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Blackspots, where and what next?

The government released the complete Broadband Availability and Quality report this week and launched the MyBroadband website. The conclusion is that 1.4 million premises across Australia are in areas with poor broadband. Herein lies the problem – not every property in those areas will have poor broadband, and there will be others with bad connectivity in an area where broadband is generally good. The report groups findings into small areas – 78,000 of them – rather than looking at broadband quality on a house by house basis.

It’s a good start, but is it all that useful? Mark Gregory, Senior Lecturer at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at RMIT University, reckons the Labor government went through a similar exercise when prioritising their roll out. Malcolm Turnbull clearly doesn’t agree.

Even so, as Tony Brown, senior analyst at Informa Telecom, points out, there are many other factors that determine the order of a rollout. Prioritising areas without adequate connectivity might be the ideal outcome, but not necessarily that practical.

Mark Gregory also questions the accuracy of the findings – in particular the categorisation of quality. As you’ll hear, he reckons it paints too rosy a picture on the state of broadband in Australia. This week he and Malcolm Turnbull have been fighting out the semantics on the pages of Technology Spectator.

The government could obtain a more accurate picture of the state of DSL, of course, if Telstra released more of its data. But the telco will hang on that information as a bargaining chip with the government. Perhaps a rapid bit of crowdsourcing could help paint a more accurate picture, and give the NBN some valuable data to use when they start negotiating copper and HFC access with Telstra.

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