The LNP switch to Vaudeville is broken! Once turned on – impossible to turn off.

The LNP switch to Vaudeville is broken! Once turned on – impossible to turn off.

9 October 2013

The Coalition in opposition was full of superlatives; MOST this, BIGGEST that. Mainly they were about the MOST incompetent, the WORST government, a FAILURE in administration…ETC, and so the rhetoric of the Liberal National party went on.

Ably assisted by Rupert Murdoch’s minions, they limped into power with an underwhelming swing of 1.9% on the primary vote. They picked up government on 2nd preferences.

The details can be seen here

http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseStateFirstPrefsByParty-17496-NAT.htm

The overall swing against Labor was 3.65% and of course 3.65% to the Coalition – so much for the landslide that was touted.

Sadly to say the whole election was not fought on policy but on perception. The perception that the Labor Party was bad at everything they did and the Liberal Party and their ‘follow me too’ National Party were superlative the other way.

I think in a nutshell that Labor were good at policy but bad at the politics and the Liberals had no policy but were superb at the politics.

Let’s look at one policy … THE NBN.

As a man who spent many happy years in the telecommunications Industry in selling and Product Marketing, I am convinced that a Fibre to the Premises solution for Australian Broadband is the best alternative.

The simple explanation is that the speed of light down a glass polymer cable can travel faster than a signal down a copper cable.

The fibre is capable of carrying a signal at the speed of light but the devices that are put at each end of the fibre actually slow it down,  so new devices and technologies can use the same fibre cable for as long as it lasts.

Glass is made of silica and has amazing properties

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass

and it can be made into Optic fibre

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_fiber

In the case of a fibre to the node broadband network, the difference between copper and optic fibre cable is like a 50 lane highway (both ways) – being reduced to a mountain goat track, with the goat herders the LNP policy gurus.

In the case of Labor’s NBN solution, the fibre goes all the way to the home and so it allows a range of speeds to be chosen by the customer as well as an enhanced range of new and emerging technologies.

Copper to the home from a node will give a maximum speed which depends on the state of the copper, (it has been installed for many years) and the maintenance requirements to keep it working.

From the Telephone exchange to the home there are currently many joints in the copper. My house is 900 meters from the exchange and there are 7 joints, each a potential maintenance hazard.

Optic fibre is fused so there are no joints in it and therefore no maintenance hazard.

The maintenance state of the copper is not known and because Telstra has moved from its own workforce to a contracted workforce the actual data on the copper network is very incomplete.

But what has this to throwing the switch to Vaudeville you ask.

Well it has to do with all the rhetoric that Malcolm Turnbull went on about before the election and since.

As an aside the Liberals and Nationals who are now in power seem unable to realise that they are now holding the reins and that it is a different situation that confronts them. They are actually now the people responsible for governing the country.

Here are a few propositions Malcolm Turnbull put before the election:

1/ That there was no Business plan.

Since making the Statement NBN Co has no less than three business plans.

2/ That when a business plan was developed it actually would cost $94Bn and not 44.1 billion.

“we estimate that to complete the NBN according to the Labor Party’s plans will cost $94 billion dollars.”

Turnbull’s estimates were made on a set of assumptions which are just that –

a set of assumptions.

These assumptions are discussed in this SMH article before the election which is followed up by another SMH article after the election.

Clearly Turnbull is in Liberal National Party Vaudeville mode.

Obviously some people in the NBN Co think this also and have leaked the draft corporate plan for 2013-2016. A plan which Turnbull says he doesn’t believe and his review will get to the “unvarnished” version.

A plan which shows the NBN to be on track and at the same cost as has always been the case.

3/ That they had made little progress in the 4 years that the NBN Co had been in existence.

This statement is partially true but it is extremely misleading. One of the largest parts of starting the installation of the broadband network was the agreement with Telstra to use their ducts and pits and for them to make redundant their aging copper network and put their services over to fibre cable.

This agreement was made in 23 June 2011 and from that date to today (6/10/2013) is 2 years and 3 months.

In that time NBN Co has built most of the backbone network to 69 of 121 points of interconnect, and connected to nearly 100,000 customers in that time.

Also Quigley has built a fledgling company into a going concern. Not a bad feat for a $37 billion enterprise and a fabulous forward looking policy by the Labor Government.

4/ That the people building the network had no experience of building a network.

Networks are interesting beasts, they are products of different technologies and time. The public switched telephone network or PSTN, contained many different technologies, depending on where you are. If you are in a bush area where the population is static then it is likely that you will have technology which is 50 years old as a telephone exchange. If you live in the city you may have newer digital technology.

If it’s a landline then it could be one of three different sizes of copper which affect the speed of any sort of Hybrid (yes Hybrid) Asymmetrical Digital subscriber line (ADSL) you have installed.

Many people in cities don’t have a fixed line anymore they rely on a mobile phone wireless network.

So The NBN Co made a decision to use a mixture of technologies to provide the best broadband service to everyone, a mixture of Fibre, Wireless and Satellite – technologies which give the best result at the cheapest cost considering the geographic circumstances of Australians. As well as providing the same wholesale price.

NO ONE has ever tried to build a network from scratch like this, but the CEO of NBN Co was arguably the best choice to do so.

His Biography is here and the company he worked for before joining NBN Co is here. Alcatel-Lucent USA. And Alcatel –Lucent Worldwide here.

Once you read the background information on Quigley and the companies and positions he has attained in those companies I would say that he was a pretty good choice to actually be in charge of the Broadband build.

It makes the charges laid against him and NBN Co petty and spiteful in my view.

It also makes Tony Abbott’s claim that Turnbull “virtually invented the internet” a completely crass and stupid comment coming from that champion of crass and stupid comments.

So if anyone had the right credentials to lead the company that needed to build a Broadband Network such as Australia’s and Labor’s NBN then the man was Mike Quigley.

Conclusion.

The Vaudeville switch burned out after it was thrown by the Liberal Party and they have no idea how to turn it off.

Especially so in Turnbull’s case. He has made a lot of noise about how bad the NBN Co is and how dysfunctional it is also. I don’t believe him and I have explained why.

The business plan he so wanted to see actually delivers on its promises. The realities are coming home to bite the hyperbole. The Plan for 2013-16 confirms that the plan and the costs are on track, that after the hiccup with Telstra and access to their pits and ducts, they are actually getting on with it.

The biggest threat to Australia getting broadband is the election of a Liberal National Coalition, who is strong on the condemnation but extremely weak on the details and how their solution is going to happen.

Where is Malcolm Turnbull’s business plan for his network? Where is his technical plan for his network? And where are the revenue projections for his network?

I know where they are. They are in Vaudeville with the ridiculous assertion that he virtually invented the internet.

God help Australia with the fluff and nonsense that this man goes on with.

Lastly it is instructive to read Mike Quigley’s departing letter to his staff. It affirms that the plan is on track and that there have been some hiccups but that the build is ramping up.

At the end he leaves a challenge to the incoming CEO Ziggy Switkowski. He says:

“Undoubtedly, there will still be many challenges ahead, but the addition of fibre to the node to NBN Co’s suite of technology solutions will allow the NBN to be built more quickly and at less cost to the taxpayer,”

The challenge being that the NBN will be built more quickly and at less cost.

With different existing copper technology, the revenue will be different, the costs will be different (maintenance of copper network) and the speed (a lot slower) will be capped at maximum for copper and depend on the state of the copper (not known at present) in the ducts.

Given we don’t have a comprehensive business plan to assess the variables which the Liberal National champion Malcolm Turnbull espouses, is Ziggy the sacrificial lamb at the altar of Turnbull’s ambition’s?

One last question: Will we ever know these answers? I doubt it. The reason is the switch may be broken but the information is still in their control. As with the Asylum seeker information they will just shut it down.

And one last fact: The NBN Co Business plan shows a return of 7.1% to the company. What does that mean? Well it means that all of the cost is recouped and that they make a further 7.1% on that cost. So there is no cost to Australians. The loss to Australians under the Coalition’s goat track proposal is huge. The opportunity cost is enormous – its the cost of keeping us all in the 1950’s.

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One thought on “The LNP switch to Vaudeville is broken! Once turned on – impossible to turn off.

  1. VOG, well researched article, I particularly liked the provision of Quigley’s resume, as he’s been unfairly, and politically, maligned. The prosecution of the case for modern and future-proof broadband is important and factual articles like this are a valuable contribution to the discussion. The public don’t yet see the benefit as the debate has been hijacked by the cost discussion. But when does the public know what it wants? As Henry Ford said, if I had have asked people what they needed, they would have said a faster horse! Great to see the head of Google Australia supporting fibre this week. I trust Google more than the Libs to know best on these matters!
    MOK

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