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A brief summary of Paul Budde on the NBN (Friday) [Nov. 1st, 2009|11:13 am]
Bob Bain
[Current Mood |pensivepensive]

On Friday I attended a presentation by Paul Budde to the Telecommunications Special Interest Group of the Australian Computer Society regarding the NBN (National Broadband Network). This talk was scheduled to run for an hour but as Paul is a very passionate speaker and there is a lot of interest in this topic the presentation (including Questions and Answers) extended beyond an hour.

Having heard Paul speak on the NBN previously I was vaguely aware of one of the principal underpinnings of the NBN concept.

"The National Broadband Network is NOT about the Internet" (or Internet speeds)

If it is not about "The Internet" then what is it about ?

Addressing this topic Paul explained a Trans-Sector approach to the NBN in which the National Broadband Network is an infrastructure for the nation which encompasses the deployment of Fibre to the Premises using Fibre optic cable to deliver a variety of services including Health (e-Health), Media, Education, Energy (Smart Grids), and indeed includes an Internet Sector.

Addressing the issue that if the NBN is adopted the cost of $43 billion will raise Internet costs to $200 a month to the consumer he explained that this isn't the case given that the "Internet" is just one sector in the National Broadband Network, and that rather than Internet costs to the consumer increasing in all probability they would decrease. Where will the funding come from for the other sectors ? The answer is that the health sector will be financed by those with an interest in delivering health services over the NBN, the media sector financed by those with an interest in delivering media services over the NBN and the education sector financed by those with an interest in delivering education services over the NBN.

Once the NBN is in place there will be a "socket" for health related services in the home or premises, a "socket" for education related services in the home or premises, a "socket" for media related services in the home or premises and indeed if one wishes to plug into the Internet a socket for Internet related services.

Paul explained Smart Grids using an example of a person discovering that there is no power in their home. This has happened to me. The first thing a person will do when confronted with no power in the home is to wander down the street asking if others are affected. If others are affected then this is an issue concerning the power supply to the street whereas if it isn't affecting others then it's a problem associated only with the domestic supply (possibly a fuse). Smart meters are not something that the Energy sector have an interest to introduce as smart meters can be used to monitor energy consumption of individual electrical appliances and Energy companies are not going to spend billions of dollars introducing smart grids to the network if the end result is a decrease in their revenue. This is one of the reasons why the government has to wrest control of the network away from monopolies such as Energy Companies and other monopoly interests such as Telstra.

With regards to monopoly interests he expressed an opinion that in the United States companies such as Verizon and AT&T had even greater monopoly power than Australia's Telstra.

Why haven't the government adopted the Fibre to the Node concept ? There are two answers. Firstly, and as explained in other presentations to the Australian Computer Society, the "end game" acknowledged by almost everyone (including Telstra) is that Fibre to the Premises (with fibre delivered directly to the home or business) is the ideal solution and that Fibre to the Node involves boxes on street corners which are owned by monopoly interests such as Telstra or Verizon or AT&T.

Paul is as I understand it delivering this message to the White House in the United States of America.