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The lowdown on the National Broadband Network

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) is 'nation building' telecommunications infrastructure which underpins the ongoing productivity and success of our own and all other Australian industries.

It’s time to raise your awareness and serious concerns around the NBN roll-out strategy and understand the negative and profound impact this plan will have on the future of Australian marketing, advertising and media as we transition to a digital based industry operating in a global market.



The long-held views of telecommunications experts, tech journalists, academics and some politicians are gaining increasing traction for their evidence showing there is a vast difference between the infrastructure being rolled-out through Australia's NBN and the infrastructure we need to comprehensively face the fast digital future.

'The national broadband network, as it stands today is a disaster. It is hands down the most poorly managed infrastructure project in Australia’s history. Everything – from the pathetic political debate that ensued at its inception, to the horse trading over its design and funding, has been an absolute and complete mess. From its initial idea, which was fairly simple and visionary, to replace the copper network with fibre and a couple of Satellites, it has blown out to a mess of expensive, obsolete band aids.' - James Pinnell, PC Authority

"If we are going to be an innovations nation how are we going to compete against countries that already have internet speeds 100x faster than ours" - Laurie Patton, CEO, Internet Australia

For those of you who don't know much about the NBN (I didn't till quite recently) here are 10 quick bullet points to get your head around. Hang in there, this is important ...

 1 - According to Akamai, Australia's average internet connectivity speed is ranked 46th in the world and is declining.  Most internet connections are currently through ADSL. Some commentators say we will be ranked 100th by 2020 even with the NBN in place.

2 - The NBN is being rolled-out now across Australia with the aim of delivering fast broadband. This roll-out plan is based on the Multi-Technology-Mix model (MTM) with 5 forms of connection:

  • FTTN (fibre to the node) - optic fibre connects with existing copper cable and runs into the home
  • FTTP (fibre to the premise) - optic fibre runs directly into the premise or home. Commentators and experts recognise FTTP as the most effective for our digital future.
  • HFC (hybrid fibre coaxial) - optic fibre connects with existing cable used for PayTV
  • Fixed Wireless - internet signal sent by tower to antennae fixed to a premise
  • Satellite - for remote regions

3 - The majority of NBN connections will be FTTN (fibre to the node) where optic fibre connects at the 'node' housed in a green cabinet (see title image) with Telstra's existing copper cable. This copper cable then runs directly into each premise or house connecting with a NBN modem.

4 - The average age of Telstra's existing copper cable used under the FTTN model is in some cases upwards of 90 years old. The copper cable is degrading, requires increasing maintenance, is highly susceptible to weather conditions and rapidly loses speed over distance.

5 - In 2013, the current NBN MTM model replaced the original plan which involved FTTP where 93% were to receive fibre optic cable directly to the premise bypassing Telstra's copper cable. Australian's in remote areas were to receive satellite.

6 – Governments of developed nations around the world (except Italy) are rolling out full FTTP (fibre to the premise) cable.

7 - A recent cost update increased the NBN MTM rollout from $ 41billion to $56 billion, making it Australia’s single-most expensive infrastructure project ever. PriceWaterhouseCoopers recently valued the NBN at $27 billion.

8 - While the NBN cable provides broadband connectivity, the digital signal is pushed through bandwidth sold by Telstra to ISP's. This is another complex layer impacting the issue.

9 – Pointing to dissatisfaction within corporate ranks, regular leaks are now emerging from within NBNCo (the government-run business charged with NBN rollout) showing delays, cost blowouts and customer complaints.

10 - There is an increasing awareness that Australia will hit a digital 'roadblock' through the NBN within 5-10 years as our digital telecommunications needs will be - and is already showing to be - far too big for the broadband infrastructure in place.

With the above points in mind, imagine a commercial future in which a sub-standard NBN is our gateway to consumers, clients, and a digitally connected global economy. How will this affect your business as marketers, advertisers and publishers?

This week I attended ad:tech in Sydney and the annual SXSW conference was held in The US. Emerging technology such as fast multi-stream video download, 3D printing, the internet of things, and virtual and augmented reality were all mentioned widely.  The effects of slower data transfer, handicapped streaming services and a country of consumers whose digital connectivity speeds lag behind the rest of the world’s developed nations could mean the potential of such innovation is simply beyond Australia's capabilities.

There are some articles and resources listed below as the story behind the NBN is a much deeper, more complex and wholly depressing story than outlined here. You could also take a look at the NBN hashtag on Twitter where there's a very active discussion.

Resources and Articles on The NBN:

Tech Journalists (and longtime commentators on the NBN):
Nick Ross - Until mid-January this year Nick Was technology editor with the ABC. The day he left he tweeted 'Now I can speak honestly about the NBN'.
James Pinnell - Journalist with PC Authority
Paddy Manning - Journalist with ABC & Crikey
Renai LeMay - Founder of Delimiter
Kenneth Tsang aka Jxeeno - Tech blogger and NBN 'geek'
John Menahue A.O. - Diplomat and leading industry executive including CEO of Qantas
Paul Wallbank - 'Writer, broadcaster and troublemaker covering business and tech. Described as 'brain damaged' by the Australian Prime Minister.'
Twitter - #NBN - see the active ongoing debate

Websites (with regular articles on the NBN):
New Matilda
Independent Australia
The Guardian
The Conversation
PC Authority
My Broadband V Reality
Whirlpool Forums - (for the real nerds)
Twitter - #NBN

Some articles (NBN specific):
The NBN: Laid Bare
Understanding the NBN MTM: What is the Multi-Technology-Mix
How Fast is the NBN?
What Has Gone Wrong with the NBN?
Expert Panel: State of the NBN
Analysis: The Destruction of the NBN
The NBN is on the Wrong Path
The NBN is Coming Down the Line
A Week of Leaks: Internal Truths About the NBN Destroy the PR Spin Cycle
NBN: Govt Urged to Embrace Fibre to the Home. Denies Behind Schedule
Large Cracks Appear in NBN Business Case 

Time in the digital industry: I’ve been in the advertising, media & publishing industry for almost 30 years (straight from school) & started taking an interest in online advertising through my role as Business Development Manager at Fairfax/Business Review Weekly (BRW) in the mid to late 90’s
My time at MediaScope: I’ve had my own solo-run business – MediaScope – for 4 years now. It’s been quite the journey
My mission at Mediascope: My main professional mission at MediaScope is to offer our market an independent, useful and evolving resource.  My personal mission is to stay an active and passionate part of our industry while still managing the needs of my family (4 months a year school holiday!). I’m very vocal about the challenges and opportunities for women and families in our industry
My special blog topics:  I’ll be presenting a series of topical and relevant articles, insights and opinions both unique to MediaScope and from international and local sources
Digital trend I'm most excited about: The increasing pace of change within our entire industry is fascinating, compelling and a little frightening. I’m especially excited about the opportunities converged media brings to marketers and media owners through emerging digital media platforms being applied to traditional media such as print, outdoor and tv. I also keep a close eye on new advertising and non-advertising media revenue streams and business models
Brand whose marketing I admire: I admire any brand which does something (anything) brave. Though we are increasingly seeing the take up of data-driven decision making. I think there is still enormous benefit to be realised in the ‘serendipitous’ marketing opportunity.  Several large marketers specifically allocate budget for innovative opportunities where outcomes cannot necessarily be predicted – or even measured accurately - but they can become a worthwhile part of a broader marketing mix, create enormous brand impact and achieve above average results .  I’d like to see more Australian brands taking marketing risks and move beyond the so called usual solutions
Favourite digital campaign of all times: The first one – AT&T’s first banner ad published by HotWired in 1994 with a whopping 74% clickthrough rate.  It’s become oh so complicated since then
Digital tool / gadget I cannot live without:  I’m seriously in love with my iPad - don’t tell my husband
If I wasn't working in digital, I would be:  If I was to think about my dream job I’d likely be a highly successful, genY, male, single professional golfer (or maybe surfer). Yep – if I wasn’t in advertising and media then I would like to be Adam Scott.  

Denise Shrivell has been a well known and active member of the Australian advertising and media industry for close to 30 years.  She has worked with major agencies and publishers and now runs MediaScope which offers resources and services in 3 core areas: a planning directory connecting buyers and sellers through 3,500 media listings with a focus on niche, alternative and emerging media; a range of resources with practical information on buying, selling advertising within our constantly changing media landscape - including the well-known ‘MediaScape’ guides & ‘Women in Media’ profiles; and tailored consultancy services for media owners and marketers as well as involvement in various industry projects.  MediaScope also produces a newsletter which is currently sent each week to over 1000 key media industry decision makers.

To subscribe - http://www.mediascope.com.au/subscribe
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Email Address - denise@mediascope.com.au


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Guest Friday, 20 January 2017