Broadband in Australia is a hot issue right now. Do we spend $43b on Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), $6.5b on the Coalition’s hybrid wireless/satellite/”optimised” xDSL/HFC solution, or do we do nothing at all?
Nothing is not an option – our broadband capacity is a joke – and for me it isn’t even a political argument about Labor vs Coalition policies. It is purely and simply a technology vs cost argument. Both $43b and $6.5b is a lot of money, but either way it is money that is more than worth investing for the future of this country.
Given that the Labor government has been returned, at this time the Coalition plan is effectively dead in the water anyway.
The Labor plan is obviously a mainly optical fibre-based solution, and the Coalition plan didn’t resolve to do much more than “optimise” the existing xDSL network in major centres, so once the limit of xDSL technologies is reached, there is very little scope to do much more with the ancient copper network than to replace it with wireless or fibre.
To analyse how something like that might all come together, let us look at the numbers for one of the major cities in Australia, Melbourne.
Melbourne is made up of a population of approximately 4,000,000 people, covering an area of approximately 8,806 square kilometres. Using some simple mathematics, that means that on average, there are 454 people living in each square kilometre of Melbourne. Based on 2.8 people per household – (from 2001 figures of 1,200,000 households across a population of 3,366,542) – this means that for every square kilometre of Melbourne, there are roughly 162 households.