Wednesday, 21 November 2018 09:33

Only fibre can meet our needs into the future, says ISP chief Featured

Damian Ivereigh: "What Australia needed (and still needs) is infrastructure that delivers Internet fast enough and reliable enough for us to forget about our Internet connection." Damian Ivereigh: "What Australia needed (and still needs) is infrastructure that delivers Internet fast enough and reliable enough for us to forget about our Internet connection." Supplied

A full-fibre national broadband network would have cost much more, possibly as much as an extra $40 billion, but it will have to be built some time as it is the only technology that can do the heavy lifting Australia will need into the future, the head of a small ISP claims.

Damian Ivereigh, chief executive of Launtel, a Launceston-based provider, said in a blog post that the Australian Government was prepared to spend $50 billion on 12 submarines that would probably be obsolete by the time they were built; given this, why could a similar amount not be spent on infrastructure that would be a vital part of Australia's economic future?

Ironically, the subs would become obsolete partly due to the fact that they would use similar signal processing technology to that used for the fibre-to-the-node connections which the NBN Co is providing for a majority of the populace, he pointed out.

Ivereigh said he did not care which political party was willing to build a proper fibre network that guaranteed Australia's future.

"As with our 100% reliance on electrical power, in the same way, our economic future is increasingly dependent on the Internet," he said. "Do [Malcolm] Turnbull, [Tony] Abbott or any of us really believe that in 10 years’ time we’re going to need less of the Internet in our daily lives?

"Are we going to wake up in 10 years and say 'Thank heavens Turnbull and Abbott didn’t spend all that money on the NBN. That would have been such a waste of money. Clearly the Internet was just a fad anyway'?"

While 5G would definitely help in improving the broadband speeds, Ivereigh said it would only make a dent. "A fixed-line pure fibre network is the only technology that comes even close to being able to do the heavy lifting we will need."

He blamed Turnbull for the NBN fiasco, saying he was the one who had agreed to Abbott's desire to "bury the NBN' and brought about the "complete neutering and bastardisation of the original NBN vision".

When construction of the NBN was begun in 2009, the Labor Party was in office and it envisaged fibre being rolled out to the premises for 93% of the populace, with the remaining 7% to be supplied with connectivity through either fixed wireless or satellite.

The rollout became a political issue when the Coalition Government that took power in 2013 decided to change the technology of the network to what it called a multi-technology mix.

The MTM includes fibre-to-the-node, HFC cable, satellite, and wireless, apart from fibre-to-the-premises which is being provided only to new dwellings.

As the MTM plan and the connections provided have come under increasing criticism, fibre-to-the-distribution-point, which considerably reduces the copper lead-in to premises — what the network builder NBN Co calls fibre-to-the-curb — has been introduced as well.

"The political arguments about whether Australia needs gigabit Internet is, and always has been, completely irrelevant," Ivereigh said. "What Australia needed (and still needs) is infrastructure that delivers Internet fast enough and reliable enough for us to forget about our Internet connection. We should treat it like water and power – trusted infrastructure that is just there and never gets in our way."

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Sam Varghese

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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