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Bring on the NBN

April 23, 2012

People keep telling me that the proposed National Broadband Network is a waste of money and we don't need it because we can get by with the existing copper network and use wireless for everywhere else. (As an aside, the estimated cost of the NBN as a proportion of GDP is about the same as was spent on the overland telegraph from Adelaide to Darwin, opened in 1872. Nobody thought that was too much to spend to have world-class communications. By the way, this was four years before Bell patented the telephone, so the "What will we use the NBN for?" doesn't require an answer.)

I have to walk about 200 metres to the top of the hill to the east of my place to look out over Sydney. The view is lovely. (The view from my house is over bushland, not city lights.)

I have a 20Mbps ADSL/2 connection. When it is not put out of action by storms, I can manage 3.5Mbps download at the best of times. At the worst of times it barely works at all.

My Telstra 3G mobile broadband (no 4G here) runs at about 3Mbps or a little faster, but is variable. (I just ran three tests and the range was 3±.3Mbps.) The tower is at the point 200 metres away where I have to go to look at Sydney.

Remarkably, Vodafone 3G on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 just reported 5.8Mbps. This suggests that the processor built into the tab is better than the one in the Telstra dongle.

Both the Telstra and Vodafone mobile data networks have several points on the train line between my place and Sydney where there is no coverage, and I couldn't get Vodafone at all in the Melbourne CBD last weekend.

I like the idea of fibre to somewhere close to where I live and work. It can't come soon enough.


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