What's the point of the National Broadband Network Version 2.0 (NBN2)? It seems simple to me, the existing copper network is aging and unmaintained. What do we replace it with?
Wireless services, on the face of it, seem like a great solution. The issue is, there is only so much bandwidth (in Hz) available through the air, a figure which is dwarfed by the quantity available via copper which is dwarfed again by that available for delivery via light.
You may say that ADSL & wireless technologies are adequate for the average user. Right now, you're probably right.
However, this usage pattern is going to continue to change. Mid-to-high range TVs now are being released with Internet-based connectivity options bringing streamed services like YouTube, ABC iView, radio, etc to the average user. A wireless network, even if its density was increased by a significant factor, would fall over with a few thousand video streams at 400kbps each in a single regional zone.
This assumes providers & consumers of this content are going to be content with their low-quality versions of content. How long will it be before people start streaming 720p (> 2Mbps) and 1080p (> 4Mbps) content in 3D (x2 the bandwidth) in a way that is accessible to anyone?
Again, you may say that the existing copper-based network could handle this, but speaking as someone who lives in a suburban area (the Gold Coast), the current copper-based network isn't suitable. Not only do I not qualify for ADSL2 on Telstra or other providers' networks, I am also lucky to max out my connection to 400KB/s to Australian servers - and this speaks nothing of the pitiful upstream capabilities available to me to make use of the many technologies to allow me to either communicate (video-conferencing) or work from home (requiring large amounts of uploaded data whether it be email, documents, source code or test data).
So, given the existing infrastructure is very quickly becoming inadequate for most users, what do we replace this with?
Do we build out the wireless network, increasing it's density, all the while, running out more fiber trunks to these new towers?
Do we increase the connectivity and technology used at the copper 'node', rolling out more fiber to them along the way? Not to mention increasing the density of the nodes to decrease the copper between homes and the nodes?
Do we replace the copper network with fiber? A technology that doesn't degrade at anywhere near the pace of copper cable. That continues to provide bandwidth capabilities that outstrip demand (1Gbps downstream and 100Mbps+ upstream available now for the last-mile connectivity - 40Gbps x 64 DWMP [with 100Gbps coming soon] over a single pair of fiber cables with regenerators throughout the network that aren't specific to the speeds being pumped through them using some interesting tricks of physics to increase single power).
Sure, its a lot of money (or maybe it isn't... they haven't actually priced anything yet). But it is truly a future-proof option. We live in a world that is starting to provide access to higher-bandwidth content direct to its lay-man consumers.
More and more bogans are going to demand access to their HD on-demand content to their living room TV and to their kids TVs whilst they download the latest magazines to their iPads, videoconferencing in HD to their relatives & friends. And they are going to do it whilst demanding that there be no slow-downs, huge usage bills and whilst their neighbours all do the same.