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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Is your internet being sucked dry

Summer holidays are here and with that comes the influx of folks from the city with their internet devices looking to stream their summer-time movies, check their social media statuses and upload the 30,000 selfies to let their friends know how much fun they are having. But only if they can get data. The South Coast is a poor cousin to the city folks when it comes to internet speed but then, the city folk in turn have become poor cousins on the world stage when it comes to internet speeds. While the rest of the world is embracing gigabit per second internet capability, Australia is lagging well behind with poor performance across the board. The median internet speeds of 25 to 50 Mb/s enjoyed by city folk with Fiber to the Premise rarely gets to the 100 Mb/s promised and when it finally does (if it ever does) it will be old technology in the face of what is happening around the world. Where does that leave the South Coast? If Australia is now the poor cousin of the rest of the world in terms of internet speed delivery then we, on the South Coast, are wallowing in the Dark Ages. The Liberal Government tell us us we will have a world-leading national broadband network that will enable Australians, metropolitan or rural, to educate themselves to the highest standards and to engage the digital revolution. What we are quickly seeing is the unfolding of a Double Standard country where those in the city now enjoy the NBN and, with the recent roll-out of competing providers, will soon to enjoy competitive pricing as well as they do with mobile phone plans. Meanwhile in the bush the price is set, there is no competition and connections will be either Fiber To The Node or via satellite. Both of these options deliver speeds well below those now being enjoyed in most developing countries, let alone the first world. Australia has dropped down to 48th place in the global average broadband connection speed rankings list (June 2016). In terms of average peak internet speeds, at 39.3Mbps, Australia fared far worse, plummeting to 60th position. "[The Coalition] have had almost three years on this... Over that time we have gone from 30th in the world for internet speeds to 60th in the world for internet speeds," Opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare told ABC's RN Breakfast on June 13, 2016. (ABC Fact Check) The Coalition went to the 2013 federal election with a commitment to deliver a "better" National Broadband Network. "Our goal is for every household and business to have access to broadband with a download data rate of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by late 2016. Downloads average less than five megabits per second at present," the policy document said. The document also contained a longer-term target of "50 and 100 megabits per second by the end of 2019 in 90 per cent of the fixed line footprint"."Approximately 65 per cent of the FTTN portion of the rollout is expected to be completed in the four years to 2016-17. The remaining 35 per cent will be deployed in 2017-18 and 2018-19," the document said. That has not been met and many believe it can not be met in the future with the technology at hand and the draconian roll-out. So what can be done? Not much actually - political parties from all sides can throw stones at each other but it will actually take far more money than either have or both are ever prepared to spend. Why? There aren't all that many votes in the bush. The same philosophy of dealing with the current mobile service black spot between Batemans Bay and Braidwood or along the Princes Highway to the Victorian border. The cost of a tower to service a handfull of people isn't considered to be smart political investment. Political parties are far better off investing somewhere where you get more votes for your buck. Eden Monaro's principal area is based around Queanbeyan and now includes Yass as well. With the highlands area extending to the Victorian border to take in Cooma and Bombala and then the coast from the Victorian border north it is 42,000 sq kms with a population of 110,000 giving an average of 2.6 voters per sq km making voters pretty thin on the ground when it comes to providing rural services. As the Liberals are in power that means that we, the second cousins already twice removed from our well serviced city kinfolk are pretty much ignored as we have "no friends in high places" who happen to be in power and might be able to do something for us. Meanwhile up in the Gilmore electorate they are doing very nicely in the north around Kiama and Nowra where the bulk of the electorate live. Gilmore is 6,342 sq km in size with 116,000 voters. High-speed broadband with massive capacity data download/upload could transform regional Australia but the likelihood of that happening is Buckley's. At June 30 2016 1.4 million premises of a total of 11.9 million have access to high-speed Fibre To The Premises (FTTP). FTTP is now available in selected areas of 91 metropolitan suburbs and regional centres. In the July Federal election campaign Malcolm Turnbull promised Australians a first-world “new economy” through “innovation”. The NBN roll-out was running slow and costing a whole lot more so there was a decision to compromise and give Fibre to the Node instead of to the Premise using the old copper domestic phone line akin to a garden hose to link to the superhighway and give rural Australians access to the NBN satellite. Very few users of the satellite are satisfied and as the FTTN roll-out arrives even fewer Australians will be happy with what they are ACTUALLY provided compared to what they have been promised. Already there is a considerable noise being generated with ACCC saying that the internet speeds being advertised and "sold" by internet providers at considerable cost are NOT being provided and that there should be refunds. The internet providers then blame the NBN and say it isn't their fault. The Weekend Australian article of December 16th,2016 by Maurice Newman offers a very interesting insight into the history of the NBN and concludes that "Sadly, history will record the NBN as yet another poorly conceived, badly executed, overpriced, taxpayer-funded white elephant". So we can expect the stone throwing from Left and Right to continue, as too the name calling declaring the other inept and continue to listen to promises of something better if next elected but sadly the NBN, as it stands, is a dead horse and an embarrassment to this once very progressive nation. Neither side presently has the money or the know-how to fix it and we in the regional and rural areas of This Once Smart Land may as well go jump if we expect anything more than the "second cousin services" we now have. As summer approaches and the "hordes descend" it is time to wave goodbye to your internet streaming, your emails and your social media. And while you're at it put aside your mobile phone because that is about to be overloaded as well. "When politicians offer you something for nothing, or something that sounds too good to be true, it's always worth taking a careful second look." Malcolm Turnbull

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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