Greens on fibre

February 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’m somewhat staggered to see Frog has blogged against the Government’s to the home programme, and hope that his view is not that of the Green Party.

I’m rather dismayed to see a Green blog repeating moronic nonsense such as fibre will only be used for faster porn.

There are many areas of policy I disagree with the Green Party, but generally I have found myself in agreement with much of their Comms/IT policies – they voted against the original S92A on copyright, they promote open source software, they have been against Internet filtering and censorship, and they supported the operational separation of Telecom.I’ve gone out of my way to praise them in the comms/IT areas I agree with them on – which have been many.

But I can’t believe doesn’t see one obvious benefit (putting aside all the others) from fibre connected homes, and that is the massive impact this may have in having people work from home – this means less fuel consumption, less congestion and less greenhouse gas emissions.

There are two things that would enable people to work from home much more, both which fibre will help enable.

The first is being able to access your work files as quickly and easily as if you are in the office. Sure you can do remote access at the moment, but it is often painfully slow, and nothing like actually being in the office.

The second is near instant high quality video conferencing with multiple people. I don’t mean waiting five minutes as you start the program up, and everyone else does the same. I mean you go to your TV set, push three buttons, and hey two seconds later you have a four way video conference.

Once we have fast enough Internet to do the above, I predict that the number of staff who work at least half the week from home will grow exponentially. Obviously not in some areas such as retail, but some companies may end up with just a meeting room and server as their office, and all their staff working from home. In fact I know of a couple of firms already doing this.

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38 Responses to “Greens on fibre”

  1. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    “But I can’t believe Frog doesn’t see one obvious benefit (putting aside all the others) from fibre connected homes,..”

    DPF, what do you expect? Centuries ago, the Luddites used to destroy machinery in their futile effort to stop progress. In 2010, toad is at it again.

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  2. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    I’m somewhat staggered to see Frog has blogged against the Government’s fibre to the home programme, and hope that his view is not that of the Green Party.

    I’m rather dismayed to see a Green blog repeating moronic nonsense such as fibre will only be used for faster porn.

    I thought you were talking about dietary fibre. That second sentence confused me.

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  3. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    Can someone tell me what exactly is wrong with faster porn?

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  4. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    DPF,

    Frog seems to be saying that we already have the capability to run perfectly fine video conferences on the existing infrastructure, and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Is he wrong about the current video-conferencing capabilities?

    [DPF: Yes copper based DSL will not do high quality multi person video conferencing]

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  5. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    Can someone tell me what exactly is wrong with faster porn?

    It’s over too quick.

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  6. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Tim Selwyn at Tumeke had a bit of a ‘fisk’(?) too:

    Their argument:
    1. There is no need for such fast speeds.
    2. People who really need basic broadband exist.
    3. Uncertain economic benefits.
    4. International bandwidth is the bottleneck.

    This is what they pay their parliamentary staff to produce? It’s unbelievable.

    Better to spend the money on cables going overseas: that is the only credibly defensible thing put forward in the post, everything else is pulled straight out of their arse. But even that doesn’t make sense unless the final stretch to the home is complete to a similar standard – so that seems easily dismissed.

    http://tumeke.blogspot.com/2010/02/green-party-technospastic-luddites.html

    etc. Does a point by point later on.

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  7. themono (132 comments) says:

    That’s more like it. This is exactly what I thought when I read that Greens post. Good post, David.

    It’s a very disappointing turnaround from the Greens – you have to feel like it’s just some sort of partisan desire to criticise everything just because it’s a National policy.

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  8. Chthoniid (2,029 comments) says:

    OTOH, the porn industry was a major catalyst for the development of internet payment software. Not sure I would assume that porn doesn’t have major technological spillovers.

    More seriously, there are a number of areas I would find faster networks to be useful. I would really benefit from having faster upload times for my photos. At the moment, a batch of 50-60 shots can take 3+ hours to upload to hosting sites.

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  9. Brian Smaller (4,028 comments) says:

    I don’t care unless the fibre is run up the valley where I live. Which is unlikely. We will probably get mobile broadband which is, according to a lot of people I have spoken to, not very good for work (drops out all the time). I use satellite which is expensive, which means that porn has to be carefully selected compared to when I had unlimited broadband when in town.

    I thought you were talking about dietary fibre. That second sentence confused me.

    The Greens do need more fibre. Their brains are certainly constipated.

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  10. Ryan Sproull (7,060 comments) says:

    More seriously, there are a number of areas I would find faster networks to be useful. I would really benefit from having faster upload times for my photos. At the moment, a batch of 50-60 shots can take 3+ hours to upload to hosting sites.

    That’s the only sort of thing I can think of where someone would have trouble working from home – video files and batches of high-res photos. Generally, people are working with emails, spreadsheets, maybe the odd single image here or there – all stuff that current infrastructure can handle.

    I’ve found video conferencing too unreliable to use it regularly, even on some commercial internet connections. We tend to give it a go, try switching off video, then just give up and make a call on a cellphone. Fibre fixing this would be very handy – for national calls, anyway.

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  11. Jeff83 (771 comments) says:

    It would improve our local network however it would have next to no effect on international bandwidth, as the choke point for that is the southern cross cable.

    Those in major metropolitian areas internet has improved dramatically over the last 3 years, well at least in my personal experience. I know in my last flat I could be skyping, my flatmate using facebook whilst using p2p software and it all worked sweet. The benefit would be in being able to run remote access allot better I imagine and large files. The benefit is there would be less “noise” so less latency, lost packets and accordingly clearer streaming etc.

    Many people experience problems though as they refuse to pay for the extra upload (i.e. get “unlimited down / 128k up) which means that both sides are limited.

    Personally however agree with it, but mainly because the ability to work from home will increasingly become important

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  12. MT_Tinman (3,044 comments) says:

    Living where I do the only way I can expect fibre is if they have to go past my home to access the town down the road.

    The porn seems fast enough here.

    Not much use for fibre when I’m working either so really I don’t give a damn except to note that the Green/Red outfit are once again using technology to show their displeasure at the existence of technology.

    If they were honest they’d stick to beating drums, flashing mirrors, programing wandering minstrels etc.

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  13. Freckles (13 comments) says:

    Ditto on that last paragraph – as someone who frequently works from home I find it increasingly frustrating the number of times I have to split files up for clients (I tend to work with image heavy stuff). Often times if the problem is not at my end then it’s with them – even many large commercial outfits have inadequate web services.

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  14. Pete George (23,327 comments) says:

    Sure you can do remote access at the moment, but it is often painfully slow, and nothing like actually being in the office.

    I use this a little from home, and a lot from work, nationally and internationally, and mostly the performance is very good, not much different to being in the office and a lot faster than traveling to the office. Transferring files can be slow though.

    I also video Skype regularly from home, and the performance of that is usable but the quality and reliability aren’t great.

    Upload speeds may be the biggest impediment for both.

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  15. Sam (498 comments) says:

    Chthoniid (at 10:26) – in the future, please try to avoid using ‘porn’ and ‘spillovers’ in the same sentence…

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  16. Whoops (139 comments) says:

    That piece on Frog the stupidest thing I’ve read this year (and I read a lot of posts on Kiwiblog, so that’s saying something :-))

    “…a 10 Mb connection, capable of transferring ~1000 kilobytes per second.” Is that down and up, or just d/l speed? Either way – they’ve clearly not thought this through very well (or have, and are playing a longer game)…. and the comparison with SUV’s is ridiculous.

    Why does he need a computer at all? Surely snail mail does the same thing. Or, if a computer is required – go back to 9.6k baud dial up connections…

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  17. davidp (3,557 comments) says:

    It’s a religious thing… Greens want people to suffer in the name of the environment:

    1. Short showers delivered through a miserly shower head, rather than something powerful and warm that will clean and soothe.

    2. Dim lightbulbs that remind people of their ancestors huddling around a fire in a cave, rather than lightbulbs that allow people to read and pursue other activities at night time.

    3. Trains, rather than cars. Because we should all be forced to sit crowded in to a metal tube with hundreds of other people twice a day.

    4. Dial up Internet, rather than broadband.

    The only problem is that all this suffering is inflicted on non-Greens, while the Green elite use energy and despoil the environment to their hearts content. Al Gore being the best example, altho Jeanette Fitzsimons wasn’t against torching carbon-absorbing plants with petrol and all the NZ Green MPs are big time property investors at our expense.

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  18. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    “# bearhunter (608) Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Can someone tell me what exactly is wrong with faster porn?”

    Nothing, its just it shouldn’t be taxpayer funded.

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  19. rimu (51 comments) says:

    People can work from home now. The only thing stopping them is crap software and crap managers

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  20. m@tt (610 comments) says:

    If you can’t effectively work from home on the current copper based ADSL2 connection there is something wrong with your work from home setup.

    I routinely work from home using an ADSL2 connection and RDP based client, VPN for file sharing, Sharepoint for collaboration and Skype for person to person video calls. Everything I need to do my job, including development work, runs at the same speed and ease at home as it does when I am in the office. Working for an IT company in a senior position, and benchmarking against others I know who routinely work from home I would say I have a much higher need for high quality remote access; the ADSL2 covers it perfectly. Sure it would be nice to transfer the odd very large file home at higher speed. Maybe once every few months… but really fibre to my home, increasing the speed of the odd download, it’s not going to make a difference to my experience and in reality the better solution is to avoid the transfer and do the work at the other end of the pipe, remotely… that is the point after all.

    From WAN point of view, a single highspeed connection at the work end and several lower speed ADSL connections at the home end, allowing the work to take place at the high speed end, on the remote server, is a balanced solution which current technology handles well. That is one of the basic premises on which the internet is based.

    Multi person video conferencing is not a must have for working from home for the majority of those that would take up remote working. If you think it is you need to take the reason for which it is being used an examine that. Effective use of collaboration tools should reduce the need to have multiple people meeting remotely on a regular basis, instead a single meeting can take place over a defined period of time with all giving their input and reviewing others input. I’d suggest checking out Google Wave, Sharepoint, even Onenote with a server back end as useful collaboration tools with low bandwidth requirements.

    While I don’t agree with everything in the referenced blog, and I do think eventually fibre to homes will come, I think there are far better things to spend the money on than rushing out fibre to homes just to tick of an election promise. The north of $50 tax cut was abandoned wasn’t it.

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  21. bevanjs (34 comments) says:

    m@tt (33)
    what if you have 5 people in a satellite office in the suburbs so half your staff doesn’t sit in cars for an extra hour per day?

    Not every one works like you do.

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  22. rimu (51 comments) says:

    DPF: “In fact I know of a couple of firms already doing this.”

    Do the workers have fibre to the home? Or are they using ADSL2/TelstraClear cable? If it’s a current technology (not fibre), then haven’t you just negated your entire post?

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  23. Kieran_B (81 comments) says:

    >”Web browsing is fine with even a 256k connection.”
    >”practically-dialup of 256k”

    >”Bittorrent uses anything from 5 to 200 kilobytes”

    What a shitty opinion piece. Contradicts itself, and then is flat out wrong in other places. Not to mention that it acts like 1MB/sec is a huge huge number. In international terms, it isn’t. Then we move onto the scaremongering (digging ditches down every street and burying a lot of plastic), as I thought the plan was to put the cables alongside existing infrastructure where possible. Lastly, more international cables won’t be built if our piss-poor internet doesn’t give a demand for it.

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  24. m@tt (610 comments) says:

    Sure, lets assume 5 users on RDP at heavy usage, say 128Kbps per user. Two local printers, consuming maybe 256Kbps at peak and lets throw in some some VOIP and video just for good measure and give it 2Mbit to sit within.

    That’s a total 2.9 Mb at peak, well within the capability of copper. Take it up to 10 people and double everything else you are at 5.8 peak. Still copper capable, and we haven’t even looked at hardware compression yet. Exceed that and you can throw in another line and split the traffic, and in any case you are now talking about a branch office, not true telecommuting.

    I’ve seen this done and I’ve seen it work effectively without having to put in fibre.

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  25. berend (1,673 comments) says:

    All obey the government. They know better how to spend our money. I mean, if we were borrowing $240 million a week, it would be stupid to force a technology on people that might be obsolete in a few years, but as we are not and Cullen has left plenty of money in the piggy bank, why not?

    I mean, people would otherwise spend their own money on unproductive uses. The government can see all and know all and their central planning has calculated the enormous benefit this would bring to DPF c.s.ordinary New Zealanders.

    Just think about the advantages of fibre: you can work from home and still see your colleagues all day!

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  26. berend (1,673 comments) says:

    Kieran_B: In international terms, it isn’t.

    Having just come back from living in Europe for a while: it is. Sorry. ADSL2 is just as fast over there as here. Surprise: they have the same laws of physics over there!!

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  27. bevanjs (34 comments) says:

    Absolutely I’m talking about a branch office. Many of them I hope as the model has huge potential.

    Add a dash of real world to your numbers M@tt and get a little further from your exchange and it’s far from brilliant with current technology.

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  28. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    I keep telling the Greens on Frogblog that telecommuting (and the uptake is directly proportional to broadband speed in the US) is a great way to close the so-called income gender gap.
    One current problem for women is that raising children normally means time out from work and so they lose their “seniority” and reduce “the hours worked” – a major parameter in determining income.
    However, in the US, skilled women staff now use telecommuting to maintain the job in the office while raising children and what’s more, their managers regard a few years telecommuting as a positive addition to the CV, and ex telecommuters get priority in positions in overseas offices etc.
    The growth in remote office centres is also rapid in the lightly regulated urban markets such as Houston – and these depend on high speed broadband too, and provide telecommuting without the loss in socialisation and coffee gossip.
    Don’t get it.

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  29. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    “I keep telling the Greens on Frogblog that telecommuting (and the uptake is directly proportional to broadband speed in the US) is a great way to close the so-called gender gap in incomes.”

    …and what do they say? I know they aren’t all Greens, but anyway…

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  30. m@tt (610 comments) says:

    Those numbers are real world.
    In any case, the benefit DPF is extolling above is fibre to HOMES. If companies want to put in satellite offices on fibre to minimise a commute then let them and private providers fund it themselves, not the taxpayer. Surely if the cost benefit ratio is there then the telecommunication companies will be falling all over themselves to do it sans government…. oh hang on… they are:
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/telecom-govt-let-chorus-build-a-national-fibre-network-101686

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  31. bevanjs (34 comments) says:

    In my near 15 year experience with them Telecom have made hard work of many tech improvements, although I’m sure they care.

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  32. bevanjs (34 comments) says:

    I’m really looking forward to hearing smaller regions of NZ promoting themselves as the perfect place to live and work on the back of this push.

    More people in NZ will be able to live in more affordable existing housing, freeing up time and money while removing traffic from our arterial routes and easing growth pressure on our big centres.

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  33. m@tt (610 comments) says:

    If you are not being intentionally sarcastic of your own view then you need to add a dash of real word to your perception of the benefits of fibre delivered broadband. I’m afraid it is not a magic bullet to a utopian lifestyle.

    Having said that though, perhaps we should consider if criminals will use the fibre to bypass city centres thereby reducing inner city crime? Someone call Melissa Lee, she’ll know.

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  34. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    The Power of Broadband.

    In one of my early NBR columns I promoted the power of broadband as a means of reducing congestion. Many concede that high speed broadband can make a difference at the margin but say it will never compete with the “efficiency” of rail.
    While I was in California Sun Microsystems announced that 55% of its 35,000 workers in Palo Alto were now telecommuting. That is about 20,000 vehicles taken off the local roads to the “campus” at peak hours – in each direction. Auckland is now proudly proclaiming that rail now carries about 6 million passengers a year. At say 220 days a year that is say 25,000 passengers a day, both ways, or say 13,000 a day in each direction, and these are widely dispersed. Given that many of these passengers have transferred from buses rather than cars our total investment in rail may have taken only 10,000 cars off the road or half the number achieved by Sun Microsystems – who did it without subsidy and with many other gains.
    When will our transport planners start looking to the future for solutions rather than longing for the past?

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  35. Greg BB (32 comments) says:

    I actually think thats a pretty good post from frog. If ultra fast broadband is really that beneficial why aren’t there private investors rushing to put their money in? I suspect it does not pass the cost benefit test mainly because of the reasons frog outlined. Here’s a question for you dpf. You run your own business, how much do you expect this policy will save you? Secondly what changes will you make to your business (specifically) that will cause a positive externality for NZ?

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  36. Greg BB (32 comments) says:

    Also your rebuttal is weak. You do not engage on the points raised within his post but rather a biased inferance you took from them. Your main points are effectively anecdotal, while frog’s evidence (unless he’s lied) plainly points out that what you’ve said simply is not true (at least not to the extent to which you claim).

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  37. Pete George (23,327 comments) says:

    If ultra fast broadband is really that beneficial why aren’t there private investors rushing to put their money in?

    Because of the scale? Many potential beneficiaries will be small businesses.

    To cover as much of the country as possible is a huge project, commercially risky, but it could turn out to be visionary by government. And there should be nothing to stop the government trying to get a commercial return on it, plus the benefits of a tax boost due to increased business opportunities, improved productivity, and less infrastructure required (particularly roading).

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  38. Alan Wilkinson (1,848 comments) says:

    Owen: “When will our transport planners start looking to the future for solutions rather than longing for the past?”

    a) Never. Otherwise they wouldn’t have become bureaucrats.

    b) Only when transport planning is privatised.

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