What has gone wrong with Australia’s National Broadband Network?
Australia’s government-owned National Broadband Network (NBN) has been subject to a torrent of negative press.
Set up in 2009 to replace dated infrastructure such as copper cable networks, NBN is designed to give all Australian consumers and businesses access to broadband over fibre, fixed wireless and satellite technologies. The original proposal, now being promised by the opposition Labor party, was for a full fibre rollout.
Retail service providers offer services over the new infrastructure, not dissimilar to Openreach in the UK, an organisation also under increasing fire over the pace and quality of its work.
Cited as Australia’s largest infrastructure project ever, NBN has also been a bone of political contention over recent years, with current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull vowing in 2010 to demolish it if his party won power. Fast-forward to 2017, and the NBN saga still rumbles on.
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The enormity of the project appears to have caught up with the state-owned enterprise, most recently highlighted by the industry ombudsman’s damning report into the number of complaints made by B2B and B2C customers.
Complaints about NBN services have risen by 159% in the space of a year, with the majority of unhappy customers witnessing service faults and frequent delays. For the first time, complaints about broadband and internet access outstripped those about mobile phone providers.
NBN, while saying these findings were regrettable, said it had connected another million premises over the past six months. Around half of the country is now connected to the network, but take-up has been slower than expected, as prices remain high whilst speeds remain well below those advertised, something which the country’s competition watchdog (ACCC) has kept its eyes on.
ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in July: “The move to the NBN and the way in which NBN technologies work mean retailers need to dramatically re-think the way they talk about typical speeds and ensure consumers are presented with the information they need.”
NBN and telcos are at loggerheads over the issue, with the former knowing exactly how much capacity each telco is purchasing and whether it is enough to ease congestion. It says retailers are not purchasing enough bandwidth to provide adequate services. ISPs say that NBN’s charges are too high to be commercially viable to them.
What was intended as a harmonious public-private enterprise to make Australia the most connected nation on earth has left serious doubts about the ability of government and business to deliver such a huge project convincingly. Look across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand, and you will find faster speeds being delivered at similar costs to those offered by NBN.
The government recently announced a review into the failings of the project. Many commentators simply say that the business model, whether all fibre or a mixture as is now the case, was doomed to fail from the start. What does appear obvious is that this compromised mixed-solution rollout is costing far more than any key decision maker in 2009 anticipated.
ServiceNow pumps millions into EU service compliance
ServiceNow, the digital workflow company, has announced a multimillion euro investment to help EU customers meet compliance requirements.
The legal, technical and organisational safeguards will help companies to comply with the the Schrems II judgment and European Data Protection Board (EDPB) Recommendations issued in June 2021.
ServiceNow’s investment means all EU-hosted data will be exclusively handled within the EU, and the cloud-hosted digital workflow provider claims its solution will come “without impact on current delivery and service”.
ServiceNow upgrade: free of charge
There will be no cost for current customers to opt in to the data compliance solution, even though ServiceNow is investing an unspecified multimillion euro sum and hiring more than 80 new staff across the bloc.
Mark Cockerill, vice president legal, EMEA and global head of privacy at ServiceNow, said: “With any regulation change, cloud services companies have a choice. They can adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach or get proactive and help customers and partners innovate. At ServiceNow we are on the front foot, continually investing in our customers, allowing them to operate with the highest level of choice and control over their EU data.
ServiceNow upgrade: ‘peace of mind’
“Our new EU-centric service delivery model will give our current customers and partners peace of mind. For customers and partners operating in highly regulated industries, or in the public sector, or those that have yet to make the switch to the cloud, this model gives them certainty and simplicity when selecting the cloud service that best suits their needs.”
Carla Arend, lead analyst, cloud in europe for IDC, said, “The Schrems II ruling has led European organizations to revisit their cloud-related data protection policies and processes when it comes to international data transfers through cloud services.
“Contractual, privacy, and security safeguards and the assurance that data will be kept and handled in the EU help European organizations to comply with European data protection laws while taking advantage of global cloud platforms. Vendors, such as ServiceNow, that invest to support their customers in response to this ruling are providing essential choice to their customers.”