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The NBN remains controversial

24 Sep 2010 9:52 PM -

Coutts Communications director Reg Coutts, who served on a federal government advisory panel two years ago has called on economists and business leaders questioning the value of the $43 billion National Broadband Network to "get over it".

Professor Coutts launched a spirited defence of the fibre-based project at the World Computer Congress in Brisbane yesterday after Wotif founder Graeme Wood questioned why such high download speeds were needed for private use and billionaire miner Andrew Forrest demanded a feasibility study.

The federal opposition has also called for a rigorous cost-benefits study of the government's planned broadband rollout, touted to provide speeds of 100 megabits per second to most Australian premises.

And while demand for data and broadband is exploding in Australia, so are the number of wireless households. Telstra estimates that 12 per cent of Australian households are mobile only.

It is already well known that in areas where no wired broadband is available and wireless is the only option, the wireless services are heavily oversubscribed and the carriers are scrambling to duplicate infrastructure. Wireless congestion impacts normal phone service too.

In countries that have already rolled out fibre to the majority of households, such as South Korea, only about 40 per cent of households have signed up to the fibre network so again the actual cost to the household to connect to the NBN remains to be seen.

Apart from the huge increase in speed, a major benefit will be that the speed will be the same in both directions. With the sort of speeds available, cloud computing may become a lot more viable.

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