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back to article No need for speed, says Oz communications shadow

It's been a bad week for Australia’s Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has taken quite a drubbing across the blogosphere after suggesting that Australia's cities did not need home connection speeds of up to one terabyte per second. According to the Delimiter’s Renai LeMay, the internet was awash with insult, …

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WTF?

How fast?

"...Australia's cities did not need home connection speeds of up to one terabyte per second."

Hang on... 1TB per second? That's 8Tbps, or over a million times faster than standard ADSL.

No, I don't think that is needed either!

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Paris Hilton

Interface

I'm just wondering what sort of interface your PC would need to be able to even cope with that bandwidth. Given PCIe has a limit of 1GB/s on each lane... you'd need 64 PCIe x16 cards by my reckoning.

Plus where on earth are you going to store it? Process it?

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Just a politician's ploy

It's just a politician doing what a politican does. Use the most extreme argument and setup a straw man which you then demolish. It's blindingly obvious that no household could ever use 1TB per second, and I suspect the number of corporations that use that much WAN bandwidth for internal purposes can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

However, it's certainly possible to make a case for 100Mbps (say three channels of hi-def h.264 @ 24Mbps). There is a case to be made for higher peaks (if you use remote backup for your data and you need to restore several 100GB then 1Gbps would be nice). !00Mbps is just about possible using FC to the kerb. Beyond that you are into FTTH territory.

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WAN BW

Given that there are NO WAN technologies that even come close to that, only an ISP or a very company accounting for all WAN traffic could even come close. Carriers are looking at 100Gbit technologies to replace 40Gb technologies. The real issue, backplane of network equipment; most have a 40Gb or 50Gb backplane/fabric connection.

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FAIL

Turnbull's not stupid....

...he's just an old rich guy who likes to spoil.

Why is it that rich white guys never want the rest of us to progress?

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A terrabyte per second at home?

Let me get this right - one Terrabyte per second? That's 8 Terrabits per second, or the equivalent of 800 10Gb connections all working in parallel.

I sincerely hope this is a figure for the aggregated capacity of all the links in a city. Otherwise it strikes me as simply hype.

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TB

Yup 8Tb would be kind of hard to deploy since I suspect it will be a few years until you can buy a router or PC with an interface that fast, and even when you can they won't be cheap.

I thought 40Gb was pretty impressive.

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Yeah but

Presumably if they are toying with replacing the entire backbone they would want a little future-proofing. Some of these comments are reminiscent of Bill Gates' "Nobody will ever need more than 640K of RAM"

Sure 8TB/sec in at the door is a little surplus for right now; but let Moore's Law munch on it for a little while and it'll be just right.

You can't have too much bandwidth; a HDD that's too big; or a processor that's fast enough.

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Big Brother

dumb and dumber

What choice do we have:

Labor - Build a fast network that is capable, then, add great firewall of China, sorry North Korea, slow it down to dial-up speed, cut off anything Gov doesn't want people to see.

Lib - Leave everyone in the dark but few who were lucky enough to get a reasonable speed. Then add a great firewall of N. Korea, slow everything even slower.

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Big Brother

Shirley... (or is it Shelia)

if you want the great Ausi firewall to work properly you need to have punters on a common government controlled (no Telstra or the likes) connection. Or is that not the motive?

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he has a point..

Id love fast broadband... but for once here is a politician using his head... I have no idea of the rest of his policies, but i can think of better things to spend money on!

I live in the uk and my internet connection is a slow 600kps link, which for day to day is more than plentiful... There currently is no useful IPTV service so faster speeds just satisfy the downloaders... mostly the pirates...

the majority of internet users just surf facebook and youtube, both of which are more than catered for at speeds less than 1Mb

And seeing at though everyone is now chaning their surfing habits and running netbooks and ipads, well, there isnt eough processing power to deal with a high bandwith video stream anyway!

By all means, have private companies spend thier money, but id like my taxes to be spent on something a little more useful, like roads, hospitals, police, schools... and dare i say it, paying off some of the national debt!

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FAIL

A thousand politicians cried out and then were suddenly silenced

"paying off some of the national debt!"

Sorry, going to have to be a grammar Nazi here, you cannot use the terms "paying off" and "national debt" in the same sentence. Its just not the Queens English.

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pain

600kbs is not plentiful at all.

Try using Citrix over a slow link, or dropbox, or skype, or any online gaming.

1TB seems excessive (maybe he means 1GB?), but regardless it reminds me of the classic Waston line: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers".

Who knows what future use cases might be?

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Alert

Meh? IPTV?

No Useful IPTV in the UK?.. Maybe not, I hear iPlayer is pretty popular with the kids though. And the adults. And pretty much everyone.

i am on a 10 MB Connection. It just about suffices now, anything less is pretty painful, especially when watching an iPlayer stream from my PS3..

Yes you can use a slower connection, but then you always have to hit the 'Looks like smeared mud' setting on all the videos. No thanks.. I have 1080 res monitors for a reason

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Headmaster

@Nextweek

If you're going to attempt grammar pedantry, try at least to be correct. And to use apostrophes where necessary. And not to use commas quite so randomly.

In point of fact, you cannot logically use "paying off", "some" and "debt" as paying off means in full.

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Citrix

"Try using Citrix over a slow link, or dropbox, or skype, or any online gaming."

The whole point of Citrix is that it's supposed to be low bandwidth. It will certainly work on less that 600Kb/s although I suspect the OP may have meant 600KB/s.

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Coffee/keyboard

Point of Order

Apparently it's not the Queen's American, either.

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Troll

Bandwidth of a car full of backup tapes

High bandwidth does not equate to low latency. So I may still be kicked off all the bzflag severs due to excessive lag.

There is some history here... Telstra used to be the government owned phone monopoly. When the industry was being opened up to competition, and privatisation, was being thought about, the then Labour government restructured it in such a way to support private ownership, but they gave it too much power in owning the local loop, the major backhauls and the overseas links. The Liberals got in, it was a bit of a mess but could be sold off, so they did. Finally after many years we have an idealogical Labour government back in.

Telstra over the years has been using its size and ownership of the local loop to strangle any competition. So when the Labour government steps in and tries to implement higher speed broadband telstra sabotages the whole scenario. The government doesnt like being screwed by a private business so comes up with a cunning plan. Spend $43+ Billion on a replacement network this will have better infrastructure than telstra, make it a manoploy for the local loop, so they dont have to deal with telstra, after a few years they will sell it off.

So cause Telstra a private telecom with a natural monopoly screwed the Labour government, (Labour set the rules in the first place), they're retaliating by creating a natural monopoly that will be eventually be private and cost the people $43+ Billion.

The biggest joke is Telstra was largely bought by mum and dad investors, and ultimately the NBN would too. Us, stupid, Ozzies are likely to have paid to be scewed by a monopoly telco 4 times by the end of this.

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FAIL

@Richard IV - Grammar Pedantry

I'm sure that at school I was taught not to start a sentence with 'And'.

Sorry for the grammar pedantry.

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Pint

what is the point

You have to wonder what Australia will do with a super-dooper-fast WAN. Ultimately there is barely any content within Australia (no decent shopping websites). So all that super-dooper-fast bandwidth will be competing for some narrow long-distance (1,000s of Km) bandwidth to the USA. Pointless! Absolutely pointless!

And what doesn't change? The fact it costs $80/month for ADSL speeds (presumably much more than that for the fibre to the home). When in the UK we can get unlimited broadband for less than £25/month!

Australia: corrupt country. Expensive new infrastructure you're forced to use. Decommissioned existing working infrastructure. Whether it is toll roads or broadband - you're f%#@ed if you're Australian.

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@Anon 16

The man Turnbull has a point.

"The basic problem, he claimed, was that "there’s been no case made or evidence made that there is any benefit from having a speed higher than what we can get now in many of our cities, at least, from ADSL 2+"

There isn't really much use for the super speeds on offer. I know there's the build it and they will come mentality but an eye must always be kept on cost. Also you need to take into account that Australia is the size of Western Europe with 21 million people living in it. What it needs is...

1. Competition - prices are good when there are multiple providers, predictably shit where there are not.

2. Reasonable speeds to the populous. I can get a 17Mbit/1Mbit connection but at a high cost and only from one provider and only over cable. A more basic NBN offering say 50/10 would be great as you have a basic LAN speed if the latency it low. Also people outside the major hubs get screwed. I'm only 4km from the CBD of a major city and can only get a good connection via cable.

That's it. Parts of the NBN work - the idea of a Government pipe that's offered to all providers at the same price works. The fact that it's effectively owned by meddling politicians doesn't.

Turnbull is on the money in this debate but the Luddites are often the populous who don't understand that bigger isn't always better and would like to bankrupt themselves in the process.

On the other points you are quite right - since moving to Australia I have never been f*cked from so many angles by so many entities. It is corrupt and it stinks.

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A, I see why people attcked him

He looked at what would be useful to the common or garden Aussie.

A dangerous thng, common sense that tips the pork barrel over.

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WTF?

Lies on every side?

Both parties are stretching the truth. There are lots of technical issues that other carriers have had that are not being addressed. The new expensive fibre will supply a shared 2.5 gig link compared to the 600 mb that most of the cable TV systems provide (there is 1.5 gig going past my house on HFC networks). We hear that the new system will be able to go to 25 gig yet other PON providers are finding that they need a second network for the return traffic once the network starts to get loaded.

The current plan is to completely turn off the existing copper network yet no other telco has been able to do that. There is no real provision for maintenance of that network that may still need to be repaired over the next two decades.

Also not a single news source has talked about the security issues of the new network which allows someone to disable all communications for hundreds of thousands of people with a few seconds of work with bolt cutters.

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Stop

Getting rid of copper

The problem is that if you get rid of copper, and there is a power cut, then the phone lines will not work. With copper on, as long as the phone company has power, then the normal telephones will work. If everything is on fibre, as soon as there is a power cut in your area, then you have nothing.

This is why you MUST have copper for telephones and NOT move everything to fibre.

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Power

In the UK, at least, it's a legal requirement for fixed lines to work through a power cut to allow for emergency calls, although many people use phones (like DECT) which are reliant on mains so this is not always effective. Mobile phones are ubiquitous, and they are not reliant on mains (provided the base station has a UPS). Secondly, it's perfectly possible to produce a fibre termination device with its own battery backup, although whether this is really necessary with mobile phones around is surely a moot point as it will add considerably to costs, bulk and maintenance.

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Stop

err, ups?

It's already been specified that NBN connections will have battery backup, so this is a solved problem. The copper network is falling apart anyway, why not replace it with fibre before it fails completely? My ADSL2+ connection runs at about 3.5Mbit on a good day (and only 700Kbit upstream), I'm close enough to the exchange that I should get around 8-10Mbit on a good pair.

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Anonymous Coward

Power Cut

They could put a crank onto it, Verizon fit a battery backup unit which lasts about 8 hours they say for telephone only.

If the power is out for days or for hours at a time then they I'd buy a $10 mobile phone or get a generator backup or complain to the supplier.

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People don't expect reliability

I'm with Llanfair in noting that copper based phones generally stay working when the power goes out, whereas a fibre based phone system probably won't. However I also notice that very few people have non cordless phones at home. Certainly in this area I've tried phoning around when the power goes out and nobody else has a working phone. So, I guess the bottom line is that people don't care if their phone always works or not.

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FAIL

Cordless phones.

@Getting rid of copper

My cordless phone is useless when the power goes out, the base station needs a power source. No backup battery in the base station and what brand of phone is it? Telsta cordless phone, Telstra being the copper network owner. In most instances these days, a copper network is not the only network, cell phone networks can provide backup.

You must read the Uncle Rupes Australian news(opinion)paper.

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The key problem is competition....

Firstly I credit him in his argument. Picking winning technologies to invest in can be a tricky game. However, I don't see speed as being the biggest issue: competition is. From what I read Australia currently has one provider that 90% of the market cornered. How does he expect competing technologies to win, if there is no competition?

Second, the physics are behind it: Fiber is a better medium than coax, which is a better medium than copper. It doesn't matter what multiplexing / data compression strategy might evolve. It will speed up all three technologies equally.

Wireless may be another story. It is infinitely scalable, with the correct infrastructure... i.e. smaller cells (geographic multiplexing). But wireless at best would be a last mile thing.

Whatever the last mile technology is, I believe Layer 1 should be municipal and Layer 2 up should be private. Amsterdam has their deployment right. It is the only way to ensure that competition actually happens, and that new technologies will be developed.

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Bragging Rights

Super high speeds are more about bragging rights than anything else. I know fibre connected eejits who constantly bragg about their connection speed but do very little with that speed.

In the dim and distant days when 100Mbit to the desktop was new and exciting and every user who had heard of it was asking for it and our organisations WAN was 2Mbit for the most part we had a saying round here. "The same problems only faster." Which the user's didn't understand. What we meant was "The WAN is already overloaded, upgrade all the LANs to 100Mbit and the WAN will saturate even faster."

The same applies to home internet access. Before you can roll out superfast speeds to the home you need to upgrade the infrastructure. And we're not just talking all the links between all the routers on the net, you also need the content providers to upgrade their links into the net otherwise their links will be saturated.

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"The same problems only faster"

I remember saying exactly same thing when migrating from 100Mbps to 1Gbps on the Desktops - to be honest though I was wrong. Unless this change goes hand-in-hand with a full review of capacity and QOS across the entire LAN/WAN the only noticable differences are;

a) file copying is slightly quicker to a logically close server

b) average NIC use dropping from 10% to 1%. Whoop de doo.

It still didn't stop some weird placebo-like effect on our users though - I got a lot of "oh the internet is much faster now - thanks!"

Yeah, sure it is mate.

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Boffin

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - Bill Gates, 1981

I can see both sides of the argument, after all no one wants to cancel a project based upon an assumption that something may not be required.

Bill Gates is laughed at for saying "640K ought to be enough for anybody." - you could apply the same to the fibre rollout in Australia in say 20 years time.

On the other hand we have the 'TPON Fibre' rollouts by BT in Milton Keynes in the early 90's to act as a warning that things don't always pan out as intended.

The humiliation of BT having to replace fibre with copper to provide ADSL purely because they invested in fibre tech too early should act as a BIG warning to the Australian project.

thingi

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FAIL

Bits NOT Bytes

It looks like Malcolm "The Luddite" Turnbull has confused Bits with Bytes. The original plan was for 100Mbs then it was upgraded to 1000mbs when the NBN found out it wouldn't cost that much more.

Why would we Australians want 1000mbs? We don't know but isn't it good to future proof for when we do, seeing how it's not going to add that much more to the cost?

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Luddite yourself (with knobs on it)

Malcolm "The Luddite" Turnball hasn't confused Bits and Bytes: he is just better informed than some of his opponents..

1 Terebyte was "the sort of speed you might get over a transcontinental cable" 5 years ago, when the Japan/Australia cable was last upgraded.

Now it might be even better, but that's around about the benchmark for AUS.

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Ugggh....

+1 on Steve's comment above..

Sure, fibre goes waaaay faster than what's needed for most people... NOW...

... but just as standard PSTN dialup had speeds like 75 baud and then got to ~56kbps before it was phased out, eventually higher speeds, higher than what the existing network provides, will be needed.

The Liberals are all about private enterprise knowing best - well, they haven't done very well so far, have they? Just as Australia's rail networks need upgrading to shift the natural resources so popular in commodity markets today, data is becoming a commodity in and of itself with things like iPads etc. driving consumer demand and for those businesses to continue growing, the infrastructure for transport needs to be improved in advance of demand rather than as an "Oh shit, we're behind the 8 ball" step.

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Standard dialup speeds

Standard dialup speeds were ALWAYS too slow. The technology lagged behind the demand. There were technical and regulatory limitations. Everyone knew that, but nobody had a technical solution. This was my area of study, and I was personally familiar with the technical limitations and the pent-up demand.

For decades now that has not been the situation with fibre-cable data. There is far more cability in the Melb-Sydney and AUS-US cables than has ever been used.

The cable is just waiting for the next big thing. It hasn't turned up yet, but that's not for lack of capacity.

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FAIL

You use rail for an analogy?

Sir, you have forgotten that the rail guage problem was created by governments, not by private enterprise.

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FAIL

Aye

I recall Telstra a few years ago mentioning that they had no desire to push out ADSL2+ because "people didn't want it". This was direct from a major Telstra rep at a conference for its dealers introducing their ADSL1 product (not that it was new by then).

This was despite the fact that one of their competitors was installing their own ADSL2+ DSLAMs in Telstra's exchanges - because people did want it. Telstra moving to ADSL2+ was about them realising they had to play catch up to a company with a lot less clients, that had a clue about the way forward. What Ma and Pa Kettle say they want now has absolutely no bearing on what they'll want in a few years. It's just that in a few years, they'll be demanding it, and won't have a few years to wait for someone to drop by with the fibre.

If we listened to the Libs, and listened to Telstra, we'd probably still be on ADLS1.

Wireless? Really? So far that's not worked well outside of metro areas here.

No idea where 1TB/s comes from - never heard that number before. 1Gb/s is a number I've heard. That's a stretch, but I'd be happy with 25Mbps right now. ADSL2+ is great if you live in the phone exchange. Not 4 1/2km from it - but that's really the point of the NBN isn't it?

Because in Oz, most of us don't live next to the phone exchange.

Libs like to push Wireless a lot. I'm still a long way from convinced that they've done anything other than listen to a small number of insignificant companies who tell them how well they believe their wireless product works. With one user. In a lab. At a range of about 10 feet.

Roll out the fibre and future proof the country. Anyone who challenges what you can do with that speed lacks any form of foresight and any knowledge of how quickly the requirement for bandwidth changes, and should be branded a Luddite and shoved in a cupboard somewhere so they can hide from the evils of modern technology.

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FAIL

Why

Excuse me if I've missed something, but the guy pushing for the ultra-fast connections to give the best video is also the guy who wants to bring in the Great Barrier Reefer to stop all the porn which is one of the major consumers of the current bandwidth.

So the Aussie get faster, bigger pipes that are empty because there's actually very little traffic permitted through them. Like building a five lane highway and only allowing funeral cars to use it.

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Grenade

Brunswick is the problem and turnbull should know it!

It is a suburb that has a large number of renters and even if they want high speed broadband they need permission from the landlord to get the work done. Many landlords in that area are old and have no idea as to what the NBN is all about. Turnbull the tool should know this, if he does not then he is not doing his job!

One problem in the melbourne inner city suburbs (I live in one so I know) is the current infrastructure, it is stuffed. For example every time it rains my mate and myself lose our ADSL2+ until everything dries out.

All of connections in the inner city exchanges are maxed out. It took me years just to get ADSL2+ after being promised it when I first purchased my connection. You can't have cable TV as there is no way to provide the cable feed. All the outer newer suburbs have much better cabling and in some cases there are two cable TV feeds going past your house.

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WTF?

um, hang on

Hang on just a cotton pickin minute here.

As was discussed by the business manager of the NBN on ABC radio some weeks ago. They have noted that yes uptake has been lower in Brunswick. And they attribute this to the demographic that lives there which is predominantly renters. And they expected the process with renters to take longer because the owner of the the property would have to be contacted to approve knocking a hole in the wall. What Turnbull doesn't mention and the NBN guy does is that in most of the other rural settings they have seen well above the expected uptake something like 80%.

And yes he is an annoying little tw*rp because before the election he was claiming that why would anybody ever need more than 10Mb/s and most of this could be provided by wireless technologies such as HSDPA. And if you happen to be a Vodaphone Australia customer at the moment you will know what a nonsense that is since you cant actually make a phone call usually

And the govt has plans for several uses for the network that will require slightly more than what malcome is offering by his dodgy wireless model. There are for example several tests on the cards using HD 3D video streaming for medical diagnostic purposes in remote parts of Australia

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Pirate

HD 3D video streaming for medical diagnostic purposes

Unless you happen to be a radiographer, or have a radiology machine in your home, you won't be doing HD 3D video streaming for medical diagnostic purposes.

If that's your 'govt plan' justifying fibre to the home, you've been suckered.

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FAIL

what a dumb article

Completely glosses over any of the points why Turnbull has been totally castigated.

The "main driver is IPTV"? Bollocks. It was to provide a uniform network for those in the country who have long suffered from the isolation and tin can telephony systems.

<rant>

The Liberal party had 10 years to improve broadband and did nothing but appoint total luddites to the position of communication minister. In the same time, the amount of money paid off to middle income earners in the way of tax cut pork barrelling exceeds the costs of the three things that would have helped see the country into the future. A broadband network, high speed rail and HVDC transmission network. What I can't believe is the failure to invest in a high speed rail system out of all those things!

</rant>

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Bronze badge

He's right, ya know.

According to http://www.homeless.org.au/statistics/

there are around 100,000 homeless people in Australia.

For the (pre-cost blow-out*) price tag of $45 billion, the government could build 180,000 houses (assuming $250,000 per house, so they've be nice houses).

End homelessness in Australia (almost twice over) or download porn faster. Which do you think is more worthwhile?

*It's the government, so you KNOW there's going to be a cost blow-out. "Did we say $45 billion? Oh, that was meant to be $450 billion. Whopises! Someone forgot to put the last zero on the end."

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Anonymous Coward

Who needs it

I have never seen Netflix need more than 250 KB/s = 2 Mbps and that's for the highest quality HD stream. Similar with Hulu. The 10 Mbps service I had 10 years ago was way more than enough for anything I do today yet my stupid cable company keeps upgrading its service and using that as an *excuse* to charge me more.

BTW, online gaming is about latency, not bandwidth. You'd have to be a real noob to assume that "faster internet service" means better online gaming.

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Anonymous Coward

Missing the point

Yes online gaming is about latency. Tried playing your games over a 3g connection as turnbull was proposing. Bit laggy they are. I did a heap of work with them and 600ms+ is not uncommon.

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Big Brother

@Lib supporters

No he does NOT know what he was talking about.

"There isn't really much use for the super speeds on offer. I know there's the build it and they will come mentality but an eye must always be kept on cost."

No, it is about the network can support super speed to majority of population, so us who don't live in the few lucky areas can get what you call "reasonable" or "good enough" speed. It's like highway, a better highway may allow you drive faster, but in reality where there is no need for driving at super speed, everyone benefits from a better highway.

"1. Competition - prices are good when there are multiple providers, predictably shit where there are not."

Princes are not good either since we all have to connect to Telstra outdated, broken, shit network, one way or the other. Part of NBN plan is to take Telstra to a fair playing level with everyone else.

"2. Reasonable speeds to the populous."

Not gonna happen without something like NBN. You have to be seriously high (and day dreaming) to believe private firm will spend any money to build a network that will benefit the population. Especially when Telstra still technically owns majority of the network.

"I'm only 4km from the CBD of a major city and can only get a good connection via cable."

I'm only 1km from major exchange/town centre, which is only less than 10km to CBD. Telstra fucked our ares so bad that I'd lucky to have stable ADSL 1 speed. NBN is the only hope here will ever see reasonable connection.

"That's it. Parts of the NBN work - the idea of a Government pipe that's offered to all providers at the same price works. The fact that it's effectively owned by meddling politicians doesn't."

This I agree with you, which is why I against Labor/Lib censorship plan. Politicians must be kept out as much as possible.

"Turnbull is on the money in this debate but the Luddites are often the populous who don't understand that bigger isn't always better and would like to bankrupt themselves in the process."

See my first point, Turnbull is way off the mark. He doesn't under how badly this country needs a capable network. The real debate is there should never be censorship, and NBN should never be sold out. The disaster of Telstra should never be repeated.

"since moving to Australia I have never been f*cked from so many angles by so many entities. It is corrupt and it stinks."

Labor or Lib makes no difference. They are both the same. And those "do gooders" and religious lobby groups only push the country deeper into shit.

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There is no need for speed

The main problem with discussions on internet speed is that they always involve politicians who do not know how internet service is supplied. There is always a demand that the last link is upgraded to a faster one. This is a bit like insisting that the last mile of a hundred mile highway is 120 lanes wide when the the other ninety nine miles consists of a two lane road. In the UK most ISP have a single one Giga Byte link from their aggregation point inside the local telephone exchange to there server network. So even if we disregard all of the other pinch points in the WWW this single point is enough to explain the strangulation of the net. The bottom line is that you can upgrade all of the lines in any given area to 100 Tbyte with no advantage if all of the lines are aggregated onto a one Giga Byte link. The unfortunate truth is that the "real" speed you get from your ISP is not determined by the speed of your link to the ADSL DSLAM rack in the telephone exchange, it is determined by how many other customers you are sharing the outgoing link with and how well your provider has built their server net. In reality, during busy hour congestion most ISP in the UK are struggling to effectively provide much more than 300 K. Techno freaks should stop blaming the politicians for the nonsense they speak. After all it is the techno freaks who are feeding this pointless rush for the high speed last mile. A far greater speeding up of any national internet performance will be acheived by building infrastructure than will ever be acheived by suping up the last mile.

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