What do the experts say?

The “What do the Experts say” list below relates to the original Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) NBN, proposed and commenced by the Labor Government in 2009. It will not be changed to reflect the 2013 Coalition Government’s downgrade of the NBN to Fibre To The Node technology.

For a generic assessment of FTTN, please visit the “Why Not FTTN?” page, and to follow the promises and progress of the Coalition’s NBN policy, visit the “Fraudband watch” page.

What do the experts say?

Information and Communication Technology experts and major corporate players in the ICT sectors have issued strong statements supporting the National Broadband Network. Let’s take a look at what they are saying about it:

The Experts

Dr Vint Cerf Along with a team of scientists, Dr Cerf “invented” the internet in the 1970s. He has been awarded the US National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award for Computer Science and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

“I am so envious that you have a government that is willing to make the long term infrastructure investment of this magnitude and of this type [in the NBN]. I will be pushing very hard for similar activities in the US but quite frankly you guys are way ahead of us…I consider this to be a stunning investment in infrastructure that in my view will have very long-term benefit. Infrastructure is all about enabling things and I see Australia is trying to enable innovation.”[ref] [ref]

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, OM, KBE  Sir Berners-Lee was the inventor of the World Wide Web in 1989. He received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 for his pioneering work. He holds a degree in Computer Science from the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is chair of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and an associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

“The National Broadband Network is a wonderful commitment to getting everyone connected. It’s a brilliant foundation – it will be a foundation for many things.[ref]

Dr Hamadoun Touré Dr Touré is the secretary-general of the United Nations International Telecommunications division. He holds a Masters degree and a PhD in electrical engineering. He is a member of the IEEE and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.

‘The way I see it here, Australia has undertaken the largest infrastructure project ever. Three to five years from now, Australia will be No. 1 in broadband in the world. A large size country like this can be a test bed for any scenario that could happen anywhere else in the world and I can take that model to share anywhere else in the world.”[ref]

Steve Wozniak “Woz” is the co-founder of Apple Computer. He holds several patents for his invention of various computer-related technologies. Woz holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of California and honorary Doctor of Enginering degrees from Michigan State, Kettering, Carolina State, Nova Southeastern and Boulder Universities. He received the President’s National Medal of Technology in 1985 for his “contribution to the invention of the personal computer” and the Isaac Asimov Science Award in 2011.

‘The NBN is a great model…When I was here a few years ago, the attitude [in terms of broadband] was ‘Telstra is letting us down! It’s expensive and slow and the company is not making Australia number one in the world… I think the Australian Government finally recognised that recently and that is why it is putting in this network” [ref]

Professor Rod Tucker, PhD Rod is a Fellow of the IEEE and the Director of CUBIN at Melbourne University. He holds both a BE and PhD in Electrical Engineering, and has received numerous awards including the MA Sargent Award for his contributions to lasers and fibre-optics, and the Australia Prize for his outstanding contributions to Telecommunications.

“Building a broadband network will, as the government has pointed out, have the same kind of transformational impact as the railways in the 19th and 20th centuries…Australia is poised to be at the cutting edge of internet technology. But we are teetering on losing a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and returning to the broadband backwater.”[ref] [ref]

Dr Gordon Bell Dr Bell holds Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Science from MIT, was a fullbright scholar at UNSW, a Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University and received an honorary Doctor of Engineering from WPI. He worked as head of R&D at Digital Equipment for 23 years, and now heads the research division of Microsoft.

The [NBN] is essential infrastructure that needs to be put in place. I admire Australia for moving ahead to build such a network.”[ref]

Dr Philip McCrea Dr McCrea holds a BE (hons) in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of NSW. He has over 32 years experience in the Australian IT industry, spanning both academia and commerce. He is currently the CEO of a computer bureau at the Australian Technology Park.

“Our belief is that Australia will benefit enormously from the introduction of the NBN”[ref]

Dr Terry Percival Dr Percival holds a BE and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering. He was awarded the CSIRO medal for research leadership and has a long list of career achievements, including Research Manager at OTC designing satellite communication systems, and CSIRO Principle Research Scientist, contributing to the invention of WiFi. He is currently a Lab Director at the National Information / Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) research centre.

“..the new applications as they come, people are suddenly going to need more and more speed. To me the two biggest applications are Health and Education where latency and quality is a huge issue. [For eHealth to work] the video quality from the home to the clinic will have to be very high quality.”

“Another possibility… will be regional regeneration. As the NBN is rolled out, healthcare and jobs will become available thanks to telecommuting….Living in rural Australia is going to become much more attractive.”[ref]

Eric Schmidt PhD Eric holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, a Master of Science from the University of California (Berkeley), and a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He has taught at Stanford Business School and been on the board of trustees at both Carnegie-Mellon and Princeton Universities. He has worked for Bell Labs, Xerox, Sun Microsystems and Apple. He is currently the CEO of Google.

“…Australia is leading the world in understanding the importance of fibre. Your new Prime Minister as part of her campaign and now as part of her prime ministership, has announced that by roughly I think 2015, 2016, 93% of Australians – which I guess are all the folks in the cities – will have gigabit or equivalent service using fibre, and the other 7% will be handled through wireless services of a nature of LTE. This is leadership. And again, from Australia, which I think is wonderful.”[ref]

“The NBN and other investments in high speed broadband will act as a catalyst that will help to close the gap between Australia and the leading digital economies worldwide.”[ref]

Professor Tim Wu Tim is telecommunications policy specialist and a professor at Columbia Law School, with a B.Sc in biochemistry and a law degree from Harvard. He is the chair of media reform group Free Press, and a writer for Slate Magazine. He has written several papers and books on telecommunications policy, including the critically acclaimed The Master Switch. He was named one of Scientific American’s 50 people of the year in 2006 and one of Harvard University’s 100 most influential graduates in 2007. Professor Wu is a senior advisor to the US FTC on internet policy.

“I think it’s a daring and fantastic plan, and yes, if it works out the way it’s supposed to I think it’ll be fantastic and will set a model for the rest of the world. I think the countries that go forward with these kinds of things are going to have the advantage in the 21st century.”[ref]

Jim McKerlie Jim is a former partner-in-charge at Deloitte and a managing partner at KPMG. He holds postgraduate degrees in Economics and Finance, has undertaken post graduate studies at IMD and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Management Consultants. In 2010, he was named as one of the 12 most influential people in Australia’s ITC industry by Smart Company magazine.

“Public interest and benefits in these kinds of projects are not something that will immediately attract commercial returns. Public money, sometimes, is the best way to go and we can look at commercialising when it is mature.”

“The Opposition is saying the proposal is like building a Bentley when we can only afford a Commodore. The trouble with aiming to just build a Commodore is you will probably end up with a Go-Cart. I don’t think we can afford to end up with that.”[ref]

Paul Budde Paul is the Managing Director of one of the world’s largest telecommunication research and consultancy firms. He has advised the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA and the Netherlands on their telecommunications networks and infrastructure, and made presentations to the United Nations Broadband Commission.

“As a truly lucky country (one that was hardly affected by the global financial crisis) Australia has the unique opportunity to make this happen – not just for ourselves but also for the next generation. And we also provide the case study for others. Think what economic benefits this will deliver to our export economy.”

“There are many countries who at this point in time cannot afford to make this investment, and this gives Australia the chance to leap ahead and give the people and the businesses of our country a head-start in the digital economy. Think about what that can do for job creation and productivity.”[ref]

Alan Kohler Alan is a 40-year veteran financial journalist for several Australian and UK newspapers, and is a former editor of the Australian Financial Review and The Age.

“After reading the NBN business plan it’s actually a bit hard to remain aloof and unexcited. This is a magnificent, awe-inspiring undertaking: there has never been anything like it, not in this country and probably not anywhere in the world.”

“Not only will the NBN not be a white elephant it will almost certainly prove to be a great investment. In fact, without wishing to get carried away (too late do you think?) it could represent, on its own, a huge national savings plan. When it’s finished the asset will be worth several times the government’s investment of $27.5 billion.”[ref]

David Gonski, AC AO David is a prominent businessman in Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws (with the University Medal). He is the Chairman of the National e-Health Transition Authority, the ambassador for the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and Chancellor of the University of NSW.

“Completion of the NBN is essential to underpin future innovation in Australia.”[ref]

Andrew Sayers Andrew has held senior positions at several galleries across Australia, including 12 years as director of the National Portrait Gallery. He is currently the director of the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. He holds a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney, and was the ACT nominee for the 2011 Australian of the Year. Andrew has several significant published works on various aspects of art in Australia.

The NBN will enable us to interact with people across Australia in real time and allow us to present images from our collections in hitherto unattainable detail and depth.[ref]

The Industry

Internet Industry Association The IIA is an organisation representing over 150 Australian businesses. Their objectives are to facilitate growth and technical functioning of the internet and online facilities for Australian businesses and consumers.

“[the NBN] It’s not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential part of a modern economy…In the past decade Australia’s internet use has grown by a staggering 12,000%. That rate is accelerating. Yet despite this, we are now ranked 50th in the world in terms of our average broadband speeds.”

“Just as electricity revolutionised society, so too will broadband. Fast, reliable, future-proof technology. Optical fibre based solutions like the NBN will mean a more stable and prosperous future for all Australians.”[ref]

Australian Information Industry Association The AIIA is the national organisation representing the information technology and telecommunications industry of Australia. Their member companies employ over 100,000 Australians.

Ian Birks, CEO: Given the high level of significance of the broadband issue, and in particular its resonance with the independents, we now expect to see the roll-out of the NBN prioritised in this government’s term”[ref]

“There are immediate returns on offer for every business that will only become more powerful with ubiquitous, high-speed broadband.” [ref]

The Council of Small Business of Australia COSBOA is Australia’s peak body exclusively representing the interests of small businesses.

Executive Director Peter Strong: “[The NBN] is an equal playing field. You don’t get that too often. We want it, we need it.” [ref]

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry The ACCI is Australia’s largest business association. They are the peak council of Australia’s State and Territory Chambers of Commerce and National Industry Associations.

Peter Anderson, CEO: “The instinct in the business community is that there can be a real productivity kick and benefit. [ref]

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association The AMTA is the peak industry body representing Australia‟s mobile telecommunications industry, including Carriage Service Providers (CSPs), handset manufacturers, retail outlets, network equipment suppliers and other suppliers to the industry.
“The NBN project will be a major component of Australia‟s digital economy in partnership with the latest generation mobile telecommunications networks and applications.” [ref]

Google The world’s most popular search engine. Google is valued at over US$36billion.

Alan Noble, head of Engineering: “The NBN will underpin Australia’s digital economy and will be just as vital an enabler of innovation, economic growth and entrepreneurship in the 21st century as national highways and the electric grid were in the 20th century. Simply put, it means a world of opportunities for all Australians”[ref]

Intel The world’s largest producer of microchips powering both Macintosh and Windows personal computers.

Phil Cronin, Managing Director: “It’s now time to move beyond debate… the NBN has the potential to deliver significant long term benefits to consumers and small businesses alike”[ref]

Microsoft One of the world’s largest software companies, with almost 90,000 employees and an annual turnover exceeding US$24billion.

“This infrastructure will be critical in the years ahead and essential for reducing costs in health and education service delivery. It will also contribute to overcoming the tyranny of distance that exists in rural and regional Australia”[ref]

The Pearcey Foundation A non-profit organisation founded in 1998 in memory the Australian ICT pioneer Dr Trevor Pearcey. The Foundation operates across the Australian Information Communication Technologies (ICT) sector and is involved in debate and public policy on critical national issues such as productivity, the digital economy and national infrastructure.

“…The NBN at 100Mbits/sec will facilitate a new generation of applications on a new platform. Just as the iPhone has triggered hundreds of thousands of new applications on a platform that did not exist three years ago, so the NBN will facilitate major new companies and programs that may well be extensions of existing approaches and/or new approaches to old problems. The latencies associated with a NBN allow a whole new approach to using existing computing power more effectively. This must and will lead to improved productivity.”[ref]

Optus Optus is the second largest communications provider in Australia, providing fixed and mobile telephone and data services.

“The NBN offers a truly transformational opportunity for Australia, with the prospects of delivering tangible improvements in the delivery of health and education services, improving the productivity and competitiveness of Australian businesses and delivering new and innovative services and social applications.”[ref]

Maha Krishnapillai, Dir. Govt & Corp affairs: “… Broadband is crucial to Australia’s future prosperity and fibre is indisputably the best way to deliver high-speed broadband for the long term. As Tony Windsor said and we agree: ‘You build it once. You build it right. You build it with fibre”.[ref] There are still some people querying that there’s going to be some new technology that’s going to replace fibre and as recently as yesterday people saying that fibre is no longer the technology of the future. I’m not exactly sure what parallel universe people live on but fibre will be the way of the future.”[ref]

Paul O’Sullivan, CEO: “It’s long been our view that the National Broadband Network is economically viable and the release of today’s detailed study from McKinsey and KPMG confirms this. Most importantly the study has found that access to the network will be available to all Australians at a price they can afford, which is essential to the healthy take-up of services on the new network.”[ref]

Vodafone Vodafone is the world’s largest provider of mobile communications, and the third largest 3G wireless broadband provider in Australia.

Vittorio Colao, CEO: “Australia is taking a very bold step….I honestly think that the vision that in this country the Government has is a very healthy one”[ref]

Primus Telecom Primus is one of Australia’s largest Telecommunications carriers offering a range of high speed broadband, data, Internet and voice products, over fixed and wireless networks.

“Primus supports the Government’s decision to establish a company to build and operate a NBN, and believes that vision will lead to wide ranging benefits for residential and business consumers across Australia. These benefits will initially manifest in terms of service availability, choice and cost, but ultimately will also ensure that Australian society and the Australian economy can capitalise on the digital age and opportunities.”[ref]

14 thoughts on “What do the experts say?

  1. Dr Terry Percival was part of the CSRIO team which developed the technologies on which WiFi is based and which are now reaping useful royalties for CSIRO. His views on possible uses for NBN are included in the 28th February 2011 episode of Patch Monday. http://goo.gl/TLDcD

  2. Thanks Richard. I’ll add it to the list.

  3. I have a feeling history will treat this and the previous government well. Just as they do now in regard to Mr. Hawke and Mr. Keating.

    We must not forget Mr. Keating was hated when he was deposed by Mr. Howard.

    What did Mr. Howard really achieve in a eleven and half years of power.

  4. It would be interesting to see the comments, and affiliations, of the nay sayers. They would have us believe that there is no need to worry about bandwidth, and we can go on as we have been. Revealing their affiliations would reveal their personal agendas, pretty much something not present in the quoted experts above.

    1. Phillip S. Glanville 22 December, 2013 — 3:07 pm

      The NBN can only be fully utilised by business users. What PC in this Country can take the NBN bandwidth?

      Do you know anything about bandwidth? Most PC’s in this Country only use up about 8GB of download, the same as I am using now.

      The Fed Gov’t, under the competent leadership of Mr. Abbott, should immediately scrap this NBN fibre to the home. NOBODY can use it. A 40 billion AU dollar waste.

      1. Phillip,

        The current top speed of the NBN is 100 Megabits Per Second (100Mbps). This has been the standard ethernet speed since 1995 (called 100Base-T). Every computer less than 10 years old (and many much older than that) can easily cope with such speeds. Remember this little critter? The 1999 entry-level Apple iMac came with 100Base-T ethernet. That was 14 years ago. Even home WiFi these days can manage 150-300Mbps.

        The next top NBN speed, (set to be activated shortly) is 1Gbps (1000Mbps), which has been a standard ethernet speed since 1999. The first iMac G5 (for example), introduced in 2005 (8 years ago) an an entry-level home computer came with 1000Base-T ethernet, the same speed as the upcoming NBN top speed.

        You seem confused between volume and bandwidth. 8GB is a measure of volume, not bandwidth. Thus, the sentence “Most PC’s in this Country only use up about 8GB of download” makes no sense. Would you care to clarify what you mean please? Most PCs have many terabytes of storage space (that’s thousands of GB). If you’re talking about RAM, then that has no bearing on how much data can be downloaded, or how fast. If you’re talking about monthly download volume, then the average user already downloads about 50GB per month according to the ABS.

  5. I live 10 mins from an exchange, confirmed ports are open, but still can’t get ADSL1 only wireless. The house is 20 years old, in 20 years ADSL1 couldn’t be connected, it’s pathetic!
    Why don’t you concentrate on existing infrastructure first.
    Someone said that they were envious for a government making long term infrastructure plans, lol like I said 20 years for ADSL1, makes me laugh about NBN! here comes another 20.
    Have I waited long enough?

    1. Your issue is probably because Telstra wired your area with a pair-gain copper system, meaning it cannot support DSL broadband. They would have to re-wire the estate to get you ADSL, which would probably cost about the same as doing fibre.

      There are many hundreds of such estates dotted across the country. While it would be nice to do these areas first, it would be technically more expensive and more complicated to do, because the NBN rollout needs to start at the NBN’s fixed POI locations and roll outwards form them.

  6. One small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel – if we don’t get fibre now (NBN Mk 1), and we have to replace FTTN NBN Mk 2, maybe the fiber quality will be better by the time we have to do that, eg: http://horizon2020projects.com/il-ict/eu-funds-new-fibre-optic-cable-breaking-speed-records. Just a thought.

    1. That’s a nice thought. The downside is that the fibre they’ve put in the ground for the FTTN network is suboptimal for a full-fibre network; it doesn’t go where it needs to go. So any upgrade to FTTH will be an expensive, cludgy adaptation of the current mess. which means higher latency and maintenance costs for the life of the network.

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