National Broadband Network

Posts about the NBN and the politics within the project.

NBNco Marketing guy is watching me

LinkedInNotification_NBN_KierenCooney

It seems I have been noticed over at NBNco, not surprising granted that I have lodged a couple of Freedom of Information requests to them regarding the Rollout Progress of the network. It is not as if I am completely unknown to NBNco, I am sure there is a few people there that know of me, especially their social media team as I do participate in the Whirlpool community and publish a Consolidated ‘Ready For Service’ Plan each month which tracks the changes month to month as various sections of the fibre rollout get delayed, brought forward or otherwise changed.

Imagine my surprise this morning to get an email from LinkedIn saying that Kieren Cooney – Chief Marketing Officer at NBNco no less – had checked out my LinkedIn profile.

Talk about know thy enemy! Makes me wonder if I am now deemed an enemy combatant, or someone that the NBNco Stasi need to keep an eye on and make disappear at some point. It’s not every day you get a C-level taking a look at your LinkedIn.

Kieren, if you do read this – you can say hi via Twitter, Facebook, Whirlpool, OCAU, or drop me an email. No need to LinkStalk me. That said, if you are looking to headhunt me then LinkedIn message is the way to go.

NBN Rollout stats FoI request ‘delayed’

NBNCO_FOI_Defer

In April, I lodged a Freedom of Information request to NBNco via the Right To Know website, which is an online tool that makes all FoI requests, communications and information released visible to the public. I had requested the details of the progress of the rollout over all three of the connection methods – Fibre, Fixed Wireless (LTE) and Satellite.

If you want to view my request, you can because it is public! Check it out here.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, authorities that are requested to provide information have 30 days to respond to the request, and either provide the information, or deny it along with the determination why the request was denied. There is also provisions to delay the release of the information.

NBNco were due to respond to my request by the 8th of May. I left work at 5.30pm and headed home, pretty sure that NBNco would not respond to me request in the allotted time. Imagine my surprise when the response came through – at 5.59pm! Like the rollout itself, NBNco has a habit of cutting everything it does a little fine.

You can read the entire determination on my request at the link, but the short version is that my request for information was denied on the basis of the fact that NBNco want to release this information publicly at the Budget Estimates hearings later this month. But rather than let me take NBNco’s thunder, they denied release now stating they will release later under the ‘defer’ provisions of the Act.

“As permitted by section 21(1)(b) of the FOI Act, I have determined to defer access to the requested information….. As outlined above, NBN Co plans to table the relevant information during budget Estimates hearings, with the intention to make the information public on or around the end of May 2013. At roughly the same time this information should be made publicly available on NBN Co’s website”

So basically, they have this information but they will not release it because it is politically sensitive? Now normally I would request a review of this, however because Parliament goes back next week for Budget sittings I doubt I would get a ruling to release the information inside another 30 days, buy which time it would be released anyway.

Well, the response from NBNco not to release this information (which they produce normally for end-of-quarter reports in any case) got me a little upset, so I have launched a new FoI request for the same rollout figures for as at 30th April, 2013. Hopefully this means that the Whirlpool community which is very active on the NBN, gets the monthly rollout reports as many members have requested.

Trying to show the difference between broadband policies of the two major parties

NBN_Policies_Compared

Today a new website was launched by developer and blogger James Brotchie who has been able to show the public the raw speed of the NBN (on a 1000/400 plan) versus the approximate 25/5 speeds promised by the Coalition. The speeds are based on what the technology of the Fibre NBN achievable today without any upgrades to the hardware, versus the promised speeds of the Coalition in their first term of office (minimum 25Mbps down, no ‘specified’ upload speed*).

* Malcolm Turnbull yesterday claimed that “there is no technical barrier to having very high upload speeds,” and pointed to the BT rollout in the UK (again) that they offer a 76/19 service, or approximately a 4:1 Download to upload ratio. That said, we will expect a 5:1 ratio is achievable so matching the 25/5 plans on the current NBN delivery methods of Fibre, Fixed Wireless or Satellite.

As you go down the page you can press a button which gives a visual representation of the progress bars in the apps you use every day, with given usage scenarios like

You have just picked up the dog you’ve always wanted! You’ve recorded picking him up, his first arrival home, and him playing with his new toys. You’ve then edited these scenes into a video and want to upload it to YouTube. How long is it going to take before the world sees your bouncy baby?

This brilliant piece of programming and easy to understand differences has already seen a Reddit post go mad, Twitter link sharing going mental from about 4pm, and multiple shares of posts about it on Facebook. The Facebook page of Senator Stephen Conroy had 268 shares on his posting of the link at the time of writing this post.

Well done James, I am sure your app development may have to wait, Labor might be hiring you for the next few months!

Getting good speed data on NBN Fibre-enabled areas

Lately I have been pondering the data coming out of various outlets regarding internet speeds in Australia. Just the other day there was an article on ZDnet saying that average broadband download speeds have dropped 23% in the last year which I took surprise at. The source of this data was Akamai – a content-delivery network mostly used by large software companies like Apple to deliver updates and iTunes data, and also by the ABC as a part of their iView platform.

Upon reflection on this, it seems incorrect. We know that the total downloaded data by Australians has only been increasing at an amazing rate in recent times, backed up by the latest ABS figures which show fixed line downloads in Q4 2012 (Oct-Dec) grew by 35% over Q2 (April to June). Wireless data downloads grew 11% over the same period.

So what causes this drop in speed? Well, more connections running at slower speed of course! ABC iView in particular has been opened up on mobile devices recently, which is delivered by the Akamai network. ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott, tweeted in February that

“14.2 million program plays across all #iview platforms in Jan – highest for any month. More than half on phones and tablets.”

Most of these Tablets and Mobile Devices which would be either sharing a fixed-line connection via WiFi, or running on the heavily congested 3G network and the fast becoming congested G networks of Telstra and Optus. It is very popular, and would be used at peak times by most people which would explain much slower connections.

You then have companies like Ookla who use NetIndex as a statistical tool to process the wealth of data through their insanely popular SpeedTest.Net platform. This shows a relative climb in speeds over time, based upon both fixed line (ADSL, Cable, NBN) through the web browser testing, and Mobile Wireless (3G/4G) through the SpeedTest.Net apps on both iOS and Android. In the last couple of weeks alone, I have watched the Australian national download average increase from 12.91Mbps around 10 days ago to 13.13Mbps today.

So how do we get better data to measure the speed of internet connections in this country, and be able to show what areas have good speed or have many NBN-connections, versus those areas which have bad ADSL and congested 3G/4G?

The issue with SpeedTest.Net data is that while the mobile apps use the GPS to report back the location of the test for statistical purposes, the web browser test uses IP GeoLocation technology to work out where you are. Unfortunately, most ISPs will set the Geolocation data on their IP Address ranges to either their head office, or a particular ‘Point of Presence’ or POP. In most cases, these are in state capital cities and then these locations end up catching most of the speed tests done and consolidating all that data to one place, giving a quite ‘average’ average for that location.

So, how can you help fix this?

  • Firstly, download and install Google Chrome – a fast and extensible internet browser.
  • Secondly, install Manual Geolocation – an extension for Chrome which lets you override the ISP location.
  • Third, enable the Manual Geolocation extension by clicking on the ‘target’ on the far right hand side of the Address Bar in Chrome.
  • Fourth – create an account at SpeedTest.Net in order to manage your network locatons.
  • Then, go into the ‘Settings’ tab at SpeedTest.net and click on the ‘Refine Location’ button. This will dial down your location to the one you set in the Manual Geolocation extension.
  • Finally – run some speed tests! Make sure at the end you submit them into NetIndex so it counts against all the other suburbs, cities and countries in the world.
%d bloggers like this: