Broadly speaking, fibre the best bet

IT'S catch-up not keep up.

Allan Ellis says the Coffs Coast would get a better long-term result from Labor's fast broadband proposal than from the Coalition's plan.

But he says both are catch-up plans which will not keep Australia, let alone the Coffs Coast, in line with international competitors.

Associate Professor Ellis, who works in Southern Cross University's School of Commerce and Management, has been communicating via computer since the speed was three 300baud and he could watch each character arrive individually on his tiny screen.

He is a member of the International World Wide Web Conference Committee and the Chair of AusWeb.

The 2007 AusWeb conference will be held at Novotel Pacific Bay from June 30 to July 4 and Ass. Prof Ellis said Australians now using broadband speeds of one megabit per second were being offered speeds up to 12-20mbs, but some film companies in Sydney were already using 10,000mbs.

He said the fast broadband plans being put forward by the Coalition Government and the Labor Opposition were both inadequate, but the Labor plan at least provided a foundation to build on for the future and offered more equity for country people.

The Coalition's plan for fast broadband is to use fibre optic cable in the cities and to provide greater speed for country areas through a wireless system.

Ass. Prof Ellis said the wireless network would not provide a path for future speed increases and was condemning the country to a low-speed future.

The Labor plan is to extend the fibre optic network outwards, with the last links being via copper cable, which he said offered the opportunity to extend fibre optic to every home in the future, which was already happening in one Canadian province.

He said the Coalition plan was quick and cheap but offered only a patchy and low-speed result for country people, while the Labor plan was slower and much more expensive, but offered much greater benefits in the long run.

"Fibre optic has unlimited potential every phone line in the world could go down one fibre optic cable," he said.

"Wireless networks are incredibly flaky, because you can't guarantee even distribution and we have seen that with mobile phone systems.

"You get pockets of poor reception.

"They are also very dependant on traffic, especially in 'mesh' networks. You get sub-networks and as more people start to use it, the whole network slows down.

"In country areas, it is very difficult to guarantee coverage."

Ass. Prof Ellis said Australia was 10 years behind where it should be in broadband speeds.

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