2 posts • joined 26 Jan 2012
The Answers to NBN Questions
1. What do we REALLY NEED?
We need reliable, affordable and secure digital communications. The speed of communications is less important.
2. What's the BEST TECHNOLOGY to build with?
Fibre optic cable to the home and business premises is the best long term investment. Fibre should be installed in green-fields sites, such as new housing, where there was nothing installed before. It is not worth installing new hybrid fibre/copper networks. But the existing hybrid fibre/copper pay TV networks should continue to be used up to the end of their economic life. Similarly relatively new copper should be kept, but the oldest replaced. Also use of wireless should be considered alongside cable.
In other words, the Government's NBN plan should be slowed down and some money saved, but the opposition's plan to install new hybrid networks should not be implemented. Both government and opposition plans envisage using wireless for much of the network and this should proceed as planned.
* What happens AFTER we build the NBN?
The fibre will be usable for decades, perhaps hundreds of years, with the electronics upgraded every few decades to increase the speed. There is less scope for speeding up hybrid fibre/copper systems and they should be replaced with fibre eventually. Wireless system will gradually encroach on the market for cable systems, but there will still be a place for cable for high speed, security and reliability.
But the really interesting question is what do we do with all this bandwidth? Apart from ultra-high quality TV, there is no foreseeable "need" for the speed at present. Applications such as education, tele-working and tele-health work fine on current broadband.
What we need to do now is worry about the security and reliability of the NBN: Will it be secure against cyber-warfare? Will it work in floods, cyclones and brushfires?
Also we need to worry about skilling up the Australian workforce to use broadband technology. We don't want to invest in all this expensive technology and just use it to watch telly.
More at: http://blog.tomw.net.au/search/label/NBN
ps: Can I have the $250,000 consultancy fee now? ;-)
Notebook sized netbooks
Rather than an ultra-portable, last year I bought a small low cost (less than $400) low power laptop with a 11.6 inch screen. This has a low performance CPU running Linux, but is adequate for web browsing, email and document editing (think of it as a netbook with a bigger screen and keyboard). This gives the unit the footprint of an A4 pad of paper, so it is easy to fit in a briefcase. It is twice as thick as an ultra-book, but that makes it easier to hold. Recently I dropped the unit on a stone floor and the hard disk failed. I undid one screw on the back, slid out the hard disk, slid in a SSD and it works better than ever. The batter life is limtied (3 hours) and it does have a fan on the CPU which whirs, but for $400, I am not complaining.