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People calling for NBN write-down actually want dramatic price cut: NBN CEO

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The company responsible for deploying the National Broadband Network (NBN) across Australia has maintained that there are no impairment issues that would see the company needing to write down the value of the company, and that those calling for such action are just after a wholesale price cut.

“When people say there should be a write-down, I don’t think that is what they are really calling for. Essentially, they are calling for the wholesale price to fall dramatically,” NBN CEO Stephen Rue told the Joint Standing Committee looking into the business case for the NBN on Monday.

“Calls for a large wholesale price cut puts at risk the long-term viability of the company … without that, I truly believe you put at the digital future of the country, and all the benefits that flow.”

Rue said the company wants retailers to be successful, but that the NBN needs to have enough cash to complete the build, and maintain and upgrade the network. The NBN CEO also restated that the network build would be complete in 2020.

In October, NBN chair Ziggy Switkowski ruled out a write-down, saying the ability to properly value the network would not happen until the 2020s.

Read: NBN chair rules out network write-down

“I think considerations and evaluations of NBN will await the business moving into a normal conventional mode, which will happen when we finish the building in 2020, we complete the conversion of all households and businesses in 2021, we turn cashflow positive, we look forward, and then whoever is going to make a judgment will make it then,” Switkowski said at the time.

Australian Treasurer cum Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year also told ZDNet that the government is not looking to write down the NBN.

“We said at the time that that was not a view that we had held as necessary. It’s not our advice, and it’s still no longer the issue, and we continue to maintain I think a very sound commercial footing for the NBN and the assumptions it’s based on,” Morrison said.

“And of course it has to pass muster on those issues when it comes to identifying and defining the nature of the debt and other finance that’s going into the project, so I mean these aren’t arbitrary decisions that are made, they are subjected to standards on the accounts, and they’re meeting those standards and we expect they will continue to.”

An hour before Rue stepped in front of the joint committee, Aussie Broadband managing director Phillip Britt took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything session.

Britt said the CVC pricing from the NBN is preventing the company from offering unlimited data plans on speeds faster than 100Mbps.

“The CVC pricing construct is the primary limiter here, we’ve only got 2.5Mbps of CVC allocated under the bundled model and someone on an unlimited plan on those higher tiers would have the potential to really cause some damage,” Britt said.

Contrary to those running the NBN, the Aussie Broadband boss believes the only way for NBN prices to come down is via a write-down.

“I believe we will see the price of the 100Mbps tier reduce over time, but it will require a government write-down of NBN for this to occur. They can’t hold onto the AU$51 [average revenue per user] amounts they are trying to achieve because the mobile guys will wipe the floor with them,” Britt said.

Britt warned that services such as 5G fixed-wireless will put pressure on pricing and hit the NBN’s profitability, meaning that the write-down will be required before any cut flows to consumers, which Britt predicted could come with a change of government.

“I don’t believe we will see higher than 100/40Mbps for a ‘reasonable’ say under AU$100 price point anytime soon,” he said.

Also see: Good enough 5G fixed-wireless broadband could change everything

On the business side, the MD said Aussie Broadband is looking to double its customer base to 200,000 in the next 12 months, and has 26 percent of its customers on 100Mbps plans. Britt also flagged that Aussie Broadband would look to introduce a NetComm 4G backup modem in 2019.

Contrary to the narrative on social media, Britt said the NBN are “actually not bad” to work with, and “genuinely” try to help.

“The most frustrating part for us is customers who have unrealistic expectations, and they don’t take what we tell them as being the best we can possibly do,” he said.

Ever since the NBN relaunched its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network, Britt said Aussie Broadband had seen improved performance, and the network has become much more stable.

As a middle ground between price and speed, Britt said fibre-to-the-curb is the better solution than returning back to full fibre-to-the-premises, and should be added as an option to NBN’s Technology Choices program that allows users to pay for a better connection technology.

“I think the ship has sailed on that one, I think the best we can hope for is more FttC in the network,” he said.


(Image: APH)

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The New 2023 BMW 3 Series Avoids A Huge Grille Mistake

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The base 2023 BMW 330i and 330e PHEV get a moonroof, power front seats, open-pore wood oak interior trim, a sport steering wheel, interior ambient lighting, and sport seats. Also standard is BMW’s curved display comprising a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch center touchscreen powered by the latest-gen iDrive 8 OS. The system includes cloud-based BMW Maps with connected parking, a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (that replies to touch and speech commands), 5G connectivity, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto with Sirius XM.

Meanwhile, the M340i has M sport brakes with blue calipers, variable sport steering, an M sport differential, M sport suspension, and an aero body kit with a rear spoiler. Optional features include the Driving Assistance Package (lane departure warning, active blind-spot detection, park distance control, and more), the Dynamic Handling Package, and the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, lumbar support, heated seats, etcetera). BMW will announce pricing for its 2023 3 Series nearer its official July 2022 launch date, but we expect base prices to start at $42,000 for the 330i and about $55,000 for the M340i. The first deliveries will arrive later this year.

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FDA Authorizes Pfizer Booster For Children 5 And Older

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In order to test the efficacy of the single Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for children between 5 and 11 years of age, the agency monitored 400 children who received it anywhere between five to nine months after the primary series of dosages that involved two jabs. Coming to the side effects part of the booster shot, the U.S. FDA lists fatigue, headache, chills, fever, muscle or joint pain, pain, swelling, and redness at the injection site.

Talking about the decision, FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf noted more kids have fallen ill and been hospitalized in the Omicron wave, complete with the risk of long-term effects on body systems even after a mild illness. With an official nod for the administration of a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 5 years of age, the agency aims to provide a stronger line of defense against COVID-19.

Pfizer, on the other hand, estimates that more than 8 million children in the age group of 5 to 11 years have completed the primary series of COVID-19 vaccination and are eligible for a booster shot. Citing data from a clinical trial, the company claims that the booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can produce antibodies that are capable of neutralizing both the Omicron variant as well as the wild-type COVID-19 virus.

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Old Pieces Of Technology That Still Work Today

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Before airplanes really took off, the best and sometimes only way to travel long distances over the air was the airship. In fact, the first airship lifted off more than fifty years before the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight.

Instead of achieving lift through the physics of wing design, they used lighter-than-air gases to raise themselves into the air. Even after airplanes hit the mainstream, airships were a common way to travel trans-oceanic distances that planes couldn’t yet handle. The Hindenburg disaster more or less ended the airship’s tenure as a mode of travel and the number of blimps or zeppelins you were likely to see in the sky decreased dramatically.

Today, there are only 25 blimps still in operation and they’re largely used for advertising purposes, (via Reader’s Digest). While the airship appears to be a slowly dying technology, that might be about to change.

As explained by SingularityHub, several companies are working toward reviving airships as a method of passenger or cargo transportation. Instead of taking a flight around the world, the next generation of airships could offer slower, more ponderous and comfortable, journeys more akin to flying cruise ships.

One company, Ocean Sky Cruises, is offering flights from Svalbard to the North Pole by airship beginning in 2024. Passengers will get their own cabin and all meals and drinks included. The only downside is the price tag of two million Swedish Krona, or roughly $200,000 USD.

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