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Tuesday, 28 November 2017 11:08

Turnbull's magic-mushroom NBN is slowly unravelling

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For months now, we've been told that fast broadband would be arriving sooner because of the change in technology that the Coalition Government decided upon, with HFC cable and fibre-to-the-node being the saviours of the project. Now that dream is unravelling. 

The brakes have been well and truly slammed on by the NBN Co, with delays of six to nine months in getting any HFC connections up.

The Telstra HFC cable network is being shared by the NBN Co, Telstra and Foxtel; the NBN signal travels at a low frequency, the other two at higher frequencies. Apparently, at lower frequencies the signal does not travel all that well.

The equivalent of bandages will have to be applied. But the long-term solution will be to replace cable with fibre.

What was to have been a marathon — fibre-to-the-premises for 93%, satellite and fixed wireless for the rest — was attempted to be turned into a sprint by the agile and innovative Malcolm Turnbull.

Alas, the dream of the silver-haired visionary now seems to be dead.

magic mushroom big

His estimate of $29 billion, made in 2013, has doubled to $56 billion. His deadline of 2016 has blown out by four years. Even then, you do not know whether it will all be done.

And judging by the slow speeds on offer, the moment NBN Mark I is over, Mark II will have to start if Australia does not want to slip further into the dark ages. We are already behind countries that people here have not heard of.

All the documents that Turnbull put up on his website, claiming that the original plan would cost nearly $100 billion, have now disappeared.

Indeed, the man seems reluctant to even talk about the NBN. But that is par for the course for a politician who seems content if he can last the next 24 hours in his job. His motto seems to be taken from Holy Writ: "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

Ignoring the advice of technically competent people, Turnbull sought to sell Australians on a plan that promised build speed and less expense.

With three years still remaining for the scheduled completion, it looks like the contents of a box of free-range eggs is all over that handsome visage.

But hey, why should he bother? After all, to use the magic-pudding language of NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow, the HFC delay is merely "NBN Co taking (its) customer experience improvement programme to new levels".

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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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