back to article Australia, give up your fixed broadband!

Look, Australia, you’ve got it all wrong. Wireless broadband is the future. It’s not just a future, it’s the genuine, authentic, sci-fi “wonders of the universe” future, complete with unicorns and no need for a National Broadband Network. And what do you do? You keep buying fixed broadband. I realise that some of you are …


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  1. petrosy

    Not only are we on the ar$e end of the planet.

    ... but also with our heads in the sand.

    I live in Australia and the constant nickle and diming everyone for every inch drives me nuts. Having moved back here from Europe I can not believe what a pathetic state internet access is here in Auz.

    $42billion for a NBN when all we want is a bigger pipe overseas. Here is a news flash Aus... the internet exists elsewhere having a fibre NBN just means we will be going no where faster!

    1. LaeMing

      When I moved back from urban China,

      I felt much the same. Still do.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Giving Telstra the finger

      The Government of yesteryear made the big mistake of making the last-mile of Telecom Australia's monopoly part of the same company when going public, and then expecting competition to stand a chance. The NBN is a much delayed reaction to Telstra not playing fairly. They brought in the big guns (a loud-mouthed American CEO who enjoyed threats and scaremongering) and his style didn't fit in at all with the Australian psyche. He left with his tail between his legs, and a big chunk of shareholder value strapped to his back. The other Telco's didn't have the capital or market share to justify building the equivalent network, although some made a start. While I agree that the NBN shouldn't have been necessary (and equal access for all, even someone out in woop-woop, is a ridiculous goal for a country as large and city-centric as Australia - satellite and wireless definitely should win out there), I am glad that the Government didn't succumb to Telstra and give up on a fair game, and are ripping the tall poppy a new one!

      Bigger international pipes are also not the solution - although there should be (and is) constant improvement.. Improved caching (of P2P protocols also) and CDNs are what we need. Some ISPs are already caching bittorrent traffic - clever packet sniffing, caching downloaded blocks, and pushing cached blocks to individual requesters is already possible - not that ISPs would admit they're working to improve the speed of probable copyrighted downloads in the current environment.

      So, thumbs up for screwing over Telstra. Let's hope that a competitive playing field for all remains the goal of this network.

    3. Pete 9


      That's a seriously short-sighted attitude.

  2. geejayoh

    Ha, because mobile internet is....

    Why would you use 3G at home when you can wire up and not worry about the prohibitive costs that still anchor 3G / mobile services.

  3. Robert Heffernan

    What a load of CRAP!

    I have a great ADSL2+ connection, it's quick (14 megabit), cheap and gives me a great data allowance for my money. It's always on and doesn't drop out in bad weather.

    My father on the other hand has a 3G Wireless broadband connection, he pays the same amount as me, often gets stuck with a GSM signal the same speed as dial-up and gets HALF my speed when he does manage a 3G link, the signal drops completely in bad weather and gets only 1%.. YES 1%!! of the data allowance I do on my fixed line service.

    So to the author of this article, you can take your opinion on the future, and your supposed facts and figures and you can put them where the sun don't shine!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I R O N Y

      (and I don't mean made of iron)

    2. Gordon 10

      Maybe you should read the article again

      Then you might feel a tad silly.

    3. Handlewithcare
      Paris Hilton

      Sarcasm comprehension fail!

      That is all. Paris of course...

    4. Elmer Phud

      Don't shoot the messenger

      Didn't quite read that all the way though did we? Missed the 'Sincerely, Malcolm Turnbull, Minister Opposition Spokesman for Communications and Broadband' bit.

      The author is taking the piss, there is a tiny-weeny-ikkle bit of sacrcasm there.

    5. nichomach

      Satire perception fail?

      I suspect the author thinks the same as you do...

    6. borkbork

      i think you missed the sarcasm in the article.

      see title.

    7. KroSha


      See article re: Oz literacy

    8. schneider

      It's a satirical piece...

      Robert, you really need to read it a little closer!

      Having said that now hopefully you understand YOU are on the same side as the writer of this article I need to give you a few home truths.

      1) Only a few years back 2G was paid in kb! to download 10MB cost you a considerable chunk of change. With the explosion in data limits on adsl in the last year the gap has again widened. Please remember this gap will again close.

      2) Have you set up a dish on the roof for the 3G connection? (My parents who can't get ADSL get great service with 3G even when their satellite TV no longer works!) and they can't download the 3GB limit so it's cheaper for them then ADSL anyway, given all the other costs involved with ADSL.

  4. bleh_meh

    Oh Noes....

    Seems the author has never tried wireless broadband, especially between 4pm to 9pm weekdays....

    Yet again, Australia lags behind on infrastructure to actually backup these grand plans and sky-high aims.

    No thanks, I'll stick to the copper....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I thought the article was heavily laced with sarcasm.

  5. borkbork
    Thumb Up

    Someone should fwd this to M Turnbull

    Until we work out how to punch holes in the void-which-binds and make our own datasphere, mobile will always be an over-contended, expensive, second-rate service. "Up to" 14.4Mb/s (HSPA+) means nothing if 2/3 of requests time out. Give me my 4Mb/s ADSL2+ any day.

  6. Stuart Halliday

    Like us?

    Maybe they, like us in the UK, can't get a 3G connection when sitting in our homes?

  7. l8rm8e

    Turnbull Time Machine

    I live in an inner city suburb of Hobart and ASDL 2+ is "not available" in my area. Without the NBN, I'm going to be stuck with this hopeless speed (256k/64k) for the next decade. Even with the NBN I'll be waiting 2 or 3 years before the fibre gets to my door (so much for Tasmania being the first to get it).

    If only the world would go back to basic HTML, tiny GIF images, no audio/video/flash, and blinking text (for dramatic effect) ... then I'd get my speed back.

    Malcolm ... help us to turn back time ... or at minimum ... freeze time until Africa catches up.

    1. Paul 129

      You want your broadband (Good Luck)

      NBN is one of the only the policies the government has left (with any credibility). If you want your NBN you'll have to vote in this bunch of liars for another term (Notice how long stage 2 has been delayed due to regulatory reasons), and GOD knows what else they'll have buggered up by then.

      ADSL 2+ is not available in Hobart, cause Tel$tra(monopoly pricing) own the only fibre (in use) across Bass Straight. Dont expect it to improve that much with the baslink fibre. The University of Tasmania's Astronomy Department will probably gobble up the most bandwidth. With $2.1Billion of investment up for grabs on the SKA(square kilometer array) project, Tassies far flung Cambridge telescope will be funded.

  8. '); DROP TABLE comments; --

    I'll tell you why we don't use mobile boradband

    It's because of two thieves called Telstra and Optus.

    1. Il Midga di Macaroni
      Thumb Up


      People use landline internet connections because 3G is so expensive. And because coverage is fairly spotty.

      BTW, nice username. :D

  9. John McGhie

    What he said...

    I am one of those subscribers forced by circumstance into 3G HSDPA "broad"band everywhere, for everything. 90 bucks a month for s-l-o-w and unreliable internet connection.

    Forget the advertising puffery about speeds of "3.6 mbps" or "7.2 mbps" or "21" or even "42" mbps. Those speeds are available only in Sydney or Melbourne CBD, and only if you are sitting across the road from the mobile phone tower.

    Anywhere else, you will top out at whatever the tower sends: usually, 7.2 mbps. With very high latency, and inexplicable "fades" when the DNS simply stops responding. The actual experience is about the same as a good 56 kbps dialup connection.

    Yes, the "Internet, everywhere" part is nice. But decent bandwidth would be a lot nicer.

    Sorry Malcom: whatever the question, HSDPA wireless is not the answer.

  10. Pete 9


    This article is surely pure sarcasm, right?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Erm

      Certainly looked that way to me. Apparently others felt differently.

    2. John Riddoch
      Thumb Up

      At least someone noticed...

      I admit, I was wondering where it was going until the line about paying thousands to download torrents to your mobile which tipped it from idiotic opinion piece into sarcasm.

    3. Danny 14


      I too was going to respond with quips about latency, gaming, weather, positional antenna in houses etc. I even needed to check to see if it was in bootnotes but no, it appears to be serious (which is worrying).

    4. frank ly


      I thought so too, but some people don't get it.

    5. Lee T
      Thumb Up

      re: Erm...

      yes, it is. Its pretty blatant. Some of the commentards above don't seem to be able to tell, though...

    6. AndrewV


      Don't disturb them in mid-rant.

    7. spike64


      +1 sarcasm. I <3 copper.

    8. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit
      Thumb Up

      Well done Pete 9

      I'd have thought "most of you are miserly niggards who would rather buy a 60 GB per month plan on fixed networks than spend a couple of thousand running Torrents to a mobile" would have erased any doubt that remained that far down the piece. Still, you got there.

      If you happen to have any clue going spare pass it on to Robert Heffernan, he appears to be without.

  11. John Tserkezis
    Thumb Down


    "This article is surely pure sarcasm, right?"

    It has to be. Wireless anything here is overpriced and underperforming.

    When they can't get basic wired cable right, what makes you think they'll get wireless anywhere close?

    I'm thinking the author has never actually BEEN to Australia, to hell with the numbers, real life are the only numbers that actually count.

    1. Richard Chirgwin (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: @Erm...

      1. Sarcasm was the intent. I thought the unicorns in the second par were a pretty broad hint.

      2. I haven't so much "been to Australia" as being born here, back when there were still reds under the bed, JFK wasn't the source of conspiracy theories, and stuff like that.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Wireless, the future ?

    You mean, that radiative technology which gets me only 500kbps as soon as I move to the next room ? And 52kpbs if I go upstairs ?

    You mean that publicly-accessible medium that anyone can snoop on from the street with the right hardware, and easily break into with its laughable WPA "encryption" ?

    Surely you jest, hmm ? Either that or you work for Echelon.

    Give me a shielded twisted pair and 8Mbps please. I'll take that over wireless any day.

    Not to mention that, to listen in on my wire, you have to be physically attached to it - which is not easy to do from the street.

    Oh, and in Japan they have an *average* connection speed of 60Mbps. That means that there are a lot of people with MORE than that - probably approaching Ethernet speeds. Wired connections are slated to reach the terabit per second range in the next decade or so. Wireless can drool all it wants, it'll never get there.

  13. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    WTF was that drivel

    Wireless my arse.

    That's unless they can invent one that can penetrate everything on this god given earth without affecting the signal, and at the same time not sear the skin off our bodies.

    Until then, I'll have my nice lovely wired connection please and thank you very much.

  14. Joseph Bryant


    This is apparently a clever sarcastic attack on... something. The Register is a UK site and it's perhaps optimistic to expect we readers to be up to speed on the details of Australian politics.

    1. unitron

      context is alright, I suppose, it placed in the proper context...

      I'm in the US, and probably get Australian politics confused with Canadian, but it was pretty obvious to me that the article was satirically making the point that Australians were hanging on to their hardwire "not as fast as we'd like but still better than wireless, especially when costs are compared" internet access, rather than a lemming-like rush to slower and much more expensive wireless internet.

  15. Alan Hargreaves

    it seems many

    of the readers and comnters don't understand satire.

  16. nichomach

    @Pete 9

    I think there's a satire perception failure at work...

  17. Berny Stapleton

    Re: This article is surely pure sarcasm, right?

    "yet most of you are miserly niggards who would rather buy a 60 GB per month plan on fixed networks than spend a couple of thousand running Torrents to a mobile"

    Yes, yes it is.

    This would be an Australian response to the oppositions statements about how the NBN isn't required and that it can be delivered on wireless.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Erm

    I think we need a Joke Alert icon for the articles, not just the comments...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Re: Erm

      Actually I think we need a "This is sarcasm, shitwits." icon for both........

  19. Francis Boyle

    Spot on

    Anyone who clams that that any wireless technology present or future could be a replacement for fibre automatically identifies themself as someone who deserves to be summarily ignored on the subject.

  20. Dave 125

    @Robert Heffernan

    Well done for completely missing the irony. Look again for the words "spend a couple of thousand" and re-read the article.

  21. Christian Berger

    The world isn't ready for wireless yet

    Wireless promises immense bandwidths at virtually no cost. The only problem is that the world isn't ready yet and still thinks in terms of network operators and network users. Once we learn that fixed position mains powered stations can also act as infrastructure, and we have the MIMO technology needed to take advantage of that, it might find a use.

    Other than that, wireless broadband is still just a pipe dream. It rarely works where you need it, and when it works, it's hideously expensive.

  22. Tom 38

    Wireless isn't some magic pill which solves all woes

    It's a pile of shite. Inherently, you are all sharing that bandwidth, due to the shared spectrum - it simply does not scale, coverage is limited to urban areas and it generally is unstable where there are lots of users and suffers from high latency everywhere.

    Britain has one of the best 3G networks. Use it in central London, and you'll quickly see how slow and overloaded it is. Try and use it outside of an urban area, and you'll find you have no coverage. For instance, at my parents house out in the 'sticks' (yet within sight of the biggest telecommunications research institute in the UK), and not only can you not get 1G reception inside the house, but you have to wander about half a mile down the road to get anything.

    A national fibre network is the only way to get high speed, low latency internet into every house - and that's what people want. Ask the Swedish, they've been doing this for years - live in the middle of nowhere? No problem, they run the fibre right to you.

    Of course they pay a lot more in taxes. Perhaps the aussies should fund this by taxing the massive international conglomerates that rape Australia of its natural resources a bit more.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Shocking data in the detail...

    60 GBP / Month for ASDL ? Really ?

    Are there no cable operators in Australia ?

    I know they are not perfect (and their SuperHub is far from super), but at least Virgin Media keep BT on their toes with respect to pricing for high speed internet...

    1. doctau

      60gbp a month?

      60GBP/month? You'd only be paying that if you live out in a rural area, or go for one of the plans with a huge download quota (e.g. half a terabyte a month).

      I pay ~45GBP a month for 150gb downstream quota (unlimited upstream) on "up to 24mbit" ADSL2+, which can sustain ~1.6mbyte/sec on file downloads (plus overheads). And that's because I go with one of the good but expensive ISPs, who have mirrors with lots of content that don't count against quota, and actually have knowledgable tech support people.

      If you want one of the horrible companies, 60GBP will get you ADSL2+ with no quota and a landline phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Download quota?

        What download quota? I'm with Be.

      2. Ed Cooper

        45gbp a month?

        We pay £35/month for 50/5mbps which sustains 6MB/sec nearly 24/7 with no caps or throttling at all. We've shifted >2TB in a month before over it (multi-occupancy flat)

        I was really surprised when we visited Australia 18 months ago and managed to demolish the cap at the house we were staying at in about three days - despite the fact we were hardly in much!

    2. Dagg Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Are there no cable operators in Australia ?

      No true cable operators! There are pay TV operators that have a small amount of cable infrastructure, most inner city suburbs have no cable. Most pay TV feed is via satellite.

      Even if you have access to cable you just can't just get a cable connection they end up selling you a "package" with all this extra stuff you don't actually need but end up paying for.

      I've go a nice totally reliable ADSL2+ that motors along at about 10 mbs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I'm with Virgin Media. I can get *just* cable - this is ideal for me - I have 30 Mbit/s and use the broadband for VoIP and streaming TV (iPlayer etc.). I don't need their phone or TV package and they are happy suppying just what I need. There is traffic shaping but currently I'm not using peer-peer (and if I do, I'll just schedule it to run overnight).

        I know if there is a power outage I'll lose my phone, I could buy a small UPS for the router/VoIP kit. I can upgrade to 50 Mbit/s with not change in infrastructure. My only complain (as such) is their SuperHUB is far from Super - have to turn off the firewall to get decent performance.

        The population density of Australia is much lower than that of the UK, I guess this is what's behind the lack of investment by commercial organisations to set up rival services.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You may take the piss out of 3G...

    ...but it does have a very serious use where I live in Australia.

    After a big cyclone in February we had no mains power for nearly four weeks. That meant no desktop PCs and no ADSL connectivity. However, the Telstra 3G service worked for a few days until the batteries at the rural exchanges ran flat. A USB 3G stick plugged into a netbook was the only communication we had with the outside world and I cannot begin to explain how useful that was.

    Yes it's expensive and yes the coverage was patchy (had to drive up a nearby hill to get a signal) but when that's all you have you don't complain too much.

  25. zerocred

    Wireless and wires == apples and oranges.

    I noticed the irony before I got too far down the article.

    Wireless and wired are good for different things and shouldn't really be compared. When the 'always-on, high throughput' is taken to mean 'always high throughput' the wireless users are in trouble!

    When the wireless operators/users start to think they can compete with a pair of wires for either download speed or monthly data volume they will fail.

    I see it every day - people who think LTE will mean they can stream 20Mbps HD video surveillance video 24x7 - till I point out that's equvalent to 6Tbit a month - or about the equvalent of 6,000 average iPhone4 consuptives.

    Wait for that phone bill.

  26. thecakeis(not)alie

    Sarcasm comprehension fail.

    Moderatrix, can we get a reading on geodistribution of commentards failed to miss the satire in this article? I'd like to find out which countries have the utterly shite education system. And avoid them.

  27. rob_m

    Sarcasm too subtle?

    In any case, if you DO take the article at face value, I just think Australian plans (whether fixed or mobile), are way too expensive. I lived in London for 6 years, and returning to Sydney was a shock.

    I just want to see unlimited plans, with no fine print. I'm happy to pay a reasonable amount, but it seems like there are so many conditions and fine print, along with ridiculously convoluted plans.

    My solution, is just to get something capped, at a low level, and wait for these providers to offer something even remotely like we used to get in the UK. Until then, sorry, but its not value that they're offering, in my opinion.

  28. John McGhie

    $30.00 a month gives you 60 GB at 24mb/s

    You Brits really ought to get up earlier :-) The first one to get it was the American :-)

    In Australia, they advertise ADSL2+ Broadband with a 60GB monthly cap for $Aust29.99 a month (provided you also pay the $30.00 a month line rental on top of that.

    That's because the ADSL Provider is not a telephone company, so they have to guy the copper wires from one of the telcos and pay the retail rental on them.

    Speed is ADSL2+: effectively somewhere between 8 and 12 Mb/s, depending how far from the exchange you are. Some lucky persons whose parents were unwed get as high as 22MB/s. All of them will be throttled to 64kbps for the rest of the billing months if you bust your data cap.

    There is only one Cable provider in Australia (now) and they cover only major metropolitan areas, generally only the close inner-city suburbs of those, and they won't build out any further because there's no competition. If you can get on the cable, you can get up to 30Mb/s off it.

    The reader who said this was a very sarcastic rebuttal of the Australian Opposition's contention that we do not need to spend the money to build a National Broadband Network of Fibre to the Home was spot on. The Shadow Minister for Demolishing the NBN is a former ISP major shareholder who does not believe a word he is saying.

    Their proposition is that we should not spend the money on the NBN, instead letting their business mates serve us with a combination of ADSL and Wireless. Which would allow them to continue to rip us off without having to make any of those nasty costly investments.

    Richard lives in Sydney. So do I. :-)

  29. Dagg Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The need to speeeeed, yea right!

    The one thing that wasn't made too clear in the article was the actual quality of the wireless broadband. Even if you don't need the speed the wireless is totally flaky.

  30. Paul 129
    Big Brother

    RE Sarcasm

    I think the majority of posters here got the sarcasm. Its just that we have all been stuffed around for years by telstra, and only have been given a whiff of hope that it will change by the current government.

    Ranting. I think thats what we all want to do at this point.

    If the Liberals truely wanted to screw the government at the next election. All they would have to so is to change their broadband policy at the beginning of the next election campaign.

  31. Jason Ozolins

    Wind them up and let them go!

    People really ought to read the whole article before they get all frothy at the mouth...

    But yes, unless you want to pay top dollar to Telstra, wireless broadband in Oz is a very variable proposition - which makes sense really, the provider charging the most builds the most towers and so offers the best service - and no matter who you go with, the only way to make 3G wireless download allowances look good is to compare them to 2-way satellite (speaking from personal, expensive, unpleasant experience here).

    I know a bit about wireless, I live 50km from the nation's capital and my only broadband options all involve flinging bits through the ether... and I would gladly trade any of them for a decent (as in, not run by muppets) 1500/256 ADSL service at city prices.

  32. Jason Ozolins

    Who is taking up wireless broadband? Fed up dialup users!

    The ABS charts show the gain in share of wireless broadband since 2006 seems to pretty much mirror the decline in share of dialup.

    It makes sense to me - I can't get fixed line broadband because of where I live, and had I been stuck with dialup, I'd sure have jumped to wireless broadband once the price of the service started coming down from the "this is only sane if you're a business user" prices of a few years back. And having used a satellite service a few years back, I'd choose mobile broadband over that too.

    But this is like choosing porridge over boiled shoe for dinner... it's the least worst option, not what you'd really like.

    I wonder if this rapid uptake of wireless broadband will continue now that there are few dialup users left to poach.

  33. Harry

    Re "Maybe you should read the article again"

    Maybe the article should have been written on April 1st.

    Or maybe it was, and the Reg took 3 days to read it.

  34. plays with fire

    satire or not... it was linked from a serious news aggregator site

    Now whilst I'm not quite as silly to miss the satire in the post, a few of the comments were.

    Where I live, I struggle to get a 3g signal. Even when I do, the 3g speed is woeful... it's about dial up speed, on Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus's networks.

    My ADSL2+ however syncs around 7mbps and for less than my monthly mobile phone bill gives me 200gb of transfer allowance. I tried to hit it last month - but only managed to do 170gb even downloading an excess of 32bit linux isos I didn't need (who builds 32bit machines anyway?!) or want and will probably delete anyway (after they're backed up to the NAS at work).

    The NBN doesn't need satirical articles taking the piss out of it - it needs supportive articles, because the mainstream media (specifically the Australian newspaper) are giving it hell at every given opportunity, which sadly is daily for them. I just hope that they don't derail the project which could finally deliver me the speed we deserve.

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