“Wi-Fi breakthrough” undercuts NBN: Andrew Bolt


news Controversial conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has published a blog post arguing that a new development in wireless technology revealed this month could leave the Federal Government’s flagship National Broadband Network project looking like “the biggest white elephant in our history”.

In the post, Bolt highlights an article published by US gadget blog Gizmodo, which references an article published this month in the Massechusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review journal. The article details how researchers at the institution have used a new math algorithm to speed up wireless access through eliminating the need to resent packets of data dropped during the wireless data transfer process.

The technology, known as ‘coded TCP’ has been tested in laboratory studies and licensed by several technology manufacturers. In one test conducted on a train between New York and Boston, the researchers were reportedly able to increase the amount of bandwidth from 500kbps to 13.5Mbps. MIT Technology Review reports:

“The technology transforms the way packets of data are sent. Instead of sending packets, it sends algebraic equations that describe series of packets. So if a packet goes missing, instead of asking the network to resend it, the receiving device can solve for the missing one itself. Since the equations involved are simple and linear, the processing load on a phone, router, or base station is negligible, [Muriel Medard, a professor at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics] says.” However, the technology is less effective in environments where packet loss is not already being seen.

According to Bolt, who has been a long-term critic of the NBN and is broadly aligned with the conservative side of politics, the technology demonstrates undercuts the case for the NBN, which is predominantly using fibre to the home technology. In a post last week entitled “WiFi breakthrough. NBN looking worse.”, he wrote: “Uh oh. More evidence that the Gillard Government’s $37 billion wire-in-the-wall National Broadband Network could be the biggest white elephant in our history.” Comments on the blog appeared to be divided between agreeing with Bolt that the NBN’s fibre is not needed, and disagreeing, on the basis that fibre will be a future-proof technology that will deliver for Australia’s future.

Bolt’s comments are not the first time new breakthroughs in wireless technology have been cited as evidence for why the NBN’s underlying fibre infrastructure is not needed. In July 2011, for example, a new technology named DIDO, for ‘distributed input, distributed output” was revealed in the US, with NBN critics in Australia such as Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull labelling the technology as evidence for why the Federal Government’s choice of fibre to the home technology for the NBN may not be the ideal option in the long term. DIDO similarly implemented a new mathematical algorithm for wireless data transmission.

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

However, the global telecommunications industry is currently almost universally in agreement that in every country, telecommunications needs will continue to be served by a mix of fixed and wireless infrastructure, irrespective of new technologies such as DIDO and ‘coded TCP’, which in any case may take many years to become a commercial proposition sold by current major wireless vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei. The idea that global telecommunications needs could primarily be served by wireless is one held only by an extreme minority in the technology industry; similar to the way that climate change skeptics only represent a tiny proportion of the scientific community, with the overwhelming majority of scientists accepting human-created climate change as a tangible, evidence-based reality.

In Australia, for example, commentators such as Telstra CEO David Thodey have consistently stated that they expect Australians to buy both mobile and fixed broadband packages in future, as they serve differing needs; fixed broadband to supply homes with powerful connections to facilitate big downloads such as video, and mobile broadband when outside the home, for access to services which typically require lesser capacity. In addition, mobile towers typically also require their own fibre connections to funnel data back from wireless connections to the major fixed-line telecommunications networks.

Bolt’s comments are also not the first time the commentator has strongly criticised the NBN. In August, for example, the commentator published a series of strongly worded blog posts over the past week arguing that the “gold-plated” National Broadband Network project is turning into the Federal Government’s “biggest financial disaster by far”.

There is a persistent phrase floating around Australia’s telecommunications industry right now which I think perfectly illustrates this kind of “wireless breakthrough” which commentators like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones love to push as evidence for why the Federal Government’s fibre-based NBN project is the wrong model. That phrase is “atomic banana”.

Throughout the history of the NBN debate over most of the past decade, we’ve seen this kind of argument put forward again and again. A new and potentially revolutionary technology arises, the kind which could challenge our thinking about the future of the telecommunications industry. It’s only in research phase, and hasn’t been tested in real-world deployments, let alone made it to the point where it’s available for telcos such as NBN Co, Telstra or Optus to deploy. As it stands, these technologies are little more than theories emanating from research institutions like MIT.

If you work in the technology sector or follow it closely, you’re familiar with these kinds of announcements, as they happen a few times a year. But you don’t take them seriously until they actually make it into real-world products. These announcements aren’t really technology; they’re more pure science, produced by research and development teams. Eventually many scientific discoveries will make their way into useful technology, but usually that process takes many years, usually up to a decade, of work. These sorts of developments are a bit like informed crystal ball-gazing; if you follow them, you can get a broad outline of the way scientific research in the technology field is going, but they’re not concrete signposts or roadmaps.

Commentators such as Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones (remember the “laser beams”) are not specialist technology writers, and may be unaware of this lengthy technology development cycle. The fact that a new scientific breakthrough has been made in a given technology area does not mean that that breakthrough will end up being part of a real-world product that will be usable. And until it does, these sorts of scientific breakthroughs should be taken with a huge grain of salt. An atomic banana will not solve all of Australia’s broadband problems ;)


  1. Bolt shows us once again that he will continue to ignore facts and instead push his opinion. We shouldn’t be surprised, it’s the same thing he’s done with many contentious topics like climate change, aboriginality etc. etc….

    Andrew, as someone much wiser than I once noted, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    Pass the salt please.

    • Exactly

      Its like asking a taxi driver for medical advice


      >> “commentators such as Telstra CEO David Thodey” <<

      David Thodey is the CEO of Telstra – he is not a commentator !

  2. “The technology transforms the way packets of data are sent. Instead of sending packets, it sends algebraic equations that describe series of packets. So if a packet goes missing, instead of asking the network to resend it, the receiving device can solve for the missing one itself. ”


    It’s almost like ECC.

    • LOL, it is a form of error correction. It does not give extra speed or bandwidth. It reduces the retransmits for errors. The 10x speed up. You only experience that if you are getting a lot of errors on a very congested network. Net result? Some savings in retransmits, extra data sent for error correction. Gain in bandwidth zero. Hey it’s be great if you had the technology and others didn’t, youd get a bigger percentage on the bandwidth as others pause for retransmits.

      • This.

        To quote the key term in the featured article:
        “The technology is less effective in environments where packet loss is not already being seen.”

        If, like me and the hundreds of other people who read about these things before morons like Bolt et al pounce on them, you would have first thought “BRILLIANT!” when you read the original piece, and then thought, “Ah shit, News Ltd. will be all over this”, only to go on to read the above line and realise “this actually wont make a damn difference to fixed wireless”, then shudder at the thought of how badly the moron at News Ltd. is going to headline it for their own agenda.


      • Reposting from here: http://www.reddit.com/r/nbn/comments/12bfkq/wifi_breakthrough_undercuts_nbn_andrew_bolt/

        Actually, this lab experiment is already in consumer available products, has been forever. It’s just FEC. Forward error correction, where more data is sent than is needed. In fact, FEC has been a part of the original Red Book standard – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-interleaved_Reed-Solomon_coding . In fact, that was one of the main reasons CD players were so expensive in the beginning – they had to include some memory to make sure that it could do this error correction.

        Here is the original paper: http://www.mit.edu/~medard/papers2011/Modeling%20Network%20Coded%20TCP.pdf

        You can tell no one cares because it’s had all of eight citations in a whole year. In any case, Wi-Fi (802.11n), 10G Ethernet, DVB-S2, WiMAX all have an advanced form of FEC called LDPC.

        All this is doing is also adding FEC to the TCP layer. That means that you may send 25% more data all the time, every time, and in exchange you’ll get the ability on very unreliable, congested networks to get throughput up, if you tweak all the variables, then yes, sure 10 times.

        In fact, if you read the paper, they define the redundancy factor as 1.25, or 25%. That means that you’re sacrificing 20% of your total bandwidth. They then tweak the erasure probability to almost 0.2 and, low and behold, they find that performance goes pants.

        This isn’t anything new, and there is nothing relevant to anything about the NBN here. In fact, they are performing it over a fixed TCP link of fixed speed with a fixed erasure probability.

        And here’s the ultimate kicker:

        Wi-Fi? It has different data rates. We can change the data rate and get rid of packet dropping and erasure in that way, by changing the modulation standard from OFDM/ reducing the size of the constellation diagram.

        All this is basically about retrofitting a Wi-Fi innovation onto other unreliable networks in a backwards compatible way onto other layers. Except that DSL already does this, Wi-Fi does this and WiMAX does this already as a built-in part of the protocol.

        And you know what? This whole thing has already been done too, in 2005, with more citations too:


        With 802.11n there is no reason to do this, in a nutshell. Changing TCP to support this is a huge pain, and all this would introduce is a mechanism that 802.11n already has at a different lower level.

        Now, I ask you, have either WiMAX or 802.11n supplanted the need for the NBN? No. So, this won’t either.

        • Sadly sir, well informed intellectuals like yourself are the minority. People these days are as stupid as they’ve ever been. We haven’t learnt much from history it seems; long term or short term.

  3. Good one Delimiter readers! You’ve crashed the Gizmodo link :(
    Doesn’t work for me, anyone else having this problem?

  4. So much pure nonsensical un-informed bile on that blog it’s sickening. The “tea-bagger” movement is already here in OZ and festering away it seems.

  5. The more attention you give someone like Bolt the more relevant he becomes. When you see a fanatical support of religion X on a street pestering people with their beliefs, trying to be their saviour, you usually just walk past trying to ignore them and avoid direct eye contact. I suggest people try and do the same with Bolt and his soap box.

    Articles like this highlighting is extremely loose grip on reality are nice, but don’t be tempted to go over to Bolts soap box and participate in any way. You will just be making the problem worse.

  6. Once again Gina’s love child has excelled himself with Liberal Party rethoric. He, along with Alan Jones need to attend the fact checking school. Wireless internet is much more expensive than standard broadband.

  7. “if a packet goes missing, instead of asking the network to resend it… Since the equations involved are simple and linear, the processing load on a phone, router, or base station is negligible,”,
    “The technology, known as ‘coded TCP’ has been tested in laboratory studies and licensed by several technology manufacturers.”

    Funny bolt didnt mention that if there arent any errors it makes the network slower, or that for there to be any benefits the network would be in an almost unusable state anyway. I wonder which companies license this 1950’s technology ?

    “Hamming codes are a family of linear error-correcting codes that generalize the Hamming(7,4)-code invented by Richard Hamming in 1950.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamming_code

  8. Why are you giving Bolt the oxygen of publicity? To quote the late, great Linda Smith referring to a similar grub in the UK … “I’m not that happy with him having the oxygen of oxygen, actually.”

    • Well, the idea of ignoring someone and denying them attention is okay if the person is a minor player. However, it doesn’t work if they already have an audience. A lot of people already pay attention to the likes of Bolt and A. Jones and they already have a wide platform. Ignoring them doesn’t achieve much and causes some people to not understand that there are reasonable arguments against the likes of Bolt.

  9. Well after reading the article from MIT Tech web site, it sounds exciting. It’s always good to have advances. I mean, most of that stuff goes over my head so I would not be able to comment on it if it was an NBN vs discussion.
    So what do people think? About the technology, advantages? disadvantages? Trying to talk more about this technology rather than Bolt :(

    • They certainly try to make it sound exciting. Unfortunately it’s just a different implementation of existing error correction technology and does not increase bandwidth.

      • This is a really important point that people are missing (or, perhaps, deliberately glossing over). On a congested wireless network, you’ll get nowhere the theoretical maximum speed because of packet loss. Instead of a theoretical 40Mb/s you might get 2Mb/s or even less.

        This technology simply allows you to get closer to the theoretical maximum speed when the network is congested, by reducing the impact of packet loss, but it does not change the theoretical maximum speed.

        • Close.

          This technology is an additional layer of error correction.

          In internet technology there are many “layers”
          I am going to massively simplify it;
          But for a mobile phone downloading web pages, there are 2 layers that matter.
          The physical layer, (The Radio), It has error correction.
          The TCP layer (The thing that takes “I want a web page thanks” and transmits the data). This also has error correction.

          For TCP, the error correction method is extremely bad for high-loss high-latency networks (ie wireless). The standard error correction TCP uses causes a packet to be retransmitted in the event of an error. This is a VERY good system where errors are uncommon. It saves a lot of bandwidth but only when you have VERY few errors.

          For wireless, a more efficient method, would be one where you wasted bandwidth doing error correction because you are expecting packets to be lost.

          This “technology” breakthrough, modifies the error correction in TCP to a method that isn’t dumb in wireless.

          The “Bandwidth” that they gain; is merely a higher proportion of the standard wireless bandwidth allocation.

          Dean: Your .. misstatement is that this system is useful in a highly congested wireless network. This is not strictly the case. This is a system that makes less reliable communication use (overall) less bandwidth. Reliability is usually a factor of distance from the transmitter. (but extreme congestion and close-proximity of other users would have an impact, so you aren’t outright wrong).

          This technology is a good thing for wireless communications, it would *reduce* the required density of towers in areas where congestion is not an issue. Congestion is an issue in our cities.

          • Closer.

            TCP is particularly affected by packet loss because the protocol was designed for low-loss links. TCP routers on the internet backbone are configured to drop packets in the presence of congestion, and the devices sending the data respond to this packet loss by slowing down, ie. for a TCP link, the protocol uses packet loss to indicate congestion.

            This assumption breaks down on wireless links where packet loss is much higher even in the normal case. Senders slow down because they assume that the packet loss is caused by intermediate routers dropping packets due to congestion.

            Adding Forward Error Correction permits the receivers to reconstruct damaged packets and hence reduce the bit error rate of the channel.

            The cost, as some above have indicated, is a reduction in bandwidth due to the redundant data overhead.

          • Good points, but my point was really just that it doesn’t magically make wireless network more efficient or magically make them able to handle higher bandwidth. Just that you can get closer to the theoretical maximum than you can today.

          • To put it in a very simplified every day laymans terms..

            It’s basically like removing a speed hump on a 60kmh zone stretch of road. It doesn’t change the fact the zone only allows 60kmh. It just means that you can travel at 60kmh much more often instead of slowing down and speeding up again for every speed hump!

            And before someone decides to go “BUT YOU CAN STILL DRIVE AT 70!” your missing the point in the analogy =P

  10. What you are all missing is that even if this technology works (solving a 2% retransmit problem gives a 1600% increase in throughput. WTF) you will need more fibre not less. If the Wifi at home works faster that old copper or HFC ain’t going to cope. For LTE etc it might reduce congestion (which will be required very soon) but doesn’t mean that it could replace all hardwired connections.

    • “What you are all missing is that even if this technology works (solving a 2% retransmit problem gives a 1600% increase in throughput. WTF) you will need more fibre not less.”

      Or rather ” you will NEED THE FIBRE MORE”

      You won’t actually need more fibre between the towers, as the existing fibre will be upgradeable to speeds as required by wireless. But as those speeds increase, you will “NEED THE FIBRE MORE” because other technologies such as point-to-point wireless will no longer be able to match or substitute fibre.

      You WILL need MORE FIBRE too, but because faster wireless devices need more towers (because user-tower ratios need to fall and higher frequencies are less able to penetrate obstacles) and they will need new fibre backhaul.

  11. I don’t even know why arguments against the NBN are still a thing. From a pure science point of view, fibre optic cable will always be superior in this instance. Greater bandwidth and less latency. Wireless will always have issues with interference by physical obstruction or otherwise let alone how inefficient its energy consumption is compared to fibre.

    • I find this argument somewhat self defeating. It is argued that many of the benefits of the NBN are unknow and will be discovered in the future like ADSL was for copper wiring. However, people argue that the NBN is the best technology with no competitors.

      It is the best technology that we know of currently. Given how we are making technological advances I do not want to try to predict 10-40 years into the future. Who knows it may be that we find a method of using wireless (or something similar to radio waves) more efficiently than cables but no one knows.

      • @Micheal: I can’t get the exact term at the moment (tip of my tongue and whatnot) but the basic premise with this line argument’s flaw is that advancements in technology is NOT exclusive.

        Basically just because one avenue of technology can improve (ie. wireless) does not negate the fact that the other (fibre) may *also* improve. The sticking point is always that look “wireless can be just as good/better than cable when given time” and for all purpose this is very much possible.

        Sure it makes more sense for the argument for wireless to supercede the capacity for fibre “right now” from all these advancements BUT that doesn’t mean fibre technology will *also* remain static. What we can do w/ fibre is basically just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

        People are also doing research on fibre as well as wireless. So there is also a chance for fibres capacity to increase as time goes on. The assumption of wireless being “better” only holds true of the other technology its compared w/ has hit the technology plateau (like today’s copper wires which we know wireless has come to the point of superceding) fibre at this point is still very far from that plateau.

      • Fair statment Michael, but consider this. At some point, wireless has to interact with a cable of some sort, be it copper or fibre, when the tower converts the signal to a wired transmission. Whatever breakthrough in wireless causes it to be more efficient, there is STILL going to be that interaction .

        Right NOW, we have readily available technology that lets the data move at 1 Gb/s along fibre. Point being, its still the core part of the process. And a technology thats at the start of its development potential, not the end like copper is.

        Point being, if there is a fundamental breakthrough that makes wireless better, there will need to be a fundamental breakthrough in fixed line transmission as well or its benefits arent realised there either. There NEEDS to be development of fibre, if only to progress to a new medium, to get the best out of any Atomic Banana in the future.

      • Michael, I find your argument somewhat self defeating…

        So rather than biting the bullet and going with the best alternative now for fear of “better”, what, we just sit on our hands and wait?

        Once again time for a run, is one of my favourite lines re: the NBN and the opposition, coming from a most unusual source…

        Mr Katter blasted the opposition for not embracing a plan that will help deliver technological equality.

        “They think we should wait for some science fiction fantasy to jump out from behind a bush, (but) we’ve got an offer on the table, and we’re going to take it.”

        • I’m not arguing that it should or should not go ahead. I’m saying that just because it is the best technology currently that it is not without risks. The longer the rollout / higher cost the larger the risk of a better technology comming across. Unfortunately government does not have a good history of picking winners.

          If you think the benefits outweigh the risk thats fine, but don’t argue as if it were risk free.

  12. The MIT technology has been tested in the field (train) but the saving in retransmits is just 5% so this will mainly benefit applications that can’t otherwise handle a few lost packets. eg realtime video streaming. Also the congestion they refer to is more likely to affect Upload when multiple phones transmit over each other, rather than download where the download channel is controlled by a single tower.

    It has no benefit when uncongested so it does nothing to increase max speeds.

    Also the announcement assumes you know that error correction requires extra redundant data to be sent.

    As for DIDO that is a mixture of existing MIMO plus HF and oversold using clever sleight of hand. As I once explained in my infinite beer can analogy.


  13. I wonder if anyone has bothered to tell Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones etc that the Liberals alternative like the NBN has a fixed cable and not wireless for it’s heavy lifting. They might be surprised that Malcolm “Dial Up” Turnbull is proposing to spend billions installing a cheaper (crap), faster (crap) FTTN network.

    I think the other answer to this is they know that Tony “I’m no tech head” Abbott is going to “pause” the NBN which is code for doing absolutely nothing. These wireless fantasies will just be used as cover for doing nothing. I fear this countries broadband is doomed if the Liberals get into power.

    • I would suspect that they are not fans of Turnbull, and would rather back the Abbott ‘Destroy the NBN’ line of thinking.

  14. Retransmits will still be more efficient on uncongested networks with low error rates since adding a high level of error correction data is a bandwidth cost. This kind of approach is smart on noisy highly congested networks when the retransmits are themselves failing. You will only get atomic banana improvements on a seriously oversubscribed network that is totally clagged out. It’s like giving crutches to a cripple: a pair of good legs would still be better.

    Bolt can now add the title Incompetent Network Engineer to his other technical titles: Science Failure, Maths Moron, and Statistics Bozo.

  15. ROFL – You listen to Bolt? You should be ashamed. he is in the same grab bag as Alan Jones… actually he is probably on the wall of the toilet in 2GB so Alan Jones finally has something he can look down on since he can no longer see his own.

  16. Look at what the politicisation of the NBN has produced. If instead of the people who think they know best just deciding which one technology they backed, and running to the politicians for the money to impose it on everyone, there had been consultation and public debate and a decision in favour of technology agnosticism – using whatever mixture of technologies best achieved the agreed desired result – we’d all now be having a pleasant friendly debate about what opportunities this new radio breakthrough created and about whether there was a place it fitted where it would enable the NBN to be cheaper and better and be delivered to more people. Instead we’ve got one side praising it far more than it deserves, and the other side mindlessly attacking it.

    • Hi Gordon,
      This technology is good, but not useful for a high capacity high-user-number customer access network.

      I tried to explain it above, but effectively this technology only makes really bad quality networks slightly less bad, at the expense of total available bandwidth.

      So, instead of your 3G phone (“Upto 20 megabits”) getting 1 megabit due to poor connection.
      This technology allows your “Upto 20 megabits” connection, to get “upto 15 megabits” more often.

      Note, the maximum possible went down. (because you are transmitting error correction).
      And the chance of getting your maximum went up.

      Overall though; if you have 2 people on this network trying to do stuff at the same time, they still share this bandwidth. This technology is good – it will help mobile phones etc. But it does not make wireless any more viable for replacing our city wide networks.

      An aside: This technology actually has the best implications for the wireless network outside our cities. These networks do not suffer from congestion. (customers are few and far between) but would allow those customers to get a higher average connection speed. This helps the wireless component of the NBN. It does not make it any more viable for replacing city networks.

      Total bandwidth goes down, attainable bandwidth goes up. (where attainable is always less than total).
      The problem with wireless is scientific, and has been widely understood since the 1950s. We aren’t against it for nothing.

    • PS. I don’t think anyone who knows what they are talking about are attacking the technology per-se.

      What they (and I) am attacking; is the implication that this technology could have any relevance towards the actual technology chosen to serve the 93% of the population that need or want a wired connection.

    • Also: “consultation and public debate and a decision in favour of technology agnosticism “

      One question: How would technology agnosticism 2 years ago have helped us deal with a new wireless breakthrough today?

      And since when do you ask non-technical people to solve technical questions? You don’t. You ask the experts: “What is the best way to build a network that is appropriate for the next 50-100 years bandwidth requirements for all of Australia”.
      They would say: “well, for the next 20 years you could build FTTN, but it will need upgrades in the next few years”.
      Then they would say: “And, if you were going to be laying wires everywhere, you may as well lay Fibre since the capacity of fibre is right now known to be in the 1-10 terabit capacity range.”

      You don’t do public consultation for technical issues. In the same way that you don’t do public consultation over the type and thickness of a road surface you lay. You ask an engineer.

      What you do do, is public consultation over if you want to build the road at all. And given that we have a Labor government (minority or otherwise) indicates that while it may have been a close call, the public decided on the need for a ~45 billion dollar network.
      The engineers decided that the 45 billion dollar network should be fibre.

      • And since when do you ask non-technical people to solve technical questions? You don’t. You ask the experts: “What is the best way to build a network that is appropriate for the next 50-100 years bandwidth requirements for all of Australia”.
        They would say: “well, for the next 20 years you could build FTTN, but it will need upgrades in the next few years”.
        Then they would say: “And, if you were going to be laying wires everywhere, you may as well lay Fibre since the capacity of fibre is right now known to be in the 1-10 terabit capacity range.”

        This is just carrying on the conversation, I do agree with you.

        Its even more clear cut when you consider the communication engineering side. As someone who’s career was once aimed at designing physical interface circutry & ASICs for networking equipment, I learned a fair bit about the physical aspects of things, as someone that worked at Telstra I saw what goes on trying to maintain a nation wide “last mile” network.

        From a communications engineering standpoint fiber has clear benefits over copper which were it not for privatization would have likely led the government owned Telecom Australia to wisely invest in pilot deployments of various fiber ‘last mile’ infrastructure some 20 odd years ago.

        Fiber has these concrete unarguable advantages over copper:
        greater corrosion resistance;
        lower signal losses;
        greater resistance to interference by outside signals;
        greater theoretical information capacity (aka ‘bandwidth’) (grounded by the science of information theory);
        proven greater physical information capacity in over 3 decades of usage worldwide.

        In addition, there are second order advantages as a result of the above:
        fiber networks are easier to maintain due to decreased environmental damage at joints;
        fiber networks are cheaper to operate due to reduced energy requirements in transmission;
        fiber networks are forward upgradable, as switching to better fiber(be it longer life, lower optical losses, or enhanced usable spectrum for multifrequency transmission) does not require a complete overhaul as long as it remains speced for the existing signal;
        fiber networks provide significantly greater speeds than copper networks over any length of connection, from 1m to 1 million meters;

        In short. Fiber is today, what copper was in 1910. Its simple progress and the fiber laid by NBNCo today will be an investment in the infrastructure of our nation and its people, even more significant than the 100 years of copper wiring built across our nation first for the telegraph and then further expanded for the telephone.

        Its not socialism, its not communism, its not even a failure of the free market. Its sensible national infrastructure management, nothing to be ashamed of supporting, we regulate the roads dont we? This is as simple as that, the comparison is a gated community where the residential streets are a toll road, where you have to pay a toll at the end of your driveway every day in order to get to basic necessities like do the shopping, and you had no way to stop them deciding to let the road be a dirt track, and you clearly cant ‘buy an alternative road’, and you hopefully see the point of a metaphor since its not exactly possible to describe something as unique as Australia’s current telecommunications environment without either actually explaining it, or hoping that you don’t have your metaphors or simplifications twisted around and used against you.

        I’m an economic liberal (Rand is a surrealist in my opinion) with a grounded view of the world (no political soundbytes for me, I haven’t watched TV in 2 years… not even free to air) and enough education to understand the simple facts.
        1st – For a century the government run and heavily regulated communication networks worked adequately without any major issue as long as they didn’t have a huge fundamentally new usage required of them. (this would be the advent of digital communications as a ‘consumer service’, something the original government regulation/organisation was not prepared or designed for.
        2nd – In an effort to improve the speed at which our national communications infrastructure was updated, to improve its efficiency if you will, we deregulated the market, and privatized Telstra.
        3rd – We had a decade of stagnation while a single company only performed the maintenance required to keep our critical infrastructure barely functional. Companies paid exorbitant rates to get improved service guarantees and it took outside force (the ACCC) to compel them to let 3rd parties access the last mile and install equipment in exchanges in a strange parody of the kind of infrastructure competition that deregulation was originally intended to create (See note 1 below)
        4th – The fact that, as more regulation was provided by the government through the ACCC, services were improved for users trying to use competitive services.

        I came to the conclusion years ago that privatizing the last mile of wired telecommunications in this country was foolish. Infrastructure competition is unlikely when the cost of investment required to deploy physical infrastructure only becomes economical when you can get more than 2 out of every 3 houses you pass on a street. I think competition is good and should happen at the consumer layer, however regulation is needed at the national infrastructure level in order to avoid monopoly behavior that warrants prosecution of an Anti-trust variety. Its also the same reason I don’t agree with the 100+ POI model. It should be 14 physical POI that provide 7 logical POI one for each State capital with perhaps a minor difference in Tasmania due to submarine cable infrastructure costs making Launceston a more logical POI hub.

        A national infrastructure either as a single network, or a set of Government regulations mandating retail wholesale separation, and a standard wholesale network design or interface that enables all retail service providers as customers of the wholesale network to use the wholesale networks in their areas of operation, without any lock in or complications. Either of these would work well. One of them is able to be built the other would be a rather torturous logistical nightmare requiring several years more design work than the NBN took, complex protocols like that would likely take years to hammer out to the level of satisfaction of the parties involved.

        Over all since the national population density just doesn’t allow effective infrastructure competition, it naturally breaks down if you don’t regulate sufficiently. We have the local example with HFC cable, and the international examples of American Cable & Telcos not risking their profits by overbuilding physical networks into areas where their competitors are already operating. The situation is even worse for them as ULL access & installing equipment in exchanges never really happened in the USA due to their regulatory environment not being able to compel the TelCo and CableCo corps to enable 3rd party access to the networks. This is why I think LNP communication policy is flawed. Labor isnt perfect but its better for the future of the country in an Digital, Increasingly information driven society.

        Note 1 – This is of course unless one argues that privatizing telstra was actually meant to mean Telstra could stifle competition (see Optus HFC), refuse access (see ACCC required to force the matter of DSLAMs in exchange buildings), never upgrade its infrastructure (see ADSL2 only becoming available after everyone else used their own DSLAMs) , and let the copper rot in the ground (see internal Telstra policy documents under Solomon Trujillo that flat out said the company intended to treat the Copper PSTN CAN as a sunk cost and only act to fulfill Telstra’s minimum requirements under regulation and law), and us cheaper & cheaper methods to connect houses up to services only capable of voice communications as that was all that was required of them (see the continued use of RIM’s in new housing estates years after issues came to light regarding RIMs and ADSL)

  17. “technology agnosticism”

    The NBN is (despite what Turnbull would have you believe) “technologically agnostic”. Furthermore his plan is actually anything but “technology agnostic” since it’s just whatever is cheapest not what technology needs to get the job done properly. In this case (the NBN) it is fibre. If you care so much then it means you are not being “technology agnostic”. Hope that helps.

    “we’ve got one side praising it far more than it deserves”

    I think you’ll find it gets just the right amount of “praise”. Not sure why you would have a problem with people praising it regardless of how much it is though…

    “and the other side mindlessly attacking it.”

    Indeed. Mindless is an understatement though. We’ve all read your comments.

  18. I was actually waiting for someone to raise this technology.

    Everyone sees the headline numbers 1500% improvements!!!. But invariably they don’t understand that this a percentage improvement on the Attained rate, not the Maximum rate.

    Instead of: 5% of our customers get upto 20 megabits!
    It is now: 20% of our customers get upto 15 megabits!

    Funny that it was Bolt that came out with it; and not Turnbull.

  19. Well, the simple riposte:


    New fibre speed record set recently, a thousand million megabits down a single fibre over 50km.

    That’s a mere 74,000,000 times faster than the “new improved” WiFi being touted by Bolt.

    Alternately, you could say that the “new improved” WiFi is only 0.0000000135 times as fast as fibre. Someone should ring up Alan Jones’ show and say that, doesn’t he love numbers with lots of zeros after the decimal point? :-P

  20. Bolt should be given as much time as other idiot ideologues like Jones, which is none at all. I rarely read articles with these morons in the headline as, frankly, I don’t need the intellectual aggravation.

    Can someone please explain to me what the phrase “atomic banana” means and what were its origins? I’ve tried looking it up before but to little satisfaction. Thanks.

  21. Atomic banana = technology that sounds unreal but in the end it just does a fairly standard function, maybe better. Whatever you say about it, it’s still a banana: you eat it and it’s gone.

    In 1950 people thought that atomic energy – new, mysterious, exciting – might provide solve all sorts of problems and lead to a golden age. In the end, it’s just another technology with pluses and minuses. Bananas are bright yellow, sweet, and, ephemeral, and might have been more prominent in the collective consciousness then too.

    These days you might say quad core underpants or something.

  22. Is 3g/ 4g considered “wi-fi” ? As far as I know, wi-fi only travels maybe 450 meters. Perhaps the algorithm could be used for 3g/ 4g. This sentence has me really confused though; “In one test conducted on a train between New York and Boston, the researchers were reportedly able to increase the amount of bandwidth from 500kbps to 13.5Mbps. MIT Technology Review reports”
    If they were using wifi should they not be getting up to 300Mbps ?

  23. I think we need to accept that the sort of criticism, we get from coalition members and followers, has nothing to do with reality. It is part of the Abbott strategy that this government is hopeless and cannot do anything right. The doomsday declarations about the carbon and mining taxes have proven to be vastly exaggerated. So, now the NBN is where the specter of failure is raised. Any possible negative information is milked to the max, still hoping that an early election will mask the next exaggerations.

    The problem with the coalition strategy is that the more the more they cry wolf, the least people are listening. Members of the coalition are increasingly worrying that things are no longer working in their favour.

    When the coalition looked like they would rout labor at the next election, I predicted that there was a long way to go. Events seem to confirm that.

    Now, don’t be surprised if Tony Abbott doesn’t lead the coalition at the next election.

    • Try posting a comment that exposes the B.S, either does not appear or is edited to be innocuous,
      Censorship is alive and well.
      Makes me worry about his party and how much we will be censored

  24. Bolt is just a liberal fan boy, again with his own political view, 100% tied to the Liberal party.

    What he’s suggesting will not work, because;

    A. Its not available
    B. Its not relevant – That is, this algorithm talks about not having to re-send data that was lost/never received, and can be said to be something similar PAR2 files (which repair corrupt/missing data). Whilst this is good, if you’re not getting packet loss (which 99% of proper connections do not), then this algorithm doesn’t speed up the connection. If you’re getting very large packet loss on a fixed line, there is something wrong. For wireless communications this will help, but that’s all it will do, “help”. It won’t fix your packet loss nor supply 100mbps or anything near it.

    So again Bolt is just spreading rubbish information as per usual. A few months ago he had a 15 minute or so show on the NBN. The rubbish and incorrect statements he made were laughable, along with all the information he doesn’t tell you about. Here’s the link if people want to see how smart this man is.


    I love the last bit, “that goes past existing structures, that we could of had, for free, already”
    Firstly, it doesn’t make sense. Secondly, I think he doesn’t realize the issues with the copper network and the monopoly, thirdly he doesn’t know about the issues of HFC networks. He’s just a liberal fan boy with his own view.

    I’d say the majority of people look into the real and more importantly “entire” facts, and make their own judgment. Unfortunately Bolt is not one of those, no matter what you tell him, he’ll still have his own “I’m right, your wrong” views.

  25. Utter $h!t from Bolt.
    Truly in the realms of lacking facts standing right beside Tony Abbott and Alan Jones.

    Any engineer who has half a brain will tell you fibre is the best available technology for communications and will be for a long time yet. That is a fact.

    Pity the three amigo’s of Abbott, Jones and Bolt cant admit that they are factually inaccurate.

    Its about time the Australian Media had the fortitude to stand up to these liars and tear them down and show the public the truth. But then again given the spineless media not challenging the politicians look at the quality of politicians Australia now has.

  26. Your fvcking kidding right? By the time this is mainstream, Fibre technology would have reached the Terabit speeds.
    The reason wireless will not dominate on land is because of the complexity and physcial limitations of it. FULL STOP.
    And it says “coded”. This has nothing to do with eliminating the fundamental issue of using the shared medium which is the wireless frequency.

  27. By the power of the atomic banana I decree that wireless will now work faster than the speed of light and will eliminate the need for any travel. It will also make faster than light travel possible and solve world hunger, let it be known!

  28. What ignorance and stupidity.

    Andrew Bolt can only be described as a spoof writer.

    Nobody is that stupid…

  29. Why do I come to this labour site? NBN will always be the only way to you guy. Fibre is already run to the majority of tower (EVERY TELSTRA TOWER not on a high to no where) This tech will increase though put on every tower massively and the backhaul (which everyone agrees should be fibre) will deal with the increase in bandwidth requirements. Looking at the reasearch objectively would be a good start for someone who claims to be part of the tech world. It’s a massive jump and will effect all radio based communication give the ability for VDSL to run extremely long distances as well! The implementation of this technology into existing system will take a few years MAX much shorter then the NBN and at NO cost to the government! We could see over 100Mbps over copper and average 40Mbps over LTE! Sorry but this is is the tech coming though now. I just wish we could get all of you NBN loves to foot the bill when it turns out we are right. Trust me I would be happy to go wireless only (wow hang I already am) I Just finished watching the Baseball world series from MBL.tv (the online service) at 1080p and that was HSDPA! (not even dual band!) Do you research actually read the research done it’s an amazing break though which could usher in true 4G (that’s 100Mbps mobile and 1Gbps fixed) What was it the NBN was going to provide? O’ 100Mbps What a piece of shit! Also remember this tech is at the TCP layer so implementation is simply firmware NO additional equipment needs to be installed so we could see this roll out though Australia very quickly!

    • will it help my adsl connection that goes to crap after rain? i could pray for a constant drought i suppose!

    • Thanks for the input Chris, you made me laugh. Really, I needed it, much appreciated. Boss is looking at me a little strangely, but I can live with that.

      You talk about looking at research objectively, then come up with that rubbish. Here’s a tip, try to practice your own policies. Firstly, the NBN as a START offers 100 Mb/s speed. First run, done when 3G was the peak. If you bothered to read the research being done though.

      Commercially its allready delivering 1 Gb/s speeds (and that level of tech will be in NBN, I believe starting 2014), with 10 Gb/s speeds being rolled out in test sites as well. Technology thats effectively plug n play with the NBN set up.

      If you look at the theoretical research being done, fibre offers 1000 Gb/s as well. So come talk when LTE is offering those sorts of speeds in the next 5-10 years. Sorry, but this is technology allready here.

      You talk about looking at the research. Well, to bring you up to speed, I have family that DOES that research. Much rather look at their notes than listen to someone hiding behind a keyboard seemingly without an enter key.

      Apart from that, if you bothered to be as objective as you claim, you’d find that pretty much every pro-NBN commentator is very much in favor of wireless as a medium. Just not as the primary source of our connections. As a complimentary service, it only stands to be better IF THE FIBRE LINES ARE THERE TO HELP.

    • @Chris
      There is a very clear reason I and maybe others DON”T take you seriously at all after reading your post.
      Guess!! It’s your spelling and grammar as I could not understand most of it. Sorry that’s the way I see/read it, I’m afraid.

    • Lol.. that’s all I can say to that rant. You say we haven’t read the article but have you? Seriously..

      And good luck watching more then a few games at 1080p, with your nice and low 15GB limit (and that’s $110 a month on Telstra) where people on the NBN can enjoy a 1TB (that’s 1000GB if you didn’t realise it) 100/40Mbps for $99.95 a month, yet the NBN is ‘so much more expensive then plans today’.. except it’s not, it’s actually better value for a much more reliable, faster, newer technology over both ADSL and 3G/4G.

      But again, don’t let facts get in the way of your rant.

      The comments on that Bolt article are absolutely ridiculous.. the amount of people saying ‘WIFI IS THE FUTURE!’ don’t even seem to realise that it needs to have a fibre backbone (ie. the NBN) to get anywhere near the advertised speeds, even of wireless N today. Pity they can’t seem to fathom this, thinking the NBN you have to be sat at a computer with an ethernet cable connected to it to get any benefit of the NBN. I don’t think many of them even seem to know the difference between Wifi and 3G/4G.. even the ones who claim to be ‘tech savvie’ (who the hell uses that term anyway!? Oh I know, people who have no clue but want to sound like they actually know anything about technology).

      It almost makes me cry that some members of the Australian public are so insanely naive.

    • I especially loved the part where he says it’s only implemented at the TCP layer. As if all you have to do is upgrade your network protocol installation (not the drivers though, they operate lower than the “TCP” layer) on your Windows box and whammo … instant speed upgrade.

      If only it was that simple.

      The rest of the post, suitable chuckle material that would be even funnier if you meant it as satire. But it’s just a little sad that (from the tone of your post) you actually seem to believe rhetoric that can only come from the mind of one who reads (and lends weight to) a little too much opinion, and not enough fact.

    • You, good sir, have gone above and beyond. I would consider it appropriate to send one of these to the 3 Stooges, AJ, and AB, and see if any of them wore one…

      Touche good sir, and bravo.

      • I’d consider sending one to Turnbull (like that would ever get worn, but just for laughs knowing he’d seen it) or Conroy (who might have the outside chance of actually making it visible).

        Actually …….. I’m not above spending around $100 on a chuckle…… hmmmmmm

  30. LOL. So let me get this straight… somehow the NBN is a white elephant, because some Wifi connection can go from 500kb/s to 13 Mbit?

    Um… there is no way on earth I would choose that over Fibre.
    Also, Japan has 1Gbit/s internet connections, this isn’t wifi.

    Wireless sucks.

  31. The best thing about Bolt, Jones and co spouting off with their tired old rhetoric is that we will be able to just throw their words back in their faces in the future when they are proven to be so miserably wrong. Unfortunately we need to fight their FUD now, as they have influence with the general uninformed public.

  32. Ubiquiti AirFiber capable of 1 gigabit point-to-point fixed wireless link in the 24 GHz unlicensed band over a distance of 2 kilometers in Australia (up to 12 kilometers in other countries where they allow higher power 24 GHz but Australia is limited by regulation to a mere 100 milliwatts).

    Current price is $2,102.00 per end of the link, no money for spectrum, needs line of sight.

    Completely off the shelf technology, requires some expertise to install but not a whole lot.

  33. So he reckons would be a white elephant????? So who would pay for this new tech the invisable man?

    Either we get the nbn done or we have shit comms for the next 200 years when telstra might decide to up it?

    (All irrelevant going off you guys posts but just sayn)

  34. This “Wi-Fi Breakthrough” will likely be just as convoluted and misleading as all the other Wi-Fi Breakthrough’s” that we’ve had over the past 10 or so years. I’m not willing to hold my breath or expect any form of amazing achievement out of this new technology, because it’ll most likely be far lower than what they are claiming.

    • All WiFi breakthroughs are subject to the same basic physics and information theory. Theoretical bandwidth of a system is around about the available spectrum times the number of independent transmission paths. The people who imagine that some engineering improvement will break physics are too clueless to know what they don’t know.

      If they don’t understand it they could link onto someone who does – or STFU – but they won’t get to hear the sound of their own voice. The net result is the constant background hum of magical thinking.

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