In one of the best articles I have read recently on the NBN, Jennifer Hewett of The Australia writes about how the Government will soon have to explain the practical details of the "big idea" it took to the election.

As it has been well published, Senator Conroy likens the scale and importance of creating a fibre network to the building of the Snowy Hydro project, but Hewett describes it "more like a mirage - shimmering on the horizon, but evaporating at close range."

However the strength of the article is really about half way through, when Hewett discusses the various broadband speeds currently available. As has been pointed out by iiNet and Internode in the past, Hewett claims close to 40 per cent of Australians currently get over the magic 12Mbit/s that has been promised as the minimum speed for the NBN. Given the announcement of the winner will not be until early next year; contract negotiations and legal challenges will add at least another 6-12 months meaning the new network is unlikely to start rolling until late 2009 or early 2010. Given the speed with which technology develops, and National Broadband Strategies of other countries, that speed will soon seem extremely slow.

In my opinion the Government should be setting two levels of network speed; a minimum of 12Mbit/s should be applied throughout the network which covers 98% of households, however in the metropolitan areas where the greatest economic benefit will be acheived, the minimum speed should be 30Mbit/s symmetrical with a predefined upgrade path to 100Mbit/s.


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