• Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Monday, April 14, 2014 13:28 - 48 Comments

    What’s actually important for the NBN: Upload speeds

    rowland

    news Shadow Assistant Communications Minister Michelle Rowland has published an opinionated article arguing strongly that upload speeds represent one of the key aspects of Australia’s current and future broadband needs and that this issue has been almost completely overlooked under the Coalition’s “dog’s breakfast” Multi-Technology Mix model for NBN Co’s rollout.

    Under Labor’s previous NBN policy, some 93 percent of Australian premises were to have received fibre directly to the premise and the remainder satellite or wireless. Fibre to the Premises, as a technical model, allows very high upload speeds. Current retail NBN plans, for instance, allow upload speeds of 40Mbps on 100Mbps plans, while the long-term migration to gigabit speeds will allow upload speeds of 400Mbp.s

    However, NBN Co’s Strategic Review published in December last year changed the paradigm, with the company recommending (and the Coalition formally supporting last week) a vision in which up to a third of Australian premises will be served by the existing HFC cable networks of Telstra and Optus, with Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement used in other areas not already covered by Labor’s FTTP approach. Satellite and wireless is to be used to cover some rural and regional areas as under Labor’s previous plan. This new model is known as the “Multi-Technology Mix” (MTM), or “the Coalition’s Broadband Network” (CBN).

    All of the alternative technologies offered under the MTM/CBN model suffer from more inherent limitations than Labor’s FTTP model, although recent advancements have helped push upload speeds to higher levels than previously thought possible.

    In an opinionated article published on the MP’s website last week, Rowland took the Coalition’s model to task for its lack of focus on upload speeds.

    “For all the Minister’s flip-flopping over the past few days and the subsequent reporting, one of the key aspects that has largely been overlooked is the issue of the upload: its speed, quality and availability,” the Shadow Assistant Minister wrote.

    “While Tony Abbott equates broadband infrastructure investment with a video entertainment system and thinks Malcolm Turnbull invented the Internet, one would have hoped his Minister might have acquired some appreciation of the importance of the upload. But throughout the whole NBN debate, the issue of the upload has taken a back seat. In fact, in his whole time in Parliament, the Minister for Communications has only mentioned the word “upload” once.”

    “And indeed, the Government’s decision this week to lock Australia’s broadband future into a multi-technology mix approach, despite foregoing its once sacrosanct prerequisite for a cost-benefit analysis, does more than just expose the Minister’s rank hypocrisy.”

    “In its new Statement of Expectations, the once explicitly promised delivery of 25 Mbps download speeds by 2016 has been refashioned as a “policy objective”. The download promise broken, one looks to the upload. All we are given is a parenthesised objective of “proportionate upload rates”. What does that even mean? It means Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have sold Australia down the path of least innovation.

    Rowland referred to an infamous quote given by Sir William Preece, the chief engineer of the British Post Office, in 1876. At the time, Preece said: “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” The Labor MP said: “Adjusted for real time, Malcolm Turnbull basically said the same this week … Ours is a messenger boy future.”

    Rowland said during the Coalition’s time in Opposition, it had focused solely on download speeds. Yet, she added, anyone with interest in the ICT sector knew that the big gains in national productivity are achieved by the highest quality, ubiquitous broadband infrastructure with the capability for correspondingly high upload speeds.

    Rowland pointed out that she had said in her first speech to the Parliament on 29 September 2010:

    “In 10 or 20 years our children will look back on the current debate about the NBN and will be shocked by the short-sightedness of some of the views expressed about the NBN today, particularly the commentary that is fixated on the download path: the false assumption that the NBN is merely a matter of faster emails or web-surfing. The reality is the NBN is not about the download. It is all about the upload.

    It is about a whole new category of enhanced services and applications that can only be achieved on a high-speed broadband platform that requires speeds only fibre technology can give—services and applications that have not even been invented yet. We have a glimpse today of what some of those applications will be, and they are positive. In the area of health, they include online medical consultations, remote diagnosis of electronic medical images and in-home monitoring of elderly people and sufferers of chronic disease.”

    “Nearly four years later,” she said last week, “an appreciation of (and strategy for) harnessing the value of the upload for such transformation remains absent from the Abbott Government’s agenda and the column space of most commentators. Which is actually strange when one considers we are now in the user-generated content era: photos, video, commentary, applications. Don’t forget about cloud computing and video conferencing, all inherently symmetrical in their bandwidth requirements. The basic rule that download speeds are given preferential treatment over the upload is breaking down, as the gap between downloading and uploading diminishes.”

    Despite this, Rowland said, it was “just not technically possible” to get decent upload speeds on today’s fixed broadband networks.

    “And if Turnbull gets his way, that’s the way things are going to stay,” the MP said. “VDSL and HFC, the key tenets of his multi-technology mix, are inherently biased towards the download. This in itself exposes the utter folly of any government to formulate policy based on limited predictions of the level of demand that exists now and what it will be in future. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the William Preece view of technology is a dud.”

    “Australia had the opportunity to be at the head of the curve of this upload-driven transformation. We can again, but it won’t be by virtue of a dog’s breakfast of rotting copper and an existing cable network that even its owners admit is not up to the task.”

    Rowland said in general that developments in the telecommunications industry over the past week with respect to Minister Turnbull had been “farcical in their lack of consistency”, with a “litany of broken promises”.

    “It would almost be humorous if it wasn’t so depressing, topped off by the Minister’s recent performance on Lateline,” she said, “which confirmed that, for all his talk, he really doesn’t care about improving broadband quality and access in Australia.”

    “This Government has been in office now for 7 months. It’s a year since Tony Abbott stood by an awkward-looking Malcolm Turnbull and promised universal 25 Mbps by 2016. Meanwhile, I still receive a steady stream of complaints from local residents who can’t access “broadband” using anything other than a dongle – wireless broadband of unreliable quality and prohibitive cost; no ADSL and no cable access. And no improvement in sight. Yes Minister, these people do exist and there are lots of them.”

    “The only difference between now and 7 months ago is that they have fallen off the NBN rollout map, left to rely on messenger boys.”

    opinion/analysis
    Rowland’s precisely right: If you examine all the trends, they consistently point towards the rise of the need for greater upload speeds (sometimes even in parity with download speeds) as a core tenent of the future development of broadband networks. The demand is often coming from businesses, but a lot of it is also coming from consumer-land, especially with platforms such as YouTube gaining traction. If you’ve spent any time uploading any video online, and I suspect that most people have these days, then you’ll know that as you do so, you quickly become aware just how large the disparity between upload and download speeds currently is.

    The obvious answer to this criticism is to point out that recent developments in both the HFC and FttX arenas have shown that higher upload speeds can be achieved through these network rollout methodologies than was previously suspected. In addition, while upload speeds are important, it should be apparent that it is going to take a long time and a great deal of technological development before they are as important as download speeds. These are legitimate replies to Rowland’s comments.

    However, if you extend the debate over the long-term — say, 10 to 20 years — rather than the short or even medium term, Rowland’s comments start to look increasingly more valid. In 10 years, with ubiquitous, wall-sized high-speed videoconferencing between every business and government premise and many homes, will we really be willing to settle for inferior upload speeds? I really don’t think so.

    And this is the point. Labor’s NBN policy, and even the Coalition’s CBN policy, should not be about short- or even medium-term vision. The copper network which Australia relies upon right now for most of its telecommunications was built progressively over a century. Rowland’s point — and she is objectively right — is that the upgrade of that network to fibre needs to look over a similarly long period. In the long-term, the only fixed broadband technology that matters is fibre — and we should be heading directly that way as a consequence. The quicker we get there, the better for Australia’s long-term economic forecast.

    And let us not forget, even according to NBN Co’s own Strategic Review, the difference between the Coalition’s MTM mix option and a full FTTP rollout is only a few years and a few billion dollars. In the long-term, one suspects we will come to see that amount as pocket change and the increased time frames as insignificant.

    Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting

    submit to reddit

    48 Comments

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. GongGav
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

      One of the things I have repeatedly stated over the whole debate is that following Moore’s Law, our speed needs are going to hit 1 Gbps sooner rather than later. If yo ustart in 1999, with 56k being the standard connection, and double those speeds every two years, we’re needing 100 Mbps as a standard by around 2021 to 2023. 1 Gbps by 2029 or thereabouts.

      To think that rate is going to suddenly disappear is ludicrous, and luddite to the extreme. It hasnt failed over 20 years, why would it fail now when we’re more connected than ever.

      So when you’re talking about a rollout schedule thats measured in years, why arent we planning for that sort of time period? This is the one key failing I will consistently point out to people over and over. Its been proven that our needs grow at an exceptionally consistent rate, and only one level of technology will be able to service that need in 10 years time.

      A level of technology that doesnt involve copper. Build it once, build it right.

    2. Carl
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink |

      Here, Here!!!

    3. Soth
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink |

      1TB of cloud space from Google aww yeah!
      Wait.. Why does it say 5 months to upload my files?!?

      • grump3
        Posted 22/04/2014 at 1:34 am | Permalink |

        With Both Microsoft & Google pushing for cloud service & storage adoption I would suggest the demand for high upload speeds will become painfully apparent much earlier than even medium term. My ADSL1 takes around 36 hours to send close to 1 GB to my Dropbox account.

    4. Sundar
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink |

      In my opinion we do not need high speeds (upload or download). Over the past few decades we chose to give away the technology game and just wanted to be world’s parking space. We are on track of achieving that. We as a nation have set the bar to be mediocre. So that is what the politicians are aiming for. So are the voters who prefer ‘shock and awe’ sound bytes over substantive discussion, analysis and facts.

      Those of us who need 1 gig should just get out and get hooked to one of the Google’s high speed internet roll out zones or parts move to parts of SE Asia instead of trying to pump sense into these blockheads.

      • Alex (NBN)
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink |

        +1

        Sorry that was meant to be a reply to Sundar

      • Jarrod CL
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink |

        “We as a nation have set the bar to be mediocre. ”

        That’s a bit optimistic, really. I think we left mediocre well behind.

    5. quink
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:00 pm | Permalink |

      Here’s a simple numbers game:

      1. Floppy disk save speeds: 0.5 Mbps.
      2. Coalition NBN upload speeds (although that’s according to Turnbull, so who knows): 4 to 6 Mbps.
      3. Two 32 GB SD cards being shipped in the mail and taking two days: 6.1 Mbps.
      4. ZIP disk save speeds: 12 Mbps.
      5. Average upload speed in Russia in early 2014: 20 Mbps

      5. Labor’s NBN upload speeds: 1244 Mbps. Most popular plan is likely to be 40 Mbps for the time being and the upload speed is based more on pricing and demand designed to pay off the thing than technical capability.

      But sure, let’s shove 40-odd billion down hole #2 instead of #5, even though #5 is cheaper to run and upgrade in the future. And yes, the growth in downloads as per the latest ABS statistics is still exponential. Which, with some basic maths, allows you to figure out that a switch from typical ADSL2+ to typical VDSL2 will keep up with growth for about 2 to 4 years.

      But here I go talking to a wall again.

      • quink
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink |

        Well, now we have a guarantee on the upload speeds:

        http://www.itnews.com.au/News/382817,nbn-co-drops-speed-guarantees-for-fttn-service.aspx#ixzz2yu1qTw84

        1 Mbps. AKA twice the save speed of a 3.5 inch floppy drive.

        *slow clap*

        And, knowing what we know, there’s no guarantee that’s a promise that’ll be kept.

        • dJOS
          Posted 15/04/2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink |

          1mbps Uploads!!!!

          What a disgrace, in every way MTM has truly earnt the name #FraudBand!

        • dJOS
          Posted 15/04/2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink |

          Just saw this story on slashdot – the byte magazine cover sums up why the naysayers are dead wrong about future connectivity requirements.

          http://m.slashdot.org/story/200763

          but 33 years later, it’s also a smart visual explanation of why the future of technology so often bears so little resemblance to anyone’s predictions. I wrote about this over at TIME.com. ‘Back then, a pundit who started talking about gigabytes of storage or high-resolution color screens or instant access to computers around the world or built-in cameras and music players would have been accused of indulging in science fiction.

    6. Hanmor
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink |

      I currently am on Optus HFC cable.

      Download speed 16.7 Mbps.

      Upload speed 0.230 Mbps. Half the speed of a 20 year old floppy disk write.

      HFC cable upload speeds of 2-4Mbps is something I dream of.

      • Grant
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink |

        2.4Mbps upload speed has been available on cable for years, and the technology is capable of far, far higher upload rates.

        • Abel Adamski
          Posted 15/04/2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink |

          Grant
          Did you miss this component that you responded to

          “I currently am on Optus HFC cable.”

          Are you actually aware of what it will cost to upgrade to those capabilities you laud. ?

    7. dJOS
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink |

      Good article Renai.

      “And let us not forget, even according to NBN Co’s own Strategic Review, the difference between the Coalition’s MTM mix option and a full FTTP rollout is only a few years and a few billion dollars. In the long-term, one suspects we will come to see that amount as pocket change and the increased time frames as insignificant.”

      and this is what fills me with rage, our short-sighted Luddite government is going to waste billions on a temporary upgrade and at the same time it will hold the nation back and make it nearly impossible for the next Google or FaceBook to come from Australian entrepreneurs!

      • Abel Adamski
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink |

        But but, it fits with the removal of the Science and Technology minister, the anticipated cut of up to 20% with ongoing annual cuts to the CSIRO

    8. Frank
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink |

      I think that in 10 or 20 years time we’ll all be using crazy fast wireless tech and wondering why the government spent 70 billion dollars on a network that hardly gets used anymore.

      It’s 2014 and optus can already offer speeds of 100/40 over LTE in sydney and Perth.. work is progressing on LTE’s replacements now too. Just like ADSL has progress with vDSL.. so will compression and other technologies make completely wireless technology much more feasible.

      • Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink |

        What do you think transports that data once it hits the wireless tower? Oh.. right… fibre….

        Wireless is also a shared medium, who cares if Optus is offering “100/40″ over LTE if it is split with 1000 customers in the range of that tower?

      • GongGav
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

        Problem with wireless Frank is that as more people use it, it slows down. Same problem as peak hour traffic. A motorway may be designed to be driven at 120 kmh, but if there are 10,000 cars on the same stretch of road you wont be going anywhere near that.

        Congestion is the biggest issue for wireless, and as more people are connected, the worse the problem gets. Wireless also needs to plug into something that can handle the speed, or it simply gets limited by the weakest component in the chain. So in your super duper wireless world, we’re going to be needing a full fiber network anyway.

        The other issue is that 96% of data is still done through fixed line. The heavy lifting in other words. And that remaining 4% already causes 90% slowdowns in high traffic areas. What do you think it will be like in a world where we expect to be permanently connected to an instant internet?

      • E
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

        You can also equate it to freight. It sure is nice flying stuff across the pacific in 12 hours but I doubt “that in 10 or 20 years time we’ll all be using crazy fast [flying] tech and wondering why [every major logistics company ever] spent [more than 70 billion dollars] on a [fleet of freight ships] that hardly gets used anymore.”

      • Brett Haydon
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink |

        The best future tech demo I have seen that gets around the fundamental problems with the next 10 years+ of mobile is called pcell, but assuming that works as it appears to, it requires lots of fibre to connect it up – and economically probably only feasible for high density, high value areas. The laws of physics rule out miracles.

      • John
        Posted 14/04/2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink |

        Frank, you have it exactly backwards.

        Wireless is a shared medium. To get faster speed you need greater bandwidth, however the laws of Physics insist that If you increase one user’s bandwidth, everything else must go slower.

        Unfortunately the wireless spectrum is chock full, so the only way you can increase available bandwidth is by removing the wasteful point-to-point links.

        The main bandwidth hog is TV, but to remove TV you would need to provide every fixed site with a hard-wired high-bandwidth connection, eg give them Fiber Optics.

        So if you really believed in high-speed wireless, you would be insisting on a universal Fiber network.

        Unless of course you are just a mindless troll.

      • david
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink |

        The underlying technology behind communications gear being released today was being discussed in academia at least 15 years ago, and in many cases 50 years ago.
        There are very well understood fundamental physical limits to all communications systems which mean we have a very good idea of what the future holds – at least in terms of the underlying technology. (The applications running on top are much more difficult to predict because they are largely a result of human behaviour and preferences)
        Looking at the current research, here’s what the future holds for wireless : Many very small cells delivering very high bit rates using sophisticated beamforming and inter base station co-operation to manage interference, with the base stations connected by fiber.
        So in a sense you may be right – most people will be using ultra fast, reliable, wireless communications, while blissfully unaware of the gigabit traffic flowing over the fiber network to make it all work.

        Just like the student I recently encountered who asserted that his iphone doesn’t use batteries.

      • Jarrod CL
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink |

        “It’s 2014 and optus can already offer speeds of 100/40 over LTE in sydney and Perth”

        Off you go to a major sporting match and see how that goes. Oh, it’s dropped back to 2G? And that’s just from Facebook and Instagram? Now imagine people streaming high def video off those towers. All at once. To multiple devices in a premise. Enjoy.

      • Brendan
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink |

        “I think that in 10 or 20 years time we’ll all be using crazy fast wireless tech..”

        Do you know how long that view has existed as the “obvious” logical conclusion?

        Since the CSIRO took the technology and created a new chip that greatly improved signal quality. That was in the 1990′s. Even won a patent battle. Woo.

        Since then wireless and it’s relatives (GSM, EDGE, 3G, et all) has forever been the ‘crazy fast’ solution that’s ‘just around the corner’.

        Over the course of the last twenty (20) years, wireless has been claimed as the future.

        You know what? It is. In part.

        It’s the glue that helps people work, play and live a mobile interconnected life. It is not, nor is it ever to be the singular solution to high speed, ubiquitous Internet.

        Because it can never be cheaper, have greater capacity and performance than the solution that connects it to the rest of the world.

        Fibre.

      • tinman.au
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink |

        Perhaps you missed it, but were running out of spectrum Frank.

        http://delimiter.com.au/2014/04/07/running-wireless-spectrum-can/

        And wireless isn’t the answer (it may be a part of an answer though), try using your smartphones data link in any of the CBD’s of any major city during the day to see what I mean….

    9. Ranu
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 5:14 pm | Permalink |

      As someone lucky enough to already have a fibre connection to my house (new build estate), I couldn’t agree more with the argument that upload speeds are vital to a true broadband economy.
      When I moved into the fibre-serviced area yes it was great. For the first few days I was downloading hi-def movies, streaming video, running speedtest.net to make myself smile. But after that wore off, it’s the upload speed I appreciate most. I went from about 0.5Mbps at my old house to 40Mbps upload at the new one. This makes cloud services like Dropbox and Crashplan viable, improves Skype immensely, and truly allows me to work from home where quick access to large files is imperative.
      The CBN’s ignoring of upload speeds should be shown for what it is, a deliberate plan to shoehorn their MTM-solution into a policy.

    10. Tailgator
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 6:30 pm | Permalink |

      Of course MP Michelle Rowland is right. Not that it takes any great intellect or technical knowledge to appreciate the reasons. I mean Blind Freddy could see and understand why.
      The REALLY FRUSTRATING part is that ‘Mr Broadband’ M Turnbull refuses to acknowledge it, based purely on economic and political ideological reasons.

      His legacy and reputation will far exceed Senator Alston and Coonan combined in both stupidity and pig headed-ness. Which of course is little consolation for a country that has to deal with the consequences.

    11. R
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink |

      Thank you!
      I’ve been saying this since Turnbull announced the MTM. Hopefully now it’ll at least get some serious consideration. There’s a whole realm of services and tools that are unusable on a mere 1 Mb upstream bandwidth (which is a pretty decent speed to get on ADSL2+).

    12. Bean Dip
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 6:46 pm | Permalink |

      There is a definable reason why Malcolm, Tony and the entire “team” do not want ubiquitous fast upload speeds to be available in Australia for every Internet user.

      To appreciate the reason, it is important to understand exactly how the Internet connectivity market status quo operates and exactly who benefits from it now and has benefited historically.

      First it is important to set some comparative awareness and a few examples of what already happens in the real world of Telco business and profit taking. Telco is, from the perspective of investment, a major rent taker, the high retail charges for product and services bear very little resemblance to the extremely small wholesale cost. Traditionally telco profitability was protected by virtue of monopoly control.

      Deregulation was intended to provide a fairer set of outcomes to improve the integrity and costs of service to benefit the entire community, and therefore the economy. One of the targets was improved productivity. Another goal was to increase the investment potential of the digital economy overall.

      Instead, what happened is that the entire process was hijacked over time by cyclic political malfeasance and lack of appreciation that Telco is not economically suited to being exploited as a cash cow without causing harm to the broader economy over the long term.

      Across Europe they passed a law to halt the massive overcharging for international roaming by Telco’s because they realised it was criminal and indirectly restricting all other forms of commerce, including tourism.

      Nobody would argue that excessive roaming charges are patently wrong and are driven purely by greed and a mentality of rent taking, the wholesale network costs for roaming, within the industry are minimal, in many cases the costs are absorbed or waived even between competing companies, often the expectation is that it costs more to account for the entire wholesale metering of roaming charges between encumbents than the amounts such billing would net each entity.

      Likewise, a similar situation exists with the provisioning of high speed upload capacity for commercial and public sector clients. The real wholesale cost is low, yet the perceived commercial value and the demand is very high. Therefore encumbent telcos charge very excessively for reliable, extremely fast data upload services.

      These massive costs are hidden from public view, yet they have affect across the entire economy, we are all indirectly paying these costs as they are passed on throughout the supply chain for virtually all goods and services. They are also a massive hidden burden on the tax take as they are included in all the costs of provision for all government entities from local through to federal.

      Every product, service or public facility that each of us pays for, indirectly increases Telco profits unfairly, there is no desire to hinder the profitability of any commercial entity, just that when the profit margins gained are many thousands of times higher than the real wholesale cost, it becomes criminal and a toxic burden on the entire long term economy.

      How does this situation apply to the degraded version of the NBN?

      Fibre To The Premises (business, residential or public entity) is a disruptive technology that levels the competitive playing field, because it removes the capacity for Telco to rort us all through the charges they traditionally levied for high speed upload capacity. FTTP superceeds high cost leased line data services and synchronous connectivity provisioning, which to date, have been the services needed for any entity that cannot function without high speed uploads.

      Stated simply, the Coalition government, all Telcos and most ISP / RSP entities are seeking to uphold the status quo of massive overcharging for fast upload speed provisioning. It is a goose that lays golden eggs and they incorrectly think that FTTP will kill the goose. In fact ubiquitous FTTP can create infinitely more alternative and investor accessible golden egg laying geese, however Luddites can never understand the potential ahead.

      The plan for FTTP in Australia was made by independant experts consulted by the previous Labor government and those consultants knew full well how the wholesale Telco systems operate and how unfair it is, just as any individual knows that massive overcharging for global roaming is unfair. Hidden corruption is still corruption.

      The minority that hold the majority of Telco shares are fearful that technology improvements are a threat to their investments, so they will sell us all short by forcing a halt to any change to the technology status quo, sadly they are actually neutering the single golden egg laying goose and now it cannot spawn many offspring that would have actually increased their potential for other cycles of investment through many innovative means, that the FTTP technologies they so fear now would instead impart to the free economy in the long term.

      To illustrate that the cost of high speed uploads are no different to downloads, inside wholesale Telco data networks, we simply have to refer to the pricing model of Google Fibre in markets where it is already installed and operating. US$70 Retail per month buys unlimited uploads and downloads at 1Gb per second, with higher speeds planned. The rest is FUD and we are all being taken for a ride.

      Malcolm, Tony and his minions are simply using obfuscation and untruths to convince us all that we should not have a fairer, equal and more productive broadband network. They do this only to please the 1%, sadly the 1% have most of the dollars but have absolutely no sense.

      Why is it important to understand this concept? Consider that ALL downloads start life as uploads, data downloads are usually priced cheaply for the recipient, but they each also cost far more as an upload data stream at the source, EXCEPT if everyone has FTTP connectivity, then uploads are also as cheap as downloads. This frightens the encumbent Telco industry, it has not yet occurred to them that as uploads become more desirable, the pie will get bigger and they will make far more profit from massive ‘turnover’ than from the current trend of ‘high markups’ on small sales.

      The future is going to include far more content creation, not just by the traditional market players, but by everybody everywhere and the upload to download ratios will become balanced. Fraudband and asynchronous networks will not provide support for this and it is far closer than even the ICT and media industries expect, with the possible exception of the expectations of companies such as Google and Apple.

      When this shift occurs, the very people, and their investors that are afraid of FTTP now, will be the ones kicking themselves for being so fearful and ignorant. So they are at great risk of being forever sidelined. Such a pity they are motivated by fear and not by desire.

    13. Chris
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 7:03 pm | Permalink |

      Frank, I think you’re also forgetting the cost of data over wireless. Its very obvious the home connections are easily at the 100-200GB mark which is very common and sought after, whereas your 4G data plans cost more for an enormous 5GB of data.

      You also forgot the issue with wireless is black spots. My house gets 1 bar reception on 3G, and barely works. Its average is around 1.5Mbps. Its basically useless. This also occurred at my work location, which had to switch from one providers network to another.

      Stating wireless will fix everything is naive and silly.

      FTTH is the only way to be fair, have equal speeds, pricing, availability and future proof – ie the cable is not the limiting factor. No more pair gains, rims, distance to exchange, copper joins, no free ports, we dont have our hardware in the exchange etc etc etc.

    14. Rory
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink |

      Michelle Rowland’s comments are spot on.

      It’s all about the upload.

    15. John Smith
      Posted 14/04/2014 at 10:49 pm | Permalink |

      Turnbull & Abbott will be forever know as the F@#$wits who F@#$ed up the NBN for Australia. It should not even be called the NBN anymore. Its a Claytons NBN.

      They are too stupid and pigheaded that they couldnt do something good for Australia. They just had to go against what ever Labor wanted to do even if it was the right or better way.

      We need FTTP to give us decent download and more importantly upload speeds. This is what we all need. This is what business needs. Turnbull & Abbott just cant see it.

      I already get 22Mbps. Do i care that their Claytons NBN will give me 25Mbps. I would have had the real NBN by now if Turnbull & Abbott didnt get in. Will i ever get more. I have no idea. Maybe when you get kicked out next election and labor try to fix your F@#$ ups.

      Turnbull & Abbott never one the last election. They lost it.

      Turnbull & Abbott: The Liberal Luddites

    16. Damian
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 8:57 am | Permalink |

      I’m a strong supporter of FTTP, but why have I never seen any ‘real world’ examples of the benefits of high upload speeds?

      Instead of just summarizing and saying it’s beneficial to industry XYZ, give REAL examples with REAL people. There’s the website that shows how quickly you can upload/download a DVD or album of photos, but not much else.

      What about real estate agents? Surely they would like to take lots of photos and videos of a property and upload them at home, instead of returning to the office. Someone involved in civil construction might take hundreds of high quality photos and videos too, and want to upload them from home. If you could drive home 30 minutes early 2 or 3 days a week instead of driving to the office, I would call that a bonus.

      Anyone working with AutoCAD would like a high upload speed so they can sync all their work to the server, or send off to engineering. Animation, games design, etc. I think NBN should have had more video interviews with people in these industries, giving clear examples of how high upload speeds would change the way they work. They should put all these video interviews on a website, and divide them by industry.
      Construction, small business owners, retail, real estate, medical, etc, so people can easily find examples that might apply to them.

      • Psychaotix
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink |

        What would I use FttP for?

        Firstly, it’d allow me to actually USE something like Dropbox/Google Drive/Onedrive(formerly Skydrive) or whatever other cloud storage solution you want to use to actually back up data off my computer for disaster recovery. In turn, the volume of data that would be generated by the use of said cloud storage solutions would likely encourage those companies to invest in an Australian Datacentre.

        I would also use it to be able to share information between me and my sister. Sure, I could send a file on a SD card over to her, but I’d really like to do that real time.

        It also sounds silly, but what’s to stop the entire house being connected into the internet? Not sure if you left the stove on? Access the stove via the UI and, if the interface shows that a plate or burner is on, you can shut it down remotely. Your fridge could access a site like Banana Blue and automatically restock on items when you run out, or otherwise send you a notification that a given product has run out. Same with your washing, Aircon, lighting, and pretty much anything else.

        You could also have “Smart” switches that can report to you (and the power company, of course) how much load they’re needing, which then goes to an aggregation point where it can be accessed and “read” no matter where you are.

        What about your alarm system? If it goes off, your security company could access the real-time feed in full HD, and then, if something odd is seen, like someone going through your home, that feed can then be forwarded to the cops. Same applies if that security system detects that an elderly occupant has triggered their medical alert, or the internal sensors pick up that the pacemaker has detected a medical condition. The Ambulance could be dispatched and they would be able to “See” where their patient is, instead of have to fight room by room..

        Small Businesses would benefit as well, because they would have a reliable connection that they can use to send files to their clients directly, and not have to wait however many hours it takes. If time permits, they could also upload it to a third party server or cloud storage where the client can access it at their leisure.

        All of these ideas rely on a fast and, perhaps more importantly, stable internet connection, particularly with a fast upload speed. ADSL doesn’t cut it on either point.

        And I’m not even getting into things like Youtube, Twitch.tv game streaming and other things.

      • Brendan
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink |

        Honestly? It’s the same reason you likely responded to this from a modern device, hanging off a broadband connection.

        Because, logically, it’s a better service than dial up was.

        Upload speeds are important because they help define better services. And that delivers all manner of options.

        Just like the change from narrowband to broadband.

    17. Sash
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 10:55 am | Permalink |

      I say F*** the NBN.

      Trash it, lets TRUE COMPETITION roll out fibre to the chrerry-picking locations.

      Let Sydney and Melbourne be wired up in fibre by the likes of TPG etc..

      I don’t give a toss about the fibre to the country farms….. like everything else they can wait 20 years for it.

      BUT, dont stop the rest of the primary wealth generating citizens obtaining fibre to their premises TODAY!

      i cant believe u guys VOTED these clowns in. Im truly counting down the days for the next elections so we can undo this disaster and do it right…. so we lose 3 years, ppl learn from their mistakes.

      • Abel Adamski
        Posted 15/04/2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink |

        Is TPG rolling out Fibre? – no just glorified FTTN over copper. Don’t expect your cherry pickers to provide FTTP to Suburbia even much of inner city.
        Where do you think the money comes from to provide your CBD’s and high value areas, a clue what does Australia earn it’s income from, ?

    18. anthony
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 11:12 am | Permalink |

      does this mean some one down there knows what they are talking about,

      Whoa

    19. Brendan
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink |

      NBNco has become schizophrenic (and it’s Board is all but silent), Turnbull continues to sell expired snake oil, infrastructure investment is neutered and the ACCC believes in a competition model that doesn’t scale outside of an exchange.

      Explain to me, again, how this is worth $29.5 Billion in investment?

      Honestly. With a straight face. Explain to me how going backwards, with short-term obsolescence baked in, is worth a large capital investment. Please.

      That doesn’t mean bag out labor’s policy, either. It’s dead. Jim.

      Tell me how the liberal replacement policy is going to deliver a better outcome. In your own time.

    20. Brendan
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 12:39 pm | Permalink |

      Also either a comment has been deleted, or there is a really weird date sorting issue.

      Renai? ;)

    21. tinman.au
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink |

      The people that fixate on download speed are generally the ones that don’t have a clue as to how/why a solid network can boost productivity…they are also (almost always) the ones that seem to think the Internet is just for pr0n and torrents.

    22. Abel Adamski
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink |

      Looking at the direction we are being taken, I see many redundant unemployed 50+ year old’s selling up all their assets and following the UK retirees to Thailand, cheaper living costs, excellent medical available at reasonable pricing which is better than what our medical system will provide in years to come, even now.
      Their superior broadband will enable them to build income generating activities. – they will be far better off then being bled dry with no real future in Aust

    23. midspace
      Posted 15/04/2014 at 11:12 pm | Permalink |

      As is often forgotten, NBNCo had planned on their road map of the rollout, for Enterprise grade services to provide symmetrical speeds of 1Gbps.
      That is 1Gbps download with 1Gbps upload.
      Symmetrical services would have commenced testing in either the last quarter of 2014 or the first quarter of 2015.

    24. Posted 16/04/2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink |

      Keep calm and carry on. I’m still hopeful that they can improve this. I think the recommended speed is somewhere between 50-75%. I hope we can hit that or better yet exceed. *fingers crossed

    25. Pierre
      Posted 19/04/2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink |

      so, there are already families, who have their kids in school, who did move house, to get their kids a future that they deserved. Move House ?? are you kidding? – YES – they did Move House. ! !

      Try running a modern family that has only 3g connections, which is Not Broadband, as such and is sometimes quite unreliable, and especially at peak times.

      you really expect your kids to to achieve their school-work on a smart-phone? or a tablet?
      - maybe if they can get a WiFi connection to a *dsl or fibre based broadband – then maybe.

      this idea that 3g is adequate is just plain BS.
      - especially as our local Telecoms companies continue to deliver a substandard service,
      - when compare to services that are available in Europe.

    26. Posted 25/04/2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink |

      I’ve just taken the step of retiring from the IT industry after more that forty years. The first 25 years was as and IBM systems engineer, with a good slab of that time spent on all aspects of systems and networking performance matters. After retiring from IBM, my last nearly twenty so years has been as an independent consulting business owner (with performance issues still cropping up from time to time at various clients).

      I’ve been using Optus HFC cable in Melbourne since it first became available (in the early 2000s), at a nominal download speed originally at 10 Mbps (DOCSIS 1.0 standard), later upgraded to 20 Mbps (DOCSIS 2.0 I think), then a couple of years ago to 100 Mbps (DOCSIS 3.0 standard).

      Also tried Telstra HFC for a couple of years, gave it up because their download quota (like many of their offerings) was overpriced. Also used iiNet ADSL2+ for a couple of years (paying extra for Annex M support to give doubled upload speeds). So I’ve had a reasonably representative experience of the SOHO broadband offerings.

      For an overview of DOCSIS capabilities see http://volpefirm.com/docsis101_upstream-rf/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOCSISOptus.

      The current Optus implementation of DOCSIS 3.0 (when paying for the optional “speed pack” ) provides a nominal maximum speed of 100 Mbps and nominal upload speed of 2 Mbps. For the first year and a half the Optus typical download speed was 60 to 80 Mbps (up to close to 100 Mbps during some off-peak periods). Typical upload speeds are 1.0 to 1.5 Mbps (never reaching the nominal 2.0 Mbps). With my decades-long interest in networking, I run the Optus speed tester at least daily, so have quite a good picture of how their HFC network has been performing over the years.

      During September-November 2013 something went drastically wrong with the Optus HFC network and download speeds dropped to as low as 3.0 Mbps, and rarely exceeded 30 Mbps. To their discredit, Optus kept its customers in the dark during this period of shockingly bad speeds (their PR is abysmal in this regard, something they need to focus on).

      To their credit they remediated this situation by upgrading the networking capabilities of their servers (better network adapters, channel bonding improvements, or whatever, they won’t let on). From December 2013 the download speeds returned to the earlier consistent 100 Mbps upper limit. Even better, around March 2014 they seem to have fine-tuned the HFC network, which now usually runs at download speeds typically between 90 and 105 Mbps (occasionally up to nearly 130 Mbps, an indication that they taken the sensible engineering approach of overprovisioning the network to deliver much more consistent speeds during peak periods).

      However the typical upload speed remains at 1.0 to 1.5 Mbps. The impression that I’ve gotten from the few Optus technical staff in Australia that I’ve man aged to talk with (who are customer support staff rather than the network engineers who do the actual implementation) is that Optus will not be upgrading the upload speeds any time soon, if at all. This is a real shame.

      The Wikipedia page (referenced above) indicates how overseas operators are beginning to offer considerably higher HFC speeds than Optus does with DOCSIS 3.0, and even higher with the recent DOCSIS 3.1 improvements. I’m sure Optus would garner extra customers if they improved the upload speeds to at least 10-20 Mbps, but preferably higher.

      Apparently it’s more difficult to increase the HFC upload speed than the simpler “channel bonding” that improves download speed. Nevertheless I strongly encourage Optus to implement this, since the Coalition’s MTM broadband dictum means that a big proportion of us are going to have HFC as our only high-speed broadband offering. (I presume that Telstra HFC users would want the same thing.)

      As earlier commenters have pointed out, one outcome from high-enough upload speeds is to make Cloud backup a practical option (rather than an unreachable opportunity), for both SOHO and household HFC users. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry every time I get an email (from overseas) inviting me to subscribe to some Cloud backup service or other.

      I could say a lot more on this and related topics, but will stop here.




    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT


    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications


    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry


    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights