A candidate for broadband intervention

This news report summarises issues that many of been worried about for some time, that the real limits on broadband are not the last but the first mile (or 10,000 miles).

“This is the big fraud on fibre-to-the-node,” Mr Slattery said.

Mr Slattery was referring to plans being considered by the Government to use fibre to upgrade Telstra’s copper access network to carry 50Mbps broadband services in metropolitan areas.

Under the current backhaul pricing scheme, consumers with a monthly 80GB download quota could expect to run a 50Mbps internet service for about three hours before reaching their download quota, based on data provided by Pipe Networks.

Download quotas are almost uniquely Australian. They have existed forever while in other countries no one would know what they are. In the US, for instance, this has allowed the proliferation of free WiFi; impossible here because it would be ‘over-used’ relative to our first mile capacity. And when Telstra claims their NextG network is a substitute, it is even worse. Download limits are much more stringent there allowing only a few minutes of real use per day at decent speeds.

This is an area where the Australian government could come in and expand capacity and negotiate international interconnection deals (say in line for the Australian US Free Trade Agreement) to ensure cheap connectivity with the rest of the world. Without this, we will be limited to speedy data flow within Australia. But at the moment download limits cap that too (unless you go to internal Telstra sites, say).

2 thoughts on “A candidate for broadband intervention”

  1. Interconnection deals are the key, peering (free bandwidth exchange between the big US ISP’s) means that countries like Australia will always have higer bandwidth charges relative to the US.

    Bandwidth crossing borders seems an obvious candidate for a free trade agreement. Unfortunately our agreement with the US appears to create just as many restrictions on trade as it does free trade up.


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