Monday, 26 August 2013

NBN: How Alan Jones was "played" by Turnbull

Radio "shock jocks" are great communicators for the simplest of reasons: they listen.

To get a large, loyal audience, you not only have to speak their language, know & even share their concerns, talk to them as equals, but pass the "have a cuppa (or beer!) with me" test.

It's isn't just about being liked, but being somebody people want to sit down with, someone they have a relationship with. You forge relationships over time by relating, by speaking and listening. People have to feel you know them and their circumstances, that you have empathy with, even care for, them.

That's why Alan Jones has built and kept a massive audience. Why Prime Ministers have lined up to talk to him. And why Turnbull sat down with Alan Jones and pulled the wool over his eyes and Jones' audience.

Every successful, long-running commercial radio presenter must become good at promotion, branding, politics and business. While they may start as an "everyman", unless they learn how to handle money and investments, they'll implode in just a few years.

Alan Jones seems to have a genuine concern for "Battlers", putting his own time and energy to helping them.

So why did Alan Jones so eagerly get on-air with Turnbull to destroy the most important social and economic support since 1945 for his "Battlers"?  Because of what Turnbull hasn't said.

The headline is that the Turnbull Copper/Node Plan is not just going to lose money, $10 billion at least,  but because it's designed to fail, the whole of the $30 billion investment will be written off, with the current loans all suddenly becoming part of the Budget and being picked up by the taxpayer.

If you doubt that Turnbull is hiding something big, not only have his staff stonewalled me since April on the simplest of questions ("what wholesale charge did you model with?") I got abused and sworn at, on-record, for asking. That's the smoking gun...

The NBN is designed to benefit Alan Jones' battlers most, but only if Fibre is used:

  • The top 25% high-demand users generate all NBN Co's profits. The rest of us, the other 75%, get a free-ride, either the NBN services at cost, or heavily subsidised. Fibre access rates are scheduled to reduce by 19%-26% by 2021 (and 51%-89% by 2040). Copper/Node charges will only fall by 10% by 2024. Fibre, not copper, is the cheapest broadband service.
    • This comes directly from two things:
      • Broadband demand is exponential: the top 1% consume 10% of all data, while the bottom half of users consume just 6.4% (six point four). There's a 500-fold difference at least across all users: the notion of an "average" user doesn't apply.
      • We know from the 31% take-up of 100/40, versus the 18% forecast, that subscribers are very happy to pay for higher rates for higher speeds, versus the "one model, one price fits all" of copper broadband lottery.
      • Already, Fibre is making 85% more in access charges than copper ($29.62 vs $16, wholesale), which I expect to be 145% more when the next 3 access rates are released soon.
  • Telehealth services, over Fibre, will become the next major Public Health system since universal clean water and sanitation. This matters more to "battlers" because health outcomes worsen for low-income earners. They also tend to not have broadband services, only mobiles, and then only entry-level plans.
    • Australia spends ~$120 billion, 9+% of GDP on Healthcare,
      • 70% of this on the chronically ill.
      • We urgently need to get this under control before the waves of older people arrive, needing far more, very expensive, medical care.
    • The USA spends 18% of GDP and we're heading there, as costs continue to rise faster than inflation.
    • It will cost $500-$750/yr to provide free home monitoring and HD video, over fibre, for those that need it. Timely monitoring and easy, quick video access prevents simple problems becoming a $100,000 life-threatening "event" leaving permanent damage.
      • Prevention pays for itself 10-times and more. People also live longer and healthier lives.
      • Fibre, with its 4-port connection, allows Community Nurses, unskilled in I.T., to reliably install and setup monitor, TV and camera and tablet/laptop.
        • It's secure and easy to fully support and upgrade remotely, just as every large business has done for the last 15 years.
      • VDSL services get in the way with a single service.
        • The person has to pay the ISP and provide and maintain all the equipment.
        • The service and ISP plan has to accommodate upload speed and data volumes needed, at the customers expense.
        • Attaching and configuring the "VPN" needed to access a secure Health Dept network is not simple nor easy: it requires an expensive I.T. technician to visit.
Here's some of the critical things Turnbull has left unsaid. Questions that require good, independent assessment, something that the PBO has been convinced not to give.
  • The Copper/Node Plan can only be 10%, $4 billion, cheaper to construct, based on Turnbull's own figures of $900/line. Telstra contract payments are another $1500/line, according to Turnbull.
    • Yet somehow, Turnbull claims $17 billion in savings: that's impossible.
      • Even if they pay Telstra nothing, they have to be paid to build the Nodes to achieve the savings.
      • There's $4 billion, by Turnbull's own estimate, deliberately wasted in building a Copper/Node network that will be thrown away, as planned by the Coalition.
      • 80%-90% of Fibre network costs are for things that don't drop in price, like civil works or cable. Waiting saves nothing and only creates a higher risk of a low Australian Dollar forcing up the cost of electronics.
      • We currently have the lowest interest rates in 60 years, making waiting guaranteed to be more expensive. The NAB CEO, Cameron Clyde, and Jeff Kennett, Liberal ex-Premier, are both advocating increased infrastructure spending now.
    • The Copper/Node plan, when you do the Maths, costs the same as full Fibre, but adds delays and increases risks.
      • In 2002 when Telstra's phone business was in obvious decline due to mobiles and broadband, the Coalition did nothing about fixing Broadband.
      • IN 2005, the Coalition was told that it urgently needed to build an NBN, but did nothing.
      • In 2007, it had no Broadband policy to speak of.
      • In 2010, it's lack of a credible Broadband policy contributed to its failure to win.
      • Now, in 2013, the Coalition have suddenly decided we have a broadband crisis and that it must act post-haste. Why? What just changed?
    • Telstra's share price has doubled since the NBN contracts have been signed.
      • The market assigns a very high value/importance to the NBN.
      • Why aren' the Coalition listening to Business and the market?
  • Turnbull is pitching the Australian taxpayer for $30 billion to invest in his new scheme, but hasn't provided an adequate Business Plan. Why?
    • Only 5 years of the 30 years of financial forecasts that Turnbull prepared are published.
      • If politicians deliberately hide figures, it's only because they're bad news.
      • Why did Turnbull leave out the majority of his financial forecasts.
    • There is NO break-even period.
      • If the Copper/Node network made a profit and paid off the loans, Turnbull would've screamed it from the rooftops.
    • There is NO Return on Investment.
      • Similarly, if there was any ROI, it would be talked about, a lot.
    • What's the maximum Downside Risk of the Turnbull Copper/Node Plan?
      • Without tiered pricing, the "one size, one price fits all" model destroys revenue.
      • Which coupled with higher maintenance and higher depreciation charges, makes it impossible to make a profit.
      • The only earnings hurdle Turnbull has set for his investment seems to be "cashflow positive", which he knows very well can never pay off the loans.

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