blog As you might be aware, we’ve seen some bad reporting on the National Broadband Network from time to time (hello Daily Telegraph, we’re looking at you). When it comes to the NBN, journalists, even technically-minded journalists, can often get confused about the technology involved, as the NBN infrastructure is complex and often a little difficult to understand. Take this article published today by Computerworld, for example.
The article purports to highlight three examples of businesses in the early stage NBN rollout zone of Willunga, in South Australia to show readers what life is really like on the NBN. But in each case it gets technical details wrong.
In the first case, Computerworld notes that the Alma Hotel has had a difficult transition to the NBN, with several outages. What’s only clear upon reading further is that in both cases, the outages may not have been the actual fault of NBN Co. Computerworld notes that in one case, “a painter at the hotel damaged the fibre connectors”, while in the second case, the ISP providing VoIP telephony services to the hotel, NuSkope, appears to have had difficulty getting its systems to play with a firmware upgrade to NBN Co’s UNI-V voice port (and it was just that ISP, not others). Not particularly a surprise, when even a much larger ISP, Internode, only recently finished trialling the integration of telephone services with the UNI-V dedicated phone port. This is still experimental stuff; it’s not yet fully bedded down.
In the second case, the primary problem experienced by local business Everyday Marketing Solutions appears to be that the signal from its wireless router didn’t reach all areas of the owner’s home … something that has nothing to do with NBN Co. And in the third case, regarding another web-based marketing business, OzFeathers, the owner noted that the 12Mbps/1Mbps NBN service they were on was much better than their previous ADSL service for uploading files … despite the fact that the 1Mbps upload speed would be technically the same with most modern ADSL2+ services. Amazing new technology! No, not really.
Now, there are substantial parts of Computerworld’s article on this subject which are, in fact, wholly accurate and represent good reporting. And there is no doubt that it is valuable to interview early adopters on the NBN and find out what their experiences have been. But it’s also true that this information needs to be presented in context and with insight into the subject matter. Wi-Fi services not working as planned? Not really an issue for the NBN, per se. Hotel painter accidentally sabotaged the NBN cables? Yeah. Again, not really an issue for the NBN. Great new NBN upload speeds? No, not really amazing if they are the same as ADSL2+. These kinds of details in articles, I have no doubt, drive the good folks at NBN Co mad, when they read them. And who can blame them? Perhaps I’m nitpicking (and let me know in the comments below if you think so), but this stuff just drives me mad when I see it.