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  • Opinion, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 9:06 - 131 Comments

    The FTTN truth the Coalition does not want known

    presidents-men

    opinion ABC Technology & Games editor Nick Ross is the only journalist in Australia so far to have gone into the appropriate level of detail in analysing the Coalition’s rival NBN policy. And the Coalition should be very afraid of this fact indeed: Because his most recent NBN opus reflects a knockout blow for its disastrously flawed fibre to the node plans.

    One of the little ironies about journalism is that while many, perhaps most, journalists get into this game in an effort to help change the world, few end up truly doing so. It’s not because the opportunity isn’t there; it certainly is. No, it’s because it’s all to easy just to follow the herd. As Scott Adams, best known for creating Dilbert, wrote about journalism:

    “Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same.”

    Most people have never been journalists, although they may have dabbled in it through modern mediums such as blogging and Twitter. So they don’t know the endless grinding tedium of it. To most people, journalism is a highly mysterious business: Glamorous because of the close access to those in power; rewarding because of the travel and dining-related perks of the job; hard to get into and highly competitive. How, many people wonder, do all the thousands of words which appear in the newspapers and online every day get put together? How do you get into journalism, to start with? How do you gain access to the elite? How do you climb the rung to get your name out there?

    But the truth is that when it comes down to it, the daily task of doing journalism is usually much more humdrum.

    Journalists usually get invited to prestigious events simply by virtue of working for a publication which has always been invited to certain events, not because of who they are personally. They need no special skills to record the words of a high-profile member of society; they need merely accept the task their editor has assigned them and show up. Take a few notes, recycle the sensational bits into an article, and bob’s your uncle — you’re a journalist.

    In today’s PR-saturated environment, the task is even easier: Just sit at your desk and re-write what people send you. I’m not kidding. At times I’ve literally been on the receiving end of hundreds of press releases per day. It’s less than a simple task to sift through and re-write the best two or three into humdrum articles. In fact, it’s the sort of task which any old high school graduate could do; a little industry truth is that up until the 2000′s, many of the best young Australian journalists never graduated from university at all. They went straight from school to re-hashing press releases with style. They thought they were journalists.

    In this context, to become a journalist who pursues investigative stories, who pursues lines of inquiry not force-fed to you, to go out there and find the disturbing truth, becomes a constant struggle against authority and the forces of peer pressure.

    Why, after all, as Scott Adams implied, would a journalist work harder to investigate a lead which may not turn out to be a story, when they won’t get paid any more for doing so? Why would they fight back against their editors to get free time to pursue such stories, when they can instead churn out re-written press releases at a rate of five per day? Why would they want to write articles that go against the grain of the coverage, and risk the censure of their peers, many of whom they will eventually end up working with, at one stage or another?

    And yet there are some few journalists who will do this.

    Every once in a while a journalist comes along who has the willingness to set aside their daily press release quota and chase more interesting stories, risking the displeasure of their editors and their colleagues to do so. These are the journalists who are not afraid to challenge authority; to bring up new ideas to hold against old ones, to spend days poring through thousands of dusty records or go to the wrong side of the tracks to find the truth.

    They don’t do it for money (journalists don’t get paid much), but there are other reasons for doing it. The need to bolster an ego is one, but there are also nobler reasons: Pursuing the ideal of truth, informing a democracy, holding those in power to account, or even simple curiousity. If you’ve watched the film All the President’s Men, the story of how two Washington Post journalists brought down a corrupt presidency, you’ll have a feel for what I’m talking about.

    Now, when it comes to coverage of the National Broadband Network project in Australia, we don’t quite have a Woodward or a Bernstein on the case. It’s not surprising. For starters there’s no real need: The NBN project and debate just doesn’t have the same level of scandal that a Watergate does. Plus, journalism in Australia has been on the decline for some time now, so it’s hard to find these kinds of figures any more.

    But we do have a journalist who has refused to follow the crowd on the NBN issue and has struck out boldly on his own path. I speak, of course, of ABC Technology + Games Editor Nick Ross.

    While much of the rest of Australia’s technology media has been engrossed in the incredibly fascinating issues of how much the National Broadband Network Company is paying for its coffee (16 cents a cup), whether “lasers” will make its fibre model irrelevant (they won’t) and, of course, whether its wireless towers cause radiation sickness (they don’t), Ross has been quietly getting to the bottom of more important things.

    Unlike most of the rest of the media, Ross has locked onto one core fact about the NBN with all the tenacity of a British bulldog: The fact that the Coalition’s rival NBN policy may be about to seriously derail this incredibly important, decade-long, $37 billion national infrastructure project in a hugely negative way.

    While the rest of the media (including yours truly, on occasion) has been examining the current NBN rollout in obsessive micro-detail, Ross has been deeply investigating whether the Coalition’s alternative fibre to the node model actually reflects good policy — and how it stacks up against the current Labor fibre to the premise model.

    And what he has found is simply remarkable.

    Of course, Ross has published a number of articles on the subject, but his masterwork was this piece last week, entitled The vast differences between the NBN and the Coalition’s alternative. I won’t go into all of the detail in his report (that would be impossible, given its length), but let it suffice to say that I have never, in a decade of technology journalism, read such a lengthy and detailed examination of one particular issue.

    The key thing to understand here is that Ross’ NBN opus is not only long (it’s 11,000 words; a length unprecedented in Australian technology journalism); it’s impeccably well-researched.

    In the ongoing National Broadband Network debate, which has been raging in Australia since at least 2005, when then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo first proposed the idea, it has become common for the various players to quote from research reports, economic analyses or international deployment examples to make their case for one side or another. Ross does this too. But where another journalist might quote from one or two such reports or examples, perhaps half a dozen in the best case, Ross quotes from and links to hundreds.

    Where another journalist might examine the impact various broadband technologies might have on a specific field, such as overall productivity, e-health or entertainment, Ross considers them all; exhaustively; in the same article. Where other journalists have contracted points down for brevity, Ross has expanded them into a level of detail which considers all views simultaneously.

    And the conclusion Ross comes to after examining this monumental amount of data is staggering. These first few paragraphs are perhaps the best way the article can be summarised:

    “The Coalition’s NBN alternative is different by almost every measure. It uses different technologies to connect the bulk of the country; it has different uses and applications; it affects Australia’s health service differently; it provides different levels of support in emergencies and natural disasters; it requires a different amount of power to operate; the cost of maintenance is different; the overall cost, the return on investment and the re-sale value are different; the management, ownership, governance, competition and monopoly factors will be different; it has a different life-span and upgradability issues; the effect on businesses (of all sizes) and GDP is different; the effects on television are different; the effect on Senior Citizens is different; the viability and potential for cost blowouts is different; the costs of buying broadband will be different; the reliability is different; the effect on property prices will be different; the timescale is different; the legacy is different. Ultimately, it has completely different aims.”

    “In just about every case the Coalition’s alternative compares unfavourably to the current plans – and usually in dramatic fashion. That’s based upon the facts and the information currently available in the public domain.”

    For most of the past decade, Australia has debated the benefits of fibre to the node-style broadband (where parts of Telstra’s copper network are re-used), as compared to the NBN’s current fibre to the premise style of rollout, where it will be entirely replaced with fibre. And, doubtless, that very issue will be debated right up to the September 14 Federal Election, which will decide the NBN’s fate.

    Ross’s article represents nothing less than a gargantuan attempt to finish that debate once and for all, and forestall the next six months of it. Ross’s article is a final, knockout blow for the Coalition’s FTTN approach; a mammoth statement that cannot easily be refuted or ignored, if it can be at all. It’s like an octopus with a thousand tentacles; any attempt by any party to address part of it will only be met by a hundred other segments.

    And here’s the rub: This stuff actually matters.

    It really does matter whether the NBN continues under its current model, or is drastically altered under the Coalition’s very different vision. We’re not talking about building a house here, or even a suburb of houses. With the NBN, we’re talking about the biggest infrastructure project in Australia’s history; an initiative which will touch every Australian and shape the entire next 50-100 years of business, government and personal technology use.

    If you want to radically reshape a project of that nature, you had better have a good reason. What Ross’s ridiculously detailed article shows us conclusively is that the Coalition does not. The NBN project represents good policy; and the Coalition’s vision is currently inferior.

    Of course, such a collossal undertaking already has its detractors. Communications Day publisher Grahame Lynch was so incensed by Ross’s sheer audacity that he published his own massive article attempting to rebut Ross’s opus almost line by line, at the same time attempting to undercut his position at the ABC by accusing him him of unacceptable editorial standards. Classy.

    It was a good try, but as I read through Lynch’s piece, I couldn’t help but feel that it came across as a little silly, really. Many of Lynch’s points don’t directly rebut Ross’s points but sidle around them glancing edgeways, and it feels like Lynch often, unfortunately, avoids the main point which Ross hammers home so hard, on so many levels; that what the Coalition is proposing is inferior to the plan we already have. This isn’t a rebuttal so much as it is a lengthy whinge.

    Then there have been bloggers such as infectious diseases physician Trent Yarwood, who has repeatedly criticised Ross in the past and who did so again after the publication of Ross’s latest NBN article. Yarwood has a particular bone to pick with Ross about his claims with regard to the NBN’s likely impact on telehealth. He writes:

    “I don’t give a toss about allegations of ABC bias, but your articles fail to meet what I would consider to be even a basic standard of health-care journalism. Stating your feelpinions over and over and over again, louder and louder and in longer and longer articles does not make them true. Refusing to admit there might be any other points of view make you look like your mind is very firmly closed (which I think it is), but bollocking Malcolm for the same thing while doing it yourself makes you an outrageous hypocrite.”

    I don’t have the health credentials to pick a fight with Yarwood on most of his points, but it is important to address his claims about the perception that Ross’s articles are biased towards the National Broadband Network policy as it stands.

    Let’s be brutally honest about this. When it comes to the ABC, Ross’s articles stand out in a huge way. They are far longer than most ABC articles. They are far more opinionated. They refer directly to commercial products in a way that the ABC usually avoids. They do not hesitate to critically examine, rather than merely report, statements which senior politicians have made, and by publishing a series of articles on a theme, Ross has indeed left himself open to claims of bias which we have no doubt have attracted the attention of some of the senior figures at Aunty.

    But let’s also be very clear: This is why Ross’s audience loves his coverage, a fact which can easily be gleaned from the thousands of comments left under his highly popular articles.

    Virtually alone, out of all of Australia’s technology journalists, Ross has had the courage and the conviction to seriously and in detail investigate the often dubious claims which the Coalition has made about the potential of fibre to the node technology in the NBN rollout. To do this, he has gone against the grain of the rest of the media, he has butted heads with a politician as well-regarded as Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and he has even gone against the grain of his own media outlet.

    Sure, there are doubtless some minor errors in Ross’s articles. They are too lengthy, hard to read and at times he could do more to maintain the perception of journalistic objectivity. As an editor myself, I would suggest that he probably needs more eyes to look at his work before it’s published. But these are minor criticisms and don’t much detract from the titanic accomplishment that Ross delivered last week.

    Consider this, for a second. Wouldn’t it be nice, in fact wouldn’t it be amazing, if the ABC was able to examine every national policy debate with the same veracity and detail which Ross has applied to the NBN issue?

    With his articles, Ross has singlehandedly provided an incredibly detailed examination of the NBN policy divide which represents fantastic value for the ABC’s audience. No interview or feature segment on the ABC’s flagship 7:30 program, no matter how long, could possibly go into as much depth on the NBN as Ross has with his articles. Not even Radio National’s famed Background Briefing program, being audio in nature, could deliver the same wealth of material and references which Ross has included and linked to.

    One of Ross’s self-professed aims with his NBN article last week was for it to act as a reference for the rest of the ABC community, and this in itself is enough to justify the article’s publication. In the context of the shockingly incompetent journalism we have often seen in the national NBN debate, where it is common for local TV stations in remote locations to give those literally wearing protective garb and complaining about radiation sickness the same amount of air time as professional engineers from NBN Co and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, there is a huge need for journalists in every location to be better informed about the basic facts. And often, in those remote locations, the ABC is one of only a couple of media outlets in town.

    I will leave you with a prediction and a quote. Firstly, I will predict that the Coalition will not even pretend to try to address many of the issues with its NBN policy which Ross raised in his articles. Ross has too many points and they are too detailed and exhaustively referenced for Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his team to try. Instead, if asked, the Turnbull camp will merely accuse Ross, as it has in the past, of generating pro-NBN “propaganda”. It’s a nice sound-bite which doesn’t, unfortunately, stack up well against an 11,000 word article.

    The quote comes from that bastion of fearless journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. I commend it to you:

    “If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”

    In the context of the fraught and highly politicised debate about the National Broadband Network — where even the attempts of NBN Co’s chief executive to fairly debate the alternatives are met with accusations of a “cheap stunt” — absolute truth is indeed a very hard to find. However, right now, when it comes to the Coalition’s FTTN-based NBN policy, Nick Ross’s slightly flawed, occasionally rambling but still brilliant forays into the field are as close as we are going to get. And I suspect, due among other reasons to the sharp interest commentators like Andrew Bolt are suddenly showing in Ross’s articles, that the arguments he has laid out have last week become very dangerous indeed.

    Image credit: Still of Woodward and Bernstein as portrayed in the film All the President’s Men

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    131 Comments

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    1. Posted 26/02/2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink |

      “it’s 11,000 words; a length unprecedented in Australian technology journalism”

      BREAKING: Renai LeMay makes reasonable effort to compete on length… :o)

    2. Posted 26/02/2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink |

      The one thing I hate is that minor errors, like saying AVC instead of CVC can give people like Lynch enough wriggle room to provide a rebuttal that can be taken seriously. (I won’t quote the article directly because I hope Delimiter readers have the patience to read both Ross’ and Lynch’s articles, despite stacking in at around 20,000 words.)

      It’s the nature of the beast through. I personally have experienced such arguments when talking about the NBN and they are draining. To have someone completely misrepresent your position, sometimes even deliberately misquoting you, and trying to defend against such behaviour is frustrating.

      I can only imagine it’s ten fold worse when you’re a journalist because your career is trying to deliver the truth.

    3. djos
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink |

      Good article Renai, Im glad you also saw Lynch’s tripe for what it is! he used to engae on WP but his arguments for the “the Liberal approach” (aka hands off, let market take care of it or just give handouts to ISP’s and Telstra) never stood up to scrutiny and he got sick of being shown to be wrong and left the WP forums.

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink |

        heh cheers. I for one have never understood Lynch’s opposition to the NBN, when the industry who represents his readers are overwhelmingly behind it. You can’t fight the readers …

        • djos
          Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink |

          Actually I think the answer is fairly simple, he’s been sucked into believing the BS that Neoclassical economics (Free-market fundamentalism) is the answer to life the universe and everything!

          http://www.independentaustralia.net/2013/politics/the-rise-of-the-radical-right/

          • Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink |

            But everyone knows that is 42…

            • djos
              Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink |

              Exactly!

              • Haderak
                Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink |

                Infinitely improbably!

                • Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink |

                  10 PRINT “Australia is not allowed to lead the world on anything…”
                  20 GOTO10

            • NBNAccuracy
              Posted 26/02/2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink |

              Well, obviously optical fiber is the answer. It was invented 42 years ago. Spooky.

              • djos
                Posted 26/02/2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink |

                :-D

          • Woolfe
            Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink |

            Heh… Free market is an ideal. And like all ideals… it doesn’t work when you introduce human beings into the equation.

            Free Market, Democracy, Communism, etc.. all wonderful ideals, pity they don’t bloody work… Sigh

            • RocK_M
              Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink |

              ” I agree with you Marge! In theory!. In theory Communism works! In theory!” – H J Simpson

              :D

          • midspace
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink |

            It only works if people don’t get greedy.
            Unfortunately, we’re only human, and many of us succumb to greed one way or another.

        • Tim.H
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:39 am | Permalink |

          I will never forget when the only person to comment on my very short lived blog about journalistic integrity was Graeme Lynch. While I certainly appreciated his advice, and to be honest he was right about a great deal of it (ahhh the laments of an amateur fact checker) I must admit I was amused to see that much of his advice could apply to his own pieces.

          Graeme (as are many people, probably including yours truly) is the kind of person to become entrenched in a position and rather than change it when evidence points out its holes digs in even deeper in desperation. Being entrenched in a position and unwilling to change is always bad, however, it is worse if you a wrong and most people agree. That is when you better hope that people keep reading your stuff for amusement or the fringe that agrees with you is big enough.

          Unfortunately I do not think Graeme will lose readers, simply because the volume of fallacies supports him with MSM constantly polluting the well of information.

        • Arafurian
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink |

          I think Lynch makes the basis for his anti-NBN bias crystal clear in the first couple of paragraphs of his ‘riposte’ article, when he seems to suggest that he has a “largely financial audience”. If I read him correctly, his view is that Australia divides strictly into two religious camps, each holding diametrically opposed views on the NBN. These two enemy camps are anti-NBN, pro-’stock market-decides’ ‘financial investors’ and pro-NBN ‘everyone else’. Lynch sees himself as spokesman for the pro-investor, anti-NBN crusade.

          He has a point. From the viewpoint of investors, the NBN is a disaster! At best, it promises a derisory nine per cent return on investment. How pathetic is that! If only Sol Trojillo was back here; he’d show us how to do it properly! So OK, his plan might be technologically no better than two tins and some string, but surely that’s a small inconvenience for the public to bear in the face of investors’ profits.

        • Pablo
          Posted 01/04/2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink |

          Perhaps he’s a paid-up, card-carrying Liberal/National member?

    4. Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink |

      The truth? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

      Top effort from all involved, and Lynch’s ‘whinge’ as you put it is another reason why I never bother reading CommsDay anymore apart from referenced stories like mentioned above.

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink |

        Cheers! Yeah, I used to get a free subscription to Comms Day but unsubscribed a couple of years ago.

    5. Fake Malcolm Turnbull
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink |

      And the spin by the gaggle of zealot tech journalists making mistakes and frankly stupid arguments continues unabated. When we say we will complete the NBN sooner, cheaper and faster, we mean it, in a technologically agnostic way. For instance, Nick Ross used the analogy of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Everybody knows that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a white elephant that wasn’t needed and is outdated – just look at how a tunnel needed to be built because it wasn’t big enough for the next century!

      With the benefit of hindsight, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a waste of taxpayer money because if we would have used boats for a few more years, hovercraft technology could have come along and cut the time of a journey to just two minutes and made building it completely redundant! Even commuter trains could have been loaded onto hovercraft. All that was needed was some finance into building prototypes and upgrading already existing facilities – it’s really just an upgrade of the wharf and boat facilities already in place. All this could have been a reality at less than a tenth of the cost of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Less than a tenth! And as for a timeframe, instead of a construction period of ten years, hovercraft could be ordered, built and arrive within a year or two – 90% faster and 90% cheaper for a much more flexible network that provides the same performance!

      And with hovercraft, if you needed more capacity you’d just be able to add more hovercraft! There was no need for this massive capital expenditure because boats were a proven technology in successful use at the time and hovercraft were just a natural evolution of those. The coalition, if it had been in charge of the harbour crossing project, would have completed the project cheaper, sooner and more affordably!

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink |

        I have only one thing to say:

        BEWARE THE ATOMIC BANANA

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink |

        Personally, I’m not so sure that this is actually a “fake” Malcolm Turnbull…

        • Fake Malcolm Turnbull
          Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink |

          The choice was simple. Either this irresponsible government would give up economic rationality and the free market and drive all the providers of boats, barges and ferries out of business as the government ultimately did. The day this white elephant went into service was a day that wiped out economic freedom in this city.

          Furthermore, and this was a point overlooked at the time, water has much less friction than a road surface does and is thus far more unsuitable to the task, essentially the wrong medium and substantially more expensive. Worst of all, it was paid for with money from taxpayers who didn’t want it built and the tolls are far too high!

          It’s all fair enough when it’s not your own money being used, but there was no rationale for this bridge at all and that’s why we should sell it to the people who are running some ferries in the Sydney area to other places at a cost recovery price and buy more hovercraft so that we’re not leaving those behind who are needing more hovercraft!

          • Fake Malcolm Turnbull
            Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink |

            To pick up on that ‘either’… either that or it would have conducted a cost benefit analysis that would have looked at the risks and the massive capital expenditure involved that would have found that there was no need for such a bridge. It’s not like Sydney is a rapidly growing city – it is growing at less than 5% a year. Surely with a service life of hovercrafts of 20 years, it is more cost effective to put aside an annual fee for capital expenditure for the renewal of the fleet, rather than construct a white elephant. For starters, they didn’t even consider whether there would be advances in bridge technology that will make this an outdated useless fixed investment when they knew that the world at large was going mobile!

            No, what happened instead is that to this day the government has to pay an interest for the project without repayment from tolls and it is needing to charge a toll so high to pay the government back the money it splurged with enormous interest charging its users a price far too high.

            • Elijah B.
              Posted 26/02/2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink |

              FMT, I really, really wish you would repost this bridge and hovercraft argument over at Whirlpool NBN section, or allow me to do so.

              • Fake Malcolm Turnbull
                Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink |

                The ideologically-driven keyboard warriors are unlikely to be convinced by the rational arguments that show hovercraft would have been the substantially better investment. You’re welcome by all means, but have no illusion that these bridgeists will be convinced by reasoned discourse.

                There is also no evidence that the people of Sydney needed the faster speeds, such as that as provided by the bridge. Our plan delivers faster speeds with hovecraft.

          • Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink |

            You see, you say that, and you still sound like the genuine MT…

      • Tim.H
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink |

        I almost exploded with this, then I saw “Fake Malcolm Turnbull”. Poe’s Law, well done good sir.

        • Tim.H
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink |

          I will say this, I would like to see a swarm of hover-boats under the Sydney harbor bridge. Boat derby anyone?

          • Kelley Johnston
            Posted 28/02/2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink |

            Remember the Lake Illawarra! NO boat races under the bridge!
            Unless they have those really cool rubber bumpers. Then I think it’s okay.

    6. Phil Collins
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink |

      Nick should not aim to “finish” debate, as you say. He should be informing debate.

      If Nick wants to inform debate, he should remove assertion from his analysis. This is the weakness of his writing. Belies his emotion and opens him to easy, diversionary rebuttal.

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink |

        With respect, that’s a terrible idea. If he was the remove all assertion from his article it would make for a dry read with no conclusion. He would be ripped up even more because his readers will feel they wasted their time reading some 10,000 words.

        Journalists are not fact presenters, they are fact finders. They do all of the critical analysis and “assertion” as you put it for the reader so the reader doesn’t have to.

        What Nick has done is reduced Lynch and others to arguing semantics and trivial errors by asserting a conclusion. If however hadn’t done that Lynch would have been able to draw a conclusion from all of Nick’s well researched data, and Nick would have to provide a counter dismissing Lynch’s conclusions as invalid.

        Instead we have Lynch trying to do that to Nick only to have his counter arguments fail to hold water.

        What Nick should have done is provided an airtight case, only such a thing is not possible, so he created the strongest case he could and Lynch is failing to respond.

        • Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink |

          This is one of the things I like most about Ross’s articles. He gradually built them up, writing article after article on the same topic, and as he did so, he learnt more and more and more and the articles became more and more detailed and lengthy, until he hit the apotheosis of the debate last week with the 11,000-word monster and proved his thesis for all time.

          You see a similar approach in academia often, but not so often in normal journalism. I really don’t know what anyone against Nick’s conclusions could do at this point. He has proven his point conclusively.

          • Dom T-Jones
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink |

            What they can do is take a leaf out of the standard Conservative playbook, disregard the facts and shout their side of the debate loudly and repeatedly.

            This will suffice to convince a disturbingly large percentage of the population that their points are valid. Have you seen “Thank You for Smoking”? What counts is not that their side is correct – what counts is that their side is seen to exist, because that turns the facts into one side of an argument, and very few people stop for rational consideration when picking sides.

            • RocK_M
              Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |

              “What they can do is take a leaf out of the standard Conservative playbook, disregard the facts and shout their side of the debate loudly and repeatedly. ”

              Pretty much…

              You will find a huge majority of the responses have pretty much taken that avenue. ‘No point responding coz he’s an LNP stooge! Facts what facts? *covers ears* lalalalalalalalalalala” responses

              My kingdom for an actual proper rebuttal on this issue =/

              • tinman_au
                Posted 27/02/2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink |

                “No point responding coz he’s an LNP stooge!”

                The problem is there are people that are definitely like that though. I don’t mind debating, but when you have folks like “The Lone Gunmen” posting pro-Liberal, anti-NBN posts with little or no reasoning behind the statement/s and they never respond to anyone that actually addresses their points, then there is little point in even trying.

                If people continue posting “talking point” arguments that have been shown to be wrong many times over, then what else are you really to think?

      • tinman_au
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink |

        Assertion (when relating to the use of, or having the nature of, a declaration) is fine when it’s backed up with facts (citation of research, reports, etc).

        Assertion, when it’s opinion dressed up as fact, is the problem as in the Commsday piece:

        ““National emergencies, whether fire or flooding, are becoming a part of Australian life. Consequently, the benefits of a fibre-based NBN are becoming increasingly important” – Despite Nick’s belief that fibre is water proof, the NBN didn’t hold up too well in the recent Queensland floods. Like other tech platforms, it is a touch vulnerable itself to natural disaster. As always, wireless techs prove best in these situations. http://www.zdnet.com/au/nbn-co-telcos-continue-to-combat-qld-flood-outages-7000010466/

        Having been in the area during the flooding mentioned, Telstra services went down for two days (mobile phones and land lines, even 000 was effected, as well as most ATM’s). If you read the article Mr Lynch quoted, the NBN went down up there due to Telstra loosing it’s back haul link, it wasn’t due to any problem with the NBN or fibre it’s self.

        To me, this is a huge problem, and very sloppy thinking. An assertion thats flawed and without a factual basis leads to incorrect assumptions (A statement that is assumed to be true and from which a conclusion can be drawn), which leads to false/flawed outcomes.

    7. Belinda
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink |

      >> “It was a good try, but as I read through Lynch’s piece, I couldn’t help but feel that it came across as a little silly, really. Many of Lynch’s points don’t directly rebut Ross’s points but sidle around them glancing edgeways, and it feels like Lynch often, unfortunately, avoids the main point which Ross hammers home so hard, on so many levels; that what the Coalition is proposing is inferior to the plan we already have. This isn’t a rebuttal so much as it is a lengthy whinge.”

      Agree Renai
      It was a very poor response

    8. Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink |

      Well said Renai.

      While Nick’s article wasn’t perfect, it was a damn sight better than anything I’ve ever seen researched by those against the NBN.

      Lynch’s refusal to continue to engage on the points he made in his rebuttal was an indication that the rebuttal was no more than an attempt to dilute Nick’s points with white noise because many of Lynch’s points weren’t actually researched, just thrown from the hip (such as his assertion that 50% of Australians would get an automatic speed boost from VDSL in Exchanges).

      It’s a shame when journalists simply do what they’ve always done, rather than seriously considering the merits of other’s arguments…as you yourself have done on occasion.

      • FlopFlip
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink |

        It’s time to start our own political party. The Australian NBN Party. We need to convert the community support for the NBN into senate seats and use those seats, in the absence of a pro NBN Labor government, to make life hell for these ideologically blinded right wing extremists who would doom this country to decades of darkness and telecommunications hell.

        It’ll be a party with a short life span but a very focused goal. And one that’s crucial to Australia’s future to achieve.

        • Hubert Cumberdale
          Posted 26/02/2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink |

          “to make life hell for these ideologically blinded right wing extremists”

          If you really want to irritate those cave dwelling types you don’t need to make a new party just join the Wikileaks party :-)

    9. Gwyntaglaw
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:29 am | Permalink |

      Excellent analysis, Renai – not just of the facts, but of the meta-narrative as well. You’ve put your finger squarely on several buttons.

    10. andyrob
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink |

      Spot on analysys of the MSM (murdoch generally) in this current environment.

    11. Haderak
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink |

      I find it amazing that one topic (NBN reporting that is) can contain examples of the most lofty heights of journalistic integrity alongside the deepest lows of partisan hackery.

      Equally amazing that so many members of the public are still so utterly ignorant of the nuances of the argument, and have little real prospect of reliably telling the difference.

      No doubt in my mind though – Nick Ross has set the bar to a level that lazy news consumers like myself will now routinely expect from specialist technical journalism.

      :)

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink |

        “Nick Ross has set the bar to a level that lazy news consumers like myself will now routinely expect from specialist technical journalism.”

        Argh — looks like I will need to pull up my socks. Dammit! :)

    12. Brendan
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink |

      “If Nick wants to inform debate, he should remove assertion from his analysis.”

      Not sure if you’ve read older journalists work, from say a decade ago? A good journalist informs, breaks down the story, makes their point and attempts to allow the reader draw their own conclusions.

      Assertion isn’t bias. Neither is having a passion for what you’re writing (if there’s no love for the job, why bother?).

      Ross’ only weakness here, is that he’s presented so many facts, that it offers hundreds of avenues where rebuttal can be formed from technicalities of either the way technology has been understood, or presented.

      Lynch, by comparison has become obsessed (in my humble opinion) by minutia and long since lost track of the bigger picture.

      This is the thing; we are all still free to draw our own conclusions from Ross’ work. The same cannot be said for a lot of MSM where facts are jettisoned in favour of expedient sound-bites; the latter is often opinion, or innuendo presented as fact.

      When all the cards are on the table, and even if the dealer has his own views, we the reader are still informed enough to make our own call. When the dealer stacks the deck? Whole different situation.

      It’s refreshing to see determination to inform, from the Aunty whom is so often required to provide a ‘balanced’ view, regardless of factual input.

    13. SaveTheNBN
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink |

      Nick Ross’s brilliant 11000 word analysis shows FTTN to be the dud we always knew it was.

      Sure beats Turnbull’s 2 meaningless sound bite words of cheaper and faster.

    14. Hurry up a proper CBA and let the NBN circus roll on
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink |

      Personally, I can’t wait for the highly-respected, non-partisan and Independent Productivity Commission to finally release a proper cost benefit on the NBN as promised by Malcolm.

      The report, unlike heavily-biased, uninformed feelpinion articles written by tech journalists, will be based on commercial reality and will inevitably endorse Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Brown and Grahame Lynch’s long-standing criticisms of Labor’s expensive FTTP approach.

      What excites me isn’t the actual report itself, but the future response of tech bloggers to it. Bashing politicians and playing to popular prejudices that “politicians tell lies” is easy. Trying to attack the Productivity Commission as an institution will be preposterous. But, having spent the past few years deliberately rejecting every rational argument in the NBN debate, I don’t expect NBN supporters to shirk from this one bit.

      Here’s my preview of future attacks on the Productivity Commission:

      1) The Productivity Commission economists do not understand technology;

      2) The cost benefit analysis on the NBN should be performed by network engineers, not economists;

      3) The Productivity Commission is a haven of radical, right-wing, free market economists with strong ideological bias against government intervention in industry;

      4) The Productivity Commission is beholden to Murdoch, News Corp, Telstra, Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, etc;

      5) The Productivity Commission is incompetent at what it does;

      6) The Productivity Commission is run by Howard appointees and staffed by the Liberal faithful;

      7) The Productivity Commission has been infiltrated by “neo-cons”;

      8) Economics is not really a “science” so all reports written by Productivity Commission economists should be ignored;

      9) The Productivity Commission has no revenue and is funded by “government subsidies” like the Liberal’s alternative NBN vision and should be abolished because “direct subsidies are bad”;

      10) The Productivity Commission report’s conclusions are invalid because they draw on international comparisons to countries that are simply irrelevant to Australia because we’re just “different”;

      11) There is no consideration paid in the Productivity Commission’s report to the benefits and importance of “leading the world” and “being the first-mover innovator”;

      10) There is no need for the Productivity Commission to perform a cost benefit analysis because Nick Ross’ 11,000 word essay has conclusively refuted all anti-NBN arguments in a comprehensive fashion without any remaining shred of doubt for all eternity — the PC’s report is factually invalid.

      To all tech bloggers, feel free to use these points in future articles. I’ll post more when I think of any new ones. Anyone who can think of other lines of attack on the Productivity Commission, please post in reply to this and help grow the list.

      :)

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

        …heavily-biased, uninformed feelpinion articles written by tech journalists…

        *facepalm*

      • djos
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

        @ HuapCaltNcro We dont need a CBA, a panel of experts report canned FTTN as being a good idea and that is why we have an FTTH NBN – try doing some reading before sprouting this sort of tripe!

        • alain
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink |

          The expert panel decision was not the same as CBA conducted by the Productivity Commission.

          The expert panel was convened on the back of the failed Labor RFP which was intended to be a Government/Partnership rollout, unfortunately it coincided in the midst of the GFC where it was decided that many of the private proposals would have difficulty sourcing their quite substantial funding.

          I understand the technical outcome was FTTH but a CBA conducted post September 2013 might have a different view on a Government/Private partnership rollout and the mitigation of risk and the cost benefits a mix of infrastructure technologies might bring.

          • Brendan
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink |

            September 2013? That hasn’t arrived yet?

            Are you suggesting the report to inform the NBN deployment, that’s already operational for a bunch of folks, shouldn’t exist yet?

            Wow.

            A CBA would inform if there’s a benefit to ubiquitous access that exceeds the costs. What period of time would you place on the CBA? 5 years? 10 years?

            The opposition called for a CBA because the short term numbers would likely indicate there’s no immediate benefit. I think that’s a pretty safe call. There won’t be.

            Malcolm isn’t an idiot; he’ll happily point at the short term section and tout it as proving his point.

            Long term, however, it is a very different picture. We have an existing example of a profitable state enterprise (later to be sold off) that ran a very large communications network.

            It became Telstra.

            Also, welcome back?

          • djos
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink |

            @Alain, it’s completely irrelevant, experts where brought in to asses proposals from local and international corporations and where found to be poor value for money when an FTTH solution could be rolled out for roughly the same money and actually provide an infrastructure platform for the next 60+ years!

            • alain
              Posted 28/02/2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink |

              I understand the outcome completely, but you must also acknowledge the political and financial environment under which that decision was made at that point in time has changed completely.

              Any further NBN analysis whether it be a Productivity Commission CBA or another Coalition appointed expert panel process may not necessarily reach the same conclusion that was made in 2008, they also have the added benefit that a review of the NBN rollout so far can bring to help that decision.

      • quink
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink |

        Impressive list, except you forget a point…

        11) The Treasury department sets the scope of a cost-benefit analysis. If treasurer Mr. The-Future-is-4G Joe Hockey tells the productivity commission “find me the way we can roll out faster broadband cheapest over a ten year time frame and any value of sooner, estimate the benefits therefrom before 2021 where by benefits I mean and also do a risk assessment that keeps in mind us already have paused new contracts and rollout for the NBN and thus threatening the business model” then it’s quite possible that the answer will be FTTN.

        Simply combining the facts that fibre is cheaper to maintain and that choice reduced to Telstra cable or Telstra phone is a bad thing and hugely expensive to fix, there’s already a case for the NBN at some point in time there. But a Productivity Commission running off could just be told that a Telstra monopoly is to be considered a free market.

        I have no doubt the productivity commission is good at what it does. It is the treasury that controls the terms under which such an analysis would be conducted that’s of concern. And… a CBA is not legally binding by any means. Even if the coalition sees that a CBA showing that FTTH is more cost effective in a time frame past 2025, then they could still just say ‘screw it’ and lock us into FTTN.

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink |

        @Hurry up a proper CBA and let the NBN circus roll on

        Actually, the name says it….I can’t really be bothered arguing with someone who posts under a “name” like that.

        You keep thinking:

        1- You’ll get a fair terms CBA and

        2- That it’ll show the NBN is an utter waste of money.

        And I’ll keep laughing from the sidelines as I watch Australia’s communications networks get torn to shreds. Then move to Hong Kong.

      • Brendan
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink |

        “Personally, I can’t wait for the highly-respected, non-partisan and Independent Productivity Commission to finally release a proper cost benefit on the NBN as promised by Malcolm.”

        Which will be ignored, or labelled as a biased Industry mouthpiece should it not entirely reflect the Member for Wentworth’s policies. Such as every other factual report generated recently has been.

        So much so, Malcolm has to head offshore to find views similar to his own.

      • NBNAccuracy
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink |

        So, how will you argue if:

        1) The CBA uses decent terms of reference. (FTTH wins)
        2) Gets experts with an understanding of the tech (FTTH wins)
        3) Is considered over a period of more than 10 years (FTTH wins)

        What FUD do you have ready for that. You can’t be sure they will do the short term, imbalanced, view required for you precious Coalition to have it’s FTTN plan endorsed. Noticed I said Coalition first? I don’t think you really care about the broadband, but are just an Abbott fanboi.

      • tinman_au
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink |

        @Hurry up a proper CBA and let the NBN circus roll on

        Bit early for April Fools fluff isn’t mate :o)

      • AJ
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink |

        Tech Journalists will not attack the productivity commission the problem will be the Terms of Reference basically they will be chosen to skew the results the time frame will be very short which will favor FttN and it will not include the cost of buying the CAN from Telstra.

        These exclusions will make it incorrect not your list.

        If the terms are cost over 30 years and include all costs then the PC will find FttH the best option.

        The terms of reference for the LNP will be 5 years and won’t include the cost of the copper.

      • dave
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink |

        Let’s hope they can count to 12 better than you can.

      • alain
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

        Well we know why Labor don’t want a Productivity Commission CBA and why the Coalition does.

        :)

        ‘Although there seems little hope of the government rethinking the national broadband network, recent criticisms by Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks serve as another reminder of the serious shortcomings of the high cost project.

        In a speech last week, Mr Banks lamented the multiple anti-competitive aspects of this pet project of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, a major piece of government infrastructure which is being built regardless of the lack of proper analysis of its costs and benefits. ‘

        http://www.afr.com/p/opinion/accc_grasping_at_straws_on_nbn_Q7bh3o46x9kt6qV5YtPztO

        • djos
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink |

          Good to see you haven’t lost your penchant for irrelevant trolling!

        • Brendan
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |

          alain, are you trolling again?

          A CBA will tell us only what we already know — short term analysis will show little advantage or value, long term will reverse that trend considerably. A bunch of reviews and reports already exist to support the massive advantages of a fibre network analysis.

          Quigley is prepared to see a review occur, and has stated they’d be open to changes. IMHO he is calling Turnbull’s bluff.

          • alain
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink |

            Both of you are very very selective on what you consider trolling, if you look at the discussion flow I didn’t start the discussion on the Productivity Commission I only added a link to a comment the Productivity Commission said about the NBN only last year, which is entirely and utterly relevant to the subject matter

            Both you preferring me not to bring up relevant facts like that is not the same as trolling.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink |

          I’d like a CBA on the effectiveness of a CBA on the NBN!!

          At the end of the day, a CBA is only as good/useful as it’s reference guidelines, and what should those be for national infrastructure that should last for the next century?

          Or should a CBA be restricted to the next 10-20 years?

          Either way they’ll have different outcomes, and still actually “prove” nothing, because most arguments for/against the NBN come down to ideologies and opinions, those that want to see modern, up-to-date infrastructure versus those that want to see old resources reused/repurposed to get a bit more life from them.

    15. Woolfe
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink |

      So when Aunty drops him, can we expect an additional Delimiter staffer? :-)

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink |

        If the ABC dumps Nick at any stage I’ll be happy to discuss freelance options with him. But possibly not on a per-word basis …. given that the normal going rate is 50c a word, that would result in last week’s article costing me around $5,500 … plus GST ;)

        • Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink |

          “Coming up on Delimiter, all the latest from Nick Ross, in 11,000 handy weekly instalments…”

          • Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink |

            I have a suspicion that “Nick Ross, serialised” might be a popular option :)

            • djos
              Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink |

              +1, we like the way he completely takes apart the anti-nbn fud and show’s it no mercy!

            • Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink |

              Nick Ross, Abridged…

      • Abel Adamski
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink |

        A prime catch for The Guardian

    16. tinman_au
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink |

      Excellent article Renai. You might give Nick a run for his money one day…actually, if you back-to-back all yours, you probably have already ;o)

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink |

        Meh, this one is just under 3000 words…Renai’s a lightweight in comparison… ;)

    17. Stephen H
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink |

      I’m waiting for the book.

      • quink
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink |

        It is obvious that the one thing driving demand for FTTH at this point are Nick Ross’ extensive and misleading treatises about needing FTTH.

        The more bandwidth he uses, the more we need it. Clever guy, he is.

        • Kelley Johnston
          Posted 28/02/2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink |

          Yes, and the more roads we have the more traffic, thus the need for more roads.

          Investment in infrastructure drives growth. Surprised? Look what the 1956 highway infrastructure project did to the economy of the USA. Say what you will, investment in roads drove the USA’s growth, as investment in ships drove growth in England in the 19th Century.

          Interrupting the last 50 metres of cable between the street and the premises with an entirely unnecessary road-wart of a “Node” and the desire to preserve a bit of rotting metal in the road, is a strategy that must have been invented by someone who, not to put too fine a point on it, was a bit thick. The cost to run the cable that extra few metres is negligible. The cost to add warts and keep up a rotting copper infrastructure is immense.

          Beyond providing a political opposition to a purely technical issue, what in the heck is Mr. Turnbull trying to accomplish?

          • seven_tech
            Posted 28/02/2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink |

            @Kelley

            The cost to run the cable that extra few metres is negligible.

            That’s not really true. The Nodes would be between 800m and 1km from premises maximum. Those nearest, say within 200m, the cost would indeed be negligible. But those progressively further away would cost progressively more per premises.

            I’s estimated the Labour makes up something like 75% of the NBN FTTH build. Removing 1/2 the labour therefore would remove some 30-40% of the cost. That’s not to say I agree with doing FTTN is this case. The argument runs that FTN is cheaper and faster to deploy….yes, but that ISN’T the point of the NBN. The NBN is national communications infrastructure REPLACEMENT. You do not REPLACE something by noticeably improving on it. You REPLACE it. That’s the point. Therefore, FTTN is not the correct technology. FTTN is a perfectly good technology, but it was designed for Incumbent COMMERCIAL operators to extend the life of their asset (the copper network). It was not designed as a replacement technology for data services for the coming decades. FTTH is.

      • AJ
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink |

        I will wait till the Movie

    18. Michael
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink |

      “But where another journalist might quote from one or two such reports or examples, perhaps half a dozen in the best case, Ross quotes from and links to hundreds.”

      Renai this is incorrect. Of the 95 external links on the first page only 1 links to a report. The rest link to overwhelmingly his own articles, articles he has edited, or opinion articles from other tech blogs.

      Ross has not backed up a single one of his opinions with reports, mostly because they don’t exist. All he does is falsely link the benefits of broadband to the benefits of ftth. Telehealth etc are all great things, and none of them require FTTH. The ONLY proven application for FTTH is very high definition video streaming, something that the government does not need to subsidize/enable.

      • Nick
        Posted 26/02/2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink |

        HI Michael,

        The reason I link to my other articles is because this article would be many times longer than it already is otherwise.

        N

        • KingForce
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink |

          This is a pitiful excuse. Your articles have been described as being the closest thing we are ever going to get to the “absolute truth”. Ignoring this obvious hyperbole, a proper and ethical journalist would have linked to primary sources not to their own work when making hotly contested statements.

          I would also add that a journalist actually does interviews. So, had you bothered to interview those working in health instead of lazy linking to random webpages then you wouldn’t have gotten the savage beatdown from Trent Yarwood that you did.

          Presenting your google research as an essay is not journalism.

          • djos
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink |

            “I would also add that a journalist actually does interviews. ”

            Could have fooled me, 99% of them only seem to rehash other ppl’s press releases these days – Renai and Nick are rare exceptions!

          • Kelley Johnston
            Posted 28/02/2013 at 12:11 pm | Permalink |

            The concept of FTTN when a few metres of fibre would bypass the rather questionable node-plus-copper interfacing rather deeply offends me as an engineer.

            My 44 years in the systems and technology industry says fibre directly to the premises is a better, more reliable option than trying to interface with a corroded and corroding copper infrastructure. The extra node would add an untenable amount of noise to the signal. It adds complexity for a net negative gain.

            That 44 years includes experience in a public utility, private organisations, and a stint at NASA’s Deep Space Network. I am not affiliated with NBN, Telstra or either political party, my opinion is based entirely on the technical merits.

            FTTN as a response to the current NBN plan is wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s ugly and it needs to die.

      • Abel Adamski
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:57 am | Permalink |

        Hi Michael, still hung up on current perceived needs, the very reason we have black spots, rim hells and poor service areas. Provisioned to the current perceived needs of the day. Don’t fall for the same trap

        • tinman_au
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink |

          +1

          We should be looking at where we want to be in 20-70 years from now and fibre, love it or hate it, is the only current tech that fits the bill (long life, hasn’t hit upgradeable limits, is very cost effective given the two previous reasons).

      • Paul Thompson
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink |

        FTTH isn’t just about download speed. It is about reliability, upload speed, ubiquity and scalability.

        You want telehealth? Reliability, ubiquity and even upload speed will be important. There is no way I would think about providing any sort of e-service from my home connection, as it is on copper that simply is not reliable. That won’t change much by going to FTTN and xDSL.

        Plus there are current uses for broadband that you might not be aware of, such as microtrading. This needs low latency and high reliability. Assuming you know all of the current uses for broadband and how they can be serviced is not only foolishly presumptuous, but plain wrong.

        Then of course you are ignoring the importance of scalability. Copper will not meet the needs of the future.

        • alain
          Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink |

          Telehealth is available NOW, it’s not waiting for the NBN.

          http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/telehealth

          http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/provider/incentives/telehealth/index.jsp

          http://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/e-health/telehealth/

          … and a practical example of it in action.

          http://www.pulseitmagazine.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1333:telehealth-services-go-west-to-the-darling-downs&catid=67:aged-care&Itemid=331

          • Paul Thompson
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

            A nuetered version of telehealth, subject to the same problems of reliability endemic to the copper network. Expensive to set up, not ubiquitous.

            All you are showing is that the need is there. The fact that people are using unsuitable equipment to try to meet that need is not a good thing.

            Your link was about a prospective telehealth project, and the costs associated were huge. It isn’t, as you claimed, an ‘example in action’.

            Wasn’t it this kind of nonsense that got you banned?

            • alain
              Posted 27/02/2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink |

              I simply post a link of a example of Australian Telehealth program in action and your response is to go all personal and you want me banned?

              • alain
                Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink |

                BTW Telehealth is not JUST about video conferencing, from the last link I supplied.

                ‘Depending on the types of services being offered in the region, the COH expects to use a range of techniques including video conferencing and web-based clinical support, he said.

                “Some approaches may be better suited to lower cost communication methods such as email, as is the case with dermatology and wound care where valuable advice may be provided by a specialist with access to a good quality digital photograph and relevant case history.’

                • Paul Thompson
                  Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink |

                  I didn’t get personal. I said you were posting nonsense. That is talking about the content of the post, not the poster.

                  You got called out for saying that it was an example in action, when it clearly isn’t. Accept the correction and move on.

                  You lastly have now talked about how telehealth is trying to wedge their services into the limited technology available. That does nothing to counter my own points, and does nothing to further your own.

                  If you can’t post without FUD then I won’t be sorry to see you go again.

            • Posted 27/02/2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink |

              hey Paul,

              “Wasn’t it this kind of nonsense that got you banned?”

              Alain raised a legitimate point here. Your response was rude, and against Delimiter’s comment guidelines, which require polite behaviour:

              http://delimiter.com.au/comments-policy/

              Please don’t let me see this kind of behaviour from you again.

              Cheers,

              Renai
              Delimiter Ubermind

              • Paul Thompson
                Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:11 pm | Permalink |

                Hi Renai, your site, your rules of course.

                I am a little concerned though, as it appears to me that you have given alain a free pass for lying. He claimed that he was posting an example of telehealth in action – if you read the link, you will just see it is a proposal for telehealth (at a huge cost) and as such he totally misrepresented it.

                If I seemed short or impolite it is probably frustration at alain’s repeated offenses. I apologise if my tone was not inline with the delimiter policy.

                • tinman_au
                  Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

                  Actually, alain is right in that telehealth is here already, and your right in saying it hasn’t yet hit it’s potential :o)

                  You can get some info about the benefits of it of wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telehealth

                  And Google Scholar has a lot of peer reviewed stuff on the future of it http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?q=future+of+telehealth&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=GZctUdOKBamUiAeZ34CIBw&ved=0CDAQgQMwAA

                • alain
                  Posted 27/02/2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink |

                  @Paul Thompson

                  The intent of the comment was Telehealth in action without the NBN, here is another that uses Skype,SIP and H323 (ITU video/audio protocol).

                  https://gp2u.com.au/

                  Seems to be all working ok.

                  • tinman_au
                    Posted 27/02/2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink |

                    I think even you’d agree that they could work better with higher bandwidth and better reliability/consistency though?

                  • Paul Thompson
                    Posted 27/02/2013 at 6:33 pm | Permalink |

                    “In action” means in action. It doesn’t mean it is planned. Accept the correction and move on, and be more careful with your nonsense in the future.

                    For the record, I was one of the few (if not the only) person who tried to defend your posting the last time you were banned. So you can take my comment about you being banned previously however you want, given that I have previously defended you then I will stand by my comments.

                    Renai may also be bending over backwards to be (over) fair to you, but noone’s patience is limitless.

                    I will repeat – the neutered versions of telehealth that you have linked to do nothing to undermine the need for FTTH to provide those services properly, as well as to improver on them drastically.

                    • alain
                      Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink |

                      You would have to ask the existing providers of a Telehealth services if they feel ‘neutered’ by not having FTTH.

                      The paradox is that the prime advantage of Telehealth is for remote areas that do not have easy access to GP or Specialist, these areas are not likely to be targeted for FTTH anyway, so the Telehealth service is now and will be provided by wireless or satellite.

                      • Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink |

                        @alain

                        Firstly, I’m gald to see you’re back. Hopefully we can all keep ourselves in context and debate and just play nice. :)

                        these areas are not likely to be targeted for FTTH anyway, so the Telehealth service is now and will be provided by wireless or satellite.

                        No, you’re right, alot of the areas where Tele-health in the “traditional” sense (video and audio conversations with doctors instead of visiting) will be over sat and wireless. Not all by any means- there are still many regional towns that WILL be covered by FTTH that are far too far from a large hospital or specialists to make travelling all the time reasonable.

                        But even so, now that we know sat and wireless are getting 25/5, they’ll have plenty of decent opportunity for real benefits of even traditional tele-health, not to mention possible long-distance monitoring (not for critical illnesses, but certainly for long-term or evolving ones). Let’s pick a number, yes, very arbitrary here and say 50 000 people over 10 years manage to get some reasonable benefit from telehealth. You’ve got potentially thousands of dollars just in travel fees to see specialists- you would still have to see them, but perhaps only 2 or 3 times a year compared with 12 face to face for example. That’s MILLIONS of dollars already just in travel savings. Not to mention lost income from days or even weeks away from work and family. Obviously quality of life is better too, but that can’t really be measured in dollars.

                        That’s just a small possibility of the several that are available thanks to DECENT connections on the NBN. Can it be done now? Possibly. But even on the best of ADSL you’d struggle to hold ANY sort of decent HD video-conference. And the reliability would come into the question as well.

                      • alain
                        Posted 28/02/2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink |

                        I am not sure that just HD video is a primary driver behind a better kind of Telehealth service, as shown in the above explanation by a provider if you want HD images of a wound, dressing or skin condition for example it can be accommodated now by sending stills in your live Skype session or simply as a attachment to a email.

                        Also as we are discussing FTTN vs FTTH I would like it explained what advantages a nursing home for example using a Telehealth service on FTTH has a over a nursing home on FTTN.

                      • Paul Thompson
                        Posted 28/02/2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink |

                        Firstly, why would I have to ask the people who provide it? That makes no sense. They have a vested interest. Why wouldn’t I ask those people who want more?

                        Secondly, why are you trying to limit telehealth to nursing homes? What about people who are cared for at home?

                        Thirdly, what differences do you think FTTN and FTTH would have on telehealth in a nursing home? Perhaps reliability? Perhaps limiting the number of people who can use it at once? Perhaps cost? Yeah, there are plenty.

                        Fourthly, you keep ignoring the fact that those people who currently use telehealth are limited by what they have. By your logic, we could all go back to 14k dialup because they can still send emails. You keep saying that people are using the limited tech for telehealth as though that is what they want to do and demonstrates that it is all they need. Logically flawed.

                        Fifthly, you talk about people in remote areas not getting FTTH so not getting the same benefit. That isn’t an argument against FTTH, it is an argument for truly ubiquitous FTTH. It is only valid if you are trying to discredit Labor’s NBN proposal, which is laughable when you compare it to what the Coalition would be offering people in it’s place.

                        Plainly you are not here to post in good faith.

                      • alain
                        Posted 28/02/2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink |

                        @Paul Thompson

                        I am not interested in responding if all you want to do is make it personal and hope I respond in kind, that’s not what we here for.

                      • Tinman_au
                        Posted 28/02/2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink |

                        “Also as we are discussing FTTN vs FTTH I would like it explained what advantages a nursing home for example using a Telehealth service on FTTH has a over a nursing home on FTTN.”

                        How far from the node is the nursing home in question?

                      • Paul Thompson
                        Posted 28/02/2013 at 6:55 pm | Permalink |

                        alain, it is important to post respectfully. You don’t do so.

                        Posting nonsense is disrespectful, no matter how courteously phrased it is. Your repeated nonsense is disrespectful to every reader of this site. Your flagrant FUD is blatantly offensive.

                        I have attacked the content of your posts. It looks like you are going to, for the billionth time, run away from the points which counter your nonsense.

                        Renai, it is time to rethink your site policy. A policy which only looks at formal etiquette is inadequate and will end up punishing the symptom and not the cause. It is too easy to hide trolling or mendacious behaviour behind carefully neutral words with the intent to cause grievance.

                        alain has done his dash.

                      • Posted 28/02/2013 at 8:21 pm | Permalink |

                        hey Paul,

                        you have been banned from posting on Delimiter for a week for breaching the polite behaviour rule.

                        Cheers,

                        Renai

                      • Posted 28/02/2013 at 8:24 pm | Permalink |

                        “it can be accommodated now by sending stills in your live Skype session or simply as a attachment to a email”

                        hey Alain,

                        I have spent a bit of time with medical specialists, and I can assure you that some of these medical images, especially those taken with specialist equipment, are much too high definition and large in file to be sent over current ADSL. This is one reason why there is a prevalence of fibre to hospitals now. FTTN has poor upload speeds; upload is indeed a critical factor in telehealth.

                        Example: A doctor in a rural town sending images to a specialist in the city. This is a common practice in my home town of Broken Hill where there are no specialists (and, actually, very few doctors).

                        Renai

    19. Phil Cheslett
      Posted 26/02/2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink |

      Lynch’s association with CommsDay makes him exactly the sort of imbecile that Renai rightly points out is the usual journalism candidate.

      /ie an obvious mouthpiece for vested interests.

      As Elvis Costello noted; we’re ‘easily led but much too scared to follow…’:

      • Posted 26/02/2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink |

        Lynch is the owner and publisher of Communications Day.

    20. Posted 26/02/2013 at 11:53 pm | Permalink |

      Just FYI peeps

      I’ve been having a discussion with Grahame over at Comms Day and he’s pointed out 2 things I need to address:

      1- Nick noted in his article that perhaps 50% would get an upgrade with 50 000 nodes. However, Grahame noted some Australians, perhaps as much as 40% (Grahame and I disagree on the exact number…see comments over there for details) could have higher speeds by simply upgrading the DSLAMs in those 40% of exchanges with VDSL- no nodes required. These people would see an upgrade in speed because they have line lengths less than 2km. What speed that would be and how reliable is anyone’s guess, or how many DSLAMs would be required (because not all those on short lengths would be on the same DSLAMs), but the fact remains, some would receive a speed upgrade.

      I wanted to clarify this as I think it was unfair of how I treated Grahame’s argument compared to Nick’s. Nick was over-exaggerating that point and that needs to be pointed out, because that’s not what we want or SHOULD be doing to try and make our point. I don’t agree we SHOULD do it this way, but the fact remains it’s possible nonetheless. Grahame still seems convinced the Telstra Tophats upgrade shortened enough lines to make it 45%, but clearly that’s incorrect, as, even if all that 5% (some 600 000) WERE on RIMs with no fibre feed and got upgraded, that’s 3 TIMES more than Telstra themselves said would be affected (some 200 000 premises). And most of the Rims were simply “tophatted’ (hence the upgrade name) so they already HAD ADSL and fibre and no serious average line length shortening would’ve been made at all. In fact, this ZDNET article makes it clear, only some 100 000 didn’t have access to ADSL before:

      http://www.zdnet.com/au/telstra-tops-1000-adsl2-cabinet-upgrades-7000003733/

      So clearly, it’s MUCH closer to 40%, if not well below that, because of various other facts

      2- I’d also like to note, Grahame HAS been interacting with me. Which is a great deal more than many less-than-positive-on-the-nbn commentators do (Andrew Bolt, et al). I would like to thank him publicly for this because he’s one of the only ones and I think that deserves credit.

      Seriously people THIS is the debate we need. Not political, PRACTICAL.

      • djos
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink |

        My biggest beef with Lynch and the other Liberal party sycophants is simply how blatantly short sighted they are being – sure $40Billion is a big chunk of change to spend over 10 years on fibre but we spend that EVERY year on defense!

        FTTP will give this countries businesses and consumers such a massive leg-up in the years to come over countries like the US and UK that folks will look back and wonder how ppl like MT and GL could have been so short-sighted and frankly stupid!

        • Posted 27/02/2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink |

          And another FYI peeps:

          I’ve had another “trade” of comments with Mr Lynch which was considerably less….amicable. It is relatively long and in the bottom 30 or so comments (you have to keep saying “view more comments”) but I’d genuinely like to hear from people if I was being unfair in my final assessment:

          http://www.commsday.com/blog/a-riposte-to-nick-ross-and-slipshod-nbn-advocacy-from-cthe-abc?hubRefSrc=email#lf_comment=60053440

          The comment anchor unfortunately doesn’t work because it isn’t infinite scroll. But if you search for the words: “You are wrong.” you will get to the beginning of Grahame’s most recent comment and mine following.

          There’s a good 10 000 words between us….but I would genuinely like some feedback if people have time.

          • BuildFTTP
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink |

            Him trying to discredit you was definitely out of place.

          • djos
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink |

            Lynch simply isnt worth arguing with, frankly he’s got no respect within the vast majority of ISP/telco employees I know, from my time in the industry, due to his inability to think for himself!

            • Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink |

              Thanks guys.

              I’m not out for a witch hunt, I literally just want to know if I was somehow….disregarding or condescending in my analysis of his comments? If I was, I may owe him an apology. I don’t THINK I am, but when you get in heated struggles like that you can loose objectivity.

          • Ben Zemm
            Posted 27/02/2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink |

            Heh, has Commsday been “Delimited”? I skimmed the article and comments then closed the tab, now clicking on your link and it just times out. They don’t want the NBN because it means more people will DDOS them? :)

    21. Peter
      Posted 27/02/2013 at 12:27 am | Permalink |

      More drivel – I wonder if Stan Beer is included in Malcolm’s zealot list

      http://www.itwire.com/opinion-and-analysis/beerfiles/58874-2014-the-year-of-the-fttn-nbn

    22. Chas
      Posted 27/02/2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink |

      I raise my glass in toast to Nick Ross and Renai LeMay…
      You both are to be congratulated and thanked IMHO. Your efforts are every bit as important (or more so) as the NBN is to this country. If we are ever to reestablish a “Fourth Estate” of journalistic integrity, it will be through the efforts of people like yourselves…again, many thanks!!

      • Djos
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink |

        +eleventy billion!

    23. Ferret
      Posted 27/02/2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink |

      Sad thing is I have put several people onto Nick Ross’s article, particularly people who asked about my opinion on the NBN and therefore started in an interested position. Not one of them could be bothered to finish reading it. Too long. The spin masters will always win because the public’s attention span is woeful.

    24. Aaron
      Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink |

      It is so sad that even a perfect 100% truth artical can carry as little (or less) weight to an average reader as a simple multiple word lie (eg: an accusation “of generating pro-NBN “propaganda”.)

      Study Finds That We Still Believe Untruths Even After Instant Online Corrections:
      http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/24/study-finds-that-we-still-believe-untruths-even-after-instant-online-corrections/

      sigh.

      • Aaron
        Posted 27/02/2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink |

        *Typo: artical=article

    25. Kelley Johnston
      Posted 28/02/2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink |

      I’ve read the ABC report in full. Nick Ross is to be commended; I agree with a good 95% of what he said about the subject.

      As a systems engineer of one stripe or the other for 44 years encompassing software, hardware, networking, systems management and team management, development, support as well as governance, my opinion is firmly in the fibre-to-the-premises solution.

      Fibre-to-the-node reminds me of old software that insisted on 80-column records long after the punch card was rendered obsolete. It makes sense only to someone who can’t adapt to technical change.

      Fibre optic cabling to the home is better than copper for data, full stop. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply mis-informed.

      Malcolm Turnbull wants an alternative to the NBN for political reasons, and he simply hasn’t found one in FTTN.

    26. Bilko
      Posted 08/03/2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink |

      Technically FTTH/P is the superior product but the success of its implementation is a political one.

      How National Party and regional Liberal members can go back to their constituents, whose need for the NBN to go forward is a premium requirement even pleading for it to be installed, whilst at the same time voting to stop it, and look them in the eyes is beyond me. Their local offices should be under siege every day.

      The outcomes of NO local monthly telephone line rentals, used to be $16 per month for me, no long distance call charges, they will be the same price as local calls, even cheaper overseas calls are all no brainers.

      National interest takes a back seat when jumping on the government gravy train is in your sights.

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