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Tuesday, 26 September 2017 12:07

Why the ABC should steer clear of talking about the NBN

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The ABC is considered by many to be top dog when it comes to intelligent discourse on the more serious topics that concern this country. Yet, when it comes to technology, the ABC often shows that it has no clue at all.

A case in point occurred on 22 September during the morning radio show in Melbourne. The host, Jon Faine, normally brings in two people to talk shop about events during the week for half an hour; it probably saves him from having to think up a way to create fresh content for that time.

Under the name "The Wrap" (which I propose is better called The Crap), Faine and his guests talk about the news of the week.

The guests are always politicians or as close to that as one can get. On the day in question, the two who were in the studio were Georgina Downer, a political hack of no small proportions and daughter of Alexander (yes, the stockinged one, the man of AWB inquiry fame), and Jane Garrett, a former minister in the Victorian Labor Government.

The job of these two people is always to defend the respective viewpoints of the parties they represent. On the day in question, it was no different.

(As an aside, it is difficult to understand why politicians are given so much air time by the public broadcaster; they get enough time to spout their views elsewhere. It is sheer laziness that prevents people like Faine from inviting members of the public who have a broad spread of viewpoints. But that would take some hard work.)

dont know

But I digress. The discussion between Faine, Garrett and Downer did not catch my attention until a caller raised the issue of the NBN and the glorious mess it has become.

Given that the Coalition Government has created the current NBN mess, Downer piped up, first blaming the mess on Labor, and then saying that in any case it was not of much import as 5G would soon be introduced, giving the public much faster speeds.

But what does 5G have to do with the Internet? How does one use a mobile connection for one's broadband needs with the data quotas that are available? Was Faine aware that 5G also requires an extensive fibre network to be built?

Only one Australian provider, OVO, has taken on the task of trying to fill the void for fast Internet by offering people 100GB of data for $69.95 (it was $100 at first).

Faine was unaware of this so he let Downer's uninformed comment go through to the keeper.

Garrett knew as little as Downer so when she was asked for her take, she made some general comments and let the matter go.

Any listener would have been left with the impression that once 5G arrives, broadband speeds in Australia would be akin to manna from heaven.

Instead of this kind of misinformed conversation, why doesn't Faine just avoid talking about technology at all?


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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