NBN bitchslap: IT hero schools ignorant radio host



news A senior IT professional specialising in regional telecommunications in Victoria yesterday afternoon delivered an extraordinarily erudite and pointed education to a 3AW radio host who had gone on an extended and inaccurate rant live on air, rebutting claims that the National Broadband Network project would cost $233 billion but deliver speeds no different to ADSL broadband.

Yesterday afternoon, the host of 3AW’s Drive program, Tom Elliott, broadcast a segment which contained a large number of factual errors regarding the National Broadband Network project initiated by Labor, which has been continued as the Coalition’s Broadband Network project.

Elliott highlighted an article in The Australian newspaper which had reported that Labor’s NBN project had passed just three percent of Australian premises, but had cost $7 billion to date. “If I got out my trusty calculator, if it cost the same amount of money to cover 100 percent of homes, which the NBN is supposed to do, and businesses, it would cost $233 billion,” Elliott claimed.

In fact, NBN Co’s recent Strategic Review (PDF) showed Labor’s version of the NBN would cost as little as $63 billion if funded by the Government completely, or $54 billion if the rollout was reworked. The Coalition’s version will cost even less. In addition, under all scenarios, the NBN project is slated to make a long-term modest return on its capital; effectively rendering its initial expenses meaningless. In addition, with major capital projects such as the NBN, it is common for a substantial amount of the overall capital cost to be lodged up-front; these costs do not reflect the remaining cost of such projects.

The host went on to interview a series of listeners live on air, who sequentially claimed that the NBN was delivering only equivalent or even worse service than prior ADSL broadband connections possible on Telstra’s copper network. “Broadband via the old copper network and ADSL is getting pretty quick. Unless it’s a huge leap forward, I just don’t know whether we should be spending anywhere between $70 billion and $233 billion on it,” said Elliott, who appeared to grow increasingly hostile towards the NBN project as the segment went on and anti-NBN caller after anti-NBN caller lined up to agree with him.


However, one of the later callers in the segment was able to substantially educate Elliott on the specific advantages of the NBN rollout.

Elliott introduced the caller as George Fong, the executive director of Victorian regional telecommunications consultancy Lateral Plains. However, Fong is actually a much more senior figure than he appeared on the call (see his biography here).

Fong (pictured, right) started his career practising law in Singapore, before moving to Australia in 1987 to lecture at the University of Ballarat. He then founded one of the nation’s first regional ISPs, NetConnect Communications, as early as 1994, and has subsequently spent over 20 years teaching, managing and consulting on IT matters. He is also vice president of the Internet society of Australia and sits on a number of other organisation’s management committees.

Fong spoke with absolute authority on the NBN project, answering all of Elliott’s comments with aplomb and leaving the host appearing to be speechless at some points. You can listen to the entire interview online; the MP3 file is available here and Fong’s segment starts around 1 hour and 19 minutes and 20 seconds.

For example, asked about the final cost of the project, Fong firstly pointed out that virtually every other major nation-building capital infrastructure project had gone at least slightly over their budget, before stating that the cost of the NBN project could only be examined in terms of the length of time the infrastructure would last.

“Instead of saying, this is what the immediate cost is, we need to look at the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years and amortise it across that in terms of the returns that we get from the advantages that we’ve got,” Fong told Elliott. “Remember dial-up. You would never go back to dial-up, would you? In ten years’ time we’re probably never going to go back to ADSL, and that sort of future-proofing that we need, that’s what fibre will do for us in the regional areas.”

Fong also commented with strong authority on issues such the disconnection of Telstra’s copper network, the inherent advantages of fibre over copper, the fact that the copper will need to be replaced eventually, the higher availability and ease of switching between competing ISPs on the NBN’s fibre, and even the expected boom in online media as a consequence of the project.

Elliott had no comeback to Fong’s comments, abandoned his criticism during the encounter and merely thanked him for appearing on the show.

It is very common for radio commentators to heavily criticise the NBN project. Shockjocks such as Alan Jones and Ray Hadley have become notorious for their ongoing, often vitriolic criticism of the project. However, it is very rare that an informed, erudite commentator such as Fong is allowed on the programs to refute the claims being made by the host.

This morning I was all set to write another in a very long line of articles about ignorant and ill-informed radio shockjocks criticising the NBN and Labor’s preferred Fibre to the Premises technology when I started listening to Elliott’s incredible segment on 3AW yesterday. And then George Fong came along.

I have never, in all my time reporting on the NBN project, heard such an erudite, educated and convincing counter-argument made on air or anywhere else. In the face of Elliott’s raving technical and commercial illiteracy, Fong’s calm and self-assured words were balm to my soul, and I’m sure many listeners felt precisely the same way. I’ve interacted with Fong before on Twitter, but never realised quite how convincing he could be on air.

George Fong, you are a bloody legend, mate, and have done a service to your country, educating thousands of listeners and one very ill-informed radio commentator about what the NBN project really is (or at least should be) all about. I hope you consider getting involved in further commentary on the issue, perhaps on other radio stations or on television. I now class you as a bona fide hero of the Australian IT industry. Fong is on Twitter: I recommend you message him and tell him what a good job he’s done. It’s not often you see this kind of thing happen in Australia’s mainstream media.

Image credit: Lateral Plains


  1. Fong! Legend! Thank you so much for ringing in and educating these jocks! Fantastic stuff man!!

  2. Must say I give some credit to Tom Elliot at least he listened and gave him a good go can’t imagine Alan Jones giving him the same opportunity.

        • There was talk of using a type of peer to peer self healing laser network at one point.

          It has a lot of drawbacks though, but for a small, well planned community network its not a bad idea.

          • I hate it when people use the term “self healing”. The language is so completely misleading, doubly so when talking about network topology (yes I am a network tech), triply so when talking about storage systems.

            When people say “Self Healing” they mean: “Failure resistant”.

        • From memory he was pushing it as a reason we didnt need FttH, completely ignoring the fact that it operated on a FttH build. Any copper in the core part of the process (modem to/from destination server) killed the speed.

          • Indeed, it highlights the mans ignorance that he was arguing against FTTP by using FTTP as being a “better” technology that will displace FTTP.

            it’s just a real shame that some older Australians view the man as an authority figure…

      • So you think Turnbull’s node cabinets would be like fairies and butterflies on nature strips? There are the 5 square metres of concrete for entrée.

        • Marty, look up sarcasm. Scott was making a comment consistent with the arm waving hysterical anti-FTTP crowd – he wasn’t making it as a serious statement.

          • In fact it was a close paraphrasing of what the lady (immediately following George Fong) said.

  3. “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?” Keynes. Let’s see if Mr Elliot adjusts his position as a consequence of this new-found information.

    A lot of people simply repeat ignorant statements when they are said loud enough and often enough by the shock jocks.

    We need the likes of Mr Elliot to help turn the tide of ignorance. Deriding them probably doesn’t help as much as encouraging them.

    • While I wish to send a heartfelt “Well done” to Mr. Fong, I’d also like to point out the irony of


      It’s no surprised that Mr Fong is exalted by the commenting masses whereas Renai is called out for doing essentially the same thing, bringing truth to cut through the hyperbole.

      Truth isn’t a preference, it’s absolute. The debate does not need hyperbole/exaggeration/out right lies. +1 to those working hard to keep it focused on what is real.

      • This is something I reflect on a fair bit. People tend to applaud when you write truth that they agree with. When, on the other hand, you write truth that they disagree with, they tend to slam you. It’s the basis of the old journalistic aphorism that at some point, every single person you write about, no matter how much of a “good guy” they normally are, will line up to target you. The definition of news, after all, is something that somebody, somewhere, doesn’t want to be published.

  4. ALan Jones and Ray Hadley wouldn’t have the balls to listen to someone like Fong. They’re armchair critics @ best who can back nothing up except propaganda fed to them by the Libs.

  5. The NBN is a great idea, and will be an infrastructure benefit to most Australians in the coming years…
    The fibre does not need to go to every premise / office as part of the initial roll-out.
    FTTN is all we really need for the foreseeable future.

    Node to standard’ residential links can offer over 100mbps both ways today – using (VDSL, SHDSL, or spread spectrum wireless) and for more than 1Gbps, the future RBN (residential broadband network) forks out for the extra fibre from the node to the premises,

    • An excellent attempt at demonstrating profound ignorance. 100mbps synchronous over V/SH-DSL? In the real world? What are you smoking? Sure, it is possible, as long as you limit line lengths to 100m and spend a fortune on the switch equipment going into nodes, but why would you when FTTP can be done for about the same cost?

      In Australia, where lower gauge cable has been used compared with International examples, where the network has been allowed to deteriorate more than in International examples, where the incumbent owner of the CAN is not the company rolling out the FTTN upgrade, where the population is significantly more geographically distributed than in International examples, FTTN is not a quarter or a third the cost, it is actually more expensive.

      And then you come back to the recognition that the original NBN was debt funded and thus the only real concern was whether the financial targets were being met – despite all the negativity from the LNP they not only failed to develop credible criticism for the funding model, they commandeered it for their FTTN alternative (without the underpinning modelling that actually justifies it).

    • Time for bitchslap #2 methinks……but it seems that TrevorX has beaten me too it.

      Good one MC – a real-world FTTN in Australia doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell of reaching those speeds, except for perhaps the occasional house that’s fortunate enough to have a node right outside their fence, and doesn’t have a really old degraded copper line. And even then, FTTN isn’t going to allow those kind of upload speeds.

      Hooray for facts!

    • The price of your future – forking out for fibre on demand – has just doubled in the UK to an average of 10,000 AUD. (up from 5000).

      PS. Yes it did cost 5000 to get a fibre upgrade in the UK. And yes it does now cost 10,000 dollars. Please go and tally up the numbers and provide them for me here if you wish to disagree. (since I have done the same several times on this site in the past).

      • … and why is $5K / $10K a problem for a commercial fibre endpoint ?
        Sounds like a bit too much of ‘I want everything for free’ from TrevorX and his buddies.

        • 1) Instead of demonstrating why your previous comment wasn’t invalid, you’re trying to shift the focus onto either a personal attack or the idea that the NBN was somehow a socialist techo-net that only benefits freeloaders. I’m not going to waste my time explaining why that is an idiotic statement.

          2) The NBN was not ‘free’, it was user pays. The more users you have for the same piece of infrastructure, the cheaper it is for each individual. That’s not a difficult concept, but I can understand how it is beyond someone of such obviously limited cognitive ability.

    • Foreseeable future from what point in time? Today, or from the completion date of the FttN build?

      Significant question, because to most of us here it seems that the waste of money is with the build thats outdated at the point its finished.

      There is plenty of evidence suggesting our basic society needs will surpass FttN’s capabilities some time around 2019-2021. Until we get to that timeframe you cant be certain, but when usage has doubled every two years for two decades, to assume that growth will stop completely overnight is naive, and expensive.

      Is 2019 in the foreseeable future? What about when the FttN build is scheduled to be finished, at best, in 2019? What about the more likely scenario where the FttN build doesnt get completed until 2023?

  6. I work as a radio jock, and honestly, you may just get given a topic and little info and you just go with what you have in front of you – unless you are an expert on it. Just a thought.

  7. Great work by Professor Fong.

    However, the really big question is, what were you and he doing listening to 3AW eh?

  8. Mr Fong has 20yrs experience in IT and ISP but has no experience in national carrier networks… It’s kind of like asking a Vet to how to treat someone with a cold. And 20yrs experience isn’t much at all, especially when it’s coming from one person who isn’t even in the right specialised field.

    To make this somehow credible you need a team of experts who are specialised in a number of areas such as fibre technology, networks, civils engineering, financing and project management so on so forth…

    There is too much BIAS in all these discussion and the TRUTH is the casualty.

    • What does Mr Fong not having experience in national carrier networks have anything to do with understanding the benefits of a high grade, high speed network? At least Mr Fong has at least experience in the industry. What is shouted out in mainstream media is nothing but rhetoric and sensationalism.

      I have been in the IT industry for over 20 years dealing with system and network administration, back before the Web existed and when modems were running at a paltry 300 baud. I have seen, as I am sure you have also, the remarkable changes that have occurred over the last 20 years. The business opportunities that have opened up, the ease of interacting with companies and government.

      Extrapolating this to a future where network speeds increase 10 to 100 times, where the amount of data that can be accessed increases by even more (thanks to encoding), the benefits are unimaginable.

    • I have 25 years of IT experience, but have never installed a Blu-Ray drive (plenty of CD and DVD drives though).

      Who would you take advice from on how to install one, me or a plumber?

      Seriously, this isn’t about who can brag about the most credentials, it’s about the choice between the host and all the other callers vs Mr Fong. Pick which group in this example has better credentials.

      Sure a group of people with the credentials you listed would be better still, just don’t expect Turnbull to ever put together a group like that (unless he can dictate their opinions to them).

      • The fact that Renai is using the guys creditials to qualify his claims about the nbn is an example of bias… Especially if he’s not an expert in the required field(s) having PhDs doesn’t make it any more credible if it isn’t your area of expertise..

        • ” It’s kind of like asking a Vet to how to treat someone with a cold. ”

          So, I can ask for health advice from someone lacking specific experience with humans, but well versed in general animal health (and not limited to mammals), and specific health for a multitude of species according to his specialisations. Alternatively, I could listen to the advice of a radio jock handed a topic to discuss and create the largest audience possible, or a politician handed a portfolio within the past few years that may even have a slight correspondence with their background (whether they were competent in that area or not).

          I’ll take the vetinarian thanks, and given those options I’d even allow him to perform surgery for more drastic health issues.

        • Telco guy, I agree with you – selectively citing an ‘expert’ and advancing that opinion as trumping all other opinions is a classic con.

          The IT people and companies most in favour of NBN all have their fingers in the pie. Not that I blame them for looking after their own interests – that’s life. IT people without their fingers in the pie are noticeably cooler.

          There are a lot of good reasons why NBN won’t be the miracle it was touted to be.

          First a lot of people such as myself place more value on unlimited down load capacity instead of speed. ADSL plans give cheaper costs per GB than NBN plans.

          Second you can get cheaper ADSL plans than NBN plans at the same speed if you are inner city. If you are a fanboy that wants 100 MBS to prove you have the biggest penis well good for you.

          Third no commercial website is going to serve all connections at 100/1000 MBS unless they can charge you for it. Why would they do that just because they can without a profit motive? The effective rate is the website response plus the network. Nine MSN will probably continue to serve at 2-3 MBS unless they can make more money from advertising by increasing what they serve at.

          Fourth guess what is going to use most of the bandwidth? That’s right advertising. you might be served at say 50 MBS but 45 MBS will be for the ads. Of course you will have the pleasure of paying for downloading that advertising content. That will be a giant step forward. $60 bill of taxpayer money to mostly benefit the advertising industry. It takes the Labor party to advance Australia like that.

          Fifth pretty much all of the sites the mums and dads and boys and girls enjoy the most are sited guess where? That’s right the US! Now ISPs only provide 5 MBS across the pacific. So if the content you want is not buffered in your ISP cache you will just get 5 MBS to the US on a good night. Maybe 0.5 MBS on Saturday when all the single guys are downloading porn.

          Sixth at my local video store I can get 5 weekly blurays plus two new releases for $10. That’s 143 MB for each cent of rental cost. if it takes me 15 miuntes to pick them up then that gives me a bandwidth of 1274 MBS at a cost of $40 month. I can see myself rushing and getting an NBN plan for $80 and a local movie on demand service for what say $40-60 per month if they exist. Don’t forget US movie sites are streaming across the pacific at 5 MBS.

          Local video store at $40 for 1274 MBS bandwidth versus maybe $120-140 for NBN + on demand service.

          I’ll go with the local video store.

          • I’m not even sure you understand that the NBN doesn’t need to be a miracle- It probably won’t be. The NBN isn’t just an upgrade to a system where demand is doubling every 18 months, It’s also a fix to a VERY old piece of infrastructure- The copper wire linked to your house.

            “The IT people and companies most in favor all have their fingers in the pie”… They also want internet services that don’t drop out every time it rains.

            Also, basing your decisions on up/down bandwidth and volume is nonsense. The plans for current NBN services are only marginally more expensive, and the reason so many ISP’s offer unlimited downloads is because most connections are so slow that they can’t even download enough stuff to saturate the fibres between exchanges!

            Your second point literally makes zero sense.

            Your fourth point? Advertising? I have no idea what you are talking about. ISP’s couldn’t give two shits about what ads your seeing or not; whether or not you see ads has no effect on them, and they don’t profit at all from “More ads”. Lets just blame something I just completely made up on the former government – you aren’t backing your voting decision very well.

            Your 4th point… well I don’t even know. I’m not sure where you just pulled the 5MBs from, but I’m pretty sure it’s because you got lumped with a shitty ISP. Heres an idea – Maybe if more Australians had a decent NBN connection, More Australians would be more likely to start streaming HD video businesses for Australians! Which leads me onto your 6th point – I think we need this, as the internet has already signed all the video stores in my area’s death warrant, the closest one to me is now 10km away!

          • Hi Patrick P,

            I gather you are in an outer suburb or in the country. In which case you are entirely practical in placing emphasis on reliability then reliability then reliability and then speed. From your perspective you should undoubtedly push for fibre to the home. I’m not sure you’d want to pay for that yourself but I’ll talk about that later.

            First the two key metrics are MBPS and download limit. My ADSL plan gives me 13 MBPS and a theoretical 4113 GB(ytes) per month for less than $40. That’s points 1 & 2 neither of which are irrelevant as you thought. The nearest iiNet plan for 12 MBPS is 20% more cost but only gives 20 GB download. That’s 0.4% of my current theoretical or less than one bluray disk. That’s gonna last me a day or so.

            Going to a 500 GB cap is $80/month. A 100% cost increase for an 8% speed decrease and an 88% download capacity decrease. Only 20 blurays/month. Download cap determines how much you can do – that’s the relevance of point 2.

            Then there is the link from Sydney to San Diego in the US where Australia’s favourite websites are located such as youtube.com.au. That is run by Southern Cross Cables and has nothing to do with the NBN. ISP’s buy bandwidth from them. You have to ring around – I rang around about a year or so ago 5 MBS was what all ISPs allocated to individuals. You get that on a good day. On a bad day you might get 1 MBS because no commercial body is going to put in infrastructure to cover peak usage. (Except for banks who put in enough for Xmas Eve). They are going to put in what they consider is adequate and you consider to be inferior.

            You might get 100 MBS to Sydney but you’ll get 5 MBS to San Diego USA. Perhaps ISPs have increased the bandwidth they give to NBN plans lately but it was still 5 MBS last time I heard. I leave you to ring around if you are interested.

            Now advertising. Never said anything about ISPs and advertising. But websites have been monetizing all the time by serving you ads along with what you wanted. More bandwidth is going to tempt snappier HD adds. It can’t not happen. It is happening now. For example I subscribe to the Australian newspaper. When it was free it was fast. Now it is subscription, the number of adds have increased, they have got bigger with higher def. And the Australian is markedly slower because of the goddamn ads. I can wait for a minute till the last ad has loaded and I can then scroll the article. The real content is just text – probably a couple of KB at most. But the advertising is a killer.

            Ok this, as an industry trend, I acknowledge is surmise on my part. Maybe you are right and the advertising industry won’t leap onto the NBN as a free feed out of sheer moral rectitude. I don’t think they have any moral rectitude and I reckon they will serve bigger high def ads at us and soak up our bandwidth. As the Australian is doing. But you may be right and they won’t.

            At the end of the day we are both going to be mad as hell with NBN. You won’t get your last mile and there will still be copper to your house. It will still get wet when it rains. So probably reliability won’t be much better.

            I will be mad as hell because I will be paying twice as much for an internet connection that is inferior to what I have. Plus I along with the rest of the inner city will be subsidising you and the rest of the outer suburbs.

          • Rick, you could not be more wrong about ‘Australias Favourite Websites’ being hosted in the US.

            Declaring that YouTube is located in San Diego is like saying BP is located in the UK.

            If you would run a simple route trace to http://www.youtube.com you’d see that, in actual fact, the server is located in Sydney. This is because YouTube, and most large high-traffic sites, use a ‘Content Delivery Network’ which caches content in thousands of locations across the world, and automatically re-routes clients to the nearest server with the content they’re after.

            Everything else you have said is pretty much just as wrong. I really hope nobody reads your contributions and believes them.

          • Yeah Ric techow, lets omit or ignore the fact that stable and fast internet with a future would have been accessible to a whopping 93% of the population. Let’s forget anything and everything to do with the advantages and services that would bring to our country. Great idea

          • “Local video store at $40 for 1274 MBS bandwidth versus maybe $120-140 for NBN + on demand service.”

            Hows the latency to your video store?

            For me, I have taken your entire argument, and am amazed that anyone bothers to build networks anywhere.

            Did you know, that PIPE invested something like 400 million dollars laying a couple fibres to Guam? I could have flown several petabytes worth of blurays to and from LA and transmitted that data at magnitudes higher datarates than the PIPE fibres could even conceive!! It would have cost me a couple thousand dollars at best! it would take hundreds of years for them to cost effectively compete with me!

            In fact, since optical storage is getting better all the time I would argue that even with continued investment in their undersea cables that I could STILL provide orders of magnitude higher bandwidth per second than almost any undersea fibre cable at 1000-100,000 times cheaper prices!

            So, now that you have heard my prospectus, would you like to invest in my new company? I’m going to call it: SUITCASE, I am looking for $10,000 of seed investment.

          • when building NBN you are decomissioning a network that could still be suitable for its purpose. If it is shown that based on actual current and forecast user demand that FTTN would have suffice that would make FTTP look like a very bad decision. Considering the assets which were written off or opportunity cost because of favoring one over another.

            From what ive see, there has been very little input from civil construction which is the bulk of the cost of the project, and the stage we are currently at. Only when the network is built do we realise the benefits or returns which is IT and applications.

            You will get more value from getting an expert with a PhD in civils construction projects like these talk about the construction of the network than someone who will talk about what the network will theoretically do some time long into the future.

          • Ric, lets look at this a different way.

            You’re 20 years old, happily single, cooking just for yourself. You make a meal, the portion size is spot on for one person. You go on like this for a while.

            Several years pass, you meet someone, move in together. Suddenly, that single portion serve isnt going to feed everyone, so you need to cook more. No problems, you adapt. You’re still eating the same amount, but you’re buying twice as much and cooking twice as much as before.

            Several more years pass, you’re happily married, and you’ve had the pleasure of 3 additions to your family. Your kids have to eat as well, so the same thing applies. Suddenly, you’re cooking 5 times as much as when you were 20, yet you personally are still only eating the same amount.

            Thats what the internet has been like. At the start, the needs were small, and our connection, in general, was able to cope with just the one user at a time. But since then, more people and more devices have connected into that network, so if you want to keep that same standard, you need a bigger connection.

            Nothing to do with download, but if you were sharing a 18 MBps connection with 1 person 5 years ago, and still only sharing with 1 person, you’re the exception.

            Me personally, my connection has gone from 1 PC to 2 PC’s, an iPad, 2 mobile phones, a PS3, and my TV all sharing that one connection. If it was an 18 Mbps connection like Turnbulls new website says I have, I could probably survive for a while, but its 6 Mbps. Shared between at least 3 or 4 devices at once.

            I’m sharing a meal intended for two, with 5 or 6 people. If I got a 50Mbps connection TODAY, all it would do is give me only a little more speed than when I originally connected. Whats it going to be like in the future, when we’re used to 4G speeds on our mobiles?

            This is a simple way of looking at it, but in general it should be enough – we share out internet with more and more devices, so its getting spread thinner and thinner. ADSL cant cope with that increase in devices for the same reason mobile phones slow down – the congestion is getting to be too much.

        • Here’s the problem I have.

          The NBN is not a Telco network. Its an IT network.

          I have plenty of experience building IP networks, and interfacing with Telco people. The Telco people I talk to don’t understand IP. These are people with up-to 50 years of Telco experience.

          I would not ask these people for advice on the technology to use in an IP network.

          I might ask them how to build the network (as in, pits and ducts) but there is no chance in hell I would ask them what to put in the ground.

          I would leave the “What” to the guys that are working with the equipment at each end, and it isn’t the oldschool Telco guys.

        • Siting credentials = bias.

          You heard it here everyone, From now on, in order to not be biased you can’t talk about your credentials.

          Telco guy, I think you are biased, you cited your own Telco knowledge using your name, you will have to change it to have an opinion now.

    • TG
      With respect as one who began as a trainee tech with PMG in mid 60’s when it was National infrastructure and walked out up the ladder mid 90’s, having spent most of that time in transmission of one form or another.
      I can state categorically that IMO the last person to seek advice from about National Infrastructure is a Telco person. Australia would not have as good a Telecom infrastructure coverage as we have if the PMG and Telecom Aust had have been private sector Telco’s.

      Advice about implementation maybe, however even that is skewed by the focus on profit and return, not the long term National interest.

      That is why the Turnbull team now running the CBN is doomed to fail to provide what the Nation will need, they have been conditioned against open access National Infrastructure and are doing the only thing they can comprehend – a Telco solution

    • A fact is still a fact regardless of its source. Having certain credentials merely simplifies the process of the audience believing the argument put forward, but it doesn’t necessarily mean everything the expert says is 100% accurate – it is up to the audience to ascertain the accuracy of statements, regardless of the source.

      I’m more than a little sick of this argument on the Internet – some people try to lend weight to an argument by virtue of claiming some irrelevant expertise while attempting to invalidate the position of others on the basis that they lack such expertise – if the facts of your argument don’t bear out, your claimed credentials are meaningless. Likewise the supposed lack of credentials is irrelevant if the argument is sound.

    • His credentials have nothing to do with it. We know what he said is factual, because we have been examining the evidence for years now. The whole point of this article was how well he conveyed those facts to the layman.

      Nice work changing the subject though.

    • Ok, well, how about 45 years in IT networking and a *lot* of it being in the Telco space, working up from sysadmin to board-level governance? Cred established?

      Fibre optic is better, longer lasting and does not suffer from quite the end point corrosion issues that copper does. I’ve seen fibre optic cables in the ground for 30 years at a seaside refinery that are operating flawlessly. We just upgraded the switches and no problem. With copper, we had to — well, pretty much just replace it with fibre. No sparking hazard, no corrosion, extremely low operational cost per metre.

      Wireless is nice in principle, but it does not scale – RF signals dampen each other out when you crowd the band. It’s an electromagnetic thing. Electrons affect each other, photons don’t.

      In short, fibre is better that wireless or copper because physics (and chemistry, and economics). Better.

      • Don’t bother. The goalposts will now be “National carrier”.

        And if you meet that, it will be “National carrier that deployed a fibre network“.
        If you somehow manage to meet that, the goal posts will be “National Australian carrier that deployed a fibre network”

        Meeting that goalpost, it would shift over to:
        “National Australian carrier that deployed an Australia wide fibre network”.

        Somehow, if you manage to meet that hurdle it would be:

        “National Australian carrier that deployed an Australia wide fibre network that makes a commercial rate of return without government funding of any kind deployed in less than 2 years…under projected budget.”

        The fact that the original poster, can claim that 20 years of telco experience, business experience, consumer advocacy experience, and education experience is useless to this debate, means that – unless you share his view, or something analogous, or at least don’t disagree with whoever they are disagreeing with at the time – your credentials don’t matter.

        Forget the fact that if you ran that bar over the commenters credentials probably don’t meet their own bar of “worthiness” (21+ years of national telco + business experience seems to be the bar they have set) – and you will quickly find that, it is impossible to convince them of anything.

        • As I said before, there are two sides of this coin, the get an understanding of this project, as it is a project until construction is finished, you have to look at what the project entails, which is vastly construction work, ie. putting cables in the ground. That is what is immediate and what is known, and the bulk of the project.

          The IT benefits is something that is forcasted, while you can surmise, theorise and hypothesise on what the usage, take up and application will be in 15-20yrs when the project (see first paragraph) is finished, these are to a degree unknown, and with unknowns one is free to do some handwaving and speculating and so on, which there certainly is a lot of.

          • ‘The IT benefits is something that is forcasted, while you can surmise, theorise and hypothesise on what the usage, take up and application will be in 15-20yrs when the project (see first paragraph) is finished, these are to a degree unknown, and with unknowns one is free to do some handwaving and speculating and so on, which there certainly is a lot of.”

            Yes, very true. But why would you bet the farm on growth suddenly stopping, against virtually all historic evidence and expert advice? It’s one thing to say “we don’t know for sure what the future growth will be” but then to totally ignore future growth because it would make what you are doing short sighted and wasteful is just dumb.

    • Mr Fong has 20yrs experience in IT and ISP but has no experience in national carrier networks… It’s kind of like asking a Vet to how to treat someone with a cold. And 20yrs experience isn’t much at all, especially when it’s coming from one person who isn’t even in the right specialised field.
      To make this somehow credible you need a team of experts who are specialised in a number of areas such as fibre technology, networks, civils engineering, financing and project management so on so forth…
      There is too much BIAS in all these discussion and the TRUTH is the casualty.

      Says some random dude on the Internet….so it must be true!!!

      How about you play the ball rather than the man, address what Mr Fong said and why it is wrong and I’ll raise your credibility up from zero…

      • You’re being generous. Zero is what you start with. He’s waaaay into negative territory by now. I will happily read the thoughts, opinions and input from people with ‘zero’ credibility, but I will discount, avoid and actively ignore the ridiculous drivel spouting from idiots with a track record of ignorance.

  9. Still trying to decide who is the bigger troll, 3AW host Tom Elliot or Renai LeMay

  10. These Socialist academic arm wavers during the disastrous Labor years were so thick on the ground you could not see the grass. And of course they all got it Wong.

    They have NO PRACTICAL experience in actually installing fiber optic cable in the ground.

    Look at the chaotic fiasco when the pits were found to contain asbestos – where were the headless Socialist academic arm wavers then – nowhere to be seen.

    The NeverBuiltNetwork management was so disastrous they have been scrapped by Malcolm.

    The cost estimates made in the Labor days were totally fallacious and made by arm waving Socialist academics who had never been down in a trench and did not have a clue what you do when all the ducts are full in a city installation.

    The mad rush to try to install the cable has left a legacy of shoddy installations with trench erosions etc and there are even rumors that nobody knows where the cable is actually buried.

    And the less said about the accident prone aerial installations the better.

    And even the little bit of the NeverBuiltNetwork that was actually built is unreliable with massive delays.

    So in reality the estimated cost of $200 billion would be less than the true cost if this poorly planned monstrosity was ever built over 20 years or more.

    And there is the interesting conspiracy theory that the real reason the Greens and their Labor puppets wanted to create the NeverBuiltNetwork was to create a nationwide spying system which is so essential for secret policing in a fundamentally flawed Socialist system – just see how the extreme Socialist=Communist Nth Korea keep their citizens loyal – bang bang you’re dead!!!

    • Depends without a cost benefit study it is difficult to value the worthiness of a project. For example, a $60bn build of a network that is not fit for purpose or is not competitive in giving market rate returns would mean write down in its value… So the cost if you consider the revised market value of the asset when it’s completed could be even greater if it does not deliver on its business case.

    • You are an interesting person. I’m sure that you amuse all of your friends and family.

    • Hahaha *wipes tears from eyes* I’d say I hope you’re trying for irony, but it is so much funnier if you’re serious :-D

      I’d point out your errors, but I have better things to do with my life and you’re not going to listen anyway. So I’ll give you the executive summary – your post is so full of fail, the only thing you didn’t manage to get wrong was your grammar… Which is actually very surprising – you’re not being paid to be here, are you?

    • Poe’s law?

      Claiming socialist bias makes you look silly. There is no credibility to your point.

    • I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that:

      A) You forgot to put you tin foil hat on when you got out of bed this morning and
      B) You maybe, just maybe, have forgotten to take your meds today.

      Either way, take care of yourself and look out for Obamas alien invasion force.


      PS. How are you a taxpayer if you’re bankrupt? Are you literally an oxymoron?

  11. Sorry the MP3 file was too big for me to flick through to Fong’s comments while I was pre-loading Elder Scrolls Online

    • “while I was pre-loading Elder Scrolls Online”

      Just FYI, you made an incorrect lifestyle choice there. You should have been obsessing about Dark Souls II, which comes out in a few weeks.

      • I dunno Renai, you spend your life battling against the forces of the coalition stacked NBN management, pig ignorant shock jocks and feral journos, then fire up Dark Souls for fun? Maybe Animal Crossing may be a bit more soothing?


      • I haven’t been hearing good things about ESO so far, I’ve moved it to my “Wait 6 months and see” list…

        • ESO is a very pretty game, probably the best looking MMO I’ve played, and I’ve played a lot. It’s problem is that, at the lower levels at least, it feels like a single player game.

          Not sure I’ll get it in release either, I’m betting it’ll be freemium within 6 months, at which time it’s worth checking out to make your own mind. Having said that, I’ll be playing the beta this weekend when I get the chance…

    • I was downloading Theif on Steam at the time and skipping through the mp3. Guess the NBN does work after all.

      • This ^

        My wife was streaming a movie on Apple TV and was complaining as well (paused download :( )

        I am not sure how a tech that is “Fast as Light” would work, really its a waste of money some new tech that is “Faster than Light” will just out date the White Elephant that is NBN…

  12. Spying? North Korea? Been drinking grandpappys cough mixture again?

    Its harder to tap into fibre to premise because you have to break the fibre to do so. Malcolm Turnbulls dodgy waste of money version leaves spying infinitely more likely to be able intercept your line anywhere along the copper cable, if you were a tin foil hat wearing weirdo (not that I’m suggesting you are…..)


    • Sorry, while it is true copper is trivial to eavesdrop on, fibre really isn’t that much harder with the right tools. That’s a bit of a false argument (but a common one).

  13. I have limited IT knowledge and even I know FTTP is a hell of lot better than crappy FTTN. My brother has FTTH and he lets me use so I can get shit done online reliably.

    He hasn’t noticed I put his house on the market and I am planing to buy it. ;)


  14. Bankrupt taxpayer

    Fascinating post but please tell me, I need to know, how does a headless socialist academic manages to wave his arms?

  15. How could Tom Elliot, who allegedly has been using electronic communications since dial up days, be so ill informed.

    And for an audience that listens to that sort of poorly researched content everyday, how much of George Fong’s rational explanation was undone by the following caller’s rant?

  16. So much hate in here for a professional who gave his own time to educate others and provide thousands of listeners with factual information regarding the NBN and FTTP.

    It seems to me like a bunch of new trolls have just signed up to Delimiter just to attack Mr Fong’s credentials and try and negate everything he said on 3AW.

    Definitely stinks of LNP & Telstra trolls in here, maybe LNP Tim Gear and his friends are posting with their troll accounts again…


    • There has been a steady stream of them through here for years, most of them seem to be on three month contracts cause that’s about the time they last.

      Don’t say it too loudly though – I had a bunch of comments deleted for simply asking if certain posters were being paid to be here :-/

    • Happens everytime unfortunately… I’ve been tempted every now and then to call people out on the obvious flaws and then I remember this paraphrased law adage I heard somewhere –

      “Hammer the evidence, if you can’t then hammer the man, if you can’t then just hammer as hard as you can”

      They can’t refute the evidence so the tar the man. They can’t tar the man in an environment like this so they continue to just hammer very loudly hoping it goes away. And it’s the standard MO for most of the “Debate” on the NBN and I just realise I have better things to do.

  17. Listened to the phone call. Very civil. I don’t think ‘bitchslap’ is a useful title.

  18. Dear Delimiterites, just happened to visit your site for something I’m working on, and wanted to thank you for a very entertaining few minutes studying your NBN commentary.

    A few observations:
    – Most of those commenting seem to be male
    – You guys LOVE the NBN, the credentials, the jargon, just the vibe
    – Apparently 13% of web searches are for porn (http://www.forbes.com/sites/julieruvolo/2011/09/07/how-much-of-the-internet-is-actually-for-porn/)
    – No-one seems to be talking much about what they will be doing with their lightning fast NBN
    – So what exactly will you all be using the NBN for?

    Just a thought …

    PS: I am rich, employ people and well paid to advise companies and Governments. Despite voting Labor up to and including Kevin 07 will never do so again, at least while the Unions /Greens are in charge. So, lots to hate.

    • So what GrownUp Gal if 13% of web searches are for porn? Does this mean that the remaining 87% should be deprived of fast NBN because of 13% of web searches for porn?!!! Wow, this must be a mega deciding argument against fast NBN? Is that right GrownUp Gal? This must also mean that the 13% of searches for porn “must be all male searches” because women never search for porn is that right?
      We don’t love the jargon/vibe. This is your own point of view.. What most who posted here and anyone with any brains and with vision for the future of this country want is a fast NBN not the “no frills cut down Liberal Party version”.
      How about political ideology is put last and this country and its future is truly put first for a change. Past the elected (short) term in the political office and the associated politically driven spin (if not pure lies and or distortions)?!
      GrownUp Gal if you can not see the benefits of fast NBN now AND IN THE FUTURE than you should perhaps not make uninformed and seemingly sexist (…”most of those commenting seem to be male”…) comments.
      How about instant transfer of high resolution medical images between medical entities such as hospitals, specialists etc? How about performing a live medical consultation/procedure/surgery etc remotely (surgeon controls remotely medical procedure or a doctor views and speaks live to a patient located in a remote location), between two distant locations?
      Just to name two examples you asked for…… You think this can be achieved in a reliable and fast/instant on demand manner vide old, cut down cheap (Liberal Party) version of NBN vide ADSL copper network? You got to be dreaming….. How about the future proofing? Are we going to fork out twice as much or more of $$ in 20/30 etc years time to “upgrade the internet infrustructure” to allow for future expansion of population and developments in science, technology etc?! I thought we were “a smart country”. Are we?! Going by the arguments against fast NBN, makes me wonder if we truly are “a smart country”. The rest of the world is surging ahead in internet connectivity whilst we are…..in dark ages? And good luck to the 13% searching for adult consensual porn. Make love not war.

      • Hmmm.

        On the examples, I was with a doctor at home recently who was using cable to view ultrasound video files, so this isn’t new. HealthDirect provides video consultation now, and actually operating remotely is illegal in Australia at present, and not really something I’d be wanting to do in my dining room anyway.

        If we (and by we I mean the 20% who pay net tax) are going to buy everyone in Australia a Ferrari NBN, surely someone should have thought about what it would be used for? The report commissioned by Turnbull is going to do this, as Senator Conroy didn’t seem to have one …

        PS : Has anyone heard of AARNET? It provides high speed broadband to those who need it on University campuses. Similarly, business who need it can buy a high speed connection for $000’s per month right now (but need to be in the CBD, not the Simpson Desert).
        Here is a useful link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AARNet

        • FttP isn’t a “ferrari” option, it’s way too common to be called that, it’s actually now considered the sensible option for a modern roll out:


          And I use AARNET on a daily basis, as does everybody at the Uni I work at. It’s great to use (while at work) and has helped ensure research and teaching are more productive than was possible in the past (while at work). Yes, there is a reason I’m emphasising “While at work”…

          Have you heard of MOOC?

          Students (while at work) can use AARNET, but “students at uni” isn’t where the future is going. Unfortunately, Australia is, once again, going to end up behind the eight ball in yet another area students in other countries will have no problem with.

          The rest of the world isn’t standing still on this, it’s a shame some Australians are willing to stick their heads in the sand and say “the copper we’ve used for the last 100 years will be good enough for us thanks!”.

          Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNET) exists because Australian universities saw the need for high-speed internet connectivity to serve the academic and research community. Invoking it to say the rest of Australia doesn’t need high-speed internet connectivity makes no sense what so ever…

    • GG,

      Some cars kill people, due to driver error – ipso facto cars are evil and pointless.

      Your conclusion is suggestion that the speed of NBN is somehow to make up for – something, seems to be illogical. Or that a specific use, defines or justifies it’s entire broader purpose. It’s a form of Godwin, imho.

      It’s no more sensible than my silly observation, above.

      Whether you are rich, or not, doesn’t really have any relevance to the notion of a ubiquitous, nation-wide broadband and service offering.

      Or at least, it didn’t. I don’t think you can even buy your way into Fibre under Turnbull’s latest policy.

      Ironic, huh?

      The NBN has little to do with speed or porn. Both are available in spite of. The purpose of the NBN was to provide a ubiquitous, multi-purpose broadband connection; that practically everyone in the country could connect to.

      It was, frankly (perhaps despite some political mistakes and poor planning) one of the single best initiatives from the then Labor government.

      Many of our neighbours have now bitten-the-bullet and are doing the same thing. Or were. Now we’re observing in an exercise in futility.

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