NBN: Turnbull strengthens FTTN focus


news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has intensified the Coalition’s focus on fibre to the node as an alternative to the fibre to the home-style rollout used by the NBN, using similar FTTN rollouts by AT&T in the US, BT in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany as examples for how the broadband rollout style could be carried out in Australia.

The Gillard Government’s current NBN policy being implemented by NBN Co focuses on using a fibre to the home rollout in which cables are deployed from centralised points (usually telephone exchanges) all the way to home or business premises around Australia. The previous NBN policy focused on rolling fibre out to neighbourhood cabinets known as ‘nodes’, using Telstra’s existing copper cable for the last hop to home and business premises. However, it was ditched in April 2009, after an independent panel of experts warned the Federal Government that the policy was not feasible due to the requirement for industry involvement — and no satisfactory industry proposals.

The Coalition has never explicitly detailed how it would evolve the current Labor Government’s FTTH NBN policy to a FTTN if it took power, but since October 2011, Turnbull’s public discussion of the NBN under a Coalition Government has increasingly focused on using FTTN. Last week on Twitter, Turnbull added to that focus. Turnbull pointed out that in a number of “comparable” telecommunications markets to Australia, the “common sense” FTTN approach was being used, such as by giant telco AT&T in the US, and incumbent telco players BT in the UK and Deutsche Telekom in Germany.

In the US, AT&T’s so-called “U-verse” fibre to the node build was scheduled to hit some 30 million homes by the end of 2012 (consisting of some 55 to 60 percent of the company’s addressable footprint). The platform provides speeds up to 24Mbps, although such speeds are generally much more guaranteed at various tiers, compared to the so-called “up to 24Mbps” speeds which Australia’s current ADSL2+ footprint offers. In the UK, BT is rolling out fibre to the node in a number of areas and plans to achieve 80Mbps download speeds and 20Mbps upload speeds this year, while in Germany, Deutsche Telekom is also rolling out fibre to the node to millions of homes.

Turnbull said the only question regarding telecommunications infrastructure is “whether the fibre needs to go all the way into every premise”. “If we are a few years behind US why has Verizon stopped its FTTP rollout and AT&T is continuing with its FTTN?” he asked the ABC’s Technology and Games channel on Twitter, responding to an extensive article posted by the media outlet last week analysing the potential of the Coalition’s rival NBN policy.

The Shadow Communications Minister also addressed the issue of the potential return on investment which NBN Co could achieve from a FTTN-style rollout, as opposed to the current FTTH structure.
The NBN is not expected to cost the Federal Government money; it is currently expected (based on financial projections) to make a return on its investment in the long term of between 5.3 percent and 8.8 percent on that investment — from $1.93 billion in the worst case to $3.92 billion in the best case.

In contrast, the Coalition has not yet detailed the costs involved in its own policy, which in general features a scaled down approach to the NBN, focusing on the likely separation of Telstra, upgrading current HFC cable infrastructure and targeted fibre to the node rollouts, as well as, potentially, satellite and wireless use in rural areas. A recent analysis by Citigroup found that the Coalition’s policy would cost $16.7 billion. The Citigroup report didn’t mention what financial return, if any, the Coalition’s proposal was slated to bring in on its own investment.

However, Turnbull said on Twitter last week that AT&T’s FTTN rollout cost a third or less of Verizon’s rival FTTH deployment, but had very similar average revenue per user; so he expected the return on investment from FTTN to be “much better” than FTTH.

The Liberal MP didn’t give detailed answers to all of his questioners on NBN-related issues, however. Asked by the New Zealand Government had switched to a FTTH-style deployment, abandoning its initial FTTN plans in its own high-speed national broadband project, Turnbull said: “Politics”.

I know that this isn’t what many Australians want to hear, given the strong popular support for Labor’s current FTTH-based NBN policy, but Turnbull is beginning to make a strong case with respect to the rollout of fibre to the node infrastructure in the mid-term in Australia.

If it is true that a much better ROI could be achieved from replacing much of the current FTTH rollout structure with FTTN, and if speeds of up to somewhere like 80Mbps could be achieved in Australia as they are with BT’s similar rollout in the UK, and if the planned industry re-structure could still be achieved, with Telstra ceding control of its copper network somehow and its attached vertically-integrated monopoly, then the Coalition’s NBN policy starts to look very appealing.

Of course, these are a lot of ifs. The task of modifying Telstra’s extensive agreement with NBN Co to focus on a FTTN-style rollout instead of FTTH is a gargantuan one alone, and I anticipate it would take at least 18 months or so of negotiations (similar to when this agreement was first negotiated) to get that out of the way. Then there is the fact that NBN Co itself does not believe that Australia’s copper network is capable of the same FTTN speeds as seen elsewhere, and Turnbull hasn’t yet provided hard data as evidence for why his FTTN approach would provide a better ROI than the FTTH-style NBN rollout.

In addition, overweighing all of this is the fact that Australia will in the long-term very likely shift to FTTH anyway, even if FTTN is used as an interim solution. In the 20-30 year time frame, such a deployment will likely be necessary and affordable, given the ongoing commoditisation of technology and growing bandwidth requirements. In this context, a focus on FTTN in the short-term looks short-sighted.

But at the end of the day, the Australian consumer would still end up with a good outcome from a FTTN-style deployment by an organisation like NBN Co (if it is indeed NBN Co that Turnbull wants to deploy such infrastructure; he has also discussed the potential for industry to do so). Up to 80Mbps broadband to a large swathe of Australia would help provide for our needs in the medium-term, and I personally would love to be able to get such speeds to my residence; as would most Australians. I would most assuredly make good use of them.

As I have previously mentioned, although it doesn’t match up to Labor’s more strategic vision, there is still a lot to like about the Coalition’s current NBN policy as a whole. It just needs to provide a lot more detail about how it would be implemented.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. FTTN only makes sense for the company that owns the copper wires – FTTH is generally cheaper otherwise. It would be good to see a “guestimate” on the ROI that would be achieved if the government was the one doing FTTN rather than Telstra.

    • You could certainly make that case if you could get 80mb/sec for all, but given Australia’s current cabling infrastructure (which is different from where POSSIBLE speeds of 80mb/sec were tested), and the Coalitions “cheaper” aims we might end up with an average speed of 10mb/sec as they did in New Zealand (where the price is far far in excess if the NBNs wholesale charges).

      • Actually Paul, that’s a really interesting parallel. I could see that happening here. Abbott gets in, stops the NBN, goes FTTN, in 4 years time when people ACTUALLY get on it and they find speeds of 10Mbps are normal, they “reassess the situation thanks to new data” and can the FTTN and go back to the FTTH. Meanwhile, we’ve just lost 6 years where nothing’s happened.

        It really does make me shake my head in shame to think TA could be our next PM. Julia is bad enough, but this guy:

        – Ignores the public need
        – Lies about the need AND the provision of the supply for that need
        – Has no problem using ANY and ALL options to gain political advantage EVEN at the expense of somebody’s personal life

        • “Actually Paul, that’s a really interesting parallel. I could see that happening here. Abbott gets in, stops the NBN, goes FTTN, in 4 years time when people ACTUALLY get on it and they find speeds of 10Mbps are normal, they “reassess the situation thanks to new data” and can the FTTN and go back to the FTTH. Meanwhile, we’ve just lost 6 years where nothing’s happened.”

          And when it does resume to a FTTP policy AGAIN, this second FTTP NEW FOOTPRINT ROLLOUT is going to be very limited to high density metro capital cities ONLY. After all it will be Telstra doing the rollout now that it’s privately owned again. Country rural/regional areas will get whatever is deemed necessary for us “rednecks”
          “Ma, can you pass me some more of that possum pie. That is sure finger lickin’ good Ma!”

  2. Really, do you see the coalition allowing an “NBN Co.” doing FTTN? Let’s see – political hang ups from NBN Co. being the Labor Govt’s choice, T$ only agreeing to the renegotiate if they are the only ones allowed to do FTTN.

    No, they will only allow T$ to do it and we will be back to an internet model crica 1980 where one commerical provider dominates the landscape and allows more speed at a hugely inflated price, only when it really has to. T$ had their chance and blew it.

    I suspect that the LNP Coalition are either letting T$ write their policy or are looking to grease T$ something wicked!

  3. I’ve gone beyond caring which model gets up, I just want the best technology at the best price with the best outcome for all; the health, education and government/business sectors need the ultra-high-speed and capacity of FTTH (or equivalent for their business models and location/operational requirements); home users need guaranteed connectivity and stable, reliable high-speed broadband so that video streaming to 4 or 5 screens in one home (the most likely use of such speed and capacity in the domestic scenario) can be achieved – this would flow on to giving the content providers a guaranteed customer base for VOD as data ‘flow’ becomes more reliable and ‘unrestrained’ (as it is by bottlenecks in the system as it stands)…I’m no expert but I do believe that the FTTH model is the best, however if (most likely) the Libs win government there’s going to be a bru-ha-ha in the telco sector again (which we could do without, honestly) as everyone scrambles to stake out their claim on the piece of the pie they’re most interested in getting their hands on.

    • +1 to this

      Virtually everyone that has started an FTTN project has ended up moving to FTTP.

  4. As the days go by I’m finding it even harder to be impressed with any FttN proposal, at this stage considering all the work NBNco have done it would be sheer idiocy to take 10 steps backwards. Citigroup says it would cost about $17 billion, when you have a price like this and then look at the amount a proper NBN build costs it’s easy to figure out which one is better value for money. It simply makes no sense to be rolling out a FttN patchwork now, in 3 years from now it’ll make even less sense and in 2021 it’ll just look stupid.

  5. No Malcolm No!

    Get out of the way, roll out the nbn and move on!

    FTTN isn’t a solution – if you are on a rim/pair gain you can’t get it and as has been shown in NZ, it’s a failure!

    FTTN will do nothing for competition – if anything it will entrench Telstra and set us back another 2 decades.

    • FTTN is essentially what the RIM/CMUX/ISAM is, so LNP plan does sounds like just giving Telstra money to expand their monopoly. The “node” is a street-side cabinet when the DSL equipment, which has fibre running to it. So more nodes will give “more speed” than what many people have, since it will be a shorter copper run, but really only marginally in the grand scheme.

      So more people will get over 12/1 but to go higher than 24/1 will cost significantly more than what we have now, having to migrate from ADSL2+ to VDSL or similar. And even the highest speed one can get with VDSL is lower than what is available on the currently-rolling-out-NBN – VDSL looses speed significantly on longer lines (where a “long line” is 1km) where an optional network can go much further and still provide gigabit or higher speeds.

      Many of Telstra’s nodes are congested, since the older ones only got a very small slice of the fibre bandwidth. Newer/upgraded nodes get more, but still highly contended, so you get slow downs during peak periods. I’d like to know the exact numbers but I imagine they are commercial in confidence…

      FTTN is a stop-gap solution that the current infrastructure does not support. Telstra owns the copper lines and charges like a wounded bull for access to them. Would the LNP be able to legislate that Telstra simply surrender them? What about wholesale voice access? What about copper issues? First time I applied for ADSL (way back in 2002) I was “too far from the exchange” even though neighbours on both sides already had it: this problem could cause issues.

      FTTP is the only solution going forward.

  6. Israel “NBN” = FTTP
    NZ “NBN” = changing from FTTN to FTTP
    Singapore “NBN” = FTTP
    Qatar “NBN” = FTTP

    Obama has just enacted an Executive Order to encourage FTTP.

    Yeah, nobody is interested in FTTP, are they?

    Non sequitur.

    • Add BT to your list, they’re upgrading select portions of their FTTN rollout to FTTP. They’re only doing the high density cash cow portions though and have put out their hand to the government if they want more done.

        • Looking through the Wikipedia list, there are almost no numbers provided. Many of the countries are nothing more than a mention of “announced plans” or “experts discussed”. Even a Greek politician’s promise from 4 years ago get’s a listing. Beyond that, some of the listings are FTTN and other things.

          For Indonesia it lists: “began offering FTTH (using coaxial cable not Optical Fiber), branded as FastNet”

          FTTH using coaxial cable ?!?

          Also, if the Wiki is to be believed, “Lithuania leads Europe in FTTH connectivity with 18% penetration”

          A big 18% huh? Staggering figured you have cited there.

          • I think the important thing is what is happening in nearly every case where a country has rolled out FTTN. They have moved to FTTN for future rollouts or started upgrading FTTN to FTTH. So in a few years, if and when they start to roll it out, how much life is left in it?

          • Without going through them with a fine toothed comb, I noticed these numbers…

            Brunei 2010 150M
            Hong Kong 2006 1G
            India 2011 1+G
            Japan first introduced in 1999. Now 1G (with most on 100M)
            South Korea 100M
            Czech Rep currently 100M
            Estonia 2010 100M
            France 2003-2006 100M with plans to upgrade to 2.5G
            Finland currently 1G
            Greece (“proposed from 2013”) 100M
            Italy 2008 1G
            Moldova 2010 100M
            Netherlands post 2009 100M
            Norway currently 400M
            Portugal currently 1G
            Slovenia currently 1G
            Spain post 2007 2.5G
            Sweden 2010 1G
            Switzerland 2007 100M
            Turkey 2007 100M
            Ukraine 2007 100M
            Israel proposed from 2012 1G
            Qatar proposed from 2012 100M
            Canada currently 300M
            Mexico currently 100M
            Brazil 2007 100M
            Chile 2005 100M

          • You didn’t go through with a particularly fine tooth comb if you are just listing peak speeds, you forgot:

            Australia 2001 ??
            Australia 2009 100M

            I wonder why you left that one off the list? Hmmm?

          • Here’e exactly what it says…without that special TA inspired coloration.


            The first FTTH network deployed in Australia was delivered in 2001 by Bright Telecommunications – a subsidiary of Western Power the state power company. Bright Telecommunications initially deployed Fibre to the Curb by Marconi and a PtP FTTH solution from Entrasys, but later progressed to a GePON product from Alloptic. Bright telecommunications was sold to Silk Telecom (now Nextgen) in 2007.

            The Australian Government is in the process of rolling out an A$36.9 billion open-access National Broadband Network comprising GPON-based FTTP services to 93% of the Australian population at speeds up to 1Gbit/s, with the remainder of the population to be serviced by fixed-wireless and satellite technologies. The network will be built and operated by a Government Business Enterprise, NBN Co Limited.

            Construction began with trial sites in Tasmania in 2009, with the first services commencing in July 2010. The network is scheduled for completion in December 2021.[27][28] The Tasmanian NBN trial sites were operated by Opticomm on behalf of NBN Co.[29]

            Other FTTP installations in Australia include greenfield estates deployed by private companies including Arise, BES, Comverge, Fuzeconnect, Openetworks, Opticomm, Pivit, Syncaccess Group, Telstra, and TransACT. In 2009, Opticomm became the first company to offer a 100Mbit/s residential service in Australia.[30]

          • Like I said, in 2001 Brightcom delivered fiber with an unspecified speed. In 2009 Opticom delivered a documented speed of 100M. That’s exactly what I wrote above, and exactly the entry you omitted from your “fine tooth comb” list.

          • FFS we were talking about OTHER countries who are rolling out FTTP and particularly those who initially were talking FTTN.

            And I note you ignore ALL of those numbers/countries.

        • No Tel, I don’t think you’ll find that’s what he said or meant. BT are ‘upgrading’ the ROLLOUT from FTTN to FTTH. NOT the FTTN already rolled out. That’s tough cookies if you’ve already got it. Mainly cause FTTN uses an architecture closer to AON than PON, like most FTTH networks. The 2 aren’t compatible.

          And the US has a similar penetration at 19% and rising. The AT&T FTTN is now being phased out in favour of FTTH. Same as FiOS.

          ALL wired telecoms are moving to FTTH slowly. WHY only START an FTTN NOW when others are ALREADY beginning to bypass it. We’d be behind before we’d even finished and THEN have to begin upgrading almost before It’s finished!

        • Sorry if my comment was confusing.

          I used the term “upgrade” in the context of moving from an existing capability level to a better one. Similar to when many people say they have upgraded to a better phone or car.

          This is distinct from an “in place upgrade” or where an “upgrade path” exists which I feel is where your comment placed my use of the term.

  7. It is abundantly clear, without any contest whatsoever, that an FTTH solution is profoundly technologically superior to an FTTN solution.

    That aside, regardless of the whole FTTN vs. FTTH debate, the only way to build FTTN as an interim solution with the eventual aim to upgrade cleanly to FTTH (and make no mistake, FTTH is the eventual outcome of data networks no matter which way you look at it) is to build FTTN in a much more expensive way to accommodate for the eventual upgrade.

    Both sides of politics are looking to build the network as “cheap” and “fast” as possible.

    To do that, we need to take into account three options:

    The cost of either building a cheap FTTN network now, with no clean upgrade path to FTTH, as fast and as cheaply as possible, probably using the existing copper to each house (and there’s evidence that an initial FTTN build could potentially be built faster and cheaper than an initial FTTH build).

    The cost of building a more expensive FTTN network which is designed with a clean upgrade path to FTTH and then add the cost of upgrading to FTTH later.

    The cost of building an expensive FTTH network now (which we already know will cost ~$42 billion in capital) and then we’d be done.

    With Options 1 and 2, we also need to take into account the quantity of FTTH rollout completed at a given point in time, if looking to switch the remainder of the rollout to FTTN.

    Having taken all of those factors into account, we should then choose the option which builds the network as cheaply as possible overall and then be looking at how to build that option the fastest way within those cost constraints.

    Based on those factors, I think we’ll find that Option 3 (FTTH now) is the recommended option.

    • +100 ^ this. Thank you Geoff. Someone who understands it. Clearly we need to sit down with Turnbull and take him through these options.

      However, knowing the penchant for the Opposition attitude of “Least money now and leave it to the private sector” I doubt he’d listen.

      • He still hasn’t met with Quigley as invited to do so many many months ago so obviously he doesn’t want to know the truth!

  8. As you have said Renai there are too many ifs in what Turnbull has proposed. After the remarks by Joe Hockey the first big if is… if it is in fact the Coalition policy or just another of Turnbull’s dreams.

    It seems to me that we are in exactly the same place we were when the last election was held. The Coalition is opposed to the Labor NBN roll out but doesn’t have any policy apart from scrapping the NBN and replacing it with something else which they can’t make up their mind about.

    Until the Coalition comes up with a workable cost effective alternative policy that is better I am going to continue to support the NBN roll out.

    • What could “workable cost effective alternative policy” possibly be? While Joe Hockey is still rabbiting on about the capacity of wireless, the Opposition would have to recent on many long promoted ideas.

  9. Why would you build a Single lane bridge at the end of a 4-lane freeway?
    FTTN can only work if Telstra owns the Network.. Why bother at all?, Just save the money..Who needs another T monopoly, especially when FTTN will deliver little more than ADSL.

  10. I’m sorry Renai but I take issue with your closing comment

    “As I have previously mentioned, although it doesn’t match up to Labor’s more strategic vision, there is still a lot to like about the Coalition’s current NBN policy as a whole. It just needs to provide a lot more detail about how it would be implemented.”

    There’s little to like. It would retard the current progress being made by years, costing us time, money, opportunities, and resulting in a substandard level of service that would cripple Australia for decades.

    A strong case could also be made given the current take up rate of NBN 100Mbit services that Australians today, right now, desire services better than FTTN can deliver (or will likely ever be capable of delivering). And they’re willing to pay. Does anyone doubt that when services beyond 100Mbit are made available there will again be a higher than expected uptake?

    The NBN is the only policy that makes sense at this stage of the game. We can’t consider going backward now.

  11. “If it is true that a much better ROI could be achieved from replacing much of the current FTTH rollout structure with FTTN, and if speeds of up to somewhere like 80Mbps could be achieved in Australia as they are with BT’s similar rollout in the UK”

    They don’t get these speeds in the UK, the get an maximum of 4MBs if you are right next to the cabninet.. They were a trial of equipment that is not available and may never be available. They are now rolling out FTTH and trying to do their best to get more speed out of their FTTN cabinets so they won’t be a wasted investment.

    “There are no changes to our ordering process or systems and circuits should be ordered following the standard FTTC ordering journey. If a circuit has a predicted speed between 5Mbit/s to 15Mbit/s the order should be placed requesting a 40Mbit/s downstream and 2Mbit/s upstream option. The circuits will be provided to the highest speed supported by the line.”

    BT Wholesale Statement

    • Noddy: Not true – these are my sync stats:

      Max: Upstream rate = 33600 Kbps, Downstream rate = 92688 Kbps
      Path: 0, Upstream rate = 20000 Kbps, Downstream rate = 79999 Kbps

      It’s been surprisingly good so far… VDSL2 for me at least as a technology has been pretty good. The main issue is BT’s broken network which sees me routed London->Sheffield->London before hitting the wider internet.

      (source: me, Australian in the UK since 2007).

      • So they have rolled out some of the upgrades now? The one where they increase the frequencies available from 7MHz to 17MHz? (No sign of vectoring yet that I know of)

        Lucky you getting those speeds, you must be within 200-300m of the node.
        Shame about the other 95% of people served by the node that get less than 80Mb
        or the 80% who get less than 50Mb or the 50% who get less than 30Mb

        • Yeah, 17a has been out for nearly 6 months I think. They made the profile change sometime before offering higher speeds. No vectoring yet though.

          Not sure exactly where my cabinet is – the estimated speed before install was 57.8meg, which suggested a line length of about 600m I think. It will probably decrease as more people get connected – I ordered the day after the cabinet went live afaik.

          • Actually that’s one thing I am worried about if there is no vectoring. The speeds will drop lower and lower as there are more subscribers due to increased crosstalk. In Australia, if FTTN replaces ADSL2 with similar uptake that’s a 70% uptake. Last I saw the FTTN uptake in the UK was under 10% Is that still correct? You have other broadband options available beside FTTN at your premises?

          • I’m not sure on the take-up rate of FTTC, but I don’t think it’s been huge. Certainly in my area it’s low as the local council objected to the new street furniture and there was a delay of over a year before it finally went live 3 weeks ago.

            I’m in suburban London and am lucky enough to have the choice of Virgin’s HFC (a horribly contended mess), BT’s FTTC and a variety of LLU ADSL providers.

      • BTW, individual speeds hardly tell the whole story. I could argue ADSL2+ is great, it gives 16Mb, what are people complaining about? The average however is about 6Mb. I would only be on 10Mb myself only I was lucky enough to have a very stable line and tweaked the hell out of my modem.

  12. If the current roll out is stopped and changed to a FTTN or HFC
    it could mean you could have people living right next door to each other one with FTTN/HFC and one with FTTH
    I feel sorry for the person with living in the HFC/FTTN house.

  13. A higher ROI will will result in Higher end user pricing and the ROI can only be achieved at the expense of Ditching Wireless and Satellite to Taxpayer on budget subsidies..
    The taxpayer will no longer own the NBN and will no longer be a big asset, except to Telstra.
    Competitors DSLAMs will be cut off.. So much for competition. Telstra wins again..

  14. Ahem. AT&T is slowing their FTTN rollout. See http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/102795

    This all misses the simple point that a last-mile rollout by private industry can rarely capture the full benefits the way society can.

    That’s why private industry rarely builds suburban roads and government almost always does.

  15. That is like saying I will buy a 20 year old car because it is cheaper and it is but what about the additional servicing costs.

    It is currently costing Telstra upwards of $1Billion a year for servicing NOW how will people like it when their brand new FttN is getting 4 or 5 Mbps because of their shoddy copper line they will want it replaced and so they should SO on top of the $17 Billion to set up there is line replacement costs and ongoing servicing which will end up costing the same as the rollout costs for the current nbn which is only 3.7 Billion a year for the 10 year build.

    Turnbull is far from an economic illiterate he knows he is championing something which will cost us MORE than the NBN even before it gets upgraded to FttH simply because a technologically illiterate Mr Abbott has had a tanty and is on the floor screaming NO NO NO NO NO NO NBN NO NBN.

  16. Have we all forgotten that FTTN was initially looked at by Labor. Telstra said you’ll have to buy out the copper, and then we’ll take your cash, and overbuild your new FTTN network with an FTTH network. Cherry picked in profitable areas of course (back to haves and have nots).

    Been there done that. FTTN is a waste of time and money. If you have a plan to put FTTH to 93%, that won’t cost the taxpayer, I’d like to see an argument for not doing it.

    Also, Malcolm’s claim of getting the same end user prices on an FTTN network is code for – “you’ll pay more and get less.” Why would anyone vote for that?

  17. What upload speed are they going to target on FTTN/HFC? why does everyone forget about the upload speed

    • They “forget” about the uploads, because they know FTTN cant address that issue.. So they dont talk about it, hoping no-one will notice..

  18. ” and if speeds of up to somewhere like 80Mbps could be achieved in Australia…then the Coalition’s NBN policy starts to look very appealing.”

    Renai… I like how you try to be impartial but come-on!

    80Mbps only sounds good because:

    1) You’ve forgotten the importance of upload.
    2) Right *NOW* it’s a decent speed.

    Internet demand grows at ~50% per year – that’s 57x every decade! So what would be nice now [80Mbps] is woefully inadequate just a few years down the track.

  19. This changes nothing. FTTN was always going to get a better short term ROI. Charge the same but provide less. 80Mbs is not the goal, 1Gbps speed is the goal.

    For me as a heavy technology user, I see this as our only chance of getting a FTTH solution, or any solution involving reliable, guaranteed 1Gbps speeds to the home, at least in my lifetime. What is the likelyhood of a future Australian government ever approving a FTTH build given the bullshit that has happened just to get this far?

    The liberals and the majority of their followers hate spending money on something that is in the public good, they prefer to spend nothing and let the market control everything, that is how we ended up with all our utilities privatised. Labour have the problem of too much union control in this country, so the only real way forward is to vote greens or independent. I voted greens at the last election and it was purely because they were for the NBN and against the filter, otherwise I may have voted independent.

    This is the only vote swinging idea on the table as far as I am concerned. All their other policies as just fluff, ie the same stuff they always put on the table. As for the carbon tax, I think it is bullshit, but I also realise it cannot be stopped as both sides are going to implement something. Leading up to an election promise the world and deny any wrong doing, after an election all promises are void.

  20. Kerry Packer famously said: “You only get one Alan Bond in your lifetime, and I’ve had mine”. Telstra will be getting theirs in the form of Malcolm Turnbull if he goes through with this FTTN thought bubble. Getting compensation for breaking the NBN contract, and then leasing/selling off their end of life copper will be a wet dream for Telstra.

    The problem for Malcolm with this strategy is the digital divide between those already with FTTP and the poor cousins stuck with FTTN. The extra cost over time for FTTP will reap the reward from the rising tide of subscribers on premium 100Mbps+ plans. FTTN however is stuck in just one gear with nothing to up-sell other than data. Even if you can get beyond 24Mbps we’re back to the copper roulette that determines what your address is capable of.

  21. The entire FTTN issue is a red herring.

    The NBN is in fact an investment. The government borrows money. NBNco builds the network and charges for it. In the end, its the users of the NBN that pay for it.

    The NBN is not being funded out of the same pool of tax revenue that pays for ordinary spending – roads etc.

    At the end of the day, the NBN costs the taxpayer nothing – because it can charge for its services.

    The Liberals are exploiting the lie that the NBN is simply ordinary spending. They keep pushing the lie that it competes with roads, schools etc. They then want us to believe that making it “cheaper” is therefore better, ignoring the fact that what matters is that it is able to pay for itself, and so long as it can do that it costs us precisely nothing.

    Now, that’s a big lie and the Liberals have no shame.

    But wait, it gets worse. The NBN as it stands has a business case. It rolls out a FTTH network. It charges for it. Its able to do so, and provide decent retail prices AND make a return higher than the interest paid on the capital to build it. But that’s a FTTH network.

    What happens with FTTN? Well for a start, even if NBNco built with FTTN, it would have no business case. It would be obsolete in short order. Then what? Well the investment would be a failure and the taxpayer would have to pick up the bill.

    But, that’s not how the Liberals seem to want to do things.

    If they hand the job to Telstra, two things happen. One is that we pay through the nose for it, and then have to pay again when the upgrade to FTTH occurs. The other is that all the “non viable” bits end up getting ongoing taxpayer funded subsidy.

    So, we’d go from a situation where it costs us nothing and delivers us a world class network, to a situation where we get a disaster that actually costs tax money. Clever.

    Of course the Liberals are only talking about FTTN in a desperate attempt to look like they’re doing something. Its really all about smokescreen and bookmark. Just try to look like you’re doing something and then get elected and then actually do what you really wanted to do.

    The reality is that the Liberals won’t be able to legislate through the Senate and won’t want to be seen to be doing nothing for years. They won’t do FTTN. nor does Telstra really want it. What Telstra wants is a FTTH monopoly, and the Liberals are going to hand it to them. Easy – Just sell shares in NBNco in favour of Telstra till Telstra has a controlling stake.

    Being in this position (that is the Liberals) hands Telstra the whip hand. Watch two things happen. One is weakened regulation (NBNco currently has strict pricing controls) and the other is watch as the cost of your fancy new fibre connection goes up!

    Yep, that’s right. What the Liberals will do is essentially flog off the parts of the NBN already constructed. FTTH construction will continue but it will be effectively under the control of Telstra, and if you want to see what retail prices will look like then, take a look at how Telstra priced its monopoly fibre estates, or south Brisbane exchange.

    • “However, Turnbull said on Twitter last week that AT&T’s FTTN rollout cost a third or less of Verizon’s rival FTTH deployment, but had very similar average revenue per user; so he expected the return on investment from FTTN to be “much better” than FTTH.”

      What does this mean exactly? If FTTN is so much cheaper to deploy, does that not mean that we should expect retail prices to be considerably lower? This statement sounds as though a Coalition govt expects to profit the difference? If it will cost the consumer the same anyway, then why shouldn’t we expect the better and longer term FTTH solution?

  22. “However, Turnbull said on Twitter last week that AT&T’s FTTN rollout cost a third or less of Verizon’s rival FTTH deployment, but had very similar average revenue per user; so he expected the return on investment from FTTN to be “much better” than FTTH.”

    So for all the Libs talk about FTTH being too expensive for the end user, they want us to pay a similar price for an inferior FTTN connection. What a joke. I’d expect that sort of self-contradicting statement from Hockey, not Turnbull.

  23. The part that amuses me the most is Turnbull’s reply to the NZ experience: “Politics.’

    And….His whole address to the NBN is nothing but Politics

  24. The cost of labour in Australia is the major component in the cost of construction of the network. Even if FTTN costs less to build than FTTH now (which is not at all clear), and if it is eventually to be ‘upgraded’ to FTTH, the total cost can only be higher than building fibre all the way to the home now.

    Why? Because the cost of labour in this country is only going to get higher and higher, barring some catastrophic event. Building cheaper now will only mean paying a much higher price in the future, if at some point in time a future government realises that Australia is stuck with a technologically inferior solution while all our major partners and competitors are already on FTTH.

  25. I already have FTTN in Forest Lake, Queensland and have had for quite a few years now. So I am to be stuck with a speed limit of 15Mbit/1Mbit for the next 20yrs?? I already experience significant bandwidth issues once my kids start nternet gaming on the xbox or PC, watching ABC iView and Youtube, I have several remote desktop sessions and video skype running for work and everyone is lagging.

    My only bandwidth solution would be to install multiple ADSL2+ links to service my household needs, that’s assuming their are enough ports available in my street cabinet and I could afford to double or triple my internet costs.

    I am also limited by my choice in internet provider as Telstra has “no room” in the sub-exchange that services my area for any competitors equipment. How does Mr Turnbull think this is better than having and open access network that anyone can sell a service on?

    For my own personal circumstances there is no choice but to push on with the FTTP model, even those people who are saying but we need something now cause they are stuck on a 512Kbit ADSL connection or worse. You’d be happy for the first couple of months until you starting using the speed for what you really can do with it, then you’ll be crying for more and complaining that FTTN isn’t enough.

    As for the ney sayers that “don’t need” all that bandwidth. We build massive roads in areas that I will never drive, this is an infrastructure project for a whole nation, not just a faster way for you to check tomorrow’s weather forecast and read the latest funny cat email.

  26. @ Renai, “I know that this isn’t what many Australians want to hear, given the strong popular support for Labor’s current FTTH-based NBN policy, but Turnbull is beginning to make a strong case with respect to the rollout of fibre to the node infrastructure in the mid-term in Australia.”

    No he isn’t. Or perhaps you would like to elaborate on exactly what this ‘strong case’ is based on.

  27. The problem with politicians in general, and MT in this instance, is that they realise that those who make the difference at polling time are the one who are least interested in politics or issues. These are the people that catch the 5 minutes grabs on TV and the major headlines in the papers.

    This is why those who think and care have to be constantly hammered with catchy statements repeated ad nauseum by politicians.

    Never mind the facts, the ‘uncaring’ will never bother to check the facts. They know already. Never uncertain but seldom right

    • You can hardly blame them for playing the game as it is. If they do otherwise they just lose and someone else takes their place.

      Maybe talk to your fellow citizen about why they are completely uninterested.

      • Even though they play the game to get elected they got into politics, at least I hope so, so that they could serve as representatives for the nation and try to do the best for the nation. Abbott I can understand, he’s clueless when it comes to communications, but I do not think Abbott xan really believe in his plan as more than an interum solution that will just be an extra spend on the way to FTTH.

  28. Well done MT, what a great plan, lets keep Australia in the Copper age because no-one needs FTTP, not even business!


  29. So NZ switched from FTTN to FTTP due to “Politics.”

    Now, MT wants to switch from FTTP to FTTN due to “Politics.”

    It is beginning to sound like NZ has better politicians.

    • Exactly the problem observer. Labor are pushing “this will be better for all Australians!” rather than “look at Mr Smith over here and Mrs Jones over here! Look what they have in broadband, nothing! And under the Opposition’s policy, they’re not guaranteed a thing! Under the NBN, they’ll get guaranteed 12Mbps and up to 100Mbps if they’re in a fibre area!”

      They are falling into the Howard trap on both the NBN AND the Carbon Tax. And unless they jump out of the hole, they’re just digging themselves deeper eveyday, along with our hopes for the NBN. Exactly the reason behind my call for a public group behind the NBN, to SHOW individual concerns, unlike with Labor are doing.

      • I like the sound of a public group, if that means a group of like-minded supporters of the NBN who might be able to promote the truth and benefits about the NBN in a coordinated way.

        • That’s PRECISELY my idea Elijah. I’m not interested in politics. I’m interested in clear public information on the facts to cut THROUGH the rubbish politics.

          • too easily covers an FTTN possibility, I’d call it either:




            This makes it 100% clear what the goal is.

          • Mmm, Fibre4Oz. I don’t wanna start bringing in complications until necessary. FTTH4Oz is being a little too technical I think.

            Obviously we’ll have to talk about FTTH Vs FTTN but we wanna keep it as simple as possible I think.

  30. Mr Turnbull’s opposition to the NBN is nothing more than politics. He has absolutely no interest in delivering the best possible deal to Australians.

    The only thing that is of interest to him is to put an option on the table that is far cheaper than the current plan regardless of how incredibly short sighted and inferior it is. It will look like he is saving billions which is all that matters in the game of politics.

    In the end, the cost of fixing that mistake will of course cost us far more than the original idea but it doesn’t matter – that becomes the next governments problem and Australian voters generally only care about what is happening RIGHT NOW. Smaller numbers look better than bigger numbers.

  31. It is very disappointing that people in the media (including Renai on this site) mostly ignore the issue of upstream bandwidth when analysing alternatives to Labor’s fibre-to-the-home NBN solution.

    Putting aside all other structural aspects of the NBN where FTTH has an advantage over alternatives (ubiquitous access for vast majority of premises in Australia, exactly the same pricing model irrespective of where you live, fair and open access model for service providers) — the most important technological difference between FTTH and anything else is the upload speeds.

    Sure, Turnbull’s “FTTN + HFC mix” may be comparable to FTTH in download bandwidth initially (ignoring the clear upgrade path of the latter to 1Gbps+), and this may satisfy the entertainment needs of many at the moment. But, and it is a big but, NBN is supposed to be about much more than streaming movies and music and playing games in multiple rooms at the same time, i.e. doing the same things we do now, just faster. It is about enabling the future services that are currently impossible to do…

    From cloud computing to virtual presence to high quality multimedia content generation — services requiring super fast *upstream* broadband will be important not just for households, but even more so for businesses. Only large businesses can currently afford the kind of communications infrastructure that enables such services.

    Labor’s NBN will allow a level playing field for everyone so that both individuals, micro and small businesses will be able to participate in the information economy of the future without having to spend thousands of $$$$$ every month on premium “business grade” services, and, possibly even more importantly, without having to base themselves only in CBD’s of our largest cities.

    Coalition’s alternative NBN proposals will not provide any of those advantages. Their proposed eclectic patchwork of technologies will be just a glorified entertainment system with only slightly better downloads than the current ADSL network, with doing zilch for transforming the economy or helping bring it into the information age. That this is the position of the Liberal party, which was once the champion of the small business and entrepreneurship in Australia, is a great shame.

    • You’re right; but the need for upstream bandwidth is not one which is going to be the selling point for either side’s solution. People just don’t understand this side of it enough.

      • I wonder why Renai?? Because of the enormous amount of misinformation and Fud generated.?

        • No because most end users genuinely do not utilise their upstream bandwidth.

          ADSL didn’t end up asymmetric by accident, nor because comms engineers are astoundingly stupid. It was built to serve a market need, which it does.

          • A market need that is RAPIDLY becoming inadequate. Most small businesses would be frustrated at some point with low uploads. Hell, even uploading the occasional YouTube video for me is enough to have me saying ‘too slow; can’t be bothered’.

            Just because people put up with slow uploads doesn’t mean they don’t want them or don’t realise they want them when saying ‘why is this uploading taking so damn long!’ At the moment, the only option for the majority is to pay $350 a month to get SHDSL from Telstra and that only gives 2-5 Mbps IF you’re lucky enough to live close to the exchange.

          • That upstream capacity is currently the limiting capacity on video calls. I often talk to my mother or sister and my neices and 1Mb video isn’t very good and most people get lower than 1Mb.

          • Tel it’s hard to work you out for someone that promotes Linux which is open source. You seem to be preferring a FTTN solution (most likely to be built by Telstra, a parallel situation to Microsoft BIG BUSINESS) rather than a FTTP solution which being PUBLICLY OWNED aligns more with Linux also PUBLICLY OWNED.

          • Many people seem fixated with the Left vs Right view of the world, which is strange when there is so little difference to pick between them, especially in terms of how little they offer for individual freedom, and genuine diversity.

            Personally I find it unfathomable that people can see Telstra as representative of free market Capitalism, when Telstra itself is the creation of government. Beyond that, let’s suppose that NBN rolled out exactly as planned, it would only be Telstra mkII and yet another creation of government. I find it impossible to understand how people can seriously believe that NBN will lead to anything other than the bad old days of the Telecom fixed line monopoly. Here are two essays that might explain the situation you are facing, the first is relatively modern.


            … the second written by a humble lamp post tester, but still containing deep insight.


            You really should read them in the order above, because if you jump straight to the historic context you probably won’t see the parallel to our modern position. After those two, pick any of the millions of essays written by Eric S. Raymond (but don’t take these as seriously as the first two).

          • Tel, how does Telstra building a limited FTTN (which is what it’s going to end up being) make it all “better” for everyone rather then Labor’s FTTP which is for 93% of the population?? Is your area (where you now live) included in the first NBN three year rollout plan and does that influence your decision in supporting a Telstra owned limited FTTN solution over Labor’s FTTP NBN??

            BTW I’m well within the three year rollout plan for FTTP where I live, and I would still support Labor’s NBN even if my area was to be one of the last areas to be completed.

            As regards Linux, wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot barge pole. Love my Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate too much to even bother changing ever. Plus the fact I like Bill Gates’s philanthropy and the fact that he’s given away $28bn to charity so far and still increasing. There should be many more like him in my books.

          • Without NBN a diversity of options would have presented themselves at no cost to the taxpayers.

            Right now the Australian commonwealth government has put every Australian in debt for about $10000 but given that only about 1/2 Australians have jobs and thus any capacity to pay, you can presume that if you are employed you will be paying $20000. On top of that, state debts are about the same size so make that $40000. On top of that we pay interest on this money somewhere around 4% but as Greece discovered, that can easily go up if we have to roll over the debt to a hostile market. This was not ALL because of the NBN, but it was because of the whole “I’ll have something for nothing” attitude that seems to pervade NBN supporters.

            Given that you have no interest in Linux, you probably should avoid making statements out of complete ignorance.

          • “Without NBN a diversity of options would have presented themselves at no cost to the taxpayers.”

            Absolute baseless conjecture.

          • ‘Right now the Australian commonwealth government has put every Australian in debt for about $10000 but given that only about 1/2 Australians have jobs and thus any capacity to pay, you can presume that if you are employed you will be paying $20000. On top of that, state debts are about the same size so make that $40000.’

            Wow…..$20000 each….those are some amazing numbers. How did you get them?….oh that’s right, you simply divided the number of working taxpayers by our national debt….a VERY standard, accepted way of measuring debt levels….

            Come on Tel, really. There was no market miracle and would be none without the NBN. We’ve been through this time and again. Telstra want profit- profit doesn’t amount to building new broadband technologies in brownfield estates even in some cities, let alone the almost half the country outside them.

            The fact that you believe Telstra, or any company could provide a cheap, reasonable, reliable, ubiquitous, long term solution to broadband for the WHOLE country is nothing more, in my eyes, than starry eyed, wishful, banging hands on ears and humming loudly, Coalition thinking.

            Oh, and if we’re $20000 each in debt thanks to Labor, should they perhaps then cut the $26 billion other infrastructure for this year’s budget? Or maybe they should cut back on Welfare? Or Arts? Or any other of those pesky, people centric expenses we don’t really need?

          • By the way, what in the world would make you think that Linux is publicly owned?

            How do people get such strange ideas about Copyright law? Obviously it is owned by the people who wrote it, or in the case of the rather substantial corporate contributions, owned by the companies (and ultimately by shareholders of those companies).

      • It is not the people’s fault when they don’t understand the complex issues, Renai. That’s why we have a representative democracy as opposed to a direct one, so that our representatives can work on the best possible governance engaging appropriate expertise where needed.

        And that’s why we then need the responsible and honest media to inform the people about those policies, the costs and short, medium and long term effects on our lives, our economy and our environment. That’s where you come in. Saying that “there is a lot to like about Turnbull’s ideas” when all he is doing is playing politics is like trying to put a positive spin on someone espousing the benefits of steam power compared to electricity.

        Those who understand complex issues have a duty to inform those who don’t understand them, not to play on the people’s fears while keeping them in the dark. Both sides of politics in Australia do this from time to time, but they can only do it successfully if media lets them.

        • While upload speed is an important component Zok, its not one of the key components. The NBN, in all formats, is being pushed towards users of the system, not contributors, and that puts the upload side of things firmly in the background. It will be a number of years before uploads become as necessary as your suggesting. For those where its a factor NOW, there are always options, but those people are in the minority.

          Even for those that understand the difference between upload and download speeds, upload speeds generally dont mean much. Sad but true.

          The media reporting the difference between the two from netowrk to network wouldnt really be adding much to the core debate, and would probably just confuse people more and more.

          • I disagree, upload speed is important to ppl like my wife who like to make photo books of our daughter and have them printed out (eg as pressies for the nanna’s) but because the UL speed of DSL is so damn slow it will take her hours to upload the photos for a 30 page photo-book!!!!

            Another issue my friends and family run into on a regular basis is uploading files to their drop box account. eg I installed dropbox on my iPhone 4S and it took an entire weekend to upload the photos i’d taken! I’d luv to back up even more files than I do to my drop box but I dont fancy waiting for 3 months to upload 15GB of data so I make do with the most important 1GB.

            I know many normal folk and many business ppl with the same issues, all solvable by an FTTH NBN and a more appropriate Speed tier than what they can currently purchase!

          • I did say it was important :) Just not as important as other aspects to most people. Most doesnt mean all. Its fairly simple in that the download speed drives the upload speed and vice versa, so if one is good, the other will be as well. So use the bigger number, which in this case is the download speed. You can assume that for the people that understand download speeds, they will know roughly what they will be getting.

            But when you’re trying to convince the Average Joe about the pro’s and con’s of either FTTN or FTTH, the upload speed is a secondary number for most. Thats all. And being a secondary number, emphasising it too much is just going to confuse them.

            For the informed crowd, the debate can go into such details as the upload speed, and you can have an informed discussion on the topic (such as here), but when Average Joe looks at their current connection, its not the upload speed that they think of first.

            Yes, you want to provide enough information for their decision to be informed. But if you provide too much, you risk losing them.

            Labor: “The NBN we are building can provide speeds up to 100 Mps, which is 16 times faster than most current connections” – simple (if incorrect) number

            Liberals: “The NBN being built will cost $50b” – again, simple (if incorrect) number

            If you want to convince people your point of view is the right one, you dont confuse them. Leave that to later. If people WANT that level of information, its not hard to find it anyway. You’re just not going to see it in the daily pulp, and its not really their job to provide it.

            Again though, that doesnt mean its a meaningless number, just that for the purposes of getting the point across, a waste of time to emphasise it.

          • Are they going to print and deliver the photo book instantaneously? You should blast out the print shop for being so much slower than your ADSL connection.

            Have you considered leaving the data transfer running over night?

          • I don’t believe that being truthful and honest in comparing the differences between the solutions “adds confusion”, GongGav… Unless people are presented with clear and informed facts, how are they going to form their opinions about anything?

            The quality of the current “debate” is practically non-existent. On one hand we have the government saying “our NBN is great, much better than what the opposition is proposing. Trust us!” and on the other we have the opposition saying “the government is building a white elephant, wasting *your* money on something that you won’t even get to use any time soon! Trust us to build a better, cheaper, faster solution!” And the media mostly just repeats this in the “he said, she said” style, or at best with “Turbnull’s proposal has merit” comments. That does not stimulate a meaningful debate nor does it lead to the informed public. Most of the public has no idea what the NBN is, and will not shed a tear if Turnbull switches it from FTTH to FTTN/HFC/ADSL.

            We are not even close to a consensus on what the goal of the broadband policy in Australia should be. Is it to provide ubiquitous services and close to universal access to the same standard of infrastructure, is it to remove the disbalance caused by Telstra near-monopoly in controlling the infrastructure and also being a retail service provider, is it to remove black spots, is it to reshape the communications industry for the future, or to improve download speeds for movie downloaders by between 0 and 80Mbps while locking in Telstra’s power and maximise their future profits? How can we talk about particular technological solutions and their benefits if we can’t even agree on what we want to achieve in this field, as a nation?

      • I wish there was a way to have more people understand and care about upload speed.

        I’ve noticed more people (including small businesses) using cloud services for collaboration. I’ve also heard complaints about how slow things can be from people in a hurry at the wrong end of a deadline. Ordinary non-IT people seem to blame all sorts of things (the computers are playing up today).

        I’ve found something that does help is to explain the connection to the world in percentage terms compared to the office LAN. eg “the best your internet connection can do is transfer information out 100 times slower than you can transfer it between your own computers. If you get 5 people trying to transfer stuff out at once, you could be in for a long wait”

        Ignoring upload in the debate about which kind of NBN leads us more towards a consumption network than a participation network. I’ve got to think that’s going to hurt the overall social and economic benefit of the thing.

    • Zok, I think you have made a very good case and you’ve convinced me at least of the importance of fast upload speed.

      I’ll admit that, while I’ve thought about interactive benefits like medical treatment etc, I hadn’t put two and two together and realised that Fibre to the Node isn’t going to deliver the upload speeds necessary for an advancing culture developing new ways of communicating.

      I am now convinced more than ever that FTTP is not only the best solution, it’s the only viable solution to business and household interactive needs that can be imagined in the not distant future.

  32. LNP build a FTTN for $16.7bil vs LAB FTTP for $26bil. Can you upgrade FTTN to FTTP for the difference (inflation etc allowing) when we will need to because I can see us just spending that $26billion down the track + more all over again.

    What part of that original $16.7bil is re-usable WHEN (its not an IF by any means) you have to undergo the upgrade to FTTP, its not like you can pull the copper and replace with fiber and your done. By all accounts the underlying tech is a vastly different setup when considering FTTN vs FTTP so you end up back at the drawing board for the most part.

    A bit OT but we’ve gone through this kind of thing in SA with expressway/freeway over the last decade(s). We have a one way express way that swaps directions (based on peak direction) it was a dumb idea then its a dumb idea now (and no-ones arguing that point now). It would have cost somewhere in the realm of an extra 10-15%. Now its costing us 125%+ of the original cost to make the stupid thing go both ways like it should have to begin with.

  33. Come on guys, don’t go bashing Renai. He is reporting the facts and the facts are that the FTTN will be cheaper.

    Nowhere has Turnbull stated FTTN is overall better than FTTH, just that it is cheaper and “a better upgrade path.” The fact that both of these are woefully short-sighted does not change the fact that Renai is reporting these facts as given by Turnbull.

    That is not to say I agree with Turnbull. I agree with all those who’ve stated above most FTTN rollouts are being converted to FTTH and that the ROI of FTTN is not relevant, considering it would be an ROI to the company/companies building the FTTN, not to the taxpayer/government as is the case with the NBN.

    But Renai is simple reporting what Turnbull is saying and, on the face of it, what he says is good. But he hasn’t yet given us the sources to backup FTTN vs FTTH and ROI. Where I differ with Renai is that I don’t believe he ever will, because:

    1- He doesn’t need to. Soundbites are all they need to win the election
    2- They actually hinder his argument, not help, so why would he?

    We need to get behind the idea of a public campaign for the NBN or by the time we get to elections, the FUD will be spread so far, we cannot hope to stop the changeover to FTTN.

    • @ST

      “Come on guys, don’t go bashing Renai. He is reporting the facts and the facts are that the FTTN will be cheaper.”

      But I dont see how it can be:

      * 16 Billion for FTTN to 60% (see citibank analysis)

      * No cost estimation for HFC upgrades but lets be cheap call it 1 Billion to make the HFC networks capable of supporting every home they pass vs current design of 50%

      * add an extra 5 billion (minimum, Telstra value PSTN @ 20 Billion) to telstra to buy/lease the “Last mile” copper (telstra wont give it away for free and then there’s all the overheads of fixing a good 50% of the rotting copper – lets add 2 billion for that!)

      so where does that leave us?

      I leaves us at 24 Billion Dollars, that’s only 3 Billion shy of the current goverment investment amount in 93% FTTH coverage + 2 state of the art Satelites and 4G-LTE fixed wireless to cover 100% of the country!!!

      The Coalitions FTTN plans are a complete joke and Renai needs to stop taking them seriously, the whole faster build, cheaper cost is a complete furphy and pure coalition FUD!!!!!

      • I hate to be pedantic djos, but by your own maths it will still be $3 Billion cheaper :D

        Look, I’m not saying I agree in any way with the FTTN project. But Renai is reporting the facts as he gets them from Turnbull. He is not a lobbyist and he is required to be as unbiased as possible as a good journalist should. He is taking what Turbull is giving at face value and giving fair weight to the idea that “the sources and backup will come”. The fact that we believe this won’t happen, doesn’t give Renai the “motivation” to say, “it’s all bollocks.”

        I’ve come to realise a hysterical debate on “OMG THIS IS ALL LIES I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ARE SAYING THIS HOW CAN THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS IT’S GOING TO BE END UP COSTING US TWICE AS MUCH WHAT A TRAVESTY!” will not help, in the public sphere, the argument on the NBN.

        It needs to be rational, positive and INDIVIDUAL. SHOW the plight of the individual and SHOW how the FTTN CANNOT correct this for all. THIS is how we need to argue for the NBN.

        • @ST

          “I hate to be pedantic djos, but by your own maths it will still be $3 Billion cheaper :D”

          Last Time I checked “that’s only 3 Billion shy of the current goverment investment” meant excatly what the same thing as “$3 Billion cheaper”!!


        • The claims from Malcom and Co said that Cheaper, and Faster, note that “Faster” bit is abit off sounding.

          And what you mean $3 billion cheaper ? Just because it’s $3 billion cheaper, doesn’t make it a right path choice.

          FTTP makes sense because the current network can easily be transferred to the new network (In terms of Wholesaling/Reselling etc).

          Yet, on the FTTN, a whole new type of management, consumer plans, business plans for each reseller (note also the lack of Node Competition or DSLAM Competition) will need to be drawn up, this is even before any regulation and tightening of consumer and competition laws.

          I have also noted previously that both AT&T and Verizon not caring too hoots about their Copper networks, and that AT&T are wanting MORE PROFIT because they are not happy about what they currently get.

        • Come on, really Tel? You think that hasn’t died a long death that argument??

          The money to Telstra and Optus is paid AS people are migrated and is covered, after initial stages, by revenue from the network. Most of that $12 Billion will never come from the government. It’s $12 Billion over 10 years and seeing as total revenue of the NBN will be about $4.5 Billion a year once complete, it is covered once the revenue stream is up and running by about 20% of construction.

          • If you read the NBN business plan, you would see there’ s not enough return to pay the billions to Telstra. There’s simply no provision for it. Maybe the new plan will find extra revenue.

          • Actually Tel you’re correct….because the Corporate Plan didn’t yet included the deal with Telstra. I think you’ll find, when the new one comes out, it will allow for certain payments during the rollout to Telstra. That is the $4 Billion for migration. Another $5 billion is over 35 years for the ducts. A billion is from the government direct for USO and greenfields. And another billion from the government over 10 years for emergency services, broadcast warnings etc.

            So its actually only $4 billion over the 10 year construction to migrate customers. And at $400 million a year (average obviously. It will fluctuate year to year) I think you’ll find the revenue is indeed there….

          • And then there’s this of course, from the business case, page 30…

            “NBN Co. expects to pay cash dividends, beginning in 2020, which in the aggregate would repay the government’s entire investment by 2034, even if no shares of NBN Co were sold to private investors.”

          • Do they actually enumerate what they mean by “entire investment” ?

            I’m pretty sure the whole business plan only lists money into and out of NBN co.

          • Entire from the online dictionary – “Having no part excluded or left out; whole”.

          • From the NBN “Corporate Plan 2011 – 2013” as printed 15 December 2010, on page 23:

            Capital Expenditure (to Dec 2020) — $35.9 billion total Capex to the end of deployment period (of which $1.3 billion for Replacement & Maintenance and $10.0 billion for fibre connections).

            … and right on the same page …

            Operating Expenditure (to Dec 2020) — $21.8 billion total forecast operating expenditure; of which $13.7 billion are related to decommissioning and infrastructure payments.

            There it is plain as day. 35.9 + 13.7 = 49.6 So the total money spent is $49.6 billion dollars.

            Go ahead to page 134, section 10.1 where they have the financial table in tiny writing. Now you can see they have a summary column up to 2020 (3rd column in Exhibit 10.3) where the Opex and the Revenue are almost exactly equal to that point (let’s presume they are exactly equal to make it easier, one cancels the other). Note that from above the opex $13.7 billion payment to Telstra, so OK by all means presume they are keeping ahead with their Telstra payments, but what about the interest on the capex then? Well if they are sinking the opex into Telstra payments, they CAN’T be also paying interest on loans, nor can they be paying dividends to shareholders. I mean think about it.

            Here’s the expression for the line of capex at 5% interest per annum (taking the capex row for the first 10 years of operation, including interest on the 10th year):

            ((((((((( 1561 * 1.05 + 2023 ) * 1.05 + 3451 ) * 1.05 + 4905 ) * 1.05 + 3833 ) * 1.05 + 3639 ) * 1.05 + 3739 ) * 1.05 + 3787 ) * 1.05 + 3832 ) * 1.05 + 3828 ) * 1.05

            Cut and paste into your favourite calculator, the total is 44635.43 and that’s in millions of dollars, so yes the interest cumulates to over $40 billion dollars if the NBN decides to put it’s revenue into Telstra payments and not into interest payments (compound interest, schools should teach that, huh). Of course, the NBN can just ignore this interest because they get free money from the government (paying interest out of our tax dollars).

            No matter how you look at it. There is NO PROVISION in the NBN plan for covering the costs. Even on their own revenue estimates which are implausible because they presume 8 million households out of 12 million will become customers (that’s 67% uptake compared to a real-world 12%).

            So there’s the figures. Don’t quote me some hollow promise or stupid dictionary definition. Show me how the money adds up.

            And yes I did notice the table has a line called “interest” but that’s just interest on working capital, which is trivial and anyhow it only makes the above picture a tiny bit worse.

          • Hmmm, on second thoughts I don’t see what their interest calculation is doing because it is positive when working capital is positive but it rapidly goes to a bigger negative than working capital. I have no idea what they are trying to calculate on that interest line. By all means someone figure it out.

            Also I mistyped above, $44635.43 million is capex AND interest, not just interest alone. In other words, the total money sunk in by 2020 (if you consider the revenue as paying towards ongoing expenses and Telstra payments). That splits down to $35.9 billion plus $8.7 billion in interest payments.

            Still doesn’t have provision in the plan to pay it, but not as bad as I first made out.

          • Never disputed any of that.

            However, you make 2 assumptions:

            1- NBNCo. said they would pay the shareholder (ie. the government) as soon as they start getting revenue…..which they never stated. Neither did I. They have stated, as you have worked out, that after CONSTRUCTION is finished they will begin CapEx repayment, as they have migrations costs in the meantime. It is marked quite clearly.

            2- The interest payed on the CapEx loans must be, annualised and paid every year. This is simply not true. Currently, for funding, the last of the BAF is being used and then AIB’s will be issued, which have maturity levels ranging from 3 years to 20 years. So that $40 Billion you worked out ISN’T payable, in alot of cases, for at least 10 years. And THAT doesn’t take into account, that the AIB’s ALSO have their maturity paid and balanced from the governments OWN purchases of bonds, which are purchased to ENSURE the maturity of their own bonds can be paid in a balanced and efficient fashion.

            You are trying to treat NBNCo. as a business. It is NOT. It is a GBE and has significantly different funding sources and rules. This is not an excuse, this is FACT. It is how EVERY GBE before the NBN has been setup. Even under Coalition governments.

            “No matter how you look at it. There is NO PROVISION in the NBN plan for covering the costs. Even on their own revenue estimates which are implausible because they presume 8 million households out of 12 million will become customers (that’s 67% uptake compared to a real-world 12%).”

            Firstly, it’s 18% averaged, NOT 12%, don’t make up numbers. Secondly, you still don’t get it do you?? WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO BE ON THE NBN. This is HOW it is DESIGNED. If those trial areas were REAL NBN commercial rollout, there would be a forced migration in less than 12 months, meaning that would jump from 18% to close to 70%! If 70% of Australians are on the internet, fixed line, now, then 70% of Australians will be on it, fixed line, in 10 years! It is not complicated. You are MAKING it complicated to suit your own agenda.

          • It’s just typical anti-NBN clouding S7, I see it all the time.

            All of that was simply to try to dismiss the words “entire investment.”


  34. If the copper is crap between the house and the node who will fix it?

    Will I be able to connect to a Internode DSLAM in a node?

    What happens if a car hits a node and it has live power running in the node?

    If i live in a HFC area will I get a choice of FTTN and HFC? or will they only roll out FTTN in none HFC areas?

    So i visit a friend who is in a NBN area and they show me all the cool things they can do that my current FTTN or HFC can’t do who should I see about that?

    So I try to sell my house in a none NBN area after they stopped the roll out and no one will will buy it seeing they want a NBN connection which they can get 2 streets away, what should I do?

    So I move house in an NBN world it takes 1 hour to get a new connection up and running in a FTTN world it took 7 days still.

    Telstra ask for 80 billion for the copper network and Optus ask for 1 billion for the HFC network, where did all my tax money go?

    • What happens if a car hits a node and it has live power running in the node?

      What happens if a car hits a street light, or a traffic light, or the control box that drives the traffic lights?

      What happens if someone puts a shovel through a cluster of GPON fibers?

      Someone gets a big bill, that’s what happens.

  35. Umh..

    What’s to like? There’s no detail. There’s nothing to compare from the Libs as yet.

    Turnbull doesn’t even have an idea of how much money would be needed to repair the copper network to get decent speeds from a FTTN network.

    I would also like to see the details on how many Wireless base stations the Libs plan to have installed. Considering the opposition to them with the NBN, the 2 to 3 times as many under the Libs proposal would seem to mean a major fight to get the network build.

    Also, if the network pays for itself, then why are people worried about the cost? If anything, the NBN plan seems to be quite conservative on their revenue. If the majority of subscribers hit the higher end tiers – Optus and Telstra WONT sell 12/1 – then it seems like prices on the NBN will fall much faster than currently envisaged.

  36. Renai,

    You really need to drop your charade of support for the Coalitions FTTN network. I can see that you are only trying to be un-biased with your comments regarding the Coaltiion’s policy but you really should be calling Turnbull out on his comments about other FTTN network rollouts when those rollouts are changing to be FTTH and Telstra’s threat of overbuilding any FTTN network.

    • +1, theres no way in hell an FTTN based NBN is going to be faster or cheaper to build UNLESS it is only a 60% FTTN build and the other 40% of the country is ignored!!!

  37. Lets see the Costing for an FTTN built to 93% and then see if its “cheaper” and “faster”

  38. The only issue I have is that I don’t actually think it’s possible to switch from the current NBN model to FTTN and finish up quicker and cheaper. I think it would be quicker and cheaper to just let the NBN finish as-is.

    By the time the election rolls around, it’ll be 2013. The coalition will have to conduct a CBA = 6 months, wait for existing contracts to expire = ~12 months, renegotiate the deal with Telstra = 18 months, redesign the new network = 12 months, renegotiate new construction contracts = 6 months (some of these timeframes are just guesses). Even if you can do many of them in parallel (like you could do the Telstra negotiation at the same time as everything else) you’re still looking at 2-3 years before you can actually get started. By which time there’ll be another election and it’ll already be 2016 – the NBN would’ve been almost half finished.

    I just don’t see how that could possibly end up being faster and cheaper than just letting the NBN run to completion.

    • Slight correction Dean. They will need to wait 3 years for existing contracts to expire, not 1. Labor/NBNCo will be delivering 3 year rollout plans right up to the election, make no mistake about that. So the plans for any Liberal rollout will have to take into account any plans/contracts made right up until the election.

      I cant help but think that NBNCo will be signing a whole heap of contracts a day or two before the election. They are a company after all, not a department. Lib’s have said they’ll honor any contracts, and if development is tied up in FTTH contracts, there wont be much room to move with FTTN contracts until each one is done.

      The smart play by Labor will be to get as many exchanges under contract as they can before the election. Will be pointless and expensive to have both FTTH and FTTN in the same exchange, so Lib’s might be ‘forced’ into rolling out FTTH where an exchange has a partial footprint.

      Spot on about the rest in my opinion. The Lib’s wont be doing anything re: NBN until at least the following election.

    • How ’bout FTTN first and then FTTH. We’d all get something a lot sooner.

      But what about the 40% (Regional and Rural) that WON’T be getting FTTN because of the Coalition’s desire to build it as cheaply as possible. The ” We’d all get something a lot sooner” and “FTTN” don’t compute/add up in my humble opinion.

      • Because it’s wasted.

        Citigroup have costed MT’s proposal at $16.7b. That would be for approximately 75,224 nodes – (this is the number Optus projected in their proposal for NBN Mark 1) .

        That’s 75,224 nodes that have to be powered – costs to build power infrastructure, costs to generate the power, costs in terms of greenhouse emissions, costs for a backup battery in each, costs for active equipment that will have a certain failure rate causing network failures, and that need replacing over time.

        Once you upgrade from FTTN to FTTH all that active equipment is completely surplus to requirements. It’s obsolete; you don’t need it anymore.

        It’s wasted.

        All this from the “fiscally responsible alternative government”.


    • For a number of reasons that will not work, the main being:

      1- The GPON architecture of this FTTH is not compatible with FTTN as far as I’m aware, meaning any future “upgrade” would have to align what is already rolled out and will be rolled out on FTTH before it can be changed with FTTN.

      2- The FTTN is primarily cheaper because it does away with all that pesky running of fibre to the premises, which is what makes up 2/3 of the cost of FTTH. Hence you’d still have 2/3 of the cost of FTTH when you came to upgrade time anyway and seeing as the current FTTN will be more than 1/3 the cost of FTTH, that makes NO economic sense….from an apparently economically responsible party…

      Finally, don’t forget, SOME (being between 40 & 60%) will get FTTN. Whereas under FTTH, 93% will get it. So what are the other 20% (when you take into account HFC) supposed to do between now and the “upgrade”??

  39. Despite no shortage of successful examples in other countries, America can’t organise an efficient, fair universal health care system. Why should we take any notice of their approach to universal broadband? In both cases, a myopic approach to private versus public provision of services prevents the adoption of a sensible solution. FTTH will deliver benefits to the nation that will not be immediately measured by usage charges…much as public transport has done for decades.

  40. I wish Renai would stop flip-flopping on the NBN. If I recall, his initial position was that the Liberals ‘plan’ had great merit, then there was an outcry from ‘tech-heads’ who understood FTTN to be a costly joke and Renai seemed to get on board the FTTH wagon. He has even ripped into the Libs from time to time about it. But now he’s again throwing them a bone by appearing to find ‘value’ in their still muddled position.

    Why Renai? Did you step on too many Liberal toes and now you feel that you need to be more politically correct, ‘balanced’? The facts are simply too heavily weighted in favour of the FTTH solution for you to be vacillating like this.

    • I’m not flip-flopping. My position on the current NBN policy has always been that I believe it to be the correct technological approach, while still recognising that I don’t like the winding back of infrastructure-based competition in the telco sector that comes with it. This belief has never changed since the current universal fibre NBN policy was announced in April 2009.

      As I clearly mentioned in the article, I think Labor’s policy is the better one. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Coalition’s policy has been getting better and more fleshed out gradually over the past year, and is coming close to being a somewhat decent alternative. In my writing, I have tried to encourage them to come to a more mature understanding of the dynamics of the telco sector, and I think they are gradually getting better.

      One of the things that shits me about people who read sites like Delimiter is that they always think you have to take a position for or against things and never change or evolve that position as things change. Frankly, this is the highest kind of horseshit. I don’t have a set position on things; as things change, my position on them changes to reflect whether the changes are good or bad. Above all, I try to encourage the pursuit of reason, rationality and common sense for things, rather than dogmatically believing in things.

      Labor’s NBN policy hasn’t changed; so I maintain the same position on it. The Coalition’s NBN policy does change (sometimes daily), so my position on it changes. You’ll note that Turnbull has introduced some new information this week about how FTTN ROI could work. So I have incorporated that into my views on the Coalition’s policy. It’s as simple as that.

      I’m not pandering to either side, and if you think I am in bed with one side or the other, I recommend you contact the various politicians to ask them directly; I think you’ll find that all sides (even including the Greens) have been somewhat pissed off with me at various points, and at other points have been happy with me. I don’t really mind either way.

      *end rant*

      • I think the problem here is that the coalition had nothing to offer but slogans. Now that they have a bit more, it could sound like they are getting somewhere. The problem, for most of us, however, is that it is still too little.
        As you rightly pointed out, there are still many ifs which need to be tested out. The main issue with MT’s policy is that it is not testable. It ends up with people from both sides of the debate speculating about the missing dots.

        One fact remains, however, is that MT starts from a weak position, advocating a downgrading of the present position (FTTH). To, furthermore, suggest that it will be cheaper and quicker cannot be trusted, given the lack of important details concerning costs and timing.

      • No need to get so defensive Renai and you do your journalistic credibility a disservice when you throw around phrases like ‘shits me’ and ‘horseshit’.

        You say “doesn’t change the fact that the Coalition’s policy has been getting better and more fleshed out gradually over the past year, and is coming close to being a somewhat decent alternative” – I have to ask, how so?

        The core of the proposed NBN is:
        1) It’s an investment, not an expense
        2) It’s FTTH – resulting in best speeds, reliability, no double-builds, cheaper and uses no extra power (for the nodes).
        3) Near universal coverage.

        These things won’t change under Labor’s plan. The Liberal’s FTTN and its costing and coverage potential are almost the opposite in every respect. It makes little material difference what the Libs’ patchwork ‘plan’ de jour happens to be, because the core realities are fundamentally different to the current NBN plan.

        This is largely a technical solution and so there clearly are technical reasons why one solution IS better than another – period. It’s okay to be for the better solution and not chop and change. It’s like reporting on evolution but giving the creationists ‘equal time’ to appear balanced.

        I obviously struck a nerve, but I have no agenda. I just comment as I see it, having been around here for a while.

    • Also, if you want me never to change my view on political policies, even if they change, then I recommend you read another site, because I am not a propagandist for one side or the other. I sit in the middle.

    • Actually Jeffery, about 40% are FTTN about 40% are FTTH (via Telstra or other companies) and about 20% are still copper.

      Care to retract your statement?

  41. Renai won’t be seen as biased for bashing the coalitions FTTN NBN in favour of labor’s FTTP NBN. Labor’s NBN is vastly superior. The coalition isn’t looking past their upcoming term in parliament. The Liberal party believes in letting the free market run it’s course. After Telstra sat on it’s copper monopoly and reaped the benefits, government intervention was required. The free market in terms of fixed line broadband failed us. Telstra wouldn’t rollout FTTP to the benefit of all Australian’s but only few. The current NBN when completed will be world-class. Whereas VDSL through FTTN will be barely the acceptable standard now and will eventually need to be upgraded to FTTP. It’s better and cheaper to do it right the first time with FTTP.

  42. AT&T Fails:

    “Since then, both AT&T and Verizon have been bleeding DSL users at an alarming rate, without either company appearing to care about it. Fast forward three months and AT&T is reconsidering their options. According to a report by Bloomberg, AT&T couldn’t find anyone to buy the properties, so they may work on upgrading them”

    “The problem isn’t that DSL isn’t profitable — it’s just that’s it’s not profitable enough for the impatient modern investor — especially in light of the growth opportunities in wireless and even with AT&T’s new overage charges. If AT&T does continue upgrades, it’s realistic that only a relatively-small slice of AT&T’s remaining customers will see them. There’s all manner of advancements being made in DSL for AT&T to turn to, using “SuperMIMO” or “Phantom” crosstalk reduction technology. The reality however is that AT&T doesn’t really care what happens to these users, and as their aversion to FTTH makes clear, have long fought coughing up the cash for any real next-gen upgrades.”

    DSL = FAIL
    WHY ? Investors not happy that they getting a profit for a return, they want billions upon billions.

    That’s the excuse they are using.

  43. The last refuge of this scoundrel is to claim that the ROI on FTTN will be higher, because it costs less to deploy fibre to the node instead of the premises. He conveniently ignores the higher running costs of the kerbside nodes, and the fact that he is further entrenching Telstra’s boradroom’s grip on the nation because it owns the copper last mile to premises. But let’s leave this aside for a moment.

    The fact is that ROI from FTTH will necessarily be higher than the ROI for FTTN. Why? Because within every FAN there will be a sufficient number of premises – homes and businesses – which will pay substantially more for a high-end service. This is new revenue from end users which is not available unless fibre to premises is laid, because on inferior infrastructure the desired service is not available.

    Malcolm Turnbull does not care that he has delayed the service reaching Australians by about eight months through his scandalous waste of parliamentary time and resources. All he cares about is himself.

      • Yes and seeing as that Kerbside node, under a FTTN, will be owned by a private company, they can charge whatever they want, seeing as the ULL no longer exists under FTTN and there’s no Unifrom Access from the FTTH that doesn’t exist.

        So yes indeed, we will ALL share the pain of higher prices for marginally higher speeds

          • I’m very glad to hear that and I agree completely. But the Coalition has already made it clear they intend for the private sector to build the FTTN. Which means, those nodes WILL be privately owned- hence a private monopoly thanks to the architecture not allowing wholesale access like the ULL.

  44. Malcolm Turnbull is merely displaying the characteristics of your typical politician in that he refuses to look beyond the next three year term of government. FTTN is a cheap and half baked solution that has no long-term future. I would rather put up with Julia Gillard and her Labor government than to risk our technological future with Tony ‘just-say-no’ Abbott.

  45. It was mentioned earlier that Turnbull stated it is about politics and that for the conservatives is an important part..
    Regardless of how successfull the public perceives this government it has achieved more for this nation than Howard ever did, but yet that is not recognised.
    The policies have been forward thinking for the benefit of the Nation as a whole. The NBN exemplifies that goal.
    The NBN has a goal to benefit the Nations economy for decades to come by providing a Ubiquitous, Standardised, BUSINESS CAPABLE, readily and cheaply upgradeable, relatively low maintenance, communications platform to serve the Nation for decades to come that will enable load shedding off the wireless networks ensuring we also have a high quality wireless platform also. AT NO OVERALL COST TO THE TAXPAYER and will have a ROI and a dividend to the taxpayer.
    The goal for the conservatives is about politics, power and thei established business model, not for the benefit of the Nation or the economy just a cobbled together kneejerk response using the cheaper and faster mantra and giving the false impression it will achieve the NBN’s goals which it will not.And will end up costing the taxpayer. The extension and upgrade of the HFC is Soley for Murdochs benefit, print media is suffering and as people start having access to different views, opinions and facts that may have been suppressed their power and profit will wane so Foxtel and the Sky channel and network becomes of greater importance.
    Especially if the can limit access to alternatives.
    The other factor is best demonstrated by the Vic Libs approving and encouraging ultra high density developments in Melbourne, one will be the highest density IN THE WORLD. They are into property not innovation, inventiveness or decentralisation or diversification. The weasel words support the rural sector, innovation and diversification, the actions will drive the population into the cities to support the real estate investors. The NBN is the enemy to the consrvative power base, it is not just politics, it is power and dividends and rent

  46. I’d rather have FTTN and no internet censorship or data retention than a FTTH connection with the government censoring my internet and recording what I do online. To hell with Conjob Conroy and Juliar GIllard and all of the ALP!

    • “I’d rather have FTTN and no internet censorship or data retention than a FTTH connection with the government censoring my internet and recording what I do online.”

      Internet censorship and/or data retention will come regardless of FttN or FttH build so the question becomes do you want internet censorship and/or data retention with a slow redundant network or a fast one that enables you to circumvent/defeat such things easier?

      “To hell with Conjob Conroy and Juliar GIllard and all of the ALP!”

      Yay! Good to see someone else is planning on voting for the Greens in 2013!

    • I half agree with you. I believe that IPV6 has encryption built in so, seeing what you do and where you go will be easy to circumvent.

      • And seeing as IPV6 has NOTHING to do with network architecture, it will have nothing to do with whether we get a FTTN or FTTH. Hence, no reason NOT to go FTTH for this particular reason.

        • Since the NBN is layer2 with VLAN handoff at the POI I’d say IPv6, in fact anything at layer3 and above, has nothing to do with the NBN

          • You are correct but, it has everything to do with censorship. Not even deep packet inspection is possible.

          • Huh? What does censorship have to do with this?

            And just because the NBN is layer2 doesn’t mean deep packet inspection isn’t possible, there is no reason at all why a layer2 network couldn’t have its upper layers derived.

  47. Lets put the FTTH and FTTN aside for two seconds and ask a different set of questions.

    There is currently an opposition leader who is not Prime Minister because he did not support the NBN.
    After approximately 3 years, he still has not listened to the public (the people he wants to lead)

    These people want the NBN
    He does not understand the concept of vital infrastructure.
    He has not learnt from his past mistakes (not supporting the NBN)
    Then acts like a spoilt child who has not got his way, and makes up all sort of inaccuracies and lies to sabotage an infrastructure that will benefit his country for years to come.

    The NBN has got to a point where it would be cheaper to complete it rather than change strategy which will cost more in the long run based on other countries in the world that have gone FTTN have ended up going FTTH

    And the he expects to become prime minister ?

    How come I can understand these very basic concepts but a “wants to be” future prime minster cannot ?

    If this isnt the definition of a village idiot I have no idea what is.
    Tony Abbott you truly are the Liberal Parties Village Idiot.

  48. Kind of surprised here Renai. While the statement “FTTN can provide good enough speeds” is true enough, it does nothing to look at the bigger picture. I’m sure I don’t need to list all the reasons FTTH is better, but let’s just look at the price.

    Even if you assume that Telstra is going to hand over the copper without wanting payment (can I get a ‘rofl’?) you still have to pay for the maintenance of that copper. And in a decade or so when we are looking at the inevitable upgrade to FTTH, the cost is going to be astronomical. And the disruption to service. Although I’m sure we can just keep using the old aging copper and have shitty service like we have now.

    • To be fair, FTTN can provide good enough speeds. At the moment, an ADSL2 connection delivers roughly 6-8Mps. Thats all we get for the most part. Some get more, some get less. But even a FTTN plan will deliver considerably faster than that, which will be a massive step up from what we currently have.

      It DOES deliver good enough speeds, dont be fooled into thinking it wont. If we get FTTN it’ll still be a considerably better connection than what we currently have.

      The question is whether its worth it or not.

      FTTN is last generation technology, so at some future point will need to be upgraded. The current technology in play doesnt allow that to be easily done, so we’d be talking about a complete upgrade of the FTTN technology rolled out.

      What I wonder is what happens then. Australia will be a technology backwater compared to other G20 countries, and foreign investment will suffer as a result. Has that been considered? As much as MT hides behind pockets of FTTN rollout around the world, he knows full well that FTTP/FTTH is the preferred choice in most areas, and that we will be behind that.

      Result is foreign companies investing elsewhere simply because there is a better technology base to work from, in what is becoming a more and more connected world.

      • Yes and no GongGav. I happily admit many people will see a significant speed boost. But many won’t too, dye to line length ans, more importantly, line quality.

        Exactly what they found in NZ will happen here with FTTN, although 10x because of 10x the pop and many times the land area.

        • Definitely 7T. Being from Wollongong, if the NBN rollout that starts at my exchange next month (or August, one of the 2) misses me in the “what street will get fibre” lottery, then I’m stuck with 6Mps for the next decade. Im definitely at risk of being part of that 40% missing out.

          I wasnt commenting on that, just that FTTN is STILL an improvement across the board. A lot of people seem to think its a weak option when it isnt. Its just weaker than FTTH in terms of future use.

          On missing out, I cant see FTTN being rolled out in an exchange that is hosting FTTH, and I doubt the Lib’s next year (assuming an election win) will be pushing for an expansion of the footprint any time soon.

          So if I dont get it in this first rollout then I might be one of those left behind. I figure a 50/50 chance of getting it. I come off the main street with all the key businesses, which should get fibre no matter what – the exchange is 200m up the road from them, I’m roughly 600m from the exchange.

          Catch is, the main population (read: thousands of uni students) is the other side of the exchange. If they put the exchange roughly in the middle of the footprint, I win, if they concentrate on the best coverage, I might miss out.

          So yeah, i’m definitely aware of how people can miss out. So close to the exchange, and right now I dont get the speed you’d expect, simply because of how the line was rolled out decades ago. Which wont be changed any time soon.

          I’ve actually wondered about how they would roll out fibre in the area because of that. If they roll out along existing lines, the roundabout path will still be there (allthough irrelevant), whereas if they want to be more efficient, a straight line from the main corridor would be far cheaper and simpler. Time will tell.

          • Part of the delivery of the fibre in the ground/air is redundancy. That’s often why they take the roundabout approach.

          • Its the copper lines that loop around, not necessarily the fibre. For my part of the street, the line goes down the main road, goes south down a secondary road, then loops across my road and back up at the end of the street. I’m just in a little cul de sac as it were – everything around me falls into that sweet spot for broadband speed.

            Its just wierd that they loop around for just the last part of the street, moreso given we come off the same road the exchange is on. Redundancy doesnt make sense in my situation. And its not a new extension to the road, its been a road since Wollongong was founded some 150 years ago.

            Across the road gets a prime connection, the units behind me get a prime connection, north of the next intersection gets a prime connection, but I dont. As the copper is laid out, its a couple of km’s to the exchange, while across the road its only a few hundred meters.

            If fibre is rolled out the same way, following the same path, there wont be any problems because of how fibre works. Even if FTTN is rolled out the same way, I’ll be better off, because there isnt a couple of km’s of copper delivering the data, but 100m or so to the node. So I’ll get that prime connection.

            Not that I want second best, I want fibre.

            I’m not REALLY concerned with how they roll the fibre out, its more curiosity than anything to see if they run fibre the whole length of the street, rather than loop around the long way for just the last 300m like they do now. Will know when they rip the street up, assuming they roll fibre out with the NBN rollout this year.

          • Ah right I see.

            Yeah, I was just meaning the way the fibre nodes in a neighbourhood will have their fibre run to them from the FSAM is redundant. But the fibre to the premises isn’t. It’s straight to the destination. So yeah, it’ll probably end up going the roundabout way to your place to follow the duct.

          • I hope it doesnt follow the duct the way it does now, its a redundant layout. As I said, the other side of the road has a duct running its full length, its just the last block on the eastern side that stops.

            Even there, I expect there IS a duct running the full length, but at some point in the past there was an issue which wasnt corrected properly, so past redundancies kicked in for my end of the road.

            If so, +1 for redundancies :) And if so, its not a hard sell to streamline the build and just continue on down to the end of my road. If they do my road though, the most likely outcome is they will do the whole section of the city that includes whats created my loop. There are logical boundaries (ocean, rail line, and heavy industry) that make sense. End of my road is effectively the exchange boundary in our direction.

            When the planners looked at how Wollongong is set up, hopefully they’ll see these logical bopundaries and include this little segment. It includes a lot of business, including our CBD, and isnt a huge portion of the overall build.

            But as I said, the opposite direction covers to the Uni which may be too hard to resist for the initial footprint.

  49. The thing that most disappoints me about Turnbull is that although he claims to believe in a free market approach, he has decided to just put on his central planner’s hat and start getting into the business of designing a network.

    Really, I’m not disappointed in Turnbull, so much as disappointed in Australians who can so easily be suckered into believing that they just stick their hand up and government comes and solves all their problems. In the next few years we will see where that goes in Greece and I honestly hope you guys take a real long hard look, and think a bit about it.

    Our Australian government has been borrowing $50 billion per year every year since 2008. They raised the debt limit last budget so they would have the headroom to borrow more. Most of the delimiter readers tend to be younger people, so you will be the ones who pay this back. No if, no but, you will be made to pay.

    • Look at all the money borrowed every year argument again. Yes and look at all the money saved by Howard. Your point?

      Different parties, different philosophies. Howard built NOTHING for 10 years in infrastructure and gave us all tax cuts in the mean time. Labor have overseen more infrastructure than any 2 Lib governments combined. Howard wasted mining boom mk1. At least we’re not wasting mk2. And if they begin to spend too much? Boot them out and get the penny pinching Libs back in. It’s called balance.

      Oh and you’re forgetting, the first $50 billion was to stimulate the economy….the stimulus package praised world over as being the best response and the one that kept us out of both a technical and a real recession, while the rest of the world disintegrated economically. If we spend money now, while the economy is good, but the outlook is bad, when the economy is bad and the outlook is good, we can shed the debt and maintain a decent growth.

      I’m young Tel and I get the need to spend the money. I’m young and I understand the economy. Is that a crime?

      • Don’t worry, I’m old and I get it too :)
        I don’t understand Tel’s position myself. In most ways he seems to be in an industry that would support FTTH. Taught programming for a while, worked as a programmer for a while. Looking at his C coding he could be mid forties as it’s a fairly old school style he has.

      • Howard built no infrastructure? That’s strange, the entire HFC rollout happened during the Howard years (maybe a tiny bit right at the end of the Keating era). So did the ADSL rollout, and also the ADSL2 rollout (except the very recent ADSL2 upgrades from Telstra). Come to think of it, most of the 3G rollout happened during Howard’s watch. All that and even money left over in the treasury.

        Hmmm, so what has the ALP done in comparison? Less than 10k total NBN customers and some roof insulation… and overpriced lunch sheds for schools. Look, before you go and correct me, it is true that I can’t really say all the lunch sheds were overpriced, and that’s because they have never had the guts to publish a full list of what we purchased for how much… but those small number of figures that did leak out you can easily track down if you care enough.

        • Thanks for confirming that, Tel. Howard never built any infrastructure. It is true that those things were built ‘under Howard’s watch’ as you put it, which of course is not the same as saying he built infrastructure. And if they were so successful I suppose there would have been no need for the Nbn, a policy that despite your opposition has been taken to two elections and, has as been recorded on this very website, is popular even among liberal voters.

          • Errr, you expect the Prime Minister to march out with shovel in hand and dig ditches?

            On that basis Julia Gillard hasn’t built any infrastructure either, nor Kevin Rudd for that matter.

          • Tel.
            Duhh, everything you quote is private sector and how successfull has that been. Plus he reversed the separation of Telstra in hand by the Keating government to repay a favour to Packer. Which is why we have to do the NBN
            So precisely what did Howard achieve in infrastructure and education that would have minimized our skills shortage and provide the essential foundations for the economy of the future which would provide for economic growth and improved long term shareholder dividends and assett growth over the medium to long term etc

          • @ Abel,

            As someone who voted for JWH, I was extremely disappointed in his government.

            In the final analysis, as far as I am concerned all the Howard government did was…

            Sell Telstra (vertically integrated).

            Sign off on the sale of $2B of our gold reserves (at around US$300 an ounce – now trading at $1600+ per ounce).

            Introduced a consumption Tax (GST) on all Australians.

            Wow… and they had money, fancy that.

            Yes I admit it, as one who voted for him, I was part of the blame :-(

          • As Abel has said already, THE GOVERNMENT built none of those things under Howard. In comparison THE GOVERNMENT is building the NBN, built the BER (which, while some money was wasted, was considered a success, both here, at the schools and overseas) and is providing another $26 Billion for other infrastructure like the duplication of the Pacific highway ( which Howard always promised) and other roads and ports.

            Look, I’m not saying we didn’t need Howard, we did. He introduced the GST which, contrary to opinion then, is one of the most sensible tax decomplications that can be done. He fixed the water fronts and in the process stopped our unions from heading the way of the UK. But the point is, other than a few handouts to Telstra here and there to give a couple of dozen exchanges ADSL2+ and a couple of dozen areas Nextg, he presided over the entire time of Telstra turning from a reasonable public telecom into the private monopoly monster it is today.

            The previous government caused this (even by simple inaction if you want to be that naive) and the current government is trying to fix it. Why SHOULDN’T we have a public monopoly telecom? Telecommunications is an essential service of the 21st century and essential services have always worked better being provided by government. We’ve privatised most of them here and what have we got to show for it? Ageing electrical infrastructure that now we have to pay through the nose for, ageing water infrastructure that we have to do the same. Australia Post still runs a healthy profit ever year. No one has seriously entertained selling it. Why, when it runs so well? It’s reliable, reasonably priced and ubiquitous….like the NBN will be!

          • Indeed 7T


            And that was from the Australian.

            People just have to look for themselves not believe either sides, political bullshit, let alone repeat it 24/7 as if gospel.

            I recall a few years ago a colleague (now tragically taken early) had to dart off in the pouring rain to see his son receive an award at school. He returned and actually commented (and I probably only remember because weeks later he was gone) that he didn’t even know the school had this new hall and he said it was great for such assemblies.

            Now he wasn’t siding with any political party (ironically, I believe he was rather conservative in his views) but he was just stating the bleedin’ obvious.

            As taxpayers and at the lowest common denominator, isn’t that all we can really ask?

          • But you will believe and repeat as gospel the Coalition, who say it was a failure, without having to see it.

            Say no more.

          • Australia Post still runs a healthy profit ever year. No one has seriously entertained selling it. Why, when it runs so well? It’s reliable, reasonably priced and ubiquitous….like the NBN will be!

            Sorry but I have to laugh at the suggestion that Australia Post is reliable, not just because postal type services are the definition of unreliable transmission in tech manuals, but also because personal experience has shown when you send something bigger than a letter it’s pot luck if it arrives (or in some cases evens leaves the post office it was sent from).

            I certainly hope the NBN is more reliable than Australia Post.

          • “Sorry but I have to laugh at the suggestion that Australia Post is reliable, not just because postal type services are the definition of unreliable transmission in tech manuals, but also because personal experience has shown when you send something bigger than a letter it’s pot luck if it arrives (or in some cases evens leaves the post office it was sent from).”

            I think we’re talking opinion here. I use Australia post for my parcels on eBay, of which I’ve sent many dozens to all corners of Australia AND the world over the years.. Never had a single one damaged or lost. Check their reliability index too. That’s based on measured responses from customers AND employees. I think you’ll find the vast majority of people are happy with our postal service. Is there the occasional mixup? Yep, but by and large most of it works.

            I wouldn’t be happy if the NBN was as reliable as Aust Post either…..even if Aust Post IS reliable for mail at, lets say, 98%, that would be WOEFULLY inadequate for networking. Fortunately, technology for “email” delivery is a lot more robust than delivery for mail delivery….and that has NOTHING to do with the NBN, as that’s technology that OTHER companies make and NBN buys.

          • If you checked NBN Co are private. They operate because the government has fed money to them. So the government are not actually building anything at all, they are merely pushing taxpayer funds into a private entity which does the building. Even NBN Co don’t actually build anything, they just funnel those funds down to contractors and equipment suppliers.

            Under Howard (and also the tail end of Keating), the government facilitated the creation of private infrastructure without needing to spend taxpayer’s money, and the infrastructure still got built by private contractors just like it does today, but a different group of people get to own it and control it. That’s a better outcome for the taxpayers and a better outcome for the whole country.

            Sheesh, you guys start with the rather bozo assumption that only government owned infrastructure can count for anything, and then if any government so much as allows a private company to build anything you say, “Ah ha! But it’s not government owned so it must not exist!”

            Do you know there’s a whole world that exists outside your closed-world assumptions?

          • Mmmm, how’s that private electrical infrastructure doing…..oh that’s right, THE TAXPAYER is paying for it by having their electricity prices raised by 36% in the LAST 3 YEARS.

            Yes, because the TAXPAYER ALWAYS wins out under private infrastructure…..

            Come on Tel. Stop with the Rhetoric and start with some decent infrastructure arguments. Name some that HASN’T cost the taxpayer ALOT of extra money in the past 10 years?

    • So, based on your statement you do not believe that the government should step in and resolve this issue. I am curious, is that because you believe the current state of broardband in Australia is not a problem?

      If you do believe that it is a problem but the government should not step in what is your solution?

      Before you treat this as an attack, I am just trying to get a feel for where you satnd on this issue and why, currently I feel that there is a backstory that some readers might have missed.

  50. How come no-one is discussing FTYF (Fibre To Your Face). Can we afford a future where Aussie faces are underserved with high speed broadband?1?

    note – I’m a big NBN/FTTH supporter. I just love the way Turnbull and his ilk use straw man arguments.

  51. The simple fact is, I dont trust the current Liberal Party. Renai is being diplomatic when he says that many of their past comments regarding the NBN are fractually incorrect but to me and to many others, Abbott, Turnball, Hockey and Fletcher are liers and can’t be trusted. Their not interested in the best solution for Australian comms, they are just interested in power. We have seen this deception over and over. Regardless of what they say now or in the future they have lost all credibitity with me and consequently my vote.

  52. Technologically agnostic isn’t deciding that FTTN is the best solution and trying to make it fit your requirements.
    Tells what you requirements are and how much you are willing to spend or invest (I’m expecting spend because the CLP don’t build infrastructure only sell it) to do. Don’t say FTTN is the way to go before listing your requirements and objectives. Faster, cheaper and better isn’t a requirement it is a pipe dream (or is it a tube dream), pick 2.

    • The most cost effective way to meet broadband capacity needs for private and business user for the next 50 years.
      It doesn’t have to be at the speed or capacity needed in 50 years now. But, with upgrades over time, the lowest cost solution to provide ubiquitous broadband with what is considered world top 20 or so speeds for the next 50 years.

  53. Just build FTTH, thats it.

    End of story, sick of the same topic coming up day after day.

    Liberal Party have NO IDEA how hard it has been to get to the current stage we are at, that is “THE ROLLOUT”….

    No one wants your FTTN and we don’t want a Telstra monopoly again, and we sure as hell don’t want to have to wait another 24 months of paperwork and legal issues before your plan might even be possible and set Australia back another 5+ years.

    FTTH, do it once, do it properly and it will service for another 100 years+ with no limitations in the fiber, and we all know fiber can go fast (and its fact, not “up to’s” or “ifs” or “maybes”).

    FTTN still has copper in it, max 80Mbps…. not good enough when you consider FTTH will achieve 1000Mbps once the rollout is complete, and in future, a simple change of hardware at both endpoints to achieve even faster speeds is viable and easy.

  54. Just about forgot….A few handy links:

    The Internet of tomorrow: 100Gbps to your house by 2030

    Shaw plants 100Gbps fibers in Canada, watches them grow

    D.C. gets 100 gigabit network, maybe politicos will finally get broadband

    Sky Broadband in UK first with 100 Gigabit optical network

    Argentina’s Cablevision selects Alcatel-Lucent’s 100 Gigabit optical solution to cope with booming data demand and rising transport costs

    Verizon to install 100 gigabit network in U.S.

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