Socialists everywhere you turn

My wife knows I don’t read The Oz any more so she opened the paper to the page while I sat down to dinner. And on the page there was this: Does the National Broadband Network work? What a question! Initiated by Labor and then taken up by Malcolm, with a pair of socialists responsible for the outcomes you shouldn’t even have to ask. But the newspapers have got to pretend, but it’s hard going. This is the contrast the story will provide.

(1) It’s a huge drain on the nation’s finances and a source of political division and grandstanding.

(2) But Australia’s National Broadband Network is starting to pay dividends for some everyday users.

So what we find are first discussions about what a pile of junk it all is:

The just-released Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman annual report cites a doubling in complaints about the NBN from July last year to July this year. New complaints about faults with NBN services jumped by 147.8 per cent and complaints about NBN connections rose by 63.2 per cent. NBN complaints represent 11.9 per cent of new complaints to the ­ombudsman.

Complaints span all modes of NBN delivery: fibre to the home, fibre to the node, the Sky Muster satellite service and fixed wireless. “But the rate of growth is lower than the growth of active services,” says ombudsman Judi Jones. “Delays in connections, faults including unusable services and dropout of services were regularly reported, which is of concern.”

In the bush, people battle to get NBN satellite connections and suffer prolonged outages and high costs. Being offline in the bush means not only digital isolation but potential safety hazards such as missing a bushfire alert.

All this is contrasted with Mr and Mrs Untypical who have experienced an improvement from their dial-up.

But there are some happy NBN customers. For Geoff Quattromani at The Ponds, in Sydney’s northwest, the NBN transition was effortless. Quattromani and his wife simply walked into a new home with the pre-installed NBN fibre to the home.

In their previous home in Windsor, the family had ADSL1. It forced them to be “picky and choosy” about visiting websites — those with autoplay videos were a no-no. The family could connect online only one device at a time. They couldn’t watch YouTube, and Netflix, subject to pausing and data buffering, was a pain to watch.

Great, they move from the bush to Sydney and find their internet service has improved. Billions of dollars later, we are dealing with possibly the most expensive white elephant ever, but since both sides are complicit, it will remain a political secret. Let me add a couple of comments that follow the story just to round it off.

1) I have had nothing but trouble since connecting to NBN. It is a bit like the little girl with the curl. My main complaint is with the complaints process. The call centre, which sounds as if it is in India, seems incapable of communicating with local service providers. The steps one is asked to perform to get the same advisor do not work and no notice is taken of information one gives to the ‘support person’.

I had a technician working in the Telstra pit outside my home and the Internet and phone ceased working while he was there. He assured me he would check with me before leaving. He did not. It took me a month, several no shows and two technician visits before somebody went to the pit and discovered wrong connections. I was then told I should not attribute the loss of Internet to any action by the technician in the pit.

There is poor communication between Telstra and the NBN and the inability to speak to a local technician is maddening, particularly when one has to identify oneself over the phone with full name, date of birth and drivers licence number every time one communicates with someone with an alias in a call centre.

2) I have fibre to the home in an apartment in inner city Melbourne. After multiple inconvenient and unpredictable contractor visits in the installation process, none of whom seemed to be in communication with the others, I now have a considerably worse service than prior to NBN. There are times when it is so slow during the day that it is impossible to work and frequently the internet drops out altogether. Progress??? i don’t think so. It has been suggested that I should complain to Telstra, but I know the frustration that is involved with that process so I will just battle on with a lesser service than I had before.

It is just socialism “at work” which both parties seem to prefer. And if you think that we will be spared from these idiocies by our journalist class even within our major financial press, right opposite the story on the NBN was another about Cuba, reprinted from The Wall Street Journal, which is about as cluey nowadays as The Economist. The sickening part of the story is how benign the transition appears, as if the past fifty years have not been a horror story of the deepest kind. Two examples.

1) The economy has been hit hard by the decline of Venezuela, its key ally and a source of billions of dollars in free oil for the past decade.

2) “Would a new leader be able to secure legitimacy without free elections?” said Carlos Pagni, a ­renowned Argentine political commentator.

These people are so ignorant that “the decline in Venezuela” is simply isolated from the even greater decline in Cuba. And the notion that the Cuban terrorist government that has existed since the 1950s is in any way concerned with legitimacy is an idiocy almost too breathtaking to believe. Do these people have any idea about anything?

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