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EYE-BALL Opinion – Communications Minister Conroy needs a POKE … one that will make him stand tall and take notice …

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Title:
– Communications Minister Conroy  needs a POKE –
– one that will make him stand tall and take notice –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 28th Jan 2013|

The NBN (National Broadband Network) is floundering and all because the idiot in charge has no idea …

That would be Mr Stephen Conroy, a Senator from Victoria and a staunch supported of Julia Gillard.  Minister Conroy was handed his Senate position in 1998 and took office in 1999.

Background:

His background – according to his APH profile – has him working as a Union representative since he left University – and this paints him as another of Gillard’s ‘handbag brigade’  of idealist wannabe politicians who have zero practical experience in the workplace.

Senator Conroy’s history before he entered politics is summarised below:

Personal

  • Born 18.1.1963, Ely, UK.
  • Married.

Qualifications and occupation before entering Federal Parliament

  • BEc (ANU).
  • Superannuation Officer, Transport Workers’ Union.
  • Research assistant.

Local government service

  • Councillor, Footscray Council..

Yes – he is another immigrant as is Gillard and that is not to say he should be punished for being an immigrant – but what stuns is that he was a research assistant and then a Superannuation Officer before he became a Senator … please tell me – how does this limited work experience within the Trade Workers Union qualify him to be a Minister and the person in charge of a $40 billion NBN rollout?

He was appointed as Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy from 3/12/07 under Kevin Rudd, and also as Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity from 14/9/10 by Julia Gillard as reward for his efforts in the assassination of Kevin Rudd.   The extra Ministerial position gives him a boost in remuneration and perks …

In the early 2012 leadership spill Conroy was one of the more vocal opponents of Kevin Rudd.    His Opposition counterpart is Malcolm Turnbull, and whilst Turnbull sits in the HOR, and Conroy in the Senate – there is very little debate between the two over the Communications Portfolio.  Both the Government and the Opposition have alternative representatives in both Houses that speak on the Communications portfolio if questions are asked.   In other words They hardly ever face off against one another.

The NBN Roll-Out:  NBN Webpage linked here …`

When the NBN was announced by Rudd as a part of the economic stimulus package during the GFC response – some 4 years ago – it was hailed by many as visionary.  As the end of the 2013 year approaches the number of people who have actually signed up for NBN registered some $2 million of revenue at last count for the current year.

Yea that’s right – a paltry $2 million.

Stack that up against the $40 billion infrastructure to be expended and you gain the knowledge that Conroy is in charge of perhaps the biggest infrastructure build flop ever.

The $2 million in gross revenues does not even cover the CEO’s remuneration package.

Something is seriously amiss with the NBN and the reluctance by consumers to take up subscription is evidence.   Conroy is desperate and sees the writing on the wall – all this money going out whilst the Government is under immense pressures to rein in expenditures.   So much so that to try and meet forecast NBN subscriber targets by Jun 2013 – Senator Conroy announced a new marketing strategy to entice the ISP’s – (Internet Service Providers) – to sigh up new NBN subscribers – read story below …

Bounty to lift NBN network take-up


| Author: MITCHELL BINGEMANN | Date: Jan 26th, 2013 | Link to On-Line Story. |

INTERNET service providers are being offered a bounty for every customer they transfer to the NBN, prompting claims the $37.4 billion network’s subscriber base is being artificially inflated.

For the next six months, in the lead-up to the federal election, the company charged with rolling out the NBN will pay internet providers $108 for each customer that shifts to the new taxpayer-funded, superfast fibre-based or wireless networks. NBN Co has set itself a target to pass 341,000 premises with fibre-optic cabling and connect 54,000 of those by June. The most recently available statistics on NBN connections, valid to September 30 last year, showed just 52,014 premises had been passed and only 6358 had taken an active service on the NBN.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull described the offer as a shallow attempt by NBN Co and the Gillard government to boost lagging subscriber numbers on the new network in time for this year’s federal election.

“Stephen Conroy is spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars to bolster NBN’s take-up rates by June 30 this year,” Mr Turnbull said.

“There seems to be no limit to which commercial commonsense will be abandoned in the interests of politics. This company earned $2 million in revenue last financial year and now it is offering many millions of dollars to ISPs to move their customers on to the NBN in order to dress up their roll-out figures for the election.”

The incentive scheme will run from this month until the end of June.

The federal election is expected to be held in the second half of this year.

In an amendment last week to the commercial contracts between NBN Co and internet providers, the network builder explicitly states that the payment would be for the purpose of encouraging “higher rates of activation and use of (fibre) and (wireless) services”.

The amended contract states that internet providers should pass on the savings to end users.

However, late yesterday the NBN Co did not commit to that pledge.

The company said that although the benefit would “generally” be passed on to end users, ultimately “the commercial relationship with the end user lies with the retailer”.

NBN Co denied that the incentive scheme had anything to do with the government, and there would be no additional cost incurred to NBN Co or, by implication, taxpayers. It said the costs were factored into its corporate plan.

NBN Co spokesman Andrew Sholl said: “We don’t want to be migrating everyone in the area to the NBN at the same time. So we’re looking at a number of standard promotional activities to help ensure a smooth migration for homes and businesses.”

The move to boost NBN Co’s subscriber numbers using financial incentives is at odds with what the company has previously said when quizzed on the low rate of activation on the new network.

In the past NBN Co and the federal government have defended the slow rate of connections to the new network by saying that was not a priority as all customers would eventually have to shift to the fibre network when Telstra’s copper network is completely switched off.

Internet service providers yesterday declined to comment on the incentive scheme, with the likes of Optus and Telstra saying they would consider the offer.

Some industry insiders were concerned with the proposal.

“It’s concerning because this is essentially NBN Co’s way of interfering with our customers when it should only operate at the wholesale level,” said one telco executive who wished to remain anonymous.

“It’s also worrying because the NBN Co will have to recover its costs at some point down the track.”

Migration incentives have long been mooted as a possible way for NBN Co to lift its connection numbers.

The government’s $25m 2010 implementation study into the viability of the NBN recommended that as much as $3 billion be paid to internet providers in incentives to help lure customers to the nascent network.

According to that joint McKinsey-KPMG study, retail service providers should be granted $300 per customer to help offset the costs associated with buying new customer equipment – such as wireless gateways and set-top boxes for IPTV services – and the costs of rewiring new premises to ensure they take full advantage of the superfast broadband speeds offered by the NBN.

The migration incentive will initially be available to premises in completed NBN areas, but the company has reserved the right to add new zones at its discretion.

The NBN is a failure and for 4 years Conroy has been out of his depth – being a Gillard supporter his portfolio Ministry is safe … but should it be so?

As with Minister Bowen and the Immigration cock-ups – Gillard Ministers see failure as OK because their Leader cannot make a move on them else risk her own tenure.

The NBN failings are all on Minister Conroy’s head – he needs a POKE – a stiff pointed object right in the area that will help make him stand tall and take notice … perhaps the Pickering appendage to all things Julia Gillard – i.e. her never without black dildo would do the trick …

In a climate where Telstra have had the wood on the Government from the get-go on the NBN and the still viable Telstra Copper Network – the $12 billion Conroy agreed to pay Telstra for the ownership/leaseback of the ‘copper network’ was textbook corporate malfeasance on Conroy’s part as the representative for the taxpayers and their monies spent.

As a part of the deal struck – Conroy allowed Telstra to pull planned upgrades from ADSL 1 to ADSL 2 exchanges without Telstra having to build in fail safe guarantees that existing ADSL 1 customers would not be disadvantaged by the ‘copper-network’ deal.

And again on Minister Conroy’s watch – when his office negotiated the ‘copper -network’ deal – Telstra was allowed to alter its ADSL 2 upgrades to align them with the NBN roll-out.

That meant Telstra had the option to pull the pre ‘copper-network’ deal planned ADSL 2 upgrades to its ‘exchanges’ and ‘pillar boxes’ or put them on hold.   That freed up Telstra capital and in many cases shoved the ADSL 1 customers on to the NBN roll-out time-frame.

EYE-BALL has posted on this many times – previous posts linked below:

  • 18th Aug 2012 – Telstra-Bigpond – A protected Corporate species WHY? – Telstra-Bigpond Billing Problems –
  • 5th May 2011 – Telstra/Bigpond … and update to a previous story …
  • 8th Mar 2011 – A Pending Class Action against – “Telstra/Bigpond” … waiting to happen …
  • 7th Mar 2011 – The Great Big “TELSTRA/BIGPOND” ripoff …

As the NBN has become more polarised as the network everybody is going to be dependent upon – so is the importance for Conroy and his NBN Co to get it right.

At the moment that is not happening and Conroy is desperate to get his subscriber numbers up to satisfy budget quota forecasts before the end of the year.  Never mind the additional monies being paid over to Telstra and Optus to sign up their clients to the NBN – this only adds to the already ‘white elephant’ costs of the NBN.

NBN Co spokesman Andrew Sholl said above: “We don’t want to be migrating everyone in the area to the NBN at the same time. So we’re looking at a number of standard promotional activities to help ensure a smooth migration for homes and businesses.”

Again – why pay money to the ISP’s for the subscribers they hand over … offering free subscription to the subscribers saves the $108 promised to the ISP’s, and the service sitting there currently not being used gets used … nah … there is another deal at play here – the Government have given some undertaking they will not compete for existing Teleco’s ISP customers.   So instead – they have decided to buy them with taxpayers money.

Another example of the type of dickheads we have running this Nation … Corporate Australia runs rings around them.   Take the ‘MRRT’ tax collect, the carbon tax’ collect, the mammoth fraud of the ‘school building program’, and the  cockup’s associated with the ‘pink bats’ insulation fiasco … all examples of extreme incompetence by Government failing yo act responsibly with taxpayers monies.  

Why not offer NBN subscribers free service for three months to get them to sign up – offering $108 for each subscriber is a bribe offer to Telstra and Optus to give up their customers to the NBN – what do the NBN subscribers get out of the Conroy marketing plan?

ADSL 2 Upgrade roll-backs:

On the 31st Aug 2012 – Telstra announced cancellation of 109 ‘pillar-box’ upgrades across Australia – that means the ADSL 1 customers awaiting a planned and scheduled upgrade to ADSL 2, now have to wait for the NBN roll-out to get a better internet connection.

[The information on the 109 sites pulled is available at Telstra’s Wholesale web link – file linked here – opens an excel file … look at Sheet titled “Sites Removed 31st Aug 2012” … do an index/filter search via ‘postcode’ to find out if you’re affected.]

The upshot of these pulled upgrades is massive for the subscriber.  As for Telstra’s benefits – they are able to walk away from providing a better service to millions of their rural and regional subscribers, and the other ISP customers who feed off the copper-network backbone can’t offer a better service.

In Conroy’s desperation to get his hands on the Telstra ‘copper-network’ – he forgot to look after the rural and regional broadband clients who were already scheduled for Telstra planned ADSL 2 upgrades. 

For the subscriber – ADSL 1 clients pay the same cost as do ADSL 2 – Telstra does not price these services differently.   Yet the ADSL 2 service delivers speeds of up to 20,000 kbps as compared with the 8,000 kbps of the ADSL 1 service.

Telstra have no issue with charging the same price for the ADSL 1 and ADSL 2 service despite the alarming difference in the quality of service.

I have been battling Telstra for several years now trying to get them to recognise the disparity between rural and regional quality of service when compared with metropolitan areas where most of the ADSL 2 services are located.  

This same cost discriminating policy for a vastly inferior service is commercial in its implementation, and will not change unless Government regulators are given amended legislative powers to enforce unfair practices’ laws against Telstra. 

Of the 109 service upgrades that were cancelled on the 31st Aug 2012 and linked above – none have postcodes 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, or 6000 – meaning all the planned upgrades were pulled in rural and regional areas.

There is no incentive for Telstra to upgrade the rural and regional ADSL 1 sites ahead of the NBN roll-out because the subscribers benefiting from the upgrade will not have to pay any additional cost for that upgrade.

Telstra has made a commercial decision – why spend infrastructure monies for upgrades that are revenue neutral, and that will be reimbursed by the Government as a part of the $12 billion deal for the copper-network when the NBN roll-out happens in those areas.

From Telstra’s perspective this makes commercial sense – for the Telstra clients having to pay for an ADSL 2 service yet will only ever have ADSL 1 speed – they have been screwed over by Telstra because dickheads like Minister Conroy, his staffers, and his NBN Co Executives did not extract a guarantee to protect existing Telstra/Bigpond subscribers from the cancellation of planned ADSL 2 upgrades.

In a recently requested Telstra Media response on what percentages of Telstra/Bigpond clients have ADSL 1 and ADSL 2 services – the response indicated:

  • Telstra has over 5100 exchanges nationally of which around 2800 are enabled for ADSL broadband (of these 2200 (79%) are equipped for ADSL2+).
  • ADSL supports speeds of up to 8Mbps downstream
  • ADSL2+ supports speeds of up to 20Mbps downstream

RURAL POPULATION IN AUSTRALIA: – data source linked here –

The Rural population in Australia was last reported at 2.43 million in 2010, some 11% of the 22.34 total population – this source data linked here – and according to a World Bank report published in 2012.

[Rural population refers to people living in rural areas as defined by national statistical offices. It is calculated as the difference between total population and urban population.  This is people statistics and not homes connected to the internet –  there is a high margin of error if using this data to benchmark internet users and their domicile.]

In a response from Minister Conroy’s office late last year – and some several months after initial inquiries were sent to Mr Conroy – the following was received: [click on images to enlarge in a new window.]

I have had two further conversations with Mr Mason since his letter was received and during the most recent – I advised him the new information about the 31st Aug 2012 pulled ‘top-hat’ ADSL 2 upgrades for the area I live in, and another 108 ‘pillar-box’ sites.  

His response in discussing the matter was dis-ingenuousness to say the least – his want was to get off the phone as quickly as possible – and to that aim he said I was – ‘wasting his time’, and continued with – ‘he had more important matters to be concerned with …’ – the matter remains unresolved and Minister Conroy’s and his staffers now avoid my efforts to contact them.

My contact and demeanor during these phone conversations was as always to try and get these type of bureaucrats to – ‘understand what it is that they do not understand …’ – Mr Mason just happen to be the ‘bug-boy’ my inquiry was directed to …  he is now fully aware of just how ineffectual his response was, and how his lack of understanding or acknowledgement of the larger issue at hand was a good reason for him to not want to talk about the matter.   He in not on my Christmas card list. 

Meanwhile some 600 Pillar box sites (21%) remain as ADSL 1 sites awaiting some form of upgrade and all at the whim of whether Telstra will pull those upgrades ahead of the NBN roll-out as well …

The battle continues …


Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s


The EYE-BALL Opinion …

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  1. Barry M
    January 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    From a Libs point of view I’m sorry to say it but I don’t think Turnbulls heart is in his job. My belief is that he lost interest when he discovered the carbon trading scheme that is on the horizon is not going to be the money maker he thought it would be. He thought that (through his pals) he could make another $100m or so. It ain’t working out that way and Malcolm is pissed off. And he has no real interest in his current portfolio. They should dump him from the shadow ministry and replace him with Sinidonis.

  2. barry
    January 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Try this , it seems there are more agendas here than NBN etc :-

    http://coupmedia.org/new-world-order-0902

  3. Firecracker
    January 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Fuck the duck! The world has gone crazy if the link above is ridgie-didge, We have allowed it all to go too far. Beat the wheater as they say.

    Seriously guys you gotta check out the link in the above comment.

  4. Gerry Hatrick
    January 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

    The front bench loaded with various ACTU executives mirrors the government’s fiscal capacities.

    In the case of HSU, AWU and TWU most likely indicative of much more, you are not accountable. Most rules and regulations simply don’t apply to you. You systematically create slush funds. When caught with your hand in the cookie jar, your simple response is “I have done nothing wrong”.

    Only fools and horses work. This is a plutocracy! We must look out for our power bases! No matter what occurs we will blame negativity.

    All of this is the same as the 20th century American Mafia Model. The fraternity is legitimate. That is what matters. It is not really crime. It is victimless. Just protect the Godfathers, the powers that be. Don’t rock the boat it will create waves! The public and middle classes can pay more. Come election day we will throw the dogs a few bones. They are somewhare between ignorant or apathetic.

    I struggle to buy the Federal Emergency Management Agency Camps. That was also what they were saying while the holocaust was actually taking place. Benghazi over the weekend (or Tahir Square) tends to show what really happens. You replace one despot with another. When Assad moves on in Syria, what will change?

    The broadband is a tower of Babel. So beautiful in it’s own ambition. It will solve the tyranny of distance for Australia. It is slowly distorted to be a salve. $108 of incentives so we don’t get everyone taking up the service at the same time. ($108 of their own money). Get in quick while the offer lasts! Typical of just about every other government of recent times. The home insulation program. The Solar electricity rebate.

    Under company Law (Corporation Law) all these clowns would be in gaol. Fiscal jurisprudence.

    Can we give faith to the Opposition when there is no faith left!

  5. January 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Malcolm Turnbull released some NBN data via his own website … linked here …

  6. January 29, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Andrew Bolt also published his own take on the NBN roll-out numbers – … linked here …

  7. January 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Now the interesting link – NBN released their own version of their roll-out … linked here …

  8. January 29, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    And to trump all this NBN roll-out data is the developing story that the flooding rains in Nth Qld have rendered the NBN fiber optic network useless … many Nth Qld’s were without phone, mobile, and internet access for 24 hours due to the NBN cables being damaged by the floods – they went back to the copper-network system to restore services.

    The NBN will now have to find ways to prevent future flood damage else the whole of Australia being ta risk to floods and the loss of communications … can you imagine the Conroy’s office this morning as the NBN Exec’s presented him with this problem and cost overrun …

    Tis what happens when lunatics are put in charge of the asylum … (Quote attributed to Charlie Chaplin 1919 … … see link here …)

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