A blast from the past, apparently Peter Beattie is repeating the same online mistakes as 2004


Out of idle curiosity, because I have no better way to spend my days and it’s hard to avoid the ‘e’ word this week, I searched my blog for any mention of the word ‘election’. The earliest post I’ve written containing that word is from 15 January 2004 (yes, I’ve been writing stuff for way too long), and was a quick note that Peter Beattie, then Queensland Premier, had called a snap election ‘Queensland Labor Online‘.

This is the main part of the post:

“There was a minor hiccup this week when an enterprising activist registered peterbeattie.com and directed it to the rival Liberal web site, but this seems to have been altered and it now goes to the teambeattie, so someone has had a word to someone. Fascinating how the media blew it up as a hack attack. Nothing of the sort of course, just a piece of online activism, and serves Beattie for not spending the few extra bucks to register the domain in the first place.”

Again, because I have nothing else to do in my long idle days, I checked both the domains peterbeattie.com and teambeattie.com.

The former leads you to site of Peter Beattie “…internet entrepreneur, motorcycle junkie and world famous hardcore porn star. (one of those might be fake)”

The latter is now sitting on a domain park, and available for purchase from whoever owns it – which I can’t tell because WHOIS shows it’s registered behind one of the domain privacy companies.

Pretty surprised some enterprising Liberal hasn’t picked up on this and taken action. And even more surprised that ‘Team Beattie’ couldn’t be bothered to pay a few bucks to renew the domain. Then again Mr Beattie did say he’d never run for political office again after stepping down as Premier in 2007, so guess wasn’t top of his mind at the time.

Power up the trenching tool, we’re going to lay our own optic fibre for fast internet to our homes and businesses

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I heard about B4RN on the radio last night, a fascinating story how a group of residents in rural England became weary waiting for the phone companies to make fast broadband available. Their solution? Lay their own optic fibre to their properties, offering 1Gb download speeds.

The success of the project is completely in the hands of the participants, who can subscribe for the service, and even buy shares to increase the capital available to invest in growing the network.

The purpose of the project is to take a new approach to the ownership, financial and deployment models used traditionally, and still proposed by, telecommunications companies. These models invariably leave rural areas outside of the scope of economic viability for the telecoms companies, and have helped to create the Digital Divide between rural and urban Britain.

You can even sponsor a metre of optic fibre for £5. Apparently when the phone company lays fibre it costs £140 a metre, when you use volunteer community labor, the cost plummets. Plus you can have fibre wherever you darn well like, as opposed to the phone company which uses profit/loss calculations to determine whether the investment is commercially viable. As the CEO of B4RN said in an interview with the BBC:

“…fast broadband is not a luxury now, whether in the town or the country. ‘Farmers are being told they have to fill in forms online,” he says. “If you haven’t got broadband you are severely disadvantaged.'”

If you ever needed any affirmation of the value a community places on proper high speed broadband, B4RN is the model, continuing to undermine the ridiculous politics played with the National Broadband Network in Australia, especially by the Liberal Party with their neutered model of fibre to the node.

If Tony Abbott wins power I suspect you’ll find me out on my street powering up the trenching machine and encouraging my neighbours to come help me lay our own fibre as well.

Could the Liberal Party’s opposition to the NBN be in part driven by TV broadcast lobby?


Google has been rolling out its Google Fiber internet connections in communities in the USA. Google Fiber offers a 1Gb internet service for $US70 a month, $US120 including tv channels. It’s basically akin to a Foxtel cable connection to your home, but with blisteringly fast internet.

An article on the Forbes website caught my eye this morning “Online Video Soars As Traditional Broadcast Collapses“. Apparently in areas where Google Fiber is available video on demand services delivered over the internet are booming, and traditional broadcasters are suffering badly:

Demand for VOD is growing even more quickly than analysts expected, as traditional broadcast audiences shrink and the market for traditional broadcast content implodes. As consumers spend increasingly more time on their mobile devices, revenue from broadcast advertising has suffered. Broadcasters have cancelled 18 programs from the 2012-2013 season so far, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Also interesting is how it’s spurring other internet providers to take action:

Google Fiber’s influence is impacting other carriers as well: within a week of Google’s announcement of expansion to Austin, Texas, AT&T announced a 1 Gbps plan for Austin and Time Warner Cable  announced new city-wide wireless service for its Austin customers.

In Australia we’re staring down the gun barrel of a change of government, to a Liberal party that wants to neuter many of the benefits of the National Broadband Network, the Labor Government’s plan to install fibre to the home internet – and which is already up and running in some suburbs.

The simplest way to express the difference between Labor and Liberal is speed. Because the Liberal plan does not delivery a fiber connection to your home (or business premise), instead replying on a ‘last mile’ of copper or wi-fi, inevitably speed is comprised. Tony Abbot is on record as saying that 25Mb is “is going to be enough, more than enough, for the average household”. If you want the full 1Gb potential you’ll have to pay for the fiber to be extended to your home. In contrast the NBN brings the fiber directly into your home, just like your pay TV cable.

The Liberal’s argue their plan is cheaper and better. The problem is almost no expert or commentator seems to agree with them, based on my probably biased survey of news stories.

Their policy is all the more stranger because the person in the driving seat is Malcolm Turnball, the Shadow Minister for Communications. Malcolm made his considerable fortune from innovation online – especially as one of the early backers of pioneering Australian internet company Ozemail. I’ve long been fascinated at Malcolm’s opposition to the NBN, it just seemed against what surely must be his past experiences of how innovation in internet connectivity can stimulate a community and economy.

The Forbes article piqued my interest. The local television broadcast companies have long been loud and effective lobbyists in Canberra. Their mega-rich owners always happy wheel and deal – and on occasion threaten and cajole – our politicians. And traditionally they’ve opposed innovation and competition in their very lucrative,

So it made me wonder if the broadcasters have been reading the tea leaves and realising just how much of a threat the NBN poses to their cosy oligopoly – and whispering in the ears of the Liberal party power brokers? Rupert Murdoch, who owns a serious chunk of Foxtel, doesn’t hide his distaste for the Labor government, and though his Australian newspapers has been relentlessly pushing the Liberal cause.


Unfortunately we may have no choice, the campaign has been successful and the polling says we face the proposed of a Liberal government come the end of the year. I did enjoy this article suggesting it’ll be the NBN that saves Labor, but to be honest I’m not holding out much hope.