Broadband in New England decided who will be the Australian Government

Well it has been a very West Wing few weeks here in Australia. A hung parliament, with 6 reps deciding the future Australian Government. In the end it came down to Tony Windsor, the member for New England, and broadband.

New England is a region in the north of NSW which takes in Armidale right up to the Queensland border, which is where I come in. Curlew Retreat, my country retreat, is in New England. And I have worked from there quite a bit on Ehcache. Indeed people like me, and how we connect to the Internet and what we can do with it, were central to Tony Windsor’s decision.

Curlew Retreat is remote. It is about 30km equidistant from it’s nearest towns. It is in rugged country and is out of mobile phone service. So a reasonable proxy for problematic country Internet access.

Now, I know one or two things about networking, and have, over the last 3 years, worked through a succession of ideas for Internet access. When I first set up the retreat I was considering dial-up. There is an old Telstra cable which cuts through my property. However with a rooftop antenna I was able to get Telstra Next G Internet access. I got 1GB for $60 per month. In the end it was very unreliable. Atmospheric conditions would cause it to disconnect up to twice per minute. This would cause my base station to drop the DHCP connections which played havoc with connected computers. The Maxon modem and base station would also crash. I told guests to turn power off to the retreat and then turn it back on to reset it.

All of these problems led me to satellite. Due to the Australian Government’s “Broadband Guarantee” I was able to get around $3,000 of satellite equipment for free, fully installed. I purchased mine from Active8me. I get 2GB per month for $29.95. This service, and the modem, have proved to be very reliable. Problem solved.

Which brings us to the election. Tony Windsor, decided to join with the ALP, on the basis that broadband to New England would be better if done with fibre. The ALP’s plan, with fibre to the curb for 93% of the population (which is about the percentage that is urban) and then enhanced satellite for the rest, is budgeted at $43 billion. The Coalition’s is a fraction of that, which uses fibre for trunks between cities and towns, and then a market for local delivery.

Now, will Curlew Retreat get fibre to the farm? No. The only difference is that the Coalition was going to bring enhanced satellite earlier. So for Curlew Retreat, there is disadvantage to the ALP plan. And Tony Windsor, who represents New England, made his decision for the ALP based on this??

Finally, for what it is worth, what will people do with fibre to the curb? My prediction is HD TV and movies on demand. And porn. I expect 3D HD porn to emerge as a format and be the main app that requires the fibre. Certainly my svn commits do not.