There Is No Debate


Image credit: John Biehler

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’

- Isaac Asimov

Over the past decade we’ve seen scientific & social debates derailed by anti-intellectuals & denialists. From climate change to technology, from vaccination to affordable healthcare, the march of the morons continues.

Nothing exemplifies this as much as the “debate” over which technology is better for a National Broadband Network. With Turnbull slowly backing away from FTTN, & massive backlash in the form of petitions & advertising, it’s clear that there is no debate any more, just a few stragglers pushing the anti-intellectual lines of “we don’t need it” or “fibre will be outdated in 5 years”. All of which have no basis in reality.

The throw away lines are the result of years of Turnbull & his mates feeding misinformation to voters. There is no coming back from this for Turnbull, & he’s well aware of this. The small concession of “we’re not anti-FTTP” that has been trotted out lately has done nothing to ease the concerns of people like myself.

For over 3 years we’ve been using facts to refute Turnbull, Abbott, & even (Sloppy) Joe Hockey’s claims that we don’t need FTTP, that it’s too expensive, & most importantly, that it will take longer to deploy. All three of these claims have proven to be false.

Dead-End-Good-Ways-To-Make-Money1So what is Turnbull left with? Not much, essentially investing in a network that will cost billions more over its lifetime to maintain, & limited upgrade paths. As Simon Hackett stated earlier this year, FTTN is an impediment to upgrading to FTTP, mainly due to the fibre bearers between the exchange & the node being too slow to handle even a 1:16 split of 100Mbps services, let alone 1:19 split as the NBN’s FTTP is deployed. Essentially a VDSL2 node, even with vectoring, supports a maximum of 50Mbps per line split, but it slows to around 25Mbps per line when under heavy load. A far cry from the “100Mbps at 400m” service that Turnbull claimed (FYI: that’s vectored in lab conditions, not straight VDSL2).

At this stage, all Turnbull can do is egg on his supporters to inject false information into the debate, whether knowingly or not. This has been the same tactic since he was rolled by Abbott & shuffled off to the Shadow Communications portfolio. Even with the mounting evidence that FTTP is now far cheaper than it was in 2005, where much of Turnbull’s evidence of FTTN being cheaper has come from.

Even in Vietnam they are seeing 80% – 90% reduction in FTTP haulage, yet the lie still persists that FTTP deployment costs will go up. This is at odds with Turnbull’s own claim that it will be cheaper to deploy FTTP AFTER an FTTN deployment is cheap as the price will go down over time.

This kind of misinformation is no different to the rubbish that Greg Hunt, Tony Abbott, & the rest of the “Aussie Tea Party” mob go on with climate change. The funny thing is, it’s all for the same reason: help your mates.

Both climate change action & a National Broadband Network are a direct threat to the people who fund the Liberal party: miners & Murdoch. Both have deep pockets, & both have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, yet there is no reporting of this.

Unfortunately, what happens is with both climate change & the NBN is that scientists & ICT professionals are derided as corrupt or looking out for a main chance. These claims are made without any evidence & are believed by those who don’t understand the basics of a rational, logical argument.

In turn the claims are made & when refuted the good old “Burden of Proof” fallacy rears its ugly head. Instead of providing evidence to support the assertion that either climate change is a hoax, or that we don’t need the NBN, they demand evidence to prove them wrong.

AsimovThe key here is to not even start a debate. There is no debate, really, there isn’t. As the Asimov quote points out (Cheers Michael Shaw  for that one), just because you have an uninformed opinion doesn’t mean you have a right to participate in the debate.

So how do we put this non-debate to rest? Well, easy. Use facts, provide evidence, & demand proof of any assertions that don’t line up with the facts.

So here’s a quick list of FTTP vs FTTN facts:

  • Turnbull’s own policy sees FTTP as the end-game
  • FTTP will not be superseded by wireless comms for the foreseeable future (quantum comms is the game changer)
  • FTTN is a dead-end, upgrades require moving the xDSL ports closer to the customer
  • G.Fast (the 1Gbps xDSL being developed) is only 1Gbps while Sony are offering 2Gbps FTTP in Japan
  • FTTP is cheaper to maintain than FTTN, in the order of $700m-$1b a year in Australia
  • The cost per premises is marginal at best: LNP estimate $900 per premises for FTTN, FTTP is ~$1200 per premises
  • FTTP accounts for 10% of the world’s connections now
  • FTTP deployments are on the increase, everywhere from Nigera to Vietnam, the US to the UK
  • The cost of FTTP deployments have dropped almost 90% over the last few years, FTTN has gone up (~$500 per premises) due to the need for vectoring
  • Copper remediation is far more expensive than the pit & pipe remediation required for some FTTP areas
  • Copper lasts a maximum of 30 years, needs to be checked ever few years
  • FTTN only achieves high speeds under certain conditions (clean copper, no joints/interconnects, larger gauge copper)
  • FTTN suffers from the same problems as current ADSL connections do, FTTP does not.
  • FTTN doesn’t support native multicasting, FTTP does
  • Power consumption of FTTN is massively higher than FTTP
  • FTTN is susceptible to humidity, heat, & cold. FTTP is not
  • FTTP allows for detailed monitoring & response to service faults, FTTN makes this difficult, if not impossible due to the inconsistency of speeds

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough of a talking point list to combat some of the bullshit arguments.

Feel free to double check my claims, much of the evidence is supported by my previous articles.

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