Monday, 6 May 2013

NBN: Gen-Y/Millennials need to step-up and make their voices heard.

Josh Taylor of ZDnet conducted a 45-minute "Communications Debate" between Conroy and Turnbull today. He did a splendid job with a couple of unruly protagonists not out of place in a kindergarden.
My praise and plaudits to Josh: well done, conceiving and carrying out this head-to-head.

The most reported part of the "Debate" was when Conroy got under Turnbull's skin and was called "a grub".

There are a few things about this "Debate" I think are important:
  • Turnbull had a very informed and tech-savvy audience, yet maintained his argumentative, "content-free" style, reiterated vague generalities and platitudes and trotted out the same old electioneering phrases.
  • The people who are very interested in the NBN are Gen-Y, but seem strangely silent in my world:
    • They are the "digital natives", born since the release of the IBM PC and Apple Mac.
    • They know and care about computing and its most recent game-changer, the Internet.
    • Their lives, values and views are defined and shaped by the Internet, increasingly by Social Media.
    • They can expect to live with this decision for the next 50 years.
      • They are, or should be, highly motivated to get the best Value for Money NBN, not in the immediate term, but for the rest of their lives.
  • People came along to the debate wanting more than a slanging match and a repetition of the same hackneyed phrases.
  • Turnbull repeated the same "talk over what you don't like" tactic that got his microphone turned off on Triple-J hack.
    • He's still not learned to be considerate & respectful of the moderator.
    • Why would a politician who's electoral success depends on the media, deliberately "burn" media contacts, especially Gen-Y's for whom the NBN really matters? It's bizarre in the extreme. Either he can't help himself or means to do it.
    • The media places Turnbull is no longer welcome will soon become a story in itself.
I think Turnbull misjudged his audience, treating them like the usual Mainstream Media, and either underestimated Conroy or came unprepared (shown by retreating to personal abuse) and didn't say anything new, nor clearly & succinctly answer the questions asked.

Yes, he talked, a lot, and in the moment always sounds plausible.
But as one tweeter opined: What did he say? I can't remember now he's stopped talking.

 Turnbull threw away a massive opportunity: he could've sold himself and his plan to the technical influencers in the electorate. And done so easily & simply by clearly annunciating his intentions.

The bigger question, the headline of this piece, is the comparative silence of Gen-Y in this NBN debate. If Turnbull was bombarded with 5-10,000 emails and tweets after each of his obnoxious media performances, like todays, would he moderate his behaviour? You bet!

Gen-Y can take onto itself using the tools that it understands and uses everyday to make its point. We've yet to see a spate of mashups or clips ridiculing Turnbull as he pompously stabs his finger making one  asinine, misleading point after another. The way the "Kone 2012" meme spread displays what is possible, when driven by someone who cares about a topic.

While those might get engagement with Gen-Y, they wouldn't get through to the politicians and their parties.

If Gen-Y wants a better future for itself, it has to work for it. That means talking to Politicians and Parties in the language they understand and in the forums they, not Gen-Y, look to.

First Gen-Y needs to recognise that Politicians only appear deaf, they are, in fact, vitally attuned to polls and market sentiment. Their #1 priority is getting re-elected: No votes, no job. Polls are what Pollies live and die by: affect them and affect the policies.

But only talking to your mates and having a bit of fun on social media isn't enough. Gen-Y has to reach out to others, in their heartland to make their message heard:
  • The politicians and their parties are "old-school", they will sit up and take notice of calls, letters and emails, more than SMS and social media.
  • Their parents, as much as anyone, needs to be "sold" on the idea that The Internet is here to stay and will be the economic, cultural and political enabler and field of discourse in the future.
    • Gen-Y will depend on The Net for their livelihood, entertainment and information/news.
    • They want the best Bang for Buck over 25 years, not just 5 years.
  • Gen-Y has to sell its concerns and messages to older generations and get them on-side, not bitch and moan amongst themselves and descend into "Learned Helplessness".
    • The "shock-jocks", especially on AM radio spin a message to older Australians.
    • It's up to Gen-Y to counter those arguments to individual listeners, if they don't agree and don't want the future presented there.
The Vietnam Moratorium marches and demonstrations were the Baby Boomers collectively putting their views about their future to older generations and affecting the political process. The nature of war in the West changed fundamentally: conscripts and lots of casualties became politically non-viable. Warfare became very expensive and "messages" tightly scripted and controlled.

Gen-Y has to understand that it gets ONE chance to create the Internet it will have to live with daily for the next 50 years. This is that one chance, now.
They have a voice, they have to learn to use it, they have to fight for what they believe in and want or "forever hold your peace".


  1. Fair points you make about genY. I often get the feeling it lacks assurance to argue seriously. Stand-uo comedy, yes. Might be an age thing.

    My ears opened up when Turnbull seemed to be making things up on the run. Mini-nodes. Where did that come from? Did I miss that when I read through his policy documents?

    And using FTTN with your existing ADSL modem. OK, with reduced speed. For the full monty just go down to your local Officeworks and pay $50 for a vdsl modem. Huh?

    Is this correct? If not, he should be nailed on it. Can I add it to my list of Turnbull porkies?

  2. Fibre Extension Modules are a real thing, from the small knowledge I have. They are mentioned in the Alcatel/Lucent 7330 ISAM doco. [Size & housings aren't]

    People I've asked who've worked in this area have talked about how you actually build an FTTN. It's not nearly as simple as generally portrayed - run fibre out and drop a node...

    Good catch, great listening, but no, it's not a porky.

    On your ADSL working with the new Node without disruption.
    That's what Telstra were promising.
    There no reason the chipset in the Node LineCard couldn't handle ADSL1/2/2+ & VDSL1/2. It's *just* a modem, albeit with a radio frequency carrier.

    The more subtle point is:
    - current ADSL is PPPoE
    - how does a Node know which ISP to route your PPPoE connect requests to?

    It seems the FTTN will remain PPPoE based and they won't be selling direct access to the VLAN's.

    If that's so, NTD's are NOT needed.

    As for telephony, that's completely unclear as well.
    Once the wire is cut at the Node, something has to take over. But what? How? It's not been spelled out.

    Hope that helps.

  3. It doesn't. I was hoping to make a big song-and-dance over the cost of the NTD being passed to the end-user. If it's only a dick smith modem, I can't even do a slow shuffle.

    Attacking this from another angle: FTTP promises a turn-key solution. FTTN means you have to buy a vdsl modem. Which modem? Mum-and-dad users fret over this kind of stuff.

    Aweful easy to buy the wrong modem if you're a mum or dad. Or a genY for that matter. With FTTP, the nice man from NBNCo installs it all for you.

  4. There's actually two things in there for you...

    1. Where can an *ordinary* person buy a "$50 VDSL modem"? You can't... Dick Smith et al will charge a *lot* more. Just as you can't buy an ADSL modem you'd want to use now for $50. Security?? None to speak of.

    2. Not having NTD's for FTTN is a really big deal.
    - telephony? has to be done at the node.
    - Customer still needs *splitters*. This seriously affects line performance. Need to balance load for telephony...
    - multiple RSP's (TV + Education + ISP) not happening
    - multicast TV can't happen
    - PPPoE is slow and expensive. Can that dodgy $50 VDSL modem support more than 10Mbps??? Who knows...
    - NBN Co don't get to do remote management on your no-name brand VDSL modem, either.

    And if folk ever want to get 2*Phone + 4*UNI + battery-backup (equality with GPON), they have to spring for the NTD *and* it's install. The sockets become the edge of the Telco network. The device has to be installed by a certified cabler, NOT DIY.

    There's lots for you in there. Hope that's useful.


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