The Big Picture

The issues listed here on this site are not wholly the responsibility of the wholesale Internet provider.  I feel there are a number of contributing factors to this issue that need to be discussed. I will outline a number of questions I feel need to be raised in order to ensure this issue stays on the agenda.

I plan on approaching both Territory and Federal Government representatives on some of the issues listed below as part of my campaign. I will approach all sides of politics at all levels of Government. I will approach my service provider and the wholesale provider during my attempt to rectify the current situation.

Some of the issues I plan to address include;

  • Land Releases and telecommunications utility capacity planning
  • Utility Tax December 2006 – should we pay a tax on ineffective cable infrastructure?
  • National Broadband Network – will it save Gungahlin?
  • Attracting business to Gungahlin
  • Telecommunication governance
  • Stifling innovation

Land Releases and utility capacity planning.

Part of any land release for new suburbs undertaken by a State or Territory Government requires a number of impact statements and assessments to be tabled. These cover environmental impact studies a well as capacity assessments for power, water, sewerage, waste management and traffic.

I will ask decision makers – Is telecommunications and Internet capacity assessed during this process? What powers do Governments have to ensure ongoing access to adequate services for our largest personal investment – the home?

The ACT Utility Tax Charge on Services – December 2006

The ACT territory Government passed a law effective from the 21st December 2006 to charge service providers a tax on the infrastructure network that provides services to each residence and business in the ACT. The tax is calculated on a charge of $697 for each linear kilometer of cable, pipe or other facility.

Does this tax pay for the use of the land upon or within which the service is housed, or is it for something else? As the consumer is ultimately paying this tax does it mean the territory government will use it to improve the infrastructure it is taxing? I know it is a naive view but if a Government plans on raising revenue through a tax on a service, does it have a level of responsibility to ensure the service is adequate.

To find out more about the tax go to the ACT Revenue Office website for more details.

National Broadband Network

The Labor Government is holding the National Broadband Network (NBN) out as the panacea to Australia’s Broadband issues. Will it in fact provide an outcome in Gungahlin different to the current deployment? Gungahlin currently has 75 Fibre to the Node (FTTN) deployments and our service is poor at best. If the NBN is to be successful it needs to do what current wholesale providers can not – deliver the back end service with capacity to allow affective access to the Internet and services.

The NBN will face issues deploying capacity to areas already using FTTN technologies like the Customer Multiplexer (CMUX) and mini-CMUX infrastructure. Are we to have multiple RIM cabinets deployed side by side in residential streets? Currently the FTTN deployment in Gungahlin does not seem to be the issue. It is the back end of the service, the exchange and the links out of the ACT that are congested.

Gungahlin should be held up as the example of how not to provide FTTN services. The Labor party and the NBN would do well to take notice and learn from the experience.

Attracting business to Gungahlin

How is Gungahlin to attract the required businesses to breath life into the town centre when so many questions hang over network facilities? So many small businesses are closing due to the lack of activity in Gungahlin during the day. If the Gungahlin town centre is to thrive it needs business and Government departments to move into the area.

One issue affecting this move could be the availability of high capacity network services in the area. Business and Government departments would be asking if network links in and around Gungahlin exist and have the capacity to provide the required level of service. With a poorly performing exchange is there capacity enough for business to move out to Gungahlin?

One possible situation is the wholesale providers have inactive capacity waiting for business. The other scenario would have business paying to establish new capacity at their cost. Either way residential consumers and small business will be disadvantaged as all telecommunications outside the federal government private network infrastructure will terminate via Crace, adding to the congestion.

Telecommunication Governance

A number of organisations exist to assist with consumer issues with Internet Service Providers (ISP). The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) is one of them along with other organisations. The TIO work well while your complaint is with the ISP you have a direct commercial relationship with. Where the process falls down is when a wholesale provider is involved.

Where wholesale providers deploy Fibre to the Node (FTTN) or Fibre to the Building (FTTB) infrastructure many ISPs can not deploy their own ADSL equipment from which to sell their services. ISPs need to resell the wholesale provider’s service in order to provide services to consumers.

From the consumers perspective a hole exists between the consumer and the end service provider. Who provides a governance role from an end to end perspective? While the TIO can resolve disputes and even refund some of the fees associated with a poorly working service, it can not facilitate the upgrade of services of the wholesaler (TIO Website reference). Is our only avenue the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy? if it is Senator Stephen Conroy is about to get very busy.

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