NBN Versus 4G Cafe Speed Challenge: We Have A Clear Winner

Yesterday saw the official launch of Australia's first 'NBN cafe', Hungry Birds in Brunswick, Melbourne. With free Wi-Fi on offer for patrons, there was only one thing to do: get myself there for some speed testing (and a very yummy bacon and egg ciabatta). Just how fast can an NBN connection via Wi-Fi be, and how does that compare to using the other obvious high-speed option, Telstra's 4G mobile broadband service?

While the Thursday event saw communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy rock up and host a three-way video chat with Townsville and Kiama, things are much quieter when I show up on Friday morning. Hungry Birds is a proper independent cafe, nestled away in a side street with a handful of sheltered tables and a small window where you order. The NBN connectivity isn't a big deal: there's just a small sign hanging up at the counter saying "Free NBN Wi-Fi". (Apparently yesterday one of the specials was branded 'NBN' as well, but today things are returning to normal.)

When I ask for the Wi-Fi password, I'm given it handwritten on a sheet of paper. "Let us know if you have any problems," the counter person tells me. "We had Senator Conroy in yesterday and he changed all the settings." There's an initial moment where my computer Wi-Fi setup goes awry and I fear that Senator Conroy has been taking lessons in messing up technology from his daughter again, but then it all behaves normally.

I took my usual approach to speed testing: averaging three tests for ping times, download speeds and uploads speeds using Speedtest.net. For ping times, the lower the better; for the other two, the higher the better. I performed the tests using a Wi-Fi connection to the cafe's NBN service (supplied by iiNet), and then a Wi-Fi connection to my Telstra 4G wireless hotspot. These are the results:

  NBN 4G
Ping 20.67ms 109.33ms
Download 13.39Mbps 6.08Mbps
Upload 13.60Mbps 3.14Mbps

The NBN wins out clearly in every category. Ping times are four times lower; download speeds are double; upload speeds are more than quadruple. There's a very evident speed advantage.

As I've written many times before, this should surprise no-one. But the notion that wireless technologies in general, and 4G LTE in particular, would be a better way to ensure universal broadband connectivity still gets repeated a lot by NBN opponents. Testing both in the same location, it's clear that the NBN option is much faster. If I was running a cafe, I know which one I'd be choosing to share with customers.

That's not to say that the 4G results are terrible; they're certainly faster than the free ADSL-based Wi-Fi you find in many cafes. But they're not much better than the 3G numbers I recorded in Brunswick when I tested all three mobile networks last year. My hotspot tells me I'm on a 4G network, but you wouldn't particularly know it from the speeds.

It's worth pointing out that 4G can produce much higher speeds. When I compared Optus and Telstra's 4G performance last week in the Hunter Valley, the Telstra service was pushing through much higher numbers than these. That was in a less densely populated area on a weekend.

But the most significant point is this: 4G performance is variable. Performance on a fibre-based network such as the NBN isn't. Both have their role to play — 4G will continue to be incredibly handy for anyone who travels — but when speed matters and populations are large, fibre wins. Getting a nice coffee and an excellent ciabatta is just an added bonus.


    And, who is surprised?

      NBN Opponents. (people with their head in the sand)

      Those idiot Liberal MPs. Though I'm inclined to believe that all their nay-saying has all been a big ploy to put the government down regardless of the quality of the policy.

        Isn't that just the nature of Australian politics?

          I guess that's why they call it the opposition...

      That's as fast as the NBN will get. Wireless technology will continue to improve. For 40 billion dollars I think it should be a lot more than double the speed of current 4G...

        That's ridiculous - NBN Co. has clearly said the fibre technology can support 1GBps down the line.

          I lol'd.I lol'd.

          You realise that the wireless connection at the cafe was the limiting factor?

          the test done was using wifi with the nbn.that is a great speed.who knows how many other ppl were connected at the same time.im on adsl2 im 1.7km from the exchange and i get at most 6mbps.fibre is clearly the winner for everybody in oz.and its for the future.alot of so called 3rd world countries have far better broadband/fibre than we have in oz.if ftth isnt deployed wow to australia.

        Sorry but upgrading fibre is just as easy as upgrading wireless. You just change the electronics at either end of the fibre.

          That unfortunately is not true. The standards for PON FTTx technology are GPON (2.4 Gbps downstream, 1.2 Gbps upstream), GEPON (1 Gbps symmetrical) and point-to-point active Ethernet (1 Gbps symmetrical). Implementing FTTN or FTTH, GPON seems to be the best choice. It saves a lot of head-end space. It isn't magic however.
          "Two main types of optical fiber used in optic communications include multi-mode optical fibers and single-mode optical fibers. A multi-mode optical fiber has a larger core (≥ 50 micrometers), allowing less precise, cheaper transmitters and receivers to connect to it as well as cheaper connectors. However, a multi-mode fiber introduces multimode distortion, which often limits the bandwidth and length of the link. Furthermore, because of its higher dopant content, multi-mode fibers are usually expensive and exhibit higher attenuation. The core of a single-mode fiber is smaller (<10 micrometers) and requires more expensive components and interconnection methods, but allows much longer, higher-performance links.: Wiki:
          The FDDI dark fibre in the ground is pretty much unusable. HTH.
          Mark Addinall.

        Couldn't agree more David! good point.

          Umm Pete, you're being sarcastic, right?

        Speeds over fibre have regularly improved. On what basis are you predicting this will stop? Calling FUD on this comment.

          Also the result says MegaBIT (Mbit) vs Megabyte (MB). The fastest NBN connection (for residential) is 100mbit. So clearly that ISN'T as fast as the NBN will get. Not to mention the limiting factor for wireless in terms of active connections in the area sharing bandwidth etc etc.
          I'm calling clueless David's comment .

        David you obviously don't understand fibre. It has great potential for improvement.

        lol 1/10 troll. And wireless will always get clogged with people using it. More people with mobile phones always connected to the net makes everyone slower

        That result is certainly not as fast as the NBN will get. In fact that isn't even as fast as the NBN goes.
        I would surmise that the operator of the cafe, has simply selected to opt for the 12Mbps service as optimal given the amount of seating they have.

        The point made in the article is that despite the speed claims wireless carriers make, in the end a 12Mbps fixed fiber service will mostly always beat out a 40Mbps wireless service because of those two little magic words... 'up to'

        Some simple math. Take what ever the maximum speed of a wireless service is, multiply it by almost infinity and that is your fiber equivalent speed.

        Yes but remember that the WiFi frequency spectrum is a finite resource. There is only so much space available to use. Once it's all filled there is no more room.

          That works for all of the electro magnetic spectrum from memory.
          Mark Addinall.

    That sandwich does look good :P

    Interesting to hear your thoughts on 4G performance in rural locations Angus. I commute from the Central Coast to North Sydney four days a week. I just ditched my mobile broadband and was considering getting a 4G wireless account with Telstra but I wasn't sure it would make much difference outwith metro areas. Ta for the heads up.

    but but but 4G is the future!
    fibre is outdated tech and will be useless when its all rolled out!
    by the time the NBN is rolled out 4G will be faster!
    everybody uses wireless now!

    and other stupid statements that are similar!

      OFT will provide the National and International high speed backbone for decades to come barring any REALLY BIG breakthrough in transmission technology (quantum computing, spooky things happening at a distance?), but for now, it is the very best technology possible and I don't see any clear runners to overtake it in my lifetime (another 30 years perhaps). However, digging up every garden in Australia to me is just the most bizarre project plan I have ever heard of. Not to mention tearing down perfectly good infrastructure just for the sake of it......Errrrkkkkk. The improvements in "last mile" technology will probably render the short hop from the cabinet to the bedroom obsolete in a decade. We are already seeing LTE emerge at ever increasing speeds, radical changes in antenna design and density. Imagine if you like (one of the things I am working on) a femptocell antenna/transmitter small emough (already got that) and cheap enough (not yet) and solar powered with a lithium battery than can be emplanted in every 100th building brick? Using MIMO roaming, no matter where you went, your net connection goes along with you. To reach for these (soon to happen) futures, then an incremental national network design is called for. If we pick a winner now with FTTH or else, we may have to over-build it in the near future. FTTN is more adaptable to a changing last mile technology, and more importantly, the social changes regarding how the internet is used, and what it is used for. HTH
      Mark Addinall.

        Real world say otherwise. the UK was doing a FTTN rollout and are switching to FTTP and have a gov report saying the FTTN was a big mistake. it also wont be fixed as thats too much of a mess..so those people are stuck with it until they can get around to ripping it out and fixing it.
        The world either is rolling out FTTP or wishes it was. we are the richest country, with a dispersed population. why would we consider anything else?

          "Real world say otherwise."

          Real world do not.

          " the UK was doing a FTTN rollout"
          The UK has done a FTTN roll-out and has been a success. The next step is to build on the FTTN (FTTC) architecture to provide FTTP ON DEMAND. Notice the not so subtle difference?

          "and are switching to FTTP"

          No. FTTP is going to be offered ON DEMAND as an extension of the FTTC topology.

          "and have a gov report saying the FTTN was a big mistake."

          It is customary to provide a citation for lurid claims like this. Otherwise I will think you are just making things up...

          "it also wont be fixed as thats too much of a mess..so those people are stuck with it until they can get around to ripping it out and fixing it."

          Clearly not the case.

          "The world either is rolling out FTTP or wishes it was. we are the richest country, with a dispersed population. why would we consider anything else?"

          Most of the Australian population is urbanized. So FTTP when required in the major population areas is already possible, and indeed already being installed and/or running. There is no need for the government to get involved, certainly not to the extent of a $50 billion overbuild. I already have FTTP provided by Telstra. What is the NBN going to do? Rip up my fibre and replace it? Many many Greenfield estates and apartment buildings already have FTTP. This is network EVOLUTION provided ON DEMAND and at a timely and affordable point. The NBNCo blanket approach is madness. It is just a bad model.

          "BT to offer 300 Mbps fibre optic broadband 'on demand' in 2013"

          On demand means that if indeed you want FTTP built from the current FTTC network, then you ask for it and you PAY FOR IT. Notice the difference?

          ""By December 2014, two-thirds of the country will have access to ultra-fast fibre if they want it" said Mike Galvin of Openreach, part of the BT group.

          The firm plans to roll out the system starting next year."

          If they want it. This is the incremental approach that is put forward by engineers like myself, and by the LNP. First architecture a solid FTTN network, then give people a choice of what 'final mile' connection they want, and are willing to PAY FOR.

          "Costly connections
          Optical fibre links to street cabinets are widespread, but the connection from cabinet to premises is in most cases copper cable, limiting the speed of the connection.

          FTTP will require a fibre-optic connection to the premise from the street cabinet to be installed.

          But that may not mean digging up the road.

          "It could be overhead, might be on a pole, might be in an existing ductwork," Openreach's Mike Galvin told the BBC.

          But connection will come at a price. BT said the installation fees will most likely be in the high hundreds of pounds, possibly more."

          So after a roll out of FTTC, the option is now being offered to EXTEND (not rip-out) this network to FTTP at a COST TO THE CUSTOMER THAT WANTS/NEEDS it.

          "We think this is an absolute game changer. Overnight you've gone form a network that's got the potential to do 80 Mbps across two thirds of the country to a network that on demand can do 300 Mbps."

          The current FTTC networks in the UK and the rest of Europe are offering VDSL at around 30-60 Mbps over the existing 'last mile' copper from the OFT cabinet. Exactly the model I propose. This has the benefit of allowing our users in remote and rural Australia access to REAL broadband. Not some expensive and third rate 12Mbps feed from fixed wireless or (cough) a stupid satellite system.

          "However, BT said it still planned to spend the same £2.5bn on fibre, and that in cases where the fibre only went up the cabinet, premises would soon be able to get 80 Mbps speed."

          $5 billion to provide 80Mbps to just about ALL of the population using a FTTN architecture. That sounds pretty sane to me.


          I agree. We should do EXACTLY the same as the UK. None of it is financed by the government. BT competes with Virgin in the FTTN and FTTP market. As it should be here.

          Mark Addinall.

            Addinall writes:
            "I already have FTTP provided by Telstra"

            Most of the country doesn't!
            That is the point.

    Surely total wireless will be the standard one day.

    My only hate about wireless only ( I use Vivid wireless 4g, which is speedy enough for me) are those days during Winter when it's cooking up a storm, and the wireless signal becomes pithy and weak, or drops out completely. It's on those days that I wish for a solid line connection.

      I would love to have wireless everywhere but I would prefer fixed locations to have Fiber. The biggest issue with wireless is that the more people use it the worse it becomes.

      Ideally we would have wireless purely for mobile devices and fiber for everything else.

      the problem is that fixed line tech has yet to stall. Yes, it is advancing slower than wireless, and infrastructure presents an enough problem for improvement, but the point is, we have already seen in labs that we are a loooooooong way from maxing out fixed line tech, and until that day comes, wireless will not take over

      "Surely total wireless will be the standard one day."

      Can't see it. And I can't see why we should want it to be. A lot of people in these BLOG debates really do not understand networks. On that note, it seems like the government and NBNCo suffer from the same malady. Forever people are getting 'speed' mixed up with 'capacity'. To get increased capacity on a wireless network you need a bigger chunk of the EMF spectrum to play in, and better methods of hetrodyning or multiplexing using slots in the spectrum allocated. If you want more capacity with OFT, turn on another pipe. So seriously, for the long haul, OFT can carry data from now until the cows come home. This is not to say that the optic pipe we bury today may not be obsolete in a decade. The transmission media of FDDI went obsolete in just under two decades. But the underlying fact still remains that if you have enough dark fibre in the ground, increasing capacity is trivial. That said, Australia has TONNES of dark fibre ALREADY buried all over the country. NBNCo is leasing thousands of km from Telstra to provide the NBN backbone. As I have said before, using what is installed today, we can build a world class FTTN national network infrastructure, then take a "priority need" and "as needed" to the technology used in the last mile. It is the last mile technology that is evolving the quickest, so picking the winner as FTTH is probably going to be a mistake.

    NBN Upload speeds FTW!

    The false premise here, and in all the other test you guys do, is the assumption that slower speeds are not acceptable. My current 3G service is perfectly acceptable to me - my benchmark is that YouTube and TV catch-up videos cache faster than they play, which seems reasonable to me and is what I get from 3G - and I wouldn't pay an extra dollar to get 4G or NBN speeds. I'm not an NBN opponent by any means but I don't think these results alone justify the massive amount of taxpayer's money being spent on it if there are cheaper ways to get an ACCEPTABLE service.

      well you can live with 3G till the day you die then.

      By this logic, back in 97 when I upgraded from 33k to 56k and was totally stoked by the speed increase and happy at the time, no one ever should have bothered working on a faster service because it was satisfactory at the time.

      The real question though is, did the wifi speeds reach maximum saturation angus? Or due to how busy the cafe was it could have been faster?

        That's not what I said at all. Speeds will inevitably rise, but just as Apple realised a few years ago that faster and faster CPUs were pointless for most sheeple and released the iPad, there also comes a point where the law of diminishing returns comes into play here. I don't see the need to spend $40billion dollars just to get to faster speeds a year or two earlier than they might otherwise be delivered, more cheaply, by the natural evolution of other technologies.

        Things like this don't happen in other infrastructure areas. e.g. I don't see any government spending $40billion to clean up electricity generation. Instead they privatise it and then tax the private companies into doing it for them, at no cost to taxpayers. i.e. They manipulate the market to enable change. Here though, they see an opportunity to buy votes - who doesn't want better internet? - and jump at it.

          Would it be OK to spend the $40B if it was offering you a net 6% return p.a? Along with all the other benefits? I agree with your point that what many folks have today is sufficient [not me, of course. Running a business on < 3Mbps ADSL is no fun at all]. However, "build and they will come" has been borne out throughout time, for all technologies. #justsayin

            "Would it be OK to spend the $40B if it was offering you a net 6% return p.a?"

            Yes. Can I see the prospectus? And a copy of the KPI schedules? How about the tender documents for the recent spend on satellite technology? No private investor is going to write a blank cheque for $40-50 billion on such a poorly designed and managed project.

            "Along with all the other benefits?"

            Which are?

            " I agree with your point that what many folks have today is sufficient [not me, of course. Running a business on < 3Mbps ADSL is no fun at all]."

            Purchase a faster link. Satellite is available anywhere in Australia. Point to Point wireless ethernet is available. You can get a FTTP link in most of the populated centres in the country. If you need it to run your business then it is a legitimate 100% business expense deduction. What is your problem?

            "However, "build and they will come" has been borne out throughout time, for all technologies. #justsayin"

            NEVER, has that been the case.

            Mark Addinall.

          yeah telstras done a fine job of maintaining their network haven't they?
          if this is such a huge vote buyer why are a bunch of people whinging about it? surely they should all love it.
          I see the same said about the carbon tax (its nto a tax). it was labor trying to buy votes...by making something that is disliked by such a large proportion of voters that it will likely lose the next election. strange vote buying strategy.

          Theres no year or two earlier out here. maybe decade or two earlier. move out of Sydney/Melbourne.

            "yeah telstras done a fine job of maintaining their network haven’t they?"


            Given the size of the country, the amount of money people want to pay for telecommunications and the population base, Australian networks are outstanding.

            The above link is just the nodes on the Telstra Managed Networks side of the business. The total network is larger and 800% more dense. It is displayed in the Telstra NOC in real-time on a cinema size screen so that the network engineers know at once machine outages. When I worked there I never saw more than 6 critical node faults in any given day, and never saw a fault that wasn't picked up by a very senior engineer in the space of a working shift.

            OPTUS were somewhat less great at it than TElstra, but still a very good service.

            Telstra have already covered the country in optical fibre. There is hardly a place in populated Australia, or along the roads, or along the railway lines that is far from an optical pipe. NBNCo realise this, just not making it public the fact that the new sooper-dooper NBN backbone is just being leased from Telstra existing backbone. That would make the NBN story less glamorous yes?

            Telstra have already implemented FTTN and FTTP ON DEMAND all the way out into remote Arnhem land. Aboriginal communities are enjoying broadband. The NBNCo satellite solution is dug up (sic) from the dim dark ages. I implemented satellite data networks into Arnhem land fourteen years ago! Do try and keep up.

            What the NBNCo groupies fail to understand, is the model being implemented is going to lock RARA into sub-standard broadband services for decades.
            Mark Addinall.

              "than 6 critical node faults in any given day"
              "than 6 critical node faults in any given day. not being worked upon."

        The question is, should the government have spent more than $1000 for every man woman and child in Australia to bump you up to 56K?

      I have literally never had your youtube experience with 3G. Literally never, anywhere, or at any time.

        I don't always but I do catch-up telly a couple of times a month and it might take a half-a-minute or so to get going but once the show starts, I can't remember the last time I was interrupted by a spinning icon. Interestingly, these sites - Gizmodo and Lifehacker - are some of the slowest I visit.

      The NBN is't really about faster internets cat videos for you though. It's about bandwidth for new applications in medicine, manufacturing, entertainment etc. The boost to the economy and value of the infrastructure should more than pay for the network. The fact that you get faster web browsing as a result is a happy accident, one that you are free to not pay for if 3G does what you need it to.

        Agreed, but read my response above for the caveat. i.e. If it is going to pay for itself, why not leave it to private enterprise and spend the $40billion on other things, like a second Sydney airport, safer roads, health and education? I was responding to this article (and others here) that assume that anything less than the fastest possible speed is unacceptable for "you" and me.

          You remarked:
          "applications in medicine"

          Like what? What medical applications can't be applied through the use of existing technology?


          I have though long and hard about this subject. The NBN BLOGS keep coming back with the "remote surgery on the holodeck" SF version of life, but even if it were deemed a GOOD thing, a GPON OFT Network isn't going to provide it.

          Network capacity and speeds are quite modest for medical applications. Some are indeed being used now, transfer of X-Ray, MRI results etc. The bandwidth required can easily be managed at ADSL or ADSL2+ speeds. Surgical procedures can be televised or stored for training purposes using existing technologies. Have a look around my demonstration site.

          Doctors don't want to do tele-diagnosis, except in the most remote locations. Remote communities already have a level of tele-medicine. I install satellite broadband into the bush over a decade ago for this (and other) reason(s). In remote Arnhem land my old satellite systems have already been replaced by optical fibre network(s).

          When medical doctors diagnose, they use many other senses other than just vision to enable them to guess what is going on inside a patient. Smell, gait, and many other tell-tale markers. So if at all possible, an MD would like to see the actual body.

          So I am at a bit of a loss to see what "Nation changing" benefits the roll-out of the NBN is going to provide, over that of what we already have.

          Then you remark:

          "entertainment "

          Agreed. It can provide lots more television and movies. Does the nation need to spend $40-50 billion providing this function?

          Mark Addinall.

      I play games online and with that painful wireless ping I may as well be playing with an abacus. Wireless is fine for day to day stuff but anything that relies heavily on lightning fast communication - such as gaming, remote surgery or online stock market software needs high pings.

      Then I get to attack speed of transfer - Are you going to tell me that video conferencing for schools/businesses/doctors, scientific data transfer (a-la LHC data being crunched here), or high-definition video will be ok as long as it caches first.

      Someone is living in the past.

        /me awaits doom to be installed on a abacus

        I'm sorry but I was having perfectly viable video conferences with my Canadian overlords in Montreal, complete with Powerpoint presentations, 4 or 5 years ago. If that's all we are trying to achieve, then the job was done before they spent a penny.

        "gaming, remote surgery or online stock market software needs high pings"

        This is just a silly statement. Part of the nonsense SF being fed to people to justify a spend that is too large for the real benefits that it will achieve. Remote surgery isn't going to happen because Pa Jones on his Apricot Farm in Renmark can get 8Mbps down his satellite dish. The first internet in the world supplied stock market information. Thomas Edison invented one of them in 1869. It used alphanumeric characters with a printing speed of one character per second (8bps). Fortunes were made and lost at those speeds. And as I have pointed out, if your game server is in the states, the latency is going to stay the same unless you can drag the USA a little closer. HTH.
        Mark Addinall.

          Data and the definitions of change over time. The fact that we are no longer on dial up should explain that we are evolving to higher forms of data (be it for analysis, gaming, video) and of course the retention of said data (cloud based, remote storage/backup).

          You seem like the type that knows his stuff ... as such you should be looking at the trending over time of the network speeds v the proliferation of users v the type of requirements now in play and then extrapolating that out to take into account the potentials (20 years ago - streaming would have been a "potential" for example).

          Yet you are not. You chose to look at a specific point in time and justify your costs based on that measure. That measure is correct. No doubt about it. It is just another sly way of you being able to justify something that really, in the greater scheme of things (ie the actual lifetime of the NBN) does not make sense at all. All you are doing is providing a "present proof" statement for not much less essentially instead of looking at the future usage (based on historical patterns).

          This is exactly the reason why we see so many problems with roads and public transport today. Things are built will a lack of foresight. Just as you are championing here, but hey, don't let that great technical knowledge you have get in the way of a severe lack of critical thinking in regards to good statistical analysis of trending patterns.

            "Data and the definitions of change over time"

            Not a hell of a lot.
            "Data We all use it. What is it?

            Pronunciation: 'dA-t&, 'da- also 'dä-
            Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
            Usage: often attributive
            Etymology: Latin, plural of datum
            1 : factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
            2 : information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful
            3 : information in numerical form that can be digitally transmitted or processed
            It is worth keeping in mind when considering Business systems that seemingly disparate types and forms of data may be considered in a unique way to look for non-trivial correlations. Data may be transitory or permanent. If transitory, the availability of the data can range from microseconds to decades. Data may be stored in volatile memory, on disk, on tape, on paper. Data may be stored in conflicting byte order. It may be stored in conflicting word sizes. It may (and quite often is) stored in differing character sets. It is important when considering implementing Business Intelligence tools and functionality to consider all of the available types of data and how best to make that data available to the various processes. Some of the data that may be available off-line or in a 'difficult' format may be vitally important to the descision making processes. Without such consideration the implementation of BI may be a waste of time and effort."


            " The fact that we are no longer on dial up should explain that we are evolving to higher forms of data (be it for analysis, gaming, video) and of course the retention of said data (cloud based, remote storage/backup)."

            What is a 'higher form' of data? Does this mean you think that there may be a lot more of the stuff lying around. If so, true enough. Games are actually not big users of bandwidth. Well, well written games that is. They mostly rely on a fat client that will interpret COMMANDS and CO-ORDINATES in near real time. The graphics are outstanding compared to Pong (I used to play that) however the network traffic is being handled on your BUS, not eth0.

            Analysis. One of my areas of speciality. Surprisingly, unless you are BLASTing an entire genome, then a lot of scientific and statistical date used for various types of analysis is quite modest. We started to have a storage revolution about a decade ago. I bought one of the first SANs to house a TB of geologic data. A WHOLE TB! I didn't get much change from half a million dollars. Today I can buy a 1 TB NAS device from the post office for $99. Keep that in mind because it is important. In the management of technology one should keep in mind "Just in Time" (JIT) purchasing. It is VERY dangerous and costly to pick a technology solution that you THINK might still be superior in a decade or more. Trust me, I have been down this road. You hear of anyone still running FDDI? That was 'future proofed' a decade and a bit ago.

            Cloud based. Hmmmmm. Newspeak for centralized server rooms. 1968 technolgy shoved onto a Blade (which is pretty much 1976 technology). Will "The Cloud" be a game changer? Perhaps. Will a home user want a place in the cloud. Perhaps. Facebook, LinkedIn et al are catering for that need to date. Remote backup. To date, the fastest, safest and most cost-effective method of doing remote backups is a Taxi Cab. I can easily transport 100 exabytes of data 10 miles in a Taxi for about $20 and in less than half an hour. Try that over the NBN.

            "You seem like the type that knows his stuff …"

            I do.

            "as such you should be looking at the trending over time of the network speeds v the proliferation of users v the type of requirements now in play and then extrapolating that out to take into account the potentials (20 years ago – streaming would have been a “potential” for example)."

            I do.

            "Yet you are not."

            Yes I am. Nearly every minute of every day.

            "You chose to look at a specific point in time and justify your costs based on that measure. That measure is correct. No doubt about it."

            I know.

            " It is just another sly way of you being able to justify something that really, in the greater scheme of things (ie the actual lifetime of the NBN) does not make sense at all."

            What is the lifetime of the NBN? I suggest it is already 200 years old, evolving, and will continue to evolve (with luck) for many thousands of years. You are the unit with the narrow viewpoint. Why on Earth would one buy satellites for RaRA when we KNOW they have a lifespan of fifteen years? Insanity.

            "All you are doing is providing a “present proof” statement for not much less essentially instead of looking at the future usage (based on historical patterns)."

            You think that because:
            1. You don't have a good grasp of technology.
            2. You are ignoring technological change.

            If I put together a ten year plan in 2003 to buy 2000 of those BRILLIANT EMC SANs at only half a million dollars a pop (they were the VERY best technology available), I'd be looking a bit silly right now (the scheduled end of my ten year project plan). I asked you to remember this point. It is important.

            "This is exactly the reason why we see so many problems with roads and public transport today. Things are built will a lack of foresight."

            A lack of planning and good management practice. A lot of those roads were built by politicians looking for a few votes from time to time. They were not proposed by Transport Engineers. Getting the drift yet?

            "Just as you are championing here, but hey, don’t let that great technical knowledge you have get in the way of a severe lack of critical thinking in regards to good statistical analysis of trending patterns."

            A little while ago I was a senior in the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Demographics and Forecasting. I never even had a job interview, they just snatched me out of Deakin University based on past work. I do spend a LOT of time considering trends in the use of technologies, and how best to plan for the future.

            The current NBNCo plan is quite possible the worst model anyone could dream up. It is so WRONG it beggars belief.

            1. We have networks in Australia. Portions excellent, portions much less than that.
            2. We already have about seven million km of OFT pipe in the ground in this country. NBNCo are going to lease a large amount of that for the 'new' network.
            3. Almost ALL dwellings in this country have copper going into the place. Some of this copper is in excellent nick. Some of it is rubbish.
            4. Having a look at "best practice", ITIL, Prince2, Agile et al., we may come to the conclusion that a project scaled over a decade (a technology project) is likely to be obsolete before it is completed. From this observation, we can analyse WHAT we are trying to SOLVE and then break the problem into realistic, deliverable 'chunks' that are Agile enough to weather an abrupt technological change.
            5. What PROBLEM are we trying to SOLVE? My take on it is:
            5.1 Some people in urban black spot areas have poorer internet services than those (like myself) in other areas.
            5.2 Some people in rural Australia have to rely upon sub-standard fixed line, sub-standard wireless and the ALWAYS sub-standard satellite.
            5.2 There are some people in Australia that can not afford an internet account..

            Those are the issues I build my project plan around. The solutions to these problems are my deliverables. If I do it on time and on budget then I pass my KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) REGARDLESS of the technical shape of the solution.

            If one takes Australian civilian public internet communications as a whole of country infrastructure, then a more homogenous network architecture could be had by assuming that fast backbone will supply NODES. One must consider a node as just a distribution and collection point for internet data. An example of a node in densly populated areas can be FTTC (be this Fibre to the Cabinet or Fibre to the Curb) or FTTB (Fibre to the basement, a model in-between FTTH and FTTC, in reality, FTTN). I currently run FTTH installed by Telstra a few weeks ago, although in reality it is a FTTN/FTTB installation as my wireless router that supplies my machines connects to the NODE in the basement via CAT5 copper. (changed, Wi-Fi now). So once the political spin has been removed from the argument over design, the engineering can get on with designing a suitable solution. Where the NBN model is wrong, is that it concentrates on providing FTTH to everyone they can get to in the cities and larger towns, and leave the under-supported population still under-supported. Dwellings in the densely populated areas are getting FTTP whether they WANT or NEED it. A model based on FTTN with differing granularities of what construes a “NODE” can be designed so that the architectural model remains consistant regardless of geographic location.
            In the cities, the last mile technology can be chosen as a connection to the node, be it true FTTH, LTE-Advanced, VDSL, ADSL2+ or “bugger off, we don’t want no steenking internet”.

            SO making use of what we already have would seem to be a sensible start, and focus on delivering internet services to those who lack them for one reason or another. If we consider that destroying working infrastructure is insanity, then I would suggest that like the UK, like Germany, like France and now like NZ, we consider quickly rolling out a FTTN/FTTC network that is built on existing OFT backbone with the cabinets as the new kit being installed on an existing network. The people with decent copper can be served with VDSL2 at speeds between 25Mbps and 100Mbps. Those with really crappy copper can be given new copper, or FTTH. The people who REALLY REALLY want 1 Gbps FTTH can bloody well pay for it. aka UK, Germany, France. Italy have just joined the club with this model as well.

            Satellite is ALWAYS a poor option. We can lease space for the VERY few people not within reach of a cabinet or a fibre driven 4G LTE or Wi-Fi antenna.

            This gives us a much faster and a less costly roll-out to people who in our plan DON'T require a specific technology, the require a suitable internet service.

            I would have thought this type of planning be pretty damn obvious......

            Here are some statistics for you, strangely enough written when I haunted the place.....

            At the end of June 2010, there were 9.6 million active internet subscribers in Australia.

            The phasing out of dial-up internet connections continued with nearly 92% of internet connections now being non dial-up.

            Australians also continued to access increasingly faster download speeds, with 71% of access connections offering a download speed of 1.5Mbps or greater.

            Digital subscriber line (DSL) continued to be the major technology for connections, accounting for 44% of the total internet connections. However, this percentage share has decreased since December 2009 when DSL represented 47% of the total connections.

            Mobile wireless (excluding mobile handset connections) was the fastest growing technology in internet access, increasing to 3.5 million in June 2010. This represents a 21.7% increase from December 2009.

            As for business (and government) dial-up, there are a total of 180,000 dial up accounts still in operation.

            Source, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 8153.0 Internet Usage

            http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/mf/8153.0/

            “Internet access in the home is dependent on a range of factors such as affordability, the reliability of Internet connections and service providers, and the interest and capability of potential users of the Internet. Socioeconomic characteristics, such as family composition, educational attainment and income are also related to rates of household Internet access.”

            Source, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4102.0. Australian Social Trends 2008
            http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Lookup/4102.0Chapter10002008

            “In 2006, people aged 15 years and over, who had higher levels of educational attainment, had higher rates of household Internet access. People with a Bachelor degree or above had the highest rate of household Internet access (88%), whereas those without a non-school qualification had the lowest access rate (63%).

            Higher levels of income were also associated with higher rates of household Internet access. The highest rate of household access was for people in the highest income quintile (89%), while people in households in the lowest income quintile were least likely to have Internet access (47%).

            The influence of educational attainment on household Internet access reduces as household income increases. In the bottom two income quintiles, there was a considerable difference in Internet access according to the level of educational attainment. Those with a Bachelor degree or above had higher rates of Internet access than those with lower levels of educational attainment.

            In households with relatively higher incomes (top three income quintiles), there were high levels of Internet access regardless of educational attainment. For example, in the top income quintile, those with a Bachelor degree or above (92%) had a similar access rate to those who did not have a non-school qualification (85%).”

            This is quite important. A number of demographic factors are at play when discussing that nn% of Australians are not connected to the internet. Many do not want to be, and many can not afford to be.

            “According to the 2005-06 Household Use of Information Technology survey, 40% of Australian households did not have access to the Internet. The main reasons Australian households did not have Internet access at home were that the people within the household had no use for the Internet at home (24%), or had a lack of interest in the Internet (23%).

            Around one-fifth (22%) of households in the bottom two equivalised (that is, adjusted to take account of differing household size and composition) income quintiles stated high cost as the main reason for not having Internet access.”

            This is important enough to repeat. ***** The main reasons Australian households did not have Internet access at home were that the people within the household had no use for the Internet at home (24%), or had a lack of interest in the Internet (23%). ********

            That is, 47% of the 40% of Australians not connected AT ALL, simply DO NOT WANT TO BE.
            ******* one-fifth (22%) of households in the bottom two equivalised (that is, adjusted to take account of differing household size and composition) income quintiles stated high cost as the main reason for not having Internet access. ********

            Can’t afford it.

            Choosing THE MOST EXPENSIVE BUILD MODEL is going to INCREASE the digital divide. And that is something we DON'T want. Agreed?

            And if some bright spark at CSIRO on his birthday during 2015 shows us how to do 10 Gbps over copper, or air, then we won't look quite as silly hey?

            Mark Addinall.

      Wow - you're brave for posting anything that might tarnish the Labour Machine on this pro-Labour group (and I'm sure there'll be many who chime in to say "not pro-Labour, rather pro-NBN, but that's clearly not true based on previous Lifehacker.com.au comments).

      I am relatively new to this country (2 years) so have not identified with a party as such, however I do agree that any claims that the NBN will boost the economy is simply speculation until a cost benefit analysis is done. I agree that the NBN is awesome from a selfish standpoint, but I would still rather have seen the money go towards more pressing services.

        I agree with you JB, I like NBN because im a geek, but i do think there are better uses for the money.

        4G isnt bad for the cost of roll out, compared to putting fibre in across AU. Professions that need the higher bandwidth can move into areas that have it.

          so country hospitals should just get up and move then?

            I set up a network (well Russ the BOSS and I) around the Mildura Sunraysia area using Linux servers, pre-loved STALLION serial IO cards, some MODEMS left lying around, sendmail() and a free implementation of PGP. No, it didn't cost $40 billion. Operated (sic) from Mildura Base Hospital a treat at v21.bis. The total spend was $3000 from memory. Zen networks, "less is more". As long as it meets REQUIREMENTS in a TIMELY and COST EFFECTIVE manner.....

          +11ty billion
          I agree that the money spent on NBN would be better spend on roads, hospitals and schools. That's not to say I won't love the speeds when I finally get it.
          I'd love to see these figures against total costs for their respective networks.

          same old crap peddled out every time.
          IT WILL MAKE MONEY. theres your cost benefit analysis..they have done one, it says it will make a profit and leave us with an asset. thats a cost benefit analysis. stop peddling this frankly stupid line that says you read Murdoch papers rather than have any idea how the NBN rollout works.

          spending money on a hospital cost is the same as on an investment that makes a return now is it? how else we could SPEND the money is not the same as what the NBN is doing with that money. (the libs already have a super hole in their budget...their own shadow finance minister says this...spending NBN money on hospitals doesn't help their position)

          1. you aren't paying for it, your taxes get spent on welfare, and your GST goes to the states.
          2. it will be utilised, it is wanted and needed. in central metro areas people have net speed issues.
          3. its not a cost. stop treating it the same as one.

          The simple fact the Nats don't support it is proof positive that its a partisan issue not a policy issue. They don't like it because its not their idea.

        Wait a minute, if you're not a citizen - who said you get an opinion ? o_O

        That'd be like me going to your old country and telling people whats what. Its not really fair is it ?

          Er, he's here, presumably legally and presumably paying taxes. Sorry to disappoint you, but he's got exactly the same rights to an opinion as you have.

            Only been here for two years though, so he wouldn't have voting rights yet.

      MM, I'll give you one point that I was taught at the start of my Engineering Degrees.

      NEVER engineer for Adequate.

      What happens if the house you live in was Engineered to be 'Adequate' for a Cat 3 Cyclone because 'Thats all we've had for the last 40 years, we'll never see a need for Cat 4/5 protection levels'

      'Adequate' isnt an Engineering term. 'Adequate' should NEVER be associated with Engineering OR technology.

        A long time ago, while I was Engineering structures for wind loading, the code(s) called for a loading that is based on the maximum 3-second gust expected in 50 years (for permanent structures). The code(s) also provide safety factors to cover levels of uncertainty in loading, materials and construction - which are very generous for structures on the ground. The code(s) provide for deviation if the type of structure is tested under controlled conditions to have sufficient strength with an appropriate safety factor.

        Australian Standards still define what is an appropriate wind loading to be used for a structure based on its location and the surrounding terrain.

        "Adequate" is certainly an Engineering term; especially in the real world where there is competition and your competitor will trim their costs whichever way they can in order to win a contract.

        This is vaguely relevant to the topic because this little ginger beer designed the towers for solar panels powering the optic fibre (SMOF) repeater stations down the centre of Australia; to fill a contract to what was then Telecom. The structures were designed to be adequate; which meant that they should not only be of sufficient strength, but also easier and cheaper to make and of superior utility in construction, erection and maintenance, compared to that of competitors. The design was subsequently copied by other manufacturers.

      All $0 of the poor tax-payers' money?

        "Adequate" is certainly an Engineering term. A very bright man once told me as we were going to market with some very well known network devices (Bernd will remember them, start of the public Internet and all that) "Adds, make it second best and second cheapest". Aiming for an engineering model that outstripped REQUIREMENTS is business folly. It flies against JIT (Just In Time) manufacturing. Who needs $200,000,000 in obsolete stock on the shelf.
        And I was sticking those dishes in around Mandurah and Gero just after that! ;-)
        Mark Addinall.

    You photographed and posted food? You are now qualified for a FaceBook account.

      Instagram - if he was in the photo in a stupid pose he'd be facebook-level.

    Those NBN speeds are a bit slower than expected (and reported by many early NBN users). It seems there must be a bottleneck at the testing server which skew the results in favour of the 4G which would not have been far less affected by the server bottleneck.

    See a typical result for the 100Mb NBN service:

    With that being said, I have installed an aerial for my 4G connection and I often get 20-30Mbps downloads, but I do experience frequent drop-outs. As a result of the drop outs I have an ADSL connection as a backup. I pay around $180 per month for 4G + ADSL. I personally can't wait for the NBN!

    Just a small thing, but ping times are four times lower, as the latency is reduced. You've said in the article they are four times higher. That would be bad.

      Correct! Hasty (and sloppy) writing. Fixed now.

        Ping times are actually almost 5.5x better. 109 vs 20-odd. ;-)

    What is the speed of the Cafe's NBN connection ?
    100/40 or 50/20 ?

    Latency! Hooray, someone mentions it!
    This is one of the big things FTTP can deliver, especially compared to wireless (including NBN's wireless equipment) is reduced latency. This makes voice and video conferencing more workable. It also makes a big difference to remote file access and interactive services over VPN between business locations; less need to have "a server at every site". Local-cloud mixed environments will work better. Oh yeah, gamers will love it too.

      "Latency! Hooray, someone mentions it!"
      OK, I will.

      "This is one of the big things FTTP can deliver"

      How? Latency is a measure of a number of things.
      1. Distance between you and the server you wish to ping. If your game is hosted in the USA and you are playing from Penrith, then the trans-Pacific latency stays exactly the same. The ping to a local router is improved, but that is the shortest hop on a many hop route. For example, I have FTTH...

      [[email protected] accloud]# ping tpg.com.au
      PING tpg.com.au ( 56(84) bytes of data.
      64 bytes from www.tpg.com.au ( icmp_req=1 ttl=123 time=22.4 ms
      64 bytes from www.tpg.com.au ( icmp_req=2 ttl=123 time=34.2 ms
      2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1000ms
      rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 22.464/28.353/34.243/5.891 ms
      That is a 30/1.5 Mbps OFT link to my provider.
      Now a ping to my server in Texas.

      [[email protected]rac accloud]# ping addinall.net
      PING addinall.net ( 56(84) bytes of data.
      64 bytes from server.spserver4.com ( icmp_req=1 ttl=50 time=368 ms
      64 bytes from server.spserver4.com ( icmp_req=2 ttl=50 time=390 ms
      64 bytes from server.spserver4.com ( icmp_req=3 ttl=50 time=313 ms
      --- addinall.net ping statistics ---
      4 packets transmitted, 3 received, 25% packet loss, time 3000ms
      rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 313.748/357.618/390.223/32.228 ms

      That is the same latency I was getting from ADSL2+
      BECAUSE, Texas hasn't moved any.

      2. Congestion. The latency of a network route is determined by the slowest link segment, not the fastest link segment. To get overseas you need to be queued into a switch that allocated bandwidth on a submarine cable (or satellite uplink). Having FTTH in Australia is not going to magically upgrade every switch and router along a hop.

      3. Local congestion. Should be better with new OFT, but GPON, like all other SHARED network segments is subject to increased latency depending on the number of people SHARING that segment, and the amount of traffic it is carrying.

      No magic here folks. This is Networks 101. HTH.
      Mark Addinall.

        And that 25% packet loss is typical of a Saturday lunchtime when all of Australia is in a queue to get onto a submarine cable. FTTH or not.

          No that packet loss is not the networks and you know it Mark. It is you hitting ^c and killing the ping process. You forgot to remove the evidence in you cut'n'paste it is clearly in there for all to see. And only 4 packets come on. I have pings running all the time to various sites collecting performance metrics, being a performance tuner.

    For the Cost of NBN those speeds are Crap.. Lets hope this cafe just has a Shitty Wifi Modem.
    NBN should be getting well over 100mbps.
    My optus cable at home gives me 100mbps...
    Also this 4g is crap. My 4g (Telstra) Gives me 50-70mbps.
    Where is this cafe? ayers rock????

      Clearly you didn't read the post at all (the location is stated in the first para) and you know nothing about the technology. 50-70MBps on Telstra's current 4G? I'll state with confidence that's never happened. And I similarly doubt your Optus claim (leaving aside that cable speeds drop as more users sign on).

        Cafe wifi... Have you ever used wifi in a cafe before? You usually get terrible speeds and have to compete with other customers and services connected to it. This isn't bad.

        I must sat LH is finding some pretty poor test comparisons and is being just a little miss leading with how they present their data. For instance they should of called this shitty cafe NBN vs 4G in da cafe. Not just NBN vs 4G as that's not fair. Although it's all explained. It still isn't presented so well.

          A reply to Marty's post not Angus's sorry.

          I think the word 'Cafe' in the headline makes that rather clear, actually.

        Regarding network speed, yes I think 70Mbps may be stretching a, but WADR I can confidently say that I have hit 50+Mbps using Telstra 4G devices. I live in a regional area and generally get quite good signal.
        The best results I have received were 50 to 55Mbps on Telstra 4G USB devices with full signal (using the same approach as your tests) early after the local network upgrade.
        Now with more people connecting my average results are 30 to 35Mbps with 3 to 4 bars signal & that's on mobile phones too. While 50+ is rare now, I still consistently hit the mid 40's with full signal.
        Even when trying very hard to block the signal down to 1 bar I still receive 15 to 20Mbps.
        I don't know much about cable as I'm in a regional area (not yet listed for NBN), but my home ADSL2+ averages 8 and peaks at 15Mbps.

    The question isn't which is faster, the question is whether 40 billion dollars worth of public expenditure is worthwhile.

      I vote yes!

      I vote no!

      David, it's not like that money is being thrown away. This is not an expense, it's an investment which is expected to eventually pay for itself.

        Unlike the things Tony Abbot is planning to spend the money on (roads and rail)
        But then again the money doesnt even exist because it is an INVESTMENT, like you said, not an expenditure. so it isnt using money from the budget. but try telling that to all the FUDsters.

          Are you kidding? It's an investment?

          So, after 10 years, when the cables mature, they can sell them all at a profit, huh?

          *slaps forehead*

            1. it will still make more money on whatever the Coalition will spend on it.

            2. no they wont sell it for the $36billion it will cost to build it, but whatever they sell ti for PLUS the revenue the NBN makes until they sell it will be more than it cost to build.

    those 4G results look more like 3G results...

    i could be wrong, but i havnt used Telstr'a 4G...

    Bwahaha I love the argument between Wireless and Fibre its just plain funny!! Lets see mmm....... whats faster the speed of light or radio waves ?????
    Just to point out the obvious, it is "Free WiFi" in the cafe and not "Free" direct connection to the Cafes fibre connected NBN service. Any WiFi connection will be constrained to the limitations of the Cafes WiFi hardware and the device you are connecting to it with, how many other users are connected sharing the Cafes Wireless bandwidth.

    Remember the speeds you are seeing are going to be always limited to the bottleneck in the data path. In this case it will most likely be the shared Wireless connection.

      "Bwahaha I love the argument between Wireless and Fibre its just plain funny!! Lets see mmm……. whats faster the speed of light or radio waves ?????"

      I dearly hope that was a joke. I realize the state of secondary school education is poor, but I would rather hope not quite THAT poor. Goodness. The comparison is rather unfair as the topology of the networks used are more or less the same, the distance from the 'node' is a factor. The node in question in the cafe' is the wireless router (connected to a OFT feed) and the 'node' for the 4G device will be a transponder on a Telstra tower some further distance away than the cash register. Depending the number of the people in the cafe' also plays a part in the available speeds. Judging by photographs, I would say more than 20 connections (patrons with Wi-Fi devices) and it would be rather cramped. I dare say there are more people hanging off the Telstra tower than a few dozen. So you see, whilst both network topologies can be described as FTTN and a wireless last mile (the architecture a lot of us engineers propose) the load on the node differs. I don't understand the high ping rate. Did you see lost packets as a result of running ping()? I can only assume this is the case as it may come as a bit of a shock, but all EMR is propagated at the speed of light (more or less, fibre loses some speed due to the index of refraction of the media, so it is a little slower than wireless actually). So unless the nearest Telstra tower was tens of thousands of miles away, you were losing packets bouncing off walls. This is being addressed right now. No radical changes to Physics required, just the density of antenna. R&D and production is happening right now on micro/fempto/pico cell MIMO antenna technology. The greater the density, the greater the saturation of coverage. I hoped that cleared up your misconceptions in regards to network operations.

        Dude, he was clearly joking.

        Showing you can't interpret humor is not a good way to demonstrate intelligence.

          You sure? I have heard this argument a number of times over the last few years....

    Is that an egg sandwhich?

      I scrolled all way down to say basically the same thing. Call it any fancy name you want, it is just a egg sandwich, although there could be bacon on it, can't tell. If you can't see the bacon then it can be a Egg and Bacon sandwich (even if bacon is on it.)

    I find it incredibly hard to believe those 4G statistics. On my XL and at 3 bars of reception I ran a speedtest and got 46mbps up & 18mbps down.

      There in lies the problem, with 3g/4g it depends on where you are and how many people in your area are using it, when i moved to keysborough in janurary i had to use tethered 3g for internet i would be lucky to get 1Mbps and even luckier to keep an active connection for longer than 3 hours (more often than not it dropped out every 20mins) and that makes it quite painful to do voip and collaborative work.

      Just because you have to good at the moment, doesnt mean it will a) be that way for everyone or b) stay that way for ever. I for one dont want to lose internet connectivity because of wind/rain/alignment of mars.

        Then spare a thought for our comrades in the bush. Instead of designing a homogeneous FTTN, that is, high speed fibre to a node, then best fit technology to the last mile, be that 4G LTE, point to point wireless, VDSL, ADSL2+ or whatever technology comes next, the NBNCo (with the blessing of the government) is spending an incredible amount of money designing and building a hetrogeneous network with three distinct delivery mechanisms (to date). These are, FTTH (or FTTP, no-one has figured out what to do with apartments yet, which is rather sad.), fixed wireless and satellite. No, come what may, satellite signals are going to be subject to attenuation. The new proposed systems moreso than the existing satellites. The existing space systems operate on the Ku band, which still subject to attenuation, is still quite robust. The new space systems will be operating on the Ka band, 26.5–40 GHz. In satellite communications, the Ka band allows higher bandwidth communication, so the 12 Mbps may JUST be possible (I rather doubt it however) and is going to be used in the NBNCo foray into space missions. Unlike the Ku band, however, it is far more susceptible to signal attenuation under rainy conditions and from dust storms, smoke from fire, or electrical noise from storms. So the people in the bush will probably be getting a LESS reliable system that has little hope of ever going faster than 12 Mbps, whilst all you inner city folk are drooling over 100Mbps FTTH with little network noise. Doesn't seem quite fair does it? I mean, all of the WONDERFUL things that the NBN is supposed to provide, remote health, remote education, blah, blah, blah..., that require >25/5 Mbps just are NEVER going to be available to the people that really need those services. I live in the inner city (well South Bank) and I already have FTTH. I still walk to the doctor's office and I an sure the vast percentage of you will do the same. I don't really mind a government spending money on infrastructure, as long as the design is worthwhile and it provides a REQUIRED SERVICE, in a TIMELY and COST-EFFECTIVE manner. The NBNCo design fails these project and design criteria. HTH.
        Mark Addinall.

    Here's a hypothetical question:

    If government spent over $1000 for every man, woman and child in Australia to build and distribute a Holden Commodore that could go 300 km/h, would everyone be applauding that?

      If we were guaranteed the roads were safe, all existing car manafacturers got access to the same 300km/h technology in order to compete on features and it was able to go 600km/h in future without compromising safety, then I would be.

      In summary, your analogy sucks.

        The analogy is quite valid. The lazy bums of this country want high speed internet to play their internet games, watch movies. That's what NBN will deliver.

          No, the analogy sucks. If you truly see that as the full potential of the NBN i pity you. Quote from "Sean" above -

          "The NBN is’t really about faster internets cat videos for you though. It’s about bandwidth for new applications in medicine, manufacturing, entertainment etc. The boost to the economy and value of the infrastructure should more than pay for the network. The fact that you get faster web browsing as a result is a happy accident, one that you are free to not pay for if 3G does what you need it to."

      The government already spends far more to ensure that Australians can go 100 or 110 km/hr and Abbott wants to spend even more, without direct income coming back from it. How much did the major highways cost to build? How much are they continuing to cost (maintenance, upgrades, etc)? How much are they making?

      A better analogy would be if the government wanted to build high speed rail (like shinkansen) between major cities - but not sell tickets direct to the public: only allow private companies to be middlemen. This is a little apt because there would be different technologies required for different parts of the line: big tunnel to Tasmania, possibly diesel instead of electric across the Nullabor and other deserts, different bridges over various rivers, flood/fire protection measures, etc. This project would be hundreds of billions of dollars but would be very hard to compete with air, which is why this idea hasn't got off the ground.

    Just invited a couple of Facebook cronies in here to have a look. My response to them:
    Yes chaps. Pete, some face slappers indeed. Wanna know how many people have told me this last year that "Ya don't know nuffin about networks coz the speed of light is faster than the speed of radio...." I kid you not. More than a half dozen. The frustrating thing about the NBNCo design is that is duplicating a mish-mash of hetrogeneous delivery mechanisms to each primary area, when a homogenneous design could keep the same "body shape" (aka evolutionary biology) for each delivery area. The only change in the topology is the number of nodal cabinets required. This enables an iterative build targeting those in most need first. You both know me, I have been sticking networks into remote places for a VERY long time. This design I propose will truly end the digital divide rather than futher extend it into space and time. And with only one "body shape" to design, the implementation becomes cheaper and quicker. I agree 100% Bernd, making use of the existing copper where it is in good condition should be an imperative of the national design. That goes for HFC networks as well. Destrying existing serviceable network segments is just plain lunacy. Drop in and say hello if ya like (both). Thanks for the feedback. new toy. movies.addinall.org ENJOY!

    One last point, a few of my mates have been lurking in here today. That's well over a century of network design and development, nearer a century and a half, and he just posted to me in another forum:

    BTW the comparison above...
    NBN 4G
    Ping 20.67ms 109.33ms
    Download 13.39Mbps 6.08Mbps
    Upload 13.60Mbps 3.14Mbps
    ...is incomplete. Add this:
    NBN 4G
    Cost to taxpayer $40,000,000,000 nil

    Before we start with the design, we need to ask what *problem* we are
    trying to solve.
    I'll start.
    High-level requirements (more of a mission statement really):
    1. Universal (low BW) access continent-wide, higher BW in some regional
    population centres and Cities *left* *entirely* to private enterprise.
    2. Promote competition (aka cherry-picking). Maybe provide seed capital
    for entrepreneurs/local ISPs. Focus on second-sourcing Telstra (as in
    the regional backhaul already done).
    3. FFS leave the HFC alone!
    4. Write a spec for greenfields suburbs & anyone can build to it -
    Telstra or anyone else. If people want to live in a non-fibred suburb,
    that's up to them.
    5. Favour Aussie suppliers in any tenders - maybe by awarding points for
    jobs creation, e.g. calculate 'flow-on benefits'.
    6. If Govt ends up owning any infrastructure, management thereof must be
    tendered out - for say 5 year periods.
    The tricky part is how much has already been locked in by the ALP
    monkeys & what can be dismembered.

    All very valid points.
    Now before I hear that the NBN is an 'investment' I should remind people for it to be an investment, it needs investors. Well over $2,000,000,000 spend so far and nary a one in sight. I expect Telstra will buy it at bargain basement price one of these days. Up to date that spend has come out of general revenue.

    Mark Addinall.

    Another REAL OLD mate from the waaaayyy back machine quite rightly noted:

    " ‎$50 Billion buys a lot of Gold Class cinema tickets. Just sayin'."

    If better entertainment is the only thing we can come up with for the NBN, this is a real good observation dontcha think?.....

    Mark Addinall.

      Mark A: you said "no-one has figured out what to do with apartments yet, which is rather sad".

      For your information, the block of flats where I live in Brunswick (in a side-street very close to this cafe), seems to be the guinea-pig for NBN installation in a 'multi-unit dwelling' - the main box is labelled MUDOO1. The cost in terms of man-hours alone for 16 flats is extraordinarily high: see posts by 'smallprint' on pages 38 and 39 of Whirlpool thread http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1547651&p=38

      How different it would have been if NBN had been offered only to those willing to pay the full cost of it for their gaming or entertainment fix.

        "How different it would have been if NBN had been offered only to those willing to pay the full cost of it for their gaming or entertainment fix."

        how different would everything be. i don't have kids therefore i don't want schools. I don't leave the city therefore I don't want rural roads. one can say 'I don't use X therefore I don't want it' about EVERYTHING. that is not a society.

        most of those 'i don'ts' would also have side effects that would impact you. but lets more to the USA style, 'you pay for everything because you will get rich one day and join us at the top..honest' system..it works so well for them.

        Yes it is rather sad. Given the shift in the housing demographics over the 200-2006-2012 census periods one would have thought that some planning might be in order to cater for the massive shift towards high density accommodation. But no, we see NBNCo plod along, making things up on the fly as per usual. I read the link. Thank you. Looks like they dug up and filled the road a half dozen times just to cater for your small apartment block of eighteen. What the hell is going to happen when they start in the CBDs and encounter buildings with a hundred apartments. I wonder if they have given any thought to segment sizing? As people should be aware (but are clearly not) GPON OFT is a SHARED resource. With a segment being able to carry 2.4 Gbps downstream per pipe, that will service 24 households using 100 Mbps flat out, concurrently. Network designers never build on this number, each project has its own statistical projections on just how the resource will be used. As not everyone (not even most) will have the 100 Mbps service, one can carry more terminal end points on that section, say 36 terminal end points. Since statistically it is unlikely that everyone will be using the internet at the same time we can increase the terminal end points again, perhap to 48, or 64. Or perhaps in a large apartment block, alll the way up to 100, just to make the installation easier.... It should be noted however that resource contention exists on an optical network exactly the same as a copper or wireless network. If at some point the 100 people jump on the net to watch something big, your 100 Mbps is going to take a hit. FTTN is an easy architecture for MUD. Run one node into the basement, one node to the roof and transmit 4G LTE through the building. Femptocell repeaters if required. The NBN is just a BAD design. Not surprising as it has never actually been designed. Just cobbled together. Sad waste of money driven by ideology and not network requirements.
        Mark Addinall.

      So, instead of "hey cronies, these folks right dog-gone 'ere don't know what I gone and got learnt me 'bout networks and stuff", you could do the following:

      1. Put down your soldering iron, open a window, a spend some extra curricular time studying some Accounting/Economics texts - the NBN is shaping up as an investment, the kind of investment like CBA used to be or... Telecom. Both of these companies are stoked the government spent all that time and money building them up to make a motza!

      2. Allow part of your brain to focus not on how many moofies! you can go and see with your techie posse down at Hoyts, but instead try to dream up the next killer app that these sorts of speeds could be used for. Every time you go, wow! I coulda dreamed that up! (but didn't), you are droppin the ball Markie-Mark

      3. Try to remember that the current Telecommunication tech that you enjoy this very moment was, in days forgotten, discussed in an analogue forum (pub) as wasteful, too expensive, and not needed - "Why in all creation do I need a phone at my place fer?? If'n I need to call for a doctor, Moe here behind the bar will let me run down here and use his!" - yes, money needs to spent. Yes, we have no idea what is coming in 20, or even 10 years. But do it now, or do it in the mythical 'later', it gonna need doin'. If you don't like the idea of the result, at least enjoy the job creation that will be an immediate and tangible result. Now, run down to the library and the morning, jump onto to Moe's free internet, and let me know what you really think.

      (message sent from my crappy ADSL connection. Metro Melbourne, Digital Divide)

        "So, instead of “hey cronies, these folks right dog-gone ‘ere don’t know what I gone and got learnt me ’bout networks and stuff”, you could do the following:"

        I assume that is what passes as humour amongst your peer group? How droll.

        "1. Put down your soldering iron, open a window, a spend some extra curricular time studying some Accounting/Economics texts – the NBN is shaping up as an investment, the kind of investment like CBA used to be or… Telecom."

        The first computer programs I wrote were for a company called Sybiz Software back in 1984. Started studying accountancy at that time. Sine then I have been involved in any number of financial systems, quite often as lead author. Held senior management positions in private enterprise and the public service so I know my way around business practice. It seems NBNCo on the other hand, do not. Ever heard of "due diligence"? Tender transparency? Key Performance Indicators? ITIL Best Practice? Apparently not or you would be as dismayed as I am watching this financial train wreck. Not only is the technical design poor (worse than poor), the business practice surrounding the whole deal is appalling. If it was "shaping up as an investment" as you put it, then investors would be asking for a prospectus and a business plan. All is silent. After spending $2,000,000,000 and managing to get nearly 2000 people on the net not a peep about how and when the profits are going to show up. In it's current state, the NBN has absolutely no chance in hell of turning a profit. Everyone in the industry is aware of that.

        "A telecommunications analyst from investment advisory service, BBY, has labelled the government's $43 billion NBN plan "as risky as it gets" and said it will fail to attract investors in the current information vacuum.

        "When it comes to risk this is about as high risk as it gets," BBY analyst Mark McDonnell said of the Federal Government's $43 billion NBN proposal yesterday at the Telecoms World conference in Sydney.

        McDonnell backed Shadow Communications Minister Nick Minchin's calls for a study to determine the cost of the project, and criticised the government for not saying whether the $43 billion proposal included construction, finance and start-up costs or just construction.

        "There is no clarity around the underpinning assumptions or about the kind of network or industry arrangements implied," said McDonnell of the $43 billion figure put up by the government when it ditched its initial $4.7 billion proposal back in April this year.

        "Unless these are addressed, future funding will remain unattractive to investors, particularly equity investors," he said.

        Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy has previously declined to answer detailed questions over the NBN, deferring instead to its NBN implementation study currently under way, which is expected to be completed in early 2010. The problem for the government, however, is that it simply does not have the answers."

        It still has no answers, instead keeping the clueless staggering of the project hush-hush under a guise of commercial in confidence. What a farce! If a CFO or a CEO of a publickly listed company carried on like that they would be facing time at Her Majesty's Oleasure.

        "Both of these companies are stoked the government spent all that time and money building them up to make a motza!"

        None of them were built under the premise that the general revenue being spent, "wasn't REALLY being spent" as one day, sometime in the undefined future, it will turn out to be a really good idea and make a profit. Trust us, we're from the government. The people that brought you Pink Bats and BER want to build networks.....

        "2. Allow part of your brain to focus not on how many moofies! you can go and see with your techie posse down at Hoyts, but instead try to dream up the next killer app that these sorts of speeds could be used for. Every time you go, wow! I coulda dreamed that up! (but didn’t), you are droppin the ball Markie-Mark"

        Actually I am not. If you would leave your X-Box alone for a moment and have a look at what the grown-ups are doing you will discover that the push in systems design is again more function for less resource. And that includes network resource. The evolution of HTML5 and CSS3 means that the network traffic can be reduced considerably by using this new architecture. 2D and 3D transformations and animations can now be described in CSS3 and tied to any valid HTML5 document object. An example is here movies.addinall.org Just a play with the new techniques. So that is the first part of your statement to be wrong. Secondly, are you suggesting that the "killer" apps. in the very near future SHOULD be engineered to operate on a network capable of 100Mbps? If this is you bent on the matter, then our comrades in rural and remote Australia are going to be excluded from the digital information economy for the next three decades. There is no way you are going to get better than 12Mbps down and 1Mbps up on a residential Ka band satellite service. And fixed wireless is iffy. So, in essence, the whole idea of an NBN was to bring equality in the supply of network services has gone right of the project plan has it not? Another demographic of the people living in the cities and major towns that are close to the FTTH technology, are the people who can't afford the 100Mbps 500GB option. Si they are to be excluded from your brave new world as well? Not very comradly of you at all tovarich. Not at all. These are the reasons the current network design is so poor. It is just a copy of what we have now using slightly newer kit.

        ."Try to remember that the current Telecommunication tech that you enjoy this very moment was, in days forgotten, discussed in an analogue forum (pub) as wasteful, too expensive, and not needed – “Why in all creation do I need a phone at my place fer?? If’n I need to call for a doctor, Moe here behind the bar will let me run down here and use his!” –"

        Is that another attempt at humour? I gather you don't get paid to write. Amongst my peer group in days forgotten we were discussing the future uses of the internet and how we could improve use and make it affordable for people in a residential address. And not just we uber geeks. Real people. It turned out quite well I think. Although it seems to have given birth to a generation of computer users who are technically illiterate "the speed of light is faster than the speed of radio...", and they seem to share a common meme that they deserve the very best of everything, RIGHT NOW, FOR FREE. Unfortunately the net might be a little too easy to use.

        "Yes, we have no idea what is coming in 20, or even 10 years."

        I did. I wrote a paper on the subject in the late 80s. "Networking in the 90s". Mark Addinall. Central Management Services. British Steel Technical. Went down rather well from memory.

        "Now, run down to the library and the morning, jump onto to Moe’s free internet, and let me know what you really think."

        I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

        "(message sent from my crappy ADSL connection. Metro Melbourne, Digital Divide)"

        Then buy a better service.

        Mark Addinall.

    Mark Addinall - if $40b is too much to spend on the NBN, how much would it cost to implement your suggestion to deliver fibre to everyone, as opposed to using fixed wireless & satellite for remote locations?

    For all your technical know how, you're sorely lacking in common sense.

      "Mark Addinall – if $40b is too much to spend on the NBN,"

      It is. Far too much. And since even at this earlyy stage in the project it is already way over budget and way under projected KPIs, that $40 billion is looking very under-nourished.

      " how much would it cost to implement your suggestion to deliver fibre to everyone, as opposed to using fixed wireless & satellite for remote locations?

      For all your technical know how, you’re sorely lacking in common sense."

      And your reading comprehension skills leave a lot to be desired sonny.
      I do not propose to provide FTTP to everyone in Australia. That is a ridiculous and somewhat bizarre reach. Over-engineering taken to a comical extreme. The homogeneous network architecture that I (and many others) propose will provide a network that will support high speed broadband to all Australians, and the ability to request FTTP to those that want and or need 100Mbps+.

      As an industry group, I suggest that an Australia wide FTTN (FTTC) network can be implemented for $10 billion giving everyone network access >12 Mbps WITHOUT new space assets. And make FTTP available to those that require it.

      A little research would have uncovered that one of the titles in my past was
      Manager, Infrastructure and Network Operations, Department of Minerals and Petroleum. Rather, than has been suggested, spend my day with a soldering iron, I spent my time doing contgract management, vendor management, infrastructure planning, infrastructure build management, SLA management, creating, monitoring and reporting on KPIs, and last but no means least, budgeting. BIG BIG network. Voice and data.

      Mark Addinall.

    Isn't Telstra's 4G network only meant to be available within 5km of the CBD for now?

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