NBN voodoo economics … again


Sane people can be forgiven for once more wondering what it will take before the Voodoo economics of Australian telecommunications is exorcised by state regulation to prohibit monstrous price gouging and unrestrained cartel behaviours.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, iiNet CEO David Buckingham speaks about the need for the NBN to reconfigure its pricing as a result of streaming TV demand as if it were a mystery that Australians have been subjected to extortionate internet data rates since that racket was sanctioned by the idiots in the federal parliament.

The proof of the pudding? Why else would iiNet and Optus be offering unlimited Netflix streaming as part of their ‘deals’. The entire argument about bandwidth-based charges collapses into the lie it has always been. Kudos for Netflix and other streaming services for being able to exert this kind of pressure after regulators have simply turned a blind eye.
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Is Morrow NBN’s saviour

Could it be that NBN Co’s new chief, Bill Morrow, has it right?

The Australian newspaper carries a story about him knocking down the walls in the corporation’s head offices, opening up what were once rabbit warrens and executive offices jealously guarded for their high-rise views and secret deals.

Morrow laments a corporate culture in which the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, where executives blame all failings on more junior staff, and in which the financial arm is literally at an arm’s length from operations.

The journalist suggests this is an imported culture, coming from Australia’s original and still premier Telco, Telstra, along with all the hires NBN has had to make from it.

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Perfidy or incompetence on NBN?

Unquestionably murky Alcatel-Lucent links appear to represent yet another reason for Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy to be removed as chief NBN buffoon.

Mike Quigley.
Mike Quigley.

On the scale of Labor ineptitude under Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the continuing incompetence or disingenuousness (or both) of Conroy may be dwarfed, but nevertheless continues to astonish.

It is simply not credible for the Minister to claim that he was unaware of the US corruption investigation into French telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent, two former senior executives of which now hold key positions in the National Broadband Network quango, NBN Co Limited.

A report in Today’s Australian newspaper said: ‘Mr [Jean-Pascal] Beaufret, now chief financial officer of NBN Co, had been chief financial officer at Alcatel and then Alcatel-Lucent between 2001 and 2007. Mr [Mike] Quigley, executive chairman of NBN Co, was appointed president and chief operating officer of Alcatel in 2005.’[1]

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Porter was right on the NBN

Michael Porter from CEDA was absolutely right to question the economics of the Labor national broadband network, which should have me, a computer geek, salivating at the very prospect, but has me cringing in anticipation of almost inevitable disappointment.

The first obstacle, the one Porter addressed, is that without detailed numbers, but the already massive $43 billion price tag, it is much more likely to become an open-ended black hole, sucking resources into the alternate universe that Minister Stephen Conroy inhabits.

The second obstacle, also touched on by Porter, is that consumers may actually prefer a choice. I know that I do, and I’m always willing to pay for a service not controlled by the state (or a quasi state body) that is reliable rather than nanny state’s inevitably hamstrung, second-string alternative that works only on nights when the moon is full. The Telstra route for so many years.

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Election diary 2010 — Week Four

Electorate letters

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Today was my day – one of the two or three days in the electoral cycle on which I make my feelings known to my candidates. I wrote letters to the Greens, Labor and Liberal candidates. Without going into details I suggested that, all partisan rhetoric aside, general economic and national security policies were so similar between the parties there was no need to discuss these, and that I was looking for individual views on general principles and specific stances on social policy issues. I wonder whether I will get responses that aren’t form letters cut and pasted from policy bumph.

The very nature and form of response itself might indicate who is the most hungry for my vote, if not also who is the most deserving. Wouldn’t it be a sad indictment of them all if I got what I fully expect: the brush-off by overworked and disinterested staffers.

Labor’s three-ring circus?

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning suggested that the spectacle of having three Labor figureheads (a former leader, a former PM, and the incumbent PM) intersecting each others’ orbits in Queensland today was tantamount to the Labor campaign becoming a circus.

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Re-evaluating the NBN


There should be serious concerns about Labor proposals for a national broadband infrastructure project.

When the Rudd Labor Government first released its National Broadband Network policy my initial response was to favour the notion of seeing the whole nation wired up for lightning fast internet access, but as time wore on I grew uneasy when I started to contemplate the range of things that could and would go wrong as part of any government intervention into the market.

The Coalition’s ‘me too’ internet policy, released in the rarefied election climate, the ever widening sope of the market intervention taking shape, plus fear of a backdoor implementation of the Rudd/Conroy censorship agenda, forced me to look again more carefully at Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) policy.

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