Who Needs Data When FUD Will Do

Brunswick, a great multicultural centre in Melbourne. One of the main reasons for trialling the NBN there.

Brunswick, a great multicultural centre in Melbourne. One of the main reasons for trialling the NBN there.

It seems that lately CommsDay have been going into bat heavily for the Coalition, ignoring facts & smearing knowledgeable tech journalists. If Grahame Lynch’s “rebuttal” (I use that term loosely) of Nick Ross’ opus (The Vast Differences Between the NBN & the Coalition’s Alternative) last week wasn’t enough, this week Geoff Long has decided to have a go at a report into the Brunswick, VIC first release site for the NBN, funded by ACCAN.

Let’s start off with some of the basics that Geoff has completely misrepresented.

First is his amazement that 20% of people surveyed in Brunswick do not have internet access. Really? You’re a comms journalist & you’re amazed that 20% don’t have internet access? I’d be amazed if less than 20% don’t have internet access as the national average is 21%.

Next there’s the 25% figure for wireless users. While higher than the national average, looking at rationale for having wireless access, & the demographics for those with wireless access, it makes sense. It also helps to know the suburb Brunswick, & how the NBN first release rollout was approached in Brunswick.

The report’s introduction, which I think Geoff completely missed, clearly states that there have been three major factors to uptake: unfamiliarity with the technology & install process, approvals must be done via landlords, & cultural, socioeconomic, & demographic profile of Brunswick. With this in mind, using the results from the Brusnswick trial & projecting it for the nation is a dishonest at best.

In the report it clearly shows that 66% of wireless/mobile users are renting, 44% are living in shared/single accommodation, 59% are earning less than $100k p/a, & only 9% have their wireless connection because it’s wireless. Looking at the overall non-NBN connected users, the reasons for not being connected to the NBN, 28% were in the process of moving to the NBN, or had the NBN connected but not active, 8% had a landlord that refused didn’t opt-in, 6% had problems with their current ISP in moving to the NBN, & 1% didn’t actually use the connection they currently had.

Then there’s the way the rollout was conducted. Unlike the full blown rollout’s opt-out approach, first release sites used an opt-in system. These sites weren’t to gauge just take-up, but, as the report states, “take-up, use and implications of high-speed broadband for some of its earliest adopters”. Low uptake rates can be put down to a lack of information, which the NBN Co does need to address, misconceptions (spread by the Liberal party) that the NBN will be more expensive for users, &, oddly, “no reason”.

When people were surveyed, some even stated that they are keeping their wireless connections due to moving house, which is understandable if you’re renting & unsure how long you will be living somewhere. I wouldn’t do that myself, then again, I’m a geek.

Geoff then continues to use the 25% number as some sort of gauge for the rest of the country. Looking at ABS data (not just a survey on a 282 households), the current use of solely wireless internet is holding steady at around %16, yet the amount of wireless services has grown to around 50% of all services. What this means is that we are using wireless, just not as our main internet access. As I stated in a previous post, a recent ACCC report has shown that 94% of all data downloaded as over a wired connection, showing that Geoff’s questioning of the NBN Co’s predictions of sole wireless use is baseless.

Other significant statistics are: 59% of wireless users are bundling services; 55% of users see speed, quality & usage as the major factors for their moving to the NBN; more than 80% of wireless users think the NBN is a good idea, with less than 5% thinking the NBN is a bad idea; 8% of those surveyed thought the NBN was too costly or too complex.

Geoff’s conclusions leave a lot to be desired. Not only has he triumphantly claimed that “there is no real urgency to upgrade to fibre”, without looking at all the data. If anything, the report shows that 42% of people not connected to the NBN, want or are in the process of getting NBN access, that 9% of people actually want wireless for the mobility, & most wireless providers rent rather than own their own home.

To me, the recent barrage of articles from CommsDay misrepresenting technical data & research is showing a complete disconnect with reality, to the extent that I’m suspicious as to whether these articles are being commissioned by the Liberal party or one of their many “activist” groups. We will see more of these articles based on falsifying data, misrepresenting facts, & creating uncertainty in the community. The key is to look up the data yourself, & although overwhelming at times, it gives you a clearer picture of what the reality of the NBN is.

I offer a challenge to CommsDay: write a factual blog post rather than spinning everything into “we don’t need fibre”.

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Who Needs Data When FUD Will Do by Sortius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported