Monday, August 08, 2011

They should have built fibre to the premises

I think that The US's experience of wireless broadband demonstrates the dangers in relying on private enterprise capital and regulation to deliver a functional long term backbone of infrastructure. The article I've linked to demonstrates the pernicious effects of selling responsibility of infrastructure onto the private sector. The value of a spectrum increases if more can be done with it, and therefore there is an perverse incentive for government regulators to relax spectrums and rules, independently of the original reasons to have the rule there in the first place. It isn't just a "fibre is better than wireless tradeoff". Wireless is always going to be chosen by private enterprise because a return can be made in a reasonable timeframe. The issue of fibre vs wireless is separate, and I would be just as happy with the NBN plan if it went something like 10% FTTP, 50% FTTN, and the remaining 40% the newer version of next G wireless, as long as the government could take control of the infrastructure.

However both for practicalities in taking over the infrastructure and being able to think long term, 93% FTTH is entirely reasonable in getting country areas onto the grid. The more important point to note is that Australia's transmission spectrum will remain functional and unencumbered by huge data loads and conflict of interest, while the US's will lose way more than the $1500 per household or whatever it is within a decade in its dysfunctional spectrum allocations and congestion.


Dr Clam said...

I don't think there are *that* many lessons for us, since thanks to a lower population density spectrum just isn't that valuable on this patch of the planet.

The whole argument is irrelevant to me: since work already has better broadband than the NBN will deliver; and there will *never* be FTTH at my place, barring Tony Windsor becoming God-King and building a palace next door, or the Chinese Communist Party acquiring us and building a satellite city for 250,000 people, ditto.

Marco said...

I don't think there are *that* many lessons for us
The population density profile probably matters more than the average density, but I see your point, maybe there are lessons for the US, though.

The whole argument is irrelevant to me:
It's not really about you. In fact, what annoys me most about democracies is that voters have such a narrow form of selfishness. If infrastructure doesn't benefit communities more than the sum of benefits for the individual, it is not really infrastructure.

Information customers (Students, lecturers?) of the University will be able to receive more information more reliably, as well as suppliers being able to send same. Similar argument with home - downstream issues resolve themselves quicker with a general improvement in capacity and speed.

Chris Fellows said...

It's not really about you.

Hehe, just remembering your take on unfair dismissal laws back in 2007.

If the government wants to build high-speed Melbourne/Brisbane rail past my house (which will just be likely to squash me flat) or a national nuclear waste repository (which will just be likely to irradiate me), they should go ahead. I don't mind infrastructure projects so long as they are not stupid.

Chris Fellows said...

I should say that if I were building an industrial civilisation from scratch, I would definitely go for all fibre and no wireless. It is too late now since the horse has bolted, but I think the theory that the silentium universi is due to murderous Von Neumann machines is just plausible enough that we should have stayed silent.

Marco said...

My main point is this. If we were to have our time again with privatising Telstra, we should have split the infrastructure from the rest of the value of telstra, and just sold off the rest. The duplication of mobile tower assembly infrastructure combined with the bottlenecking of backbone segments means that what redundancy there was not making the network more reliable. All mobile services are subject to downtime when the bottlenecked segments were congested or cut. A government owned monopoly would tend to only duplicate vulnerable infrastructure rather than for competitive reasons.

Chris Fellows said...

If we were to have our time again with privatising Telstra, we should have split the infrastructure from the rest of the value of telstra, and just sold off the rest.

Yes, yes, YES!!!

This has always been blindingly obvious to me, like "don't put the guinea pigs in the same cage as the timber wolves".

Marco said...

What isn't so blindingly obvious is how to reverse the mistakes of the privatisation. My assertion was the building of new infrastructure to leapfrog current private infrastructure and to buy back whatever was still useful about the old (conduits etc.) was the best way to move foreward. Its almost as if the initial privatisation done the right way has happened.