God help Australia, says Linton on NBN


The outspoken chief executive of internet service provider Exetel has issued a blunt reaction to the news that the National Broadband Network project is likely to go ahead: “God help us all”.

The revelation yesterday afternoon that rural independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor will support Labor to form government means the NBN is likely to go ahead, with both citing the flagship project as one of the key reasons they decided to support Labor above the Coalition. However Exetel’s John Linton – a long-time critic of the project – repeated his earlier problems with the project when asked for a response by email.

“Oakeshott and Windsor know even less about communications than Gillard and that’s a ridiculous way to decide on how taxpayer’s money is wasted,” he said.

The Exetel chief said nothing about the viability of the NBN project had changed, repeating the Coalition’s line that the project remained “a hugely expensive white elephant that will pauperise the Australian taxpayer every year the Labor Party pours borrowed money into it”.

Furthermore, Linton said, Australia would be poorer generally, and the local telco sector would “continue to be destroyed” because of the “pantomime” played out as the independents decided who they would vote for.

“God help us all,” he concluded.

Linton has been one of the most outspoken critics of the NBN project from the early days of its inception. Just this week the ISP chief wrote on his blog that the Government was foolhardy to try and pick a winner from the ongoing development of technology.

“The real point is that technology moves so quickly and offers so many diverse ‘paths’ that then split in to so many more diverse paths that NO government (command economy or quasi democracy) has the knowledge necessary to make such decisions,” he wrote.”

“The reason that technology is delivered to the possible buyers by multiple commercial vendors is because some decisions will be wrong at any point in time and those companies will collapse but others, who got that particular call correct, will continue. In the meantime the end users will continue to get a service at the best possible price and at the greatest possible ‘technology level’.”

Like some others who have criticised the NBN, Linton’s general thesis has been over time that the development of wireless technologies – such as 3G mobile broadband – has the potential to make the predominantly fibre-based NBN redundant.

“By the end of 2011 wireless broadband will be faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous in Australia than Telstra’s own ADSL2 network which is 3 times larger than any of its competitors,” he wrote on his blog this week.

Image credit: Delimiter


  1. For a man so smart, he can sometimes be so daft. I love how wireless is meant to save us all yet constant, quality coverage seem to be it’s problems, not speed. I’ve experienced being in the middle of Sydney or Melbourne city centres and getting drop outs or large fluctuations in speeds many times. The NextG network is far better for quality, but overall, they simply don’t even come close to a physical service.

    Physical copper/fibre services are going to be around for a LONG time.

  2. I have to say, pretty much everything that comes out of Linton’s mouth makes me not want to choose exetel for my ISP.

    If the head of an ISP doesn’t know (or care about) the physics differences between fibre and wireless, then god help anyone who choses Exetel as an ISP.

  3. The proposition that in around 12 months time wireless is going to be cheaper than ADSL2 is a laughable one. I can’t see a terabyte wireless plan approaching the cost at which current ADSL providers are offering.

  4. OF COURSE Linton is against the NBN. The NBN will basically level the playing field in terms of cost to provide the service, which means ISPs will need to compete on something other than price… where does that leave Exetel? Not in a very good position.

    • Could not agree more…the ISPs that put their heads down and actually INNOVATE instead of just trying to screw every last nickel out of their customers for no extra benefit to the customer, will ultimately win the customers.

      With the NBN, there will finally be a level playing field for ALL players in the market. Market forces will now determine who wins.

      And as they say, he who dares, wins.

      • The “Level Playing Field” will only be level to the POI.
        The playing field will only be level if you have pre-existing backhaul to every single one of the > 200 POIs around the nation that NBN have proposed.
        Right now, at this very moment, that’s Telstra, nobody else.
        By launch, NBN will require 2 or more competitive backhaul providers at each POI, but just look at Coles/Woolies to see that a duopoly isn’t necessarily good for competition.
        Just sayin.

        • Not so – each POI will be connected together in a two-way backbone ring, allowing each and every provider access to the entire national infrastructure through as little as a single POI. Bigger players will join via more than one POI for the purposes of capacity and redundancy, but to say that every ISP will need to have backhaul to every single POI is rubbish – the network itself IS the backhaul.

          • AEB (Aggregated Ethernet Backhaul) will only be offered where there is no competitive backhaul servicing a FSA (Fibre Service Area).
            Where there is competitive backhaul (2 or more suppliers), services to the FSA will only be available via the LEB (Local Ethernet Bitstream) product.
            LEB and AEB are mutually exclusive – AEB will not be offered where competitive backhaul is available. You HAVE to take handoff at the local POI.
            This is why Telstra are arguing for MORE than 200 POIs, because they know that they’re the only ones who have fibre in the ground to all these areas. The more the merrier for them.
            Don’t take my word for it, Google it.

          • I don’t need to Google it – I’ve attended every single technical briefing NBN have put on, the most recent at which Peter Ferris from NBN (one of the lead architects) very succinctly described the entire network. I’ve also worked in the industry for 15 years, and have been dealing with this kind of stuff for a lot of that time.

            Your understanding of how the NBN will be constructed is incorrect.

            The issue of contestable backhaul is for connectivity from the POIs (Points of Interconnect) to the FSNs (Fibre Servicing Node), one of which is contained in each FSA (Fibre Service Area).

            Each FSA/FSN is connected to a single POI, however a POI may service more than one FSA/FSN. In many cases, one POI will only ever service a single FSA/FSN, particularly in built up areas where the number of premises within a single FSA is never likely to change.

            This flexibility is deliberately designed so that areas which are not connected with fibre initially have pre-existing adjacent infrastructure so that down the track, when it becomes feasible to fibre up some of those areas outside of the current 93% footprint, that new FSAs can be built into the network and contestable backhaul is made available to provide the required/ratios contention ratios available through more than one backhaul provider.

            NBN itself will be the “backhaul provider of last resort” – (Quigley’s own words) – whereby if there is already enough existing backhaul into proposed FSAs, NBN won’t be building any backhaul into it AT ALL.

            If a proposed FSA has nothing at all right now, NBN will build it out to provide the bandwidth.

            In this way, great swathes of the 93% footprint ALREADY have enough backhaul fibre – (with oodles of spare capacity) – that “all” NBN have to do is do the street-level horizontal cabling, install the FSN, and connect it to the backhaul, job done.

            I’m really sick of people who don’t understand trying to sound like they do.

  5. If wireless Internet is as unreliable and flaky as digital tv reception, then roll out the NBN.

  6. It surprises me that an Australian government, a few short years after divesting itself of the last portion of a large telecommunications company, would establish a new government corporation with borrowed money to take its place.

    Why should taxpayers fund a blanket rollout of fibre optic cable to most residences in Australia when blind Freddie can see the model for most persoanl internet access has changed from static home-centric to mobile device-centric.

    The only argument that can be raised to support the higher capacity of fibre optic to the home is one of improved capacity for entertainment (video to be precise).

    Is Master Chef via broadband in HD a valid way to spend $43 billion dollars?

      • “No, but the benefits to business, medicine, population decentralisation etc. is.”

        Thant’s not an argument for broadband to the home.

          • It’s to the premise, not just the home. Meaning there will be plenty of business that will take up the higher capacity bandwidth. Plus there are a lot of business running out of homes these days. Currently for $1400 a month we get 30/30 Midband Ethernet with 500GB included download from Exetel (which in reality is only 15/15). This is utterly hopeless when compared to the 100/40 NBN with 600GB include for $114.95 (Internode). Admittedly our current plan is a business plan, but from my experience there isn’t much difference (especially with Exetel). Oh and just so you know, speed increases go up by the hundreds of dollars, maxing out at 40/40! Really who wants to pay $1850 for something that has less speed and allowable quota than the current NBN in regional areas.

    • There is no proof whatsoever people are taking up Wireless over Fixed line. Please provide proof or stop claiming this.

      Wireless is atrocious, anyone who has actually used it will tell you this. I did a speedtest on my iPhone a moment ago and got 500ms ping with under 100Kbps throughput.

      • “There is no proof whatsoever people are taking up Wireless over Fixed line. Please provide proof or stop claiming this”

        Because I am on pair gain and can’t get ADSL I have been on wireless here for 3 years. Yes there was a problem for a few months in 2008 but it has been brilliant for over 2 years now. And I can even watch iView on my PS3.

  7. “y the end of 2011 wireless broadband will be faster, cheaper and more ubiquitous in Australia than Telstra’s own ADSL2 network which is 3 times larger than any of its competitors”

    I call BS on this.

  8. Yes, may god help us from spending a relatively small amount of our national budget on a nationwide fibreoptic network that will provide us, and many generations into the future with reliable and fast communications infrastructure. Thankfully, god is just as much of a superstition as a belief in “free market infrastructure.”

  9. Even Warren Truss (Coalition) said yesterday that the NBN was a far better plan then the Coalition plan…clearly the Coalition themselves didn’t even agree on their plan…

  10. God help Australia if we’re all forced to use wireless “broadband”. I work 500 metres from the Optus headquarters and right at this moment can not get reliable 3G access through my Optus 3G phone.

    One thing I will say about Linton – he is entertaining – I wonder if he is mates with Mad Katter?

  11. Anyone that charges you to read their blog – says everything I need to know about their character.

    This is about his personal company loosing money because of his vested interested in wireless. Show me a wireless card that is available cheaply that can push 100 mb/s or even 1 gb/s. Now show me the infrastructure that can support 1000 people all using the same tower.

    We’d spend $43 or more building towers at the end of every street to handle bandwidth connections.

  12. Linton is a tool.

    The current speed record of Fiber is 69,000,000Mbps
    The current speed record of Wireless is barely over 1,000Mbps.

    Wireless isnt ever showing much more than 10Mbps in real world conditions, compared to many countries showing Fiber delivering 1Gbps consistently in real world conditions, for home use also – not residential.

    Need I say more?

    We already have the best 3G network in the world (self-claimed by Telstra) and one of the few 4G networks in Australia – we have over five wireless providers with their own networks in Australia and more resellers than you can poke a stick at.

    Compared to one fixed line provider.

    Does anyone seriously think we need more wireless competition? I sure as hell don’t.

  13. Linton is a douche. I believe there is more than just a little self-interest in his comments.


    • Speed isn’t really the concern with wireless. It’s reliability and coverage. That’s what most of the people touting wireless simply don’t acknowledge.

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