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Thursday, 19 November 2020 18:54

NBN Co can seriously get in the way of communications

NBN Co can seriously get in the way of communications Image by sutulo from Pixabay

The NBN Co has been recently claiming that it has fast connections, super-fast connections and anything else that should satisfy the needs of even the most discriminating consumer, but that appears to be as much BS as any of its other claims.

On Thursday afternoon, I was all set to kick back and enjoy an afternoon of drinking wine and consuming cheese courtesy of global networking giant Cisco, one of those rare occasions when one gets the chance to get tipsy and enjoy the hospitality of a company of this size.

I don't often agree to such invitations, but when the gracious Adela Amanowicz makes an offer, one really finds it very difficult to respond in the negative, even if one is, by nature, anti-social.


These are the kind of speeds I got during the session with Cisco – I had to use Wi-Fi because of where I was sitting. I normally use a wired connection, but I had no ports near my location. My NBN plan is 100/20Mbps.

But, hey, even on such an occasion, the NBN Co, courtesy of the HFC technology championed by that great tech expert Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, can totally screw up your afternoon.

Given the bandwidth available — and I am on the highest available download speed of 100Mbps from my provider, Aussie Broadband — I was unable to see even a single video frame of the conversation that ensued on the chat that was organised by Cisco.

Now, if any third-rate company had organised this Web chat one would be able to cast aspersions on it, but this is Cisco, the grand-daddy of networking.

nbn cisco

Additionally, 10 years ago one could cast aspersions on my choice of platform — Linux — but that is not possible any more.

I was unable to see a single frame of the interviews with two vintners which Cisco had organised, thanks to the NBN Co.

The error message I have posted indicates that the cause for this blockout of video is either a hardware issue or a bandwidth issue. My laptop has an i7 processor and 16GB of RAM, overkill for a Linux system. The bandwidth is the issue and that is clearer than the daylight that streams through my window at 6am each day.

The NBN Co often cites the case of Netflix, that it requires only 25Mbps to stream, and various other factoids to prove that it is an adequate provider of bandwidth. Yet, when the rubber hits the road, the government monopoly is found seriously wanting.

One can continue to blind oneself to reality, but the facts merit a closer look. Not just because journalists cannot enjoy an afternoon of getting drunk, but because the bandwidth claims made by a government monopoly just do not measure up in real life.

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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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