November 14, 2007

Horse 828 - Helen Coonan - A-Grade Headcase

I thought Mr Howard on AM yesterday was a bit of a silly-billy, that was before I listened to the Federal Communications Minister Helen Coonan on this morning's program. Seriously, why is this lady a Minister of the Crown? If you are going to put out political waffle, the first thing one should do is check out your own speeches first.

"The government's new high speed fibre-optic broadband network will deliver fast, affordable broadband to 99 per cent of Australians within two years at a retail cost between $35 and $60 per month. We are laying out speed of 12 megabytes per second by 2009 to 99 per cent of the community" - Helen Coonan - ABC Local Radio

You keep on telling yourself that Ms Coonan, because quite frankly, I think you're delivering promises like someone who is running for School Captain at Banana Primary School.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan is relying on OPEL (the Optus and Elders consortium), to deliver a rural and regional broadband network by 2009. So much so that the group has had nearly $1billion thrown at it with so much as questioning it as a necessarily viable plan.

At the same time, Coonan put off the issue as to who should build a broadband fibre network in the capital cities and on what terms, to an "expert taskforce" due to report... after the federal election, so that even if the Liberals aren't returned, whoever the next Minister happens to be will have to pick up the bits.

Optus is naturally maintaining a discreet silence on the whole debate whilst it sits on a sack of money, even as Labor and Telstra whip themselves into a frenzy, and telecommunications experts line up to question the shebang. After all, OPEL has won the tender from the Government, which Labor would be forced to honour.

The Optus line is that there's no point in engaging in the political or even the technical debates and it is best to just continue building and "let the network do the talking". Optus certainly won't try to answer Labor's detailed maps indicating the coverage will be much more limited than the Government and OPEL have claimed. Nor will it try to "prove" its case against the now sizeable number of technological assessments undermining its guarantees of speed and range.,20867,21935752-601,00.html

What I found almost incredible from Ms Coonan's speech this morning was in direct contradiction to something she said only a month ago:
"Industry has pretty much established that it would be both physically and technically impossible to reach 98% of the population with a fibre build,"

If it is physically and technically to reach 98% of the population with a fibre build then how pray tell do you intend to deliver fast, affordable broadband to 99% of Australians within two years? If the Labor plan is so dispicable, why have you already thrown $1billion at it already? Won't the students at Banana Primary School be happy? It's their lunch money at stake.

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