The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

According to the AFR:

    A Shorten Labor government has been tipped to initiate an overhaul of National Broadband Network policy within months or even weeks of a federal election, opting for a more comprehensive fibre-optic cable network than the Coalition’s controversial “multi-technology mix”.

    Although a return to full fibre to the premises is unlikely, experts predict Labor, should it win the election this year, would scrap the Coalition’s controversial fibre-to-the-node policy and replace it with “fibre to the curb”. This would mean running fibre-optic cable down a residential street to a pit outside the premises, rather than simply to the nearest node cabinet, which on average is about 400 metres away from homes.

This will necessitate them peering into the innards of NBN Co.

The AFR has also taken a look at the prospect of 5G smartphones and ask what it will do for consumers:


    The answer lands with a disappointing thud: It probably won’t change much, at least initially.

    That’s because 4G technology is already more than capable of doing what we demand from our phones.That has led analysts and commentators to warn consumers are unlikely to pay a premium to access a service they don’t need.

Netflix advises that streaming high-definition video requires download speeds of 5Mbps.

    In Pyrmont, Sydney, at 11am on December 27, the Optus 4G network was delivering download speeds of 85.5 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 33 Mbps.

That’s 17 times what video requires.

When 5G launches in full, it is expected to deliver a gigabit per second or 200 times what is needed for video. The worry is how many people will pay the extra, just to have the best. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and TPG are all building 5G networks without a clear idea of how they are going to make money from them. Yet they can’t afford not to be involved.

Then there is this:

Australia, the US, Canada and New Zealand have all decided not to allow Huawei 5G for security reasons. However, there is no good alternative:

    The United States, for its part, offers no competitive fifth-generation wireless network equipment. Europe’s Nokia and Ericsson, meanwhile, are both struggling to catch up to Huawei. South Korea’s Samsung is investing heavily in the area but has come to the party late.

    Thanks in part to massive government subsidies, Huawei has been able to offer equipment and services at a fraction of the price of its competitors. It has grown exponentially in the process to leapfrog Nokia and Ericsson and become the world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier by far.

    This is despite the fact that they have long been almost entirely cut out of the US market.

If you are disinclined to believe that Asia Times article there is this from the AFR Chanticleer column:

Mark Chong of Singtel is responsible for the introduction of 5G in 21 countries including Australia and his home country of Singapore. 5G is about things like internet of things, artificial intelligence and smart cities. While it is an impressive step forward – today’s 4G network can handle about 10,000 devices per square kilometre while 5G can handle 1 million devices in the same area – currently it lacks a blockbuster product. It is thought that the market may well be in business, but there are no products on offer, yet, which make 5G a compelling buy.

Telstra, which has more than 50 per cent of the mobile market does not stock any phones made by Huawei, although Huawei sells two of the best three smartphones in Australia according to Financial Review journalist John Davidson.

The UK, France and Germany are still deciding whether to follow the US and ban Huawei 5G, but the market at this point seems to be bifurcating on a worldwide basis. In five years time we are likely to have a situation where you either use Chinese technology, or linger with the second rate. However, all other major players have significant manufacturing operations in China. If things turn rough they are not well placed to take China on.

In breaking news:

    Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China since the high-profile arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1, according to a Canadian government official.

    A Global Affairs Canada spokesperson, Guillaume Bérubé, confirmed the detentions in a statement to The Globe and Mail. Until Thursday, only three Canadians – Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor and Sarah McIver – were publicly known to have been detained in China since Canada’s arrest of Ms. Meng, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s chief financial officer. They were picked up after China promised retaliation for Ms. Meng’s arrest.

A certain amount of this goes on all the time, but people are getting edgy.

Paul Keating had a clear view that we were in Asia, not a European outpost dealing with Asia. Time for a rethink of our whole foreign affairs stance. There is a case for broad neutrality, disengaging with foreign conflicts to concentrate on maintaining stability in our immediate area, for example when we intervened to stabilise the Solomon Islands.

9 thoughts on “The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future”

  1. I still get what I want from my 3G phone and credit card. Hate the idea of needing my phone to pay bills in situations where i use my credit card but would like a better quality camera and being able to give a GPS location for emergency calls.

  2. The cameras are amazing. GPS useful. But no need to “upgrade beyond needs”.

    Leave that to the kiddies and their parent financiers.

  3. I understand that with 5G the big problem is that you need direct line of sight. Which means having a relay station in the room, and if you walk behind a pillar it disappears. Can’t see the point, myself, but I may be missing something.

  4. The consumers will answer your questions by their purchasing decisions, and the “plans” they choose.

    Markets: the deus ex machina.

    For further insights, read Mr Jumpy.
    He is here to help.

    ***
    Actually, the headline points to a feature of the economy where technics meet finances: what does a manufacturing company do when the market nears saturation?

    The old sigmoidal curve phenomenon. See “Verhulst (logistic) population growth models”.

  5. I had a phone at home. It was adequate.

    I got a phone that drove around in my car. Adequate.

    I got one that hung from my belt. No car needed. Adequate.

    They put a little camera on the next one. Adequate.

    Then a video camera. Adequate.

    The Americans declassified their global satellite navigation system, so some clown put a receiver on my phone. Adequate.

    Dilbert thought I should have internet on my phone. Adequate.

    Adequate keeps changing. The dictionary and encyclopedias on my phone get updated three times per millisecond.

    First World.

    As a wag said of the Canberra Press Gallery: They suffer from Delusions of Adequacy!

  6. Learned to program using punched cards and Fortran. Developments were exciting then but in my dotage get irritated by micro soft developing more and more complex systems that have to be relearned and often take more time to program because of the expanding number choices and steps to get things done.
    Haven’t got a smartphone but acknowledge some things like finding my way have attractions.

  7. Snap!
    Punched cards and processing was done overnight, so any one error delayed results by 24 hours, except that there were usually several errors…..

    (I have to admit that a spell check – by contrast – is very quick, and can be taught idiosyncratic items such as place names, personal names.)

    Agree about unfriendliness of new programs. Too soon to the market??

    Navigation aids have got us out of several tricky spots (errors). Good for calling fire brigade, roadside assistance etc.

    Cheers

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