A Truly Open NBN a must for future of Australian Technology Sector

6 minute read

The year is 2015 and local Melbourne Sweeney real estate agent Melissa Hansson has just stepped into her 2014 Honda Civic. Moments earlier Melissa sat at her networked computer and downloaded the latest Green Day Spill Baby album, then clicked a button in her iTunes software to push the latest music playlist to her iTelevision, iCar Stereo, iPad, iPhone and Macbook Pro simultaneously. She quickly checks her iPad for her daily tasks and her Google Voice account plays reminders of her to-do’s for the day.

Melissa then heads off to Melbourne Road where she has an appraisal of a 3 bedroom townhouse with Mr & Mrs Croft and then onto a number of homes to change the QR-Code on some signage. These are the first of many stops for the day for Melissa, but it is by no means an extraordinary day – in fact it is just another day in the life of the modern real estate agent.

Whilst talking with the owners of the home Melissa showcases a presentation on her iPad and shows recent local sales to the Crofts that she prepared the evening before. After the presentation Melissa sets about doing her appraisal on her iPad and takes a couple of accompanying note style photos with a voice recording. She chat’s some more with the owners before saying her goodbyes, jumping in her car and heading off to her next appointment.

Before Melissa does this, she checks her emails and messages once more and uploads the appraisal to her head office with some voice notes, recorded conversations and instructions to her assistant.

Her next appointment is a photo and video shoot on The Strand, the house is a gorgeous Victorian mansion Melissa signed earlier in the previous week. Melissa takes a range of photography around the property, her weapon of choice is a Canon 8D and it takes breathtaking photography and True HD Video. Finishing the shoot, Melissa gets back in her car.

Her Canon camera is setup so that she can directly wirelessly beam both videos and photography to her server, matched against the appraised listing. These will be picked up and treated by the office multimedia staff before going live.

Note: After doing a number of courses, Melissa is now an accomplished photographer, she takes her job as a real estate agent seriously and photography is now a major part of that job and of course she wants to be the best, so she enrolls in a number of TAFE courses – just to stay ahead of the pack.

Her final stop for the day is a Open Home and there is a lot of interest from prospective buyers. It is a condition of entry into the home that each person enters their details into the system (and their perfect property match) and these details are matched against their ID – for security purposes.  Every person who enters the open home is added to her contact database and matched automatically against that listing.

Every Open Home Melissa impresses both prospective buyers and sellers with the systems she has employed. When a visitor to the Open Home gets home themselves a welcome email is sent automatically from the system with an invitation to join Melissa’s database and a chance to win an iPad a month if they join her subscription list.

Melissa has a number of similar meetings before heading home again. She may go into the head office later in the week, but this is no longer a necessity.

The Missing Link

What is missing from this equation? What is needed to fill the void? We have the first version of the iPad, cameras now wirelessly connect to servers, car stereos are now available in wireless hard drives versions.

The one thing missing is competition in our industry for true wireless broadband and the only way we are going to get the package we require is if we have true competition. Unfortunately the scenario the curent government is facing, is having to pay back tens of billions of our own money for something we once owned.

There is a massive lesson for everyone here. We should never sell public assets to a private company if that sale simply creates a monopoly, unfortunately we allow successive governments to do this and it has to stop. One only has to look across Australia where state and federal governments continually try to reap as much money as possible from the sale of assets (usually to pay of mismanaged debts), only to create monopolies that cost the taxpayer, even more money. Banks, airlines, airports, roads, power, water and lotto just to name a few.

$100 per month, unlimited Internet, unlimited wireless and unlimited local, national and mobile phone calls is what we all should be aiming at for one business user. There are billions in profit here for the right company to provide this service, but the only way for it to happen is to get true competition.

What we are now seeing are hungry Internet players thinking they can charge separately for packages (voice, internet and data).  We have to resist this and look for all you can eat plans or possibly think outside the square.

If the large Internet providers do not come up with the right plan, the other solution may well be Wimax. This would allow an agency like Sweeney’s to create a large pipe to their office and setup a wireless dish on their building and give access to all of their staff and families. This could connect everyone wirelessly up to 10-15 kilometres range from the office, allowing them to do everything they need wirelessly.

One thing is for sure, we need to hope the deal the government has just done with Telstra is supported wholeheartedly by the other players. Industry analyst Paul Budde is someone I look to for his analysis of Australia’s telecom industry and he is lukewarm on the deal but impressed with our current governments strategy.

So talk to your industry groups and ask them what are they doing about this, are they going to go into bat for all agents? Or will it be up to you individually as well?

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  • Brett Clements
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm 0Likes

    Looks like we’ll be going into the training business. 🙂

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm 0Likes

    Great article – and the fight will be on to sign up unsuspecting participants to these new *plans*. It would be nice to see our industry sign – collectively as one. But in all probability that won’t happen either in any great hurry. For example our industry is yet to even comment on NBN (that I have seen) – which in all probability sums it up that they too are struggling to understand it.

  • Stephen
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm 0Likes

    Good point, and not limited to just the Real Estate industry. All businesses in Australia will benefit from the country having an effective broadband network. The biggest shame of it all is that previous and current governments have politicised anything to do with the net / communications which is a joke. The net is not a fad like swatch watches, its a utility like water and electricity and as such all Australians need the best possibly supply.

    With the world on the brink of IPv6 where every appliance at every home world wide could have 10+ unique IP addresses and nearly everything electronic is connected we are in for some interesting years.

    Bring on 2015…

    BTW especially liked the comment Note: After doing a number of courses, Melissa is now an accomplished photographer why isn’t being even an average photographer part of an Agents License now ?

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm 0Likes

    I think it is appropriate that whilst we take a look forward we look a little back as well.

    Check this old article out titled “Your Website in 2010” – http://www.business2.com.au/2006/06/your-website-in-2010/

    As interesting a read in hindsight as it was back then.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm 0Likes

    Great find Glenn, I was out on a few things, what is the basic price now of a subscription?

    “If you look at the pricing of today for a basic subscription to realestate.com.au which is $379.00 per month, at the current rate they increase subscriptions each year it will be $515.61 per month by 2010.”

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 8:47 am 0Likes


    Yeah, I thought you might pick up on the subscription price given our recent discussions in another thread. The current subscription is about double your prediction and the growth rate of the add ons is even higher. What’s it going to be in 2015??

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 11:48 am 0Likes

    REA – would be much better off focusing on their massive losses of market share in the Sydney metropolitan areas to Domain. In a recent meeting with REA they confessed to me that they have in recent years lost a massive market share in Sydney’s Easter Suburbs, Inner West Lower and Upper North Shore – and are at a loss to explain this market shift.

    Given what we pay them it is nearly impossible to remotely justify the value of our subscription to them. They admitted that a large number of enquiries appear to have fallen into a ‘black hole’ and they are digging to find that hole. I sent them a snapshot of our market activity from Domain as compared to REA and I noticed more than a few red faces.

    Unless they start re- producing they face a strong likelihood of losing subscribers not gaining them. I keep reading about staff fall -out and employees leaving which appears to resonate with the consumers too!

    I doubt an increase – until such time as they can turn their business around in more than a few demographic real estate areas.

  • Ricky
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 12:34 pm 0Likes

    They just lost their best fixer in NSW as well Robert in Bill Russell who you know quite well. He has returned to L J Hooker. Don’t expect any miracles.

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm 0Likes


    You have done your homework – I’m impressed. I had many a conversation will Bill and I really rate him as a person and as a great industry mind. He was always a ‘blood and custard’ man – so I wish him well. His loss is not going to assist REA in addressing their spiralling market share losses.

    I personally wished Bill well and we will most certainly stay in contact.

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