NBN Co recently released its latest 3-year rollout plan, in which 3 million households would get broadband Internet via Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) networks, which were originally designed for broadcasting cable TV.

This marked a drastic change to the previous plan, under which the vast majority of Australians would have had Fibre-to-the-Premises connectivity.

Newly-appointed Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, lauded this as a policy triumph on his Facebook page.

Remote Laboratory’s Director of R&D, Vladimir Lasky, wrote the following response:

Senator Fifield,

Your government’s broadband policy is based on Voodoo economics.

  • Your government is spending billions to purchase the existing HFC networks from Telstra and Optus
  • Your government will spend billions to extend and upgrade the HFC networks to reach subscribers in the designated areas
  • Your government will spend billions in regular outgoing expenses to maintain the coaxial cable and all the other powered equipment in the communications path

It will all have to be chucked out and replaced within 10-20 years. Why?

The coaxial cable, which is made of metal, will become the speed bottleneck due to its intrinsic physical limitations – namely, the limited frequency bandwidth and the fact that the connections are shared.

None of these problems exist with Fibre.

  • There is no expensive, powered equipment in the communications path – just a passive beam splitter – a low maintenance device needing no electricity
  • Fibre optic cable is not metallic so it can’t corrode or short, making it cheaper to maintain
  • Fibre optic cable has a maximum bandwidth so incredible large, it will never be a bottleneck – increasing the top speed of a connection is just a matter of replacing the laser at each end of the link – there is no need to dig up and/or re-lay or replace cables.
  • The expected lifetime of fibre optic cable is 60 years

Can you now understand why it is more economical to spend more money now on fibre so that subscribers and taxpayers will spend far, far less later?

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