL like to report what a “breakthrough” it is for mobile wireless and how cheap it will be to add to current systems.


        They said that about 4G too…..it;s a great tech, but it AIN’T cheap.

    • You say it, Michael!
      Here’s another take on the August 2011 claims of the DIDO inventor talking up his six-tower prototype:

      For his DIDO theory to achieve the speeds to an end user requires massive tower density and perfection synchronisation. It uses the same technique as Google, simultaneously throwing a query to dozens of servers, then delivering the first responder and discarding the rest.

      DIDO also requires major investment in powered data centres clustered around each end user, to deliver what optical fibre does effortlessly, and with 80% less electricity per gigabyte than for copper delivery.

      If he gets a venture capital investment, the inventor might commercialise a small DIDO installation in the 2020s, but I doubt it, frankly.

      • (Apologies for the autocorrections in that last post, folks! I think you can work them out if you want to.)

  5. “I believe a stronger focus on fact-checking would serve the Financial Review well in its coverage of the NBN.”

    This is unfortunately the case with most mainstream journalism, it’s all sensationalist crap and the facts be damned!

  6. “I believe a stronger focus on fact-checking would serve the Financial Review well in its coverage of the NBN.”

    Wouldn’t do us any good in this case Renai- It’s marked under “Writers- Opinions”. It’s not even given credit to who wrote it.

    Faceless FUD. The worst sort. Because NO ONE can be blamed for the rubbish.

    I’m depressed already- and I’m on night shift so it’s only the beginning of my day :(

  7. What I find interesting is, there are a few posters here who will forever bag the NBN.

    Very detailed and well presented reports come out from, for example, McKinsey – paid for friendly analysis is their verdict. NBNCo Biz/Corp plans – silly assumptions they say. Ciscos detailed report – vested interest bullshit.

    But when the print media actually lie, they have nothing to say.

    Really just proves that everything these people mutter, is stakeholder/politically motivated (to steal Renai’s apt description) horseshit!

  8. who cares if future wireless tech one day renders fibre obselete, who cares?

    fibre delivers today, TODAY! and offers a quality of service via increased reliability over wireless that will be hard to beat for decades, if at all.

    • Not too mention what connects all the wireless towers together ….. FIBRE!

      and once the NBN has rolled out your own Wifi will be fed by FIBRE too!

    • Here is my favourite quote and from the strangest of sources…

      “I haven’t heard the opposition put forward a single solitary piece of technology, and yet they think we should wait for some sort of science fiction fantasy to jump out from behind a bush and provide a service,”

      Mr Katter said.


      • Mr Katter, as in Bob Katter?

        Well, he may have some strange ideas, but he does come out with the occasional pearl of wisdom. And he does believe in telling it straight.

        Doesn’t mean I agree with all, or even most, of what he says, but due to his honesty, I have a lot more respect for him than most politicians…

  9. Think of the possibilities with wireless being better than wired… We all wouldn’t need microwaves we could just cook our food on our 1.5m DIA. satalite dishes in our backyards… Can wired do that!
    No but seriously, like Shane said, it may happen one day (in a galaxy far far away), but today, wired fibre is the way to go.

  10. DIDO make sense even without breaking any laws of physics. At-least half of it does. Have more towers broadcast at lower strength means less users per tower meaning more speed, as long as you can handle signal overlap between towers its gold and sold

    • DIDO does indeed make sense initially, but while they initially explain how co-ordinating each transmitter to avoid interference you can have N transmitters and support N times as many users without using extra spectrum, they then forget about the extra transmitters and extrapolate that to 1000x or even infinite at no cost.

      They brush off the transmitter’s need for backhaul just by saying the INTERNET will do that, say the the power and size requirements of the transmitters “can be as small as” a home WiFi access point.

      All very well, but then they go off and talk how DIDO does not depend on frequency and wavelength (neither does any other modulation or Multi-access method) then explains that HF has huge range – even over the horizon, without mentioning that is only achievable with antennas a 10, 20, 30 metres long radiating a hundred or a thousand watts. DIDO does nothing to change the basic requirements of radio wave transmission. And they don’t mention how little spectrum (therefore bandwidth) capacity is available there – just that DIDO will make it better. Yeah – a Mbps or two – hardly fast a match for 3G or 4G with portable antennas.

      Finally they just lump all the good points of every DIDO scenario imaginable and everybody thinks it has all the advantages of every radio technology and none of the disadvantages. It’s a classic snake-oil trick.

      DIDO might have real uses for a few specific scenarios, but it’s not the panacea they are selling it as.

      • It’s like (beer) bottles are better than cans because you can make the bottle any size you want. If you make it really big you store enough beer for a lifetime. If you make it really small and flat you can fit one in your pocket much more easily than a can.

        So this amazing bottle technology lets you carry infinite beer in your pocket!

        • 1. Forgets that you can make cans any size too.
          2. Forgets to ask how this infinite beer bottle will be filled with infinite beer
          3. Forgets that you still can’t get both the big bottle benefits and the small bottle benefits – you only get one or the other, just like big and small cans.

          • Renai, please remember whenever you mention DIDO that the 1000x speed up claim is mistake. The 1000x is only achieved if you install 1000x as many antennas, and only avoids the 1000x slow down that would otherwise result from 1000 users sharing each antenna. And most of the “Holy Grail” “DIDO achieves the impossible” claims are due to people mixing up the different capabilities of high power vs low power, high-frequency (bandwidth) vs long wavelength properties and losing all the technical requirements and limitations along the way.

            People who point at DIDO are simply grasping at straws without any basic understanding of wireless technology.

  11. Who wrote the Financial Review article? There is no name at the bottom of the article. I guess no one wants to be flamed because they know they are misreporting.

    • I used to work at the AFR. Generally each day they ask one of the different editorial teams (national, financial services, companies, property, technology etc) to come up with an editorial broadly representing the views of the paper. This task is then delegated to a journo or the editor of that section, who writes it. It then gets sent up the editorial chain where the higher-up editors and subs discuss it, re-work it and then publish it.

      These ‘masthead’ editorials are supposed to represent the view of the paper in general — the idea being that they don’t represent the view of one person. The reality is that they often end up a bit wacky as they get punted around inside the paper.

  12. It’s marked Opinion. There are links to 2 writers other pieces on AFR in the links section on the right, so it wouldn’t be hard to assume they at least had something to do with it.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to AFR. They’ve spread the FUD. They don’t need to back it up or leave trail for people to “harass” them over “belief in fairytales that the NBN is relevant and valid.”

  13. Since the Fairfax poached Michael Stuchbury from the Australian, his strategy appears to be based on out-trolling The Australian. But, when you know something is complete drivel on a topic that you’re familiar with, how can you trust them to give you accurate analysis on other topics.

  14. The Financial Review. Owned by Fairfax Media. In turn, part owned by Newscorp. Need I say more why they run fanciful stories and will never check on facts if it gets Mr Universe (aka Tony Abbott) into power?

  15. I wish these papers would actually have a technical person write the article that knows the difference between a physical cable and not waving their hands in the air..

  16. I hesitate to comment as my not technical, but isn’t achievable speed only half of the story?
    Most home broadband plans are heading north of 50gigs data right now.
    I just looked at the ‘Xtra Large’ Telstra 4G plan and the allowable data is 3 gig!

    If I was to ditch my broadband plan for wireless, i would chew through that in no time.
    Is there a reason for such lowly data allowances on 4G?
    If so, absolutely NO ONE is going to switch from the NBN to wireless.
    As people like Conroy keep saying….. they are going to be complimentary.

    • Ive made the same comment a few times muso1, with the same opinion. Real world example, TPG.

      $35 for 9 gig on their wireless plan. Not bad as far as wireless plans go, definitely at the cheaper end. Should note that their plans start at $5 for 500 meg…

      $40 for 150 gig on their fixed line. Note: $30 for 50 gig is the plan lower. Either plan, you get between 5.5 and 16.6 times the data for $5 less or more.

      Why on this planet would you pick the wireless option as your primary choice when you can get more than 5 times the bandwidth for less?

      The followon question I usually ask is about how this is going to relate to the 7% that cant get fixed line. Are they going to be stuck with low bandwidths, or will the plans change to recognise their lack of options? If they change, what happens to people with the choice between fixed and wireless?

      One of the other things I’m dubious about with wireless. My fixed line net connection provides me with an IP address that represents my entire house. Not just one device, but what I use, my flatmate/partner/kids use as well.

      How does wireless change that? Do we all need a connection? Each device? One connection for the lot?

      • “Why on this planet would you pick the wireless option as your primary choice when you can get more than 5 times the bandwidth for less?”


        The “wireless for everything” argument is like

        “Why pay $xxx,0000 for a stationary apartment/house when you can live+sleep in your car for a tenth of the cost?”

  17. As an experienced wireless engineer, I’m gobsmacked by the ignorance of people who assert that wireless could compete with or overtake a fixed network. For one thing there’s the speed limitation, which is decided by ‘brick wall’ obstacles like available bandwidth (very limited).

    For another it’s going to take a quantum leap to go from our existing wireless plans of a few Gb at most, to the hundreds of Gb now routinely expected by cable users. This limitation is just as severe as the one concerning speed.

    I do believe that wireless has a future, but mainly as a large number of nanocells working off a fibre backbone, to provide short-range wireless connections to users on the move. However this is well into the future, and is a whole different ballgame to what the wireless-only crowd are currently proposing.

    They are not doing themselves any service by pushing such a technically ridiculous ‘solution’, which in reality is no solution at all.

  18. Wireless won’t replace the ongoing demand for high-speed fixed services; it will however continue to grow as a complimentary service, being used where fixed doesn’t make sense.

    It’s pretty much as simple as that. The physics and capacity requirements for an almost exclusive wireless environment, make that really a bit unlikely.

  19. I figured it was worth writing to the paper about this ridiculous “commentary”. They need to be held to account for spreading garbage, and they need to detail where their interests lie when publishing this sort of claptrap.

    I encourage others to inundate their editorial staff with similar, reasonably educated comments. The email address is afreditor@afr.com.au.

      • To the editor,

        I must admit, this article (published at http://www.afr.com/p/opinion/nbn_delay_will_crimp_returns_pNyvMEDxPSBjOFtpfbDSSJ) was hilarious. But surely the Australian Financial Review expects its (unnamed, in this case) “expert commentators” to have at least the vaguest clue about the subject they wish to discuss?

        This article suggest that the NBN is being accounted for incorrectly, as an investment. Basic knowledge of accounting practices tells us that it’s being treated correctly. If there is a “cost blow-out”, then at the time that is identified the asset will be impaired to reflect it, and an expense will be recognised in the government’s books. That hasn’t happened.

        The article goes on to state that “technical breakthroughs” in wireless may make the NBN obsolete. What? Did the author stop to think for five seconds about this? The ACMA is currently juggling bandwidth about like crazy, trying to provide for new technologies. Sure, I suppose it could take broadcast television’s bandwidth. It could take back the bandwidth that is dedicated to back-end news industry communications. Maybe it should also take bandwidth from the aviation industry? It doesn’t really matter, because even with all the bandwidth that might possibly be available (most of which wouldn’t be suitable for wireless internet communications anyway) there is not enough.

        You cannot expect 20 million plus Australians to fit even their current bandwidth requirements into wireless, even with the most advanced compression and acceleration technology. Everyone who has a clue is already talking about wireless congestion. But the opposition, and apparently the Australian Financial Review (by some coincidence?), believe that wireless must be the way of the future.

        Talking bollocks very loudly doesn’t stop it being bollocks.

        In the meantime, there was no indication in this story of any conflict of interest. Where do the AFR’s interests lie? Please disclose this to your readers when writing such claptrap in future.


        • AFR’s interest is in providing a credible information source. AFR does not realise this. AFR and its stable mate are losing readers and wonders why.

  20. You may freely interchange political parties here depending who is in power.

    1) Government declares policy
    2) The Opposition *MUST* oppose it, because no Government ever… EVER… comes up with a good idea. EVER.
    3) The Opposition then come up with a much better, and cheaper alternate “solution”.
    4) Watch the “debate” depart into farce, where the 4 second sound -bite rules, and facts are the first casualty of war
    5) Polarize opinion, and kill debate – its all about the talking points
    6) ???
    7) Profit!

    Think NBN, Carbon Tax, Mining Tax, Workplace “reform” and “Border Protection” to name but a few.

    The media seems to inhabit this strange alternate universe where both sides never, ever peddle bullshit and should be accorded equal voice, weighting and credibility.

    I like point 7 the most – thats where the Australia public really reap all of the massive benefits our political debate.

  21. And the generalist print media keep wondering why readers are drifting away. Perhaps Gina might do a better job after all.

    • Great NBN poll on surprise surprise the SMH:


      It’s now at:

      Yes, just get on with it. 79%
      Yes, but in a different form/funding model/technology 13%
      No, we don’t need it. 8%

      As for the article these are the parts I don’t like/fear:

      “And now he said he is not prepared to cancel the estimated $1.8 billion worth of contracts underpinning the rollout, already signed by NBN Co.”

      “The Coalition’s aim is not to cancel contracts but rather, renegotiate existing contracts where possible to accommodate different architectures and lower the capital cost of the network and hence, the end cost to consumers,” Mr Turnbull said.

      How can you renegotiate a contract midway through to something completely different??

      and this

      “He told IT Pro “a range of architectures” would include fibre-to-the-premises for homes and businesses in greenfield areas; fibre-to-the-node where possible and HFC.”

      So in other words this is “Liberal code” for most of Australia won’t be getting FTTP. Even areas that have contracts signed to have FTTP installed but construction not started yet will be re-negotiated to whatever is cheapest. Forget your FTTP folks and if you are “lucky” you might get “fantastic/you beaut super, super, super fast wireless instead.

      And don’t expect anything major for at least 4 years if at all in a lot of rural/regional areas. Nothing has changed as far as I’m concerned as regarding the Liberal’s broadband policy. They are really going to botch this once in a couple generations visionary infrastructure project all for the sake of ideology.

Comments are closed.