Slattery + Rebel Alliance propose NBN 3.0


A splinter group of rebel telecommunications players have broken with their Australian brethren’s long-standing support for Labor’s National Broadband Network policy, publishing their own, “NBN 3.0” model in an apparent attempt to influence the independent members of parliament who may help decide the next Federal Government.

The group is led by a number of prominent NBN critics — PIPE Networks founder Bevan Slattery, AAPT chief executive Paul Braud and BigAir chief executive Jason Ashton — and also includes other companies such as Allegro Networks, EFTel, Vocus Communications, Polyfone and HaleNET.

In an open letter published today (the full PDF can be found here), the telcos strongly put their view that competitive markets were “better managers of capital and technology risk” than governments — in direct contradiction to Labor’s oft-repeated statement that Australia’s telecommunications market had failed.

“We believe the argument for a national, fibre-only NBN solution has failed to convince,” the letter states.

“For the short to medium term we see, globally, no demonstrated mass requirement for the ‘up to 1Gbps’ speeds to homes and [home offices]. Instead, we see the greatest priority is giving broadband to those who don’t have any, not faster broadband to those that have.”

The so-called ‘Alliance for Affordable Broadband’ laid out a number of principles upon which the Government should structure the NBN policy, including the following planks:

  • A 4G national wholesale wireless network to reach 98 percent of Australians at speeds of up to 100Mbps
  • Fibre or equivalent fixed connections to create a competitive backhaul network and to connect schools, hospitals and most businesses, at speeds up to 1Gbps
  • Fibre in some other areas where there was a demonstrated need, via commercial return
  • Satellite for remote areas, at speeds of up to 12Mbps
  • A focus on a public/private model

The alliance hinted that its model could be one advocated by one of the independents who will hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives in the current hung parliament.

“We believe that a well-informed independent member of parliament might wisely favour a NBN v3 public/private model on a mix of technologies, with deliverables within a term, over a more costly and more risky 8+ year NBN 2.0 rollout,” the document stated.

It finally noted that the NBN 3.0 proposal could be delivered “for a fraction of the cost” as Labor’s $43 billion NBN policy.

The NBN model proposed by the Alliance shared a number of similarities with the Coalition’s model — namely the focus on wireless as a delivery model, as well as competitive backhaul and meeting the needs of those currently without broadband.

Image credit: Delimiter


  1. ““For the short to medium term we see, globally, no demonstrated mass requirement for the ‘up to 1Gbps’ speeds to homes and [home offices]. Instead, we see the greatest priority is giving broadband to those who don’t have any, not faster broadband to those that have.””

    10 years ago we probably didn’t see the need for “up to 24Mbps” services. Web technologies are only advancing faster and faster and becoming more and more resource hungry. 1Gbps is a great goal to aim for and will keep us going in to the long term.

    Also, 4G wireless sounds great but every time I have used 3g/NextG, it hasn’t got anything near the reliability and consistency of a physical line based connection. Not even in the middle of the city. Wireless is handy, but I don’t see it overcoming it’s problems any time soon.

  2. Anyone who has tried to get good telecoms in the Australian bush knows that ‘the market’ does not provide even adequate supply of connectivity out of town.

    The purposes of these connections do not need to be demonstrated as many of them have not yet been imagined.
    Just as when copper was being deployed during the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was put in place at great cost with no knowledge of the packet switching technologies which would later go on to enable the Internet.
    The telegraph (, fax) and telephone provided enough impetus to create an infrastructure which would later have the capacity to provide common DSL connectivity as well as these initial technologies.

    The whole point is that people wanting network access in rural and remote Australia know for a fact that the market talks a load of fertiliser about their service provision to the bush. It’s not personal they are businesses and there mustn’t be a great enough density of customers out of the big towns.

    Wireless Networking is great and all but obviously relies on physical connections, it is prone to interception and interference and can be effected by environmental interference.

    Also we should all be aware that this will replace the copper network, landlines will not be provisioned in the future. In emergency situations in the bush our existing mobile phone infrastructure is already a joke.

    The greater physical security of a fibre to the premises network is fundamentally better for getting emergency communications to and from the bush.

    Given how often ‘black-spots’ blight the mobile telephone networks even in the biggest Australian cities I believe it is recklessly dangerous to relegate communications for the bush to wireless services provided solely by ‘business servicing demonstrated demand’.

    And there’s the laws of physics.

    ‘…the width of the spectrum that can be passed through an optical fibre is 100 THz, or 100,000 GHz. This means that the information-carrying capacity of an optical fibre is about 20,000 times larger than the information-carrying capacity of the entire radio frequency spectrum.’

    Rodney S. Tucker, Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, University of Melbourne

    Given that the radio spectrum (which has the capacity of 1/20000th that of fibre) is segregated amongst the various wireless services we already know and love (radio, TV, TDVB, CB, GSM, 3G, CDMA…) and that the more users on a node of a wireless data network also degrades the network’s capacity for all users on that node… Well you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to see which technology has better legs…

    The FTTP NBN is and investment in our whole society not only for our economy. That is why the government is doing it, and why business would not.

    BTW $40billion buys you about 800km of freeway which doesn’t even cover the distance between the two biggest Australian cities. National infrastructure involves big price tags, NBN is normal in this respect (and it is not the business of business).

  3. Oh yes, let’s do what these companies want and use their slow and outdated tech so tthat we can all pay them big fat fees for the privilege to use their crappy internet services. I tells you that I just can’t wait for this to happen.

    Do they really think that we are born yesterday.

  4. Is that Auric Goldfinger in the photo above?

    James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?

    Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

    • Thanks for the laugh. That was brilliant. The resemblance is uncanny. Maybe Bevan Slatery really is evil after all….

  5. Hmmm, anyone think these “business leaders” might have vested interests?

    Utiopian, self-serving rubbish dressed as helpful advice.

  6. The whole proposal is focused on commercial interests, not the interest of the general Australian public.

    Great way for the telcos to make money but not the best option for the general population.

  7. the market failed for the last 30 years, why would they suddenly be adequate ? Just get rid of Telstra and all the other below-average providers out there ( all of the Australian providers ). NBN needs to be owned by the government and never privatized. Haven’t we learned anything from privatizing Telstra ? Oh yes, that was a HUGE success … NOT.

    Australia is stuck in the 1980’s. Capped broadband, constant internet outages, laughable internet speeds, not even 100mbit connections, let alone gigabit like in Europe.

    Wake up guys, the “market” won’t help, we all know where Telstra and comrades are putting their development moneys : In their executives pockets !

  8. It must be nice to live in the bubble that these guys do, in which competition has worked.

    Iif you step outside of the Bris/Syd/Mel metro area and try and tell someone that telco competition works, you’re liable to get laughed at.

    Now an argument can be made that those metro areas hold a high percentage of the Australian population, so they somehow “need” the better services, but this is the thing… where are the next 10 million Australians going to live?

    If you want to spread the population out more, then you need to provide the same services and infrastructure to support those people. If Tassie had a population density equivalent to Victoria, we would have triple the population we do at the moment. There’s no convincing argument other than infrastructure as to why Tasmania couldn’t support another 1 million residents.

    Commercial businesses can’t build out infrastructure to encourage growth in the regions, but government can. Leaving infrastructure to the private sector will only further entrench this gap between metro and regional areas.

  9. These shrewd telco execs know they can sell a gigabyte of data for $10 over wireless, but only get a few cents for it over fibre.

    Honest wireless operators admit that fixed rooftop mast wireless gives neither bandwidth nor mobility to the customer, but it sure is profitable!

    NBN 3.0 indeed – more like NBN-Fail!

  10. Who are these people telling me what speed I need/require. I need more than 1Gbps and I am not having anyone tell me otherwise!!!

  11. The only people that need NBN fiber are the geeks downloading pr0n & illegal copyright.

  12. Yeah …right …

    As if these fat cat business men care about the well being of the general public.
    This NBN 3.0 thingo will simply creates more privatised monopolies like Tel$tra…

    They may all criticise Tel$tra for its un-competitive behavior now; just wait till these fat cat bsuinesses are give the same opprotunity as Tel$tra …. They will rip us into shredds just to get that extra buck off us all.
    We will be left to use smoke signal or morse-code as internet for all they care.

    God help us all if the NBN 3.0 is to materialise….

  13. This is wrong on so many levels.

    1) A broadband company that will be rendered defunct by the NBN and a bunch of wireless network operators label the NBN as unnecessary. Vested interests much?
    2) Future proofing. In 20 years we will be transferring virtual worlds, AI intelligences and whatever technology follows 3D blu-ray, on demand. Imagine the broadband required by technologies as advanced as The Matrix. It can be done with 1G fibre.
    3) Anyone who has ever spent time on Unwired or the like, realises how slow it can be and anyone with a Vodafone or Optus mobile realises how congested it gets.

    The pro-coalition punters out there will be hating themselves once they are stuck on slow wireless technologies.

  14. “A 4G national wholesale wireless network to reach 98 percent of Australians at speeds of up to 100Mbps”

    ….. at speeds of up to 100Mbps……..
    Hello is this Telstra with there 21 Mb next G crap that runs on 3Mbps capped towers
    Get bloody real and give us a guaranteed speed not a theoretical peak speed and also at what price and will we still get 6-10 Gb per month as now or something realistic hmmm This will be the main internet access for most of us our home line so to speak so dont cheat us on quota
    All talk but no Details
    I’m thinking hot Air

    Fibre or equivalent fixed connections to create a competitive backhaul network and to connect schools, hospitals and most businesses, at speeds up to 1Gbps
    Lets see that must be the new dedicated Micro wave stuff which is good because then no one else will be connected to it and they can then share the up to 100Mbps wireless

    Fibre in some other areas where there was a demonstrated need, via commercial return
    Lets see “demonstrated need, via commercial return”
    We will build it but we will charge you an arm a leg and your first born to link to it because we now own you

    Satellite for remote areas, at speeds of up to 12Mbps
    Standard fair
    Why no new faster better sats because bugger they cost money
    suffer you aint nuthin so you get nuthin

    A focus on a public/private model
    Yep public can pay for everything then pay us to do it and we will own it
    Thats what has been happening to our communications for years The people pay the private sector to do something then the private sector get to own it and run it into the ground and ask for more money to fix it

    my friends all I can say is
    In your dreams

    Try looking out for the country by working with it instead of raping it
    Australian Telecommunications is about more then your pockets its is about improving Australia on the world stage your Pockets are secondary but they will still be filled just over a longer period

  15. Yes wireless is great just try and use it at a packed football stadium and see the response. Imagine now how outer metro regions will be running on 4G (vapourware at the moment) wireless solutions.

    This isn’t fantasy this is real life, we have a solution it is called Fibre to the home to towns as low as 700 people and wireless for the less densley populated areas where it will be effective.

    The only thing NBN does to these companies is compete with them, this is why they are spruking NBN 3.0… utter rubbish.

  16. James Bond, you’re right on the money. What a classic. He is the spitting image of Goldfinger!

    These guys are just like vultures circling overhead the NBN. As a consumer I would choose FTTH any day over a bigger dose of the crappy, congested, unstable and exorbitantly priced mobile networks we currently “enjoy”.

  17. “Is that Auric Goldfinger in the photo above?”. I have to say in that photo I too can see the resemblence :)

  18. Wireless has consistently overpromised and under delivered.

    1990s, 2g promised greater than 100kbps but delivered about 50kbps.

    2000s, 3g has gradually increased, but despite theoretical speeds of greater than 20mbps most people see only about 2mbps if they’re really lucky (or on Telstra).

    2011 and we’ll start to see 4g services offering speeds of 100mbps but likely to deliver people 4-5mbps to start, rising to 10mbps over the next 10 years.

    So in 2020 when the NBN will have provided 100mbps minimum to a majority of the population we’ll have the same wireless speeds that most people had on adsl2 but with less reliability.

    2020s they’ll start introducing 5g services that offer 1gbps but will probably only deliver 50mbps to start rising to 100mbps by the 2030’s, or roughly the equivalent to a year 2000 local area network but with less reliability. In other words the applications will be similar to those available to businesses today but more mobile.

    By 2030’s fibre will comparatively have seen the end of locally installed applications, storage, and physical servers in businesses. Instead we will have an IT/Entertainment industry almost wholly based on software as a service, streaming anything on demand, and cloud based unlimited storage.

    The history of technology is littered with business leaders who can’t see a future beyond their next year’s profits. This alliance is just another sad example.

  19. Show me a a reasonable speed wireless broadband connection that doesn’t have high latency and i will back the idea…. I work in ICT and i have yet to see a “real” wireless option! Do the people leading these “alternative” options really have an understanding of the technologies they are suggesting as an alternative to the NBN? Are they really seeking “expert” advise? From my stand point and over 25 years in the industry experience i think not.

  20. Of course Bevan Slattery is against the NBN. Whilst I have a lot of time for the chap, whom is otherwise a very ‘switched on’ and smart, individual, he does have a pretty strongly vested interest in this case.

    PIPE Networks provide quite a bit of fibre optic capacity and provide peering networks. If a large chunk of my bread-and-butter was at risk (or at the very least under potentially very considerable compettive pressue) from an invasion of fibre, I’d be a tad concerned, too.

    Wireless is very much the golden goose; it’s purported to lay golden eggs on command, yet they never really seem to eventuate; where are all the wireless networks that are supposed to be the saviour? They’re thin and far between because to do it even remotely well, requires a big $$ investment. And there’s no real finacial benefit to provde thourough coverage.

    So far, NextG is the closest thing to a broad deployment and even Telstra’s whopping invesments can’t cover everyone, nor does it truely deliver everywhere. If the nations largest infrastructure investor can’t financially do it – what does this ‘rebel alliance’ think it can acheive, other than defend it’s bottom line?

  21. Yep just a bunch of dribblers pushing their own barrow to fill their own wallets as wireless providers with no future vision. Wireless to date has promised the world but really failed to deliver anything substantial. It can only ever promise THEORETICAL maximum speeds and if everyone is on it that speed will be less than what we can get now with copper. I see no real future vision happening here, just a select few wanting to fill their own wallets at our expense.

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