Australia's languishing broadband

Australia’s languishing broadband speeds are exposed as the laughing stock they are in The Independent today, as the article asks:

“…what is going on in Australia and Italy?”

The report picks up on last year’s Ookla Speedtest, which compares and ranks consumer download speeds around the globe. Australia comes in at number 59, sandwiched neatly between Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. 

So it’s not just the Slovakians laughing at our broadband inadequacy as iiNet keeps reminding me, but I suppose the Kazaks are as well.

Our Communications Minister probably thinks they are laughing with him.

This story follows Akamai Technologies' third-quarter 2014 State of the Internet report, which showed Australia ranked 44th for average connection speeds, down three positions from the previous quarter.

A sad state of affairs really and as RMIT’s Mark Gregory told ABC Radio recently, domestic policy decisions are contributing:

“One of the reasons why we're falling down the list is that we're moving towards utilising a copper-based access network. Whereas previously, under the Labor government, we were moving towards an all fibre-based network, which is what most of our competitors are now doing. And we're also seeing this drop because, as we keep changing direction with the NBN, we're putting in large delays before the roll-out is actually occurring.”

Minister Turnbull’s preoccupation with politically motivated reviews and his preference for last century’s copper and HFC-based networks are hurting and will continue to hurt as fibre networks roll out in our region.

In response to this, Minister Turnbull will probably point to the United Kingdom and BT’s copper-based network, which will soon begin trials of G.Fast technology. NBN Co has already blogged about the coming “revolution”.

I will admit that copper engineers are milking everything they can from the network - vendors have an inherent interest in promoting their wares and the technologies that go with them, copper acceleration being one of them, but the warnings from the UK must be heeded.

It was former BT Chief Technology Officer, Peter Cochrane who belled the cat in 2012 saying BT’s FTTN approach was “one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made” and that the UK risks being “frozen out of the next industrial revolution”.

Sentiments shared by Tory Lord Inglewood, Chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, who advocated a fundamental rethink of the UK’s FTTN policy after it failed to achieve its objectives, and where gaps in broadband access require piecemeal supplementing by regional broadband initiatives.

And the FTTN model hasn’t seen the UK shoot up the rankings at all. Ookla has the UK at 29 and according to Akamai Technologies' State of the Internet report the UK is ranked 20 on average peak connection speed, with Israel, Romania, Russia and Belgium all faring better.

So as Coalition MPs and the electorate more generally consider the possibility of Minister Turnbull becoming Prime Minister, remember that this is the Minister who stopped the rollout of a fibre network in favour of last century’s copper, champions the inferior UK broadband model and is entrenching Australia as a broadband backwater