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The Dirt Report: Getting a SIP of faster internet

It has also been a busy week in the news with outlets writing about the NBN, about COVID-19, about outrage and about channel 7’s plate of origin hosted by celebrity chefs Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and Manu Feidel.

So let me cook you up some delicious local tech and telco news and garnish this splendid soup with some international tidbits.

Spotify’s new outlook

Spotify is no longer just a music service.

On stage in New York City today, the company shared its new goal of finding the perfect content to accompany every moment in your day.

CEO Daniel Ek said his company is taking a “massive leap forward” that “goes beyond the conventional formats.”

Ek and his fellow executives showcased a new version of Spotify that’s more closely aligned with Songza, with playlists tailored for a listener’s day.

But it’s not just limited to music; the new Spotify also brings podcasts to what was previously just a music app.

And a new “video capsule” offers streaming video from partners like Comedy Central, Vice News, and The Nerdist.

Essentially, Spotify wants to become your all-in-one jukebox – for everything.

Take a SIP from the cup

On Wednesday a new federal law introduced and made active, under this new federal law you have the right to a ‘decent’ internet speed.

So far the internet in Australia has been a dad joke passed through generations all leading back to one source – the dinosaurs in parliament – but somehow, some youngins managed to get this law through.

As part of the telecommunication reform package one of the three main elements is the The Statutory Infrastructure Provider (SIP) regime, the other two are the Regional Broadband Scheme And Reforms to carrier separation arrangements.

So what is the SIP?

Well It will be part of a new Universal Service Guarantee covering broadband as well as voice services.

From July 1st, NBN Co will be the Statutory Infrastructure Provider for areas it has declared ready for service.

The Statutory Infrastructure Provider obligations ensure that all Australian premises are able to access superfast broadband services 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) or better.

However there will be a requirement on NBN Co to connect premises and supply wholesale broadband services on reasonable request.

NBN Co will become the SIP for areas as it rolls out its network and it will be the default SIP for all of Australia after the NBN is declared built and fully operational.

Other network providers can also be SIPs where appropriate.

For example, where they have contracts to service premises in a new real estate development.

While SIPs will be able to offer a range of products, they will be required to offer a standard broadband service with peak speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload.

On fixed-line and fixed wireless networks, SIPs’ standard services will also be required to support voice services for consumers.

The Minister for Communications will be able to make standards, rules and benchmarks that could set out more detailed requirements, such as timeframes for providing access and rectifying faults.

SIPs will be required to comply with these standards, rules and benchmarks.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will monitor and enforce the SIP arrangements.

This law has certainly jumped through some hoops, the Government originally introduced the legislation on 22 June 2017, then it passed the first hoop on the 25th of January 2018, and had to be reintroduced with a number of amendments on the 28th of November 2019.

Then Australian Government responded to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee report on the current version of the Telecommunications Reform Package Bills on 14 May 2020 during the second reading debate in the Senate and the result was that The Government supports the recommendations of the Senate Committee’s Majority Report, phew.

In July it’s technically live, so hang on to your kangaroo skin caps, we might just end up getting some decent internet speeds for once, well maybe…

It’s a long road ahead, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher had to say:

Telecommunications has long been recognised as an essential utility, And the Government is committed to providing access to reliable high-speed broadband for all Australians.

Honestly though this is just a start of the process, I’m not sure when affected premises get their 25mbps slice of the internet pie.

Upgrades, upgrades

So on that bombshell let’s talk NBN upgrades, will we ever get to see any?

Brisbane software developer Matt Hall decided enough was enough and he was going to bank roll his own upgrade from FTTN to fibre to the house (FTTP).

He certainly has the high ground now and with that smug look and fibre to the home he has earned it all the envy.

Here is the thing, Mr Hall had to jump through a few hoops, a visit to the local MP, few mobsters, a casino, a dry cleaners and a bunnings he was ready to drop 11 thousand dollars to get faster internet or at least internet that wouldn’t drop out when it rained.

That’s not the worst quote, while NBN co has not released any true stats, there have been quotes ranging from 3000 to 33 thousand, though there was also the 200k quote in regional Queensland.

All that is good and it all may end well, we hope but, but no good deed goes unpunished.

With his upfront expense his neighbours can now get fibre to their door at next to nothing.

Mr Hall told the ABC he has no regret but here is the thing – there is a much wider question that stems from this – what would it take to upgrade all the 4.7 million australians who have FTTN to FTTP?

Well Associate Professor mark gregory from RMIT in melbourne believes its $7 billion.

He’s certainly on the money with that estimate, it used to be triple that only five years ago, and from a certain view fibre has gotten much cheaper as the years gone by as most countries invest in it.

Communications minister Pauol Fletcher has said in the past that the NBN is not set in stone, and in fact has $4.5b set aside for network upgrades over the next four years, and so $2.5 billion short.

NBN Co. had this to say in regards to potential upgrades:

“NBN Co has identified potential upgrade paths for each access technology to enable the provision of greater speed and capacity over time as demand increases,”

“Three-quarters of FTTN customers today can get more than 50Mbps; and around 50 per cent of FTTN customers can get more than 80Mbps.”

“This is a significant improvement on the ADSL technology it largely replaced, which according to the ACCC, averages just 8Mbps.”

They certainly believe that the numbers are much smaller, a small subset of FTTN customers actually need to be upgraded for now, but what about the future?

Well FTTN already runs on outdated copper, how long can we piggy back off 100 year old wires? When will it all collapse?

Telstra was going to retire the copper network and upgrade it until they saw the best deal of their life and sold the aging non asset to the NBN and their mixed technology attitude.

One thing that I hope for right now is that we do a massive upgrade and create some infrastructure work to restart the economy, after all why not?

Everyone is either home in isolation or home because there is no work.

The best offense is defence

The Government will invest approximately $270 billion over the coming decade in new and upgraded defence capabilities, including more potent and longer-range combat systems and more secure supply chains.

Among all that tomfoolery, guns and specialised explosives, is a little foot note of 20 billion that will go to defending the defenders from cyber warfare.

Cyber warfare is the invisible war played out on computer screens that costs a lot to defend and can cause billions more in damage…

So the $20 billion will be split between two areas: One of information and cyber defence who will get the big chunk, a sweet 15 billion.

Secondly, Enterprise ICT which will receive $5 billion to support all that and it seems like the IT department got shafted.

This is of course in direct result of the recent onslaught of cyber attacks against Australia.

Other investments include secure wireless networks, artificial intelligence, augmented analytics, robotics, block chain immersion technologies and quantum computing.

Woolies serving of Spam

Woolworths felt the pain this week after getting fined more than $1 million dollars Australia’s anti-spam laws more than 5 million times over the course of a year.

Thing is these spam laws have been around for nearly two decades and Woolworths is certainly big enough to know whats what in the spam bowl, to be honest there is no excuse for it.

Now these emails were sent between October 2018 and July 2019 and Woolworths said it was due to system issues and not their marketing prowess.

They added that all the issues have been fixed.

Woolworths managing director Amanda Bardwell said that “many of the breaches they were warned about many times was the result of technical issues” and that “we were acting on unsubscribe requests from individual Rewards members, we did not assume it meant other members sharing that email address had to be opted-out as well”.

Now I know it sounds insane, but yep, a single email unsubscribed but apparently they figured out there members who share the same email are still keen to get emails.

This opens a whole new can of worms, how did Woolworths know that there were multiple people using the same email for their rewards card, how did they track that?

Op, Op(tus) and away!

Lastly let’s talk Optus, who this week joined the space race, or rather paid someone else to do that for them.

Optus has contracted with Airbus Defence and Space for a new satellite, calling it Optus 11, a very plain name as it comes after Optus 10 which burned up on re-entry.

This new satellite will hit the atmosphere in 2023, what’s special about it is that it can change its location, coverage and bandwidth capacity on demand in space.

Optus 11 will operate in the asia pacific region providing coverage from Antarctica to the Cocos Islands and will be the first to utilise the ku band of 11 to 14ghz spectrum for both broadcast and broadband services.

What’s cool though is that it will also improve Australia and New zealand’s GPS accuracy to within 0.1m.

About the author

Patryk Lazarz

Patryk Lazarz

Patryk Lazarz, commonly known as "Techman Pat" is a WA tech guru who runs his own YouTube channel . Every Sunday, Patryk writes a weekly column alongside his 'Dirt Report', bringing you the latest in tech news in Western Australia.

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