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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Friday, August 3, 2012 12:30 - 55 Comments

    UK Lords back universal fibre NBN

    news A landmark report produced by the United Kingdom’s House of Lords branch of its parliament has recommend that fibre broadband be driven out “as close as possible” to end users in the country and that an open access national broadband network similar to Australia’s own NBN be regarded as a “fundamental strategic asset”.

    Over the past few months, the UK Parliament has been holding an inquiry into what it calls ‘superfast’ broadband, as the nation struggles with many of the same issues which the Australian political system has in Australia over the development of the National Broadband Network initiative in this country.

    Currently, the UK Government does have a target of providing superfast broadband, defined as 24Mbps, to at least 90 percent of premises in the country by 2015, and to provide universal access to “standard” broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps by 2015. However, unlike in Australia, which is constructing its own Government-owned National Broadband Network, the UK model is progressing via a subsidy approach which is seeing the Government fund specific areas of infrastructure rollout in coalition with the private sector. However, in a new report produced by the House of Lord’s Select Committee on Communications (PDF here), the House of Lords has called for the country to implement a model technically more like Australia’s, with fibre extended as far as possible everywhere and open access networks.

    “Government policy has become preoccupied with the delivery of certain speeds to consumers,” the report notes. “This, in our view, has had a detrimental effect on policy-making and the long term national interest. In this report, we propose an alternative vision for UK broadband policy, which, rather than being target-driven, makes the case for a national broadband network which should be regarded as a fundamental strategic asset, to which different people can connect in different ways according to their needs and demands.”

    “The delivery of certain speeds should not be the guiding principle; what is important is the long term assurance that as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK. Access to the internet should be seen as a domestic essential and regarded as a key utility. The spectre of a widening digital divide is a profound source of concern which requires the Government to address its origin with greater vigour than we believe is currently the case.”

    “Fundamentally, the Government’s strategy has fundamentally focused on the wrong part of the network—broadly speaking the outer edge and the margins, not the centre. We argue that the Government should be focusing on delivering a high spec infrastructure which is future proof and built to last; fibre-optic cable, the most future proof technology, must be driven out as close as possible to the eventual user. Then, as well as mandating open access to this optical fibre from the cabinet to the exchange, we need to ensure that there is open access to links between the exchanges that feed the cabinets, and to the higher level links into national and global networks.”

    The House of Lords’ conclusions mimic the Australian Labor Party’s NBN project in a number of areas; revolving around principles of wide-spread fibre connected as close to housing and business premises as possible, open access to that infrastructure and a focus on the long-term potential of telecommunications rather than on short to medium-term specific speeds. In addition, wireless and satellite technologies would be used where it wasn’t possible to deploy fixed infrastructure.

    One further recommendation the House of Lords made also contains a similar approach to Australia, although it goes further in its implications. The committee noted that it was increasingly likely that IPTV services delivered over broadband would increasingly start to replace traditional broadcast television services.

    Consequently, it recommended that the UK Government, telecommunications regulator and industry begin to consider the possibility of switching off mass TV broadcast via the airwaves and instead provide this spectrum for re-use by mobile broadband companies. In Australia, the idea of switching off terrestrial television broadcasts wholesale has not been discussed, but the Federal Government has mandated the switchoff of analogue broadcasts so that this so-called “digital dividend” spectrum can be re-allocated towards providing mobile broadband services.

    There are several key differences between the UK and Australia when it comes to the competitive broadband environment, however. In particular, although the UK has a much higher population than Australia — 62 million compared with Australia’s 22 million — the UK has a much higher population density commensurate with its smaller density, making it easier to deploy broadband to a much more condensed population.

    The House of Lords noted in its report that the country’s former monopoly carrier, BT, was already spending £2.5 billion upgrading its network with fibre to the node technology which will provide speeds of up to 80Mbps to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014, and Virgin Media’s cable network also covers around 50 percent of the country’s population. Fujitsu is also planning to deploy fibre to around five million rural premises in Britain, in collaboration with several partners such as Virgin and Cisco Systems.

    In addition, the House of Lords report released this week does not recommend that the UK Government directly build its own NBN, as Australia is. Instead, it recommends that where government subsidies are being used to support private companies building infrastructure, that certain additional rules be placed around that investment — such as an insistence on technologies which could offer a “clear upgrade path” to fibre to the premises rollouts.

    The news comes as debate continues to swirl within Australia about the future of Labor’s fibre to the home-based NBN project, with the Coalition pledging to substantially modify the project and use fibre to the node instead of fibre to the home technology, if it should win the next Federal Election. In addition, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott this week refused to confirm or deny whether the Coalition would sell off finished portions of the National Broadband Network infrastructure if it won the next Federal Election, stating only that the Coalition believed the private sector could deliver broadband to Australia better than the Government.

    opinion/analysis
    It’s hard to get your head around the precise dynamics of the telecommunications industry in the UK from reading this House of Lords report. As in Australia, the industry and the government’s interaction with it together compose a very complex situation tinged with a great deal of regulatory subtlety.

    However, it does seem clear from the report that the House of Lords believes in the long-term revolutionary potential of fibre broadband as a technology which should be rolled out all the way to premises — and not just to neighbourhood nodes as BT is currently doing in the UK and as the Coalition is planning in Australia. Coupled with BT’s recent revelation that it would support the extension of its FTTN project to FTTH in some areas as an experiment, it seems clear that much of the dialogue around future broadband needs in the UK is focused around how to get fibre everywhere in the long term — rather than how to get certain speeds in the short to medium-term.

    This dynamic has implications for the Coalition’s rival NBN policy. One of the key questions which the Coalition in Australia has not answered yet is what its long-term plan is with respect to national telecommunications infrastructure — is it factoring in to its plan an eventual shift to FTTH and away from its FTTN plans? And if so, why not simply deploy FTTH straight away, given that the Government’s current NBN plan is currently projected to make a return on that investment? These are clearly the sorts of issues the UK Parliament has been grappling with; and they need to be addressed in Australia as well.

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    1. Posted 03/08/2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink |

      But, don’t some of our thought leaders say that Britain’s FTTN model is “adequate”? Could they be wrong?

      • Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink |

        “Wrong”? “Wrong”? Shocking. Don’t even mention such a thing. As if our thought leaders could be occasionally wrong. What an outrageous idea.

      • Stephen
        Posted 06/08/2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink |

        We have “thought leaders”? Who keeps them under control – the “thought police”?

    2. Hubert Cumberdale
      Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink |

      I’m not sure if I’d consider this an endorsement of the NBN. I did not see Australia or the NBN specifically mentioned in the report. The statement “as close as possible” honestly seems to me like a weasely statement the coaltion would use to give credence to their FttN.

      • Dean
        Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink |

        Yeah, it looks like they’re happy with FTTN, as long as it provides a “clear upgrade path” to FTTP. Of course, the Coalition hasn’t mentioned anything about the possibility of upgrading (except to say that “up to half of this outlay will have to be written off if there is a later switch to FTTP”).

        I wonder if the UK hadn’t already rolled out FTTN to so many premises whether they’d still bother with it. It would seem kind of silly in light of this report.

      • Karl
        Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink |

        Well the crux of the report is that policy makers should be focusing on the long term, not short term speed milestones, which clearly is an endorsement of the NBN’s current rollout over the Coalition’s proposed one.

      • Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

        @HC

        No, if you read the recommendations in full, they are advocating FTTH. They acknowledge though that in the UK it is too expensive to do so, as their system is via subsidy. And subsidising FTTH at the moment for private sector would be horrendously expensive anywhere.

        They’re being realistic- they know with good competition like they have, subsidies are the best and FTTC subsidies AS LONG as they are future upgradable are the most feasible way of subsidising.

        This DOESN’T translate in the Australian maker as we have no decent competition- hence why their advocating ‘closest to the premises’ and ‘open access and future upgradable’ show the NBN, in our case, is prudent and necessary.

        • Hubert Cumberdale
          Posted 03/08/2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink |

          seven (& karl) there is nothing concrete here at all. The only thing they are guarnteeing is “open access to this optical fibre from the cabinet to the exchange” and a statement like “must be driven out as close as possible to the eventual user.” is most certainly going to be used by the coalition like: “See FttN is as close as possible” They wont give specifics for FttH either.

          • Posted 03/08/2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink |

            @HC

            Of course there is nothing concrete….they’re politicians…. :D

            Point is, it depends how you read it. I think if you read it objectively it is more relevant to the NBN than the FTTN Coalition whatever, precisely because of that open access comment.

            It is very much down to how you read it- objectively it is a bit more relevant to the argument for the NBN. Subjectively it is either only relevant to the argument for the NBN or only relevant to the argument for FTTN :P

    3. Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink |

      Take that LNP. Even Her Majesty’s Government says that you’re wrong. Cant be more wrong than that.

      • nonny-moose
        Posted 03/08/2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink |

        they are pretty clear about things too, on my reading of what the Lords were saying.

        “fibre-optic cable, the most future proof technology, must be driven out as close as possible to the eventual user.”

        would have to be the most pertinent sentence to me – in terms of ‘future proof’ and in terms of ubiquity, which is what the last half is really saying.

        one of the things about the near guaranteed nature of the NBN – 93% coverage – means that you are using the same processes and same teams, same software and tools over as much of the network as possible. its good for customers and its good for the operator. a 40% FTTN plan leaves the provider of last resort working with at least 2 sets of rules and processes depending whether they are servicing the fibre or copper portion.

        the customers, depending on whether they fall in the 40% or not, will have less assurance of what they are getting (its all down to the lottery). and for the 40% on FTTN its a mixed mode network in the sense it uses copper and fibre for the exchange – customer leg and will therefore still be partially vulnerable to every foible of copper the current network has.

        network servicing is as much about future proofing to me – proof against it going down some time down the track. the Lords have certainly identified which is the better option in that respect – its clear if there werent other factors necessitating a portion be built with FTTN they would have said ‘do the lot with FTTH, please’. its simply a much more reliable net, simpler to maintain and operate. normally this is the bit where you go “even Blind Freddie…” – but unfortunately hes currently running the Opposition.

        that said i wonder what Malcolm will say, seeing as BTs FTTN is something hes pointed to in the past. if they are clearly deprecating is as a solution, maybe its not such a good idea to trumpet it as the Next Big Thing? conversely, if he truly believes it IS, how does he plan to negate its (obvious to BT!) shortcomings? we know its not as good a technical solution, so any policy really should say what the plan is, rather than leaving that nasty surprise for the punters to find out about later on…..

    4. Bern
      Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink |

      They’re funding the UK FTTH network by way of subsidy?

      IMHO, that sounds like a perfect recipe for transfer of wealth from the government (a.k.a. taxpayers) to private corporations. You can be sure that BT will be running the service with an eye to making a profit.

      Come to think of it, that sounds like the coalition approach here. They want the money to be spent on infrastructure, by the government, but it seems they would much rather have any financial returns go into the pockets of private investors, rather than be returned to the Australian people as a whole (via the government).

      • Posted 03/08/2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink |

        No they’re funding FTTC by subsidy.

        FTTH is via user pays.

    5. Bob.H
      Posted 03/08/2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink |

      What the House of Lords has recommended has little relevance to the Australian situation.

      Firstly IIRC the population of greater London is bigger than the population of Australia and secondly you can tuck the UK into Victoria with room to spare.

      Just based on those two facts it is fairly obvious that the economic and engineering problems are totally different in the UK compared to Australia.

      Just think about how many kilometers of cable is required to connect everyone in the UK compared to how many kilometers of cable to connect everyone in Australia. Then start working out how much extra equipment is needed.

      I think the only thing in the House of Lords report that is transferable to Australia is the aspiration to have fibre services delivered as close as possible to the premises. Australia’s NBN, it seems to me, does exactly that.

      • Posted 03/08/2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink |

        @Bob H

        Actually, Greater London has about 13 Million :D

        However, what you’ve said otherwise is quite true. We have VERY different geography.

        But, don’t forget their comment about “open access” too. That is VERY relevant to the NBN along with “fibre as close to the premises as possible.”

        • Francis Young
          Posted 03/08/2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink |

          No, an urban fibre rollout is an urban fibre rollout, guys.

          Greater Sydney includes water bodies, national parks and cemeteries, none of which are getting fibre. It is the suburban streetscape that gets fibre.

          Just because the fibre trunk between towns in Australia is sometimes hundreds rather than tens of kilometres, the actual street by street rollout from any given 1000-premises fibre node is no different in Australia or England or Asia, give or take a greater or lesser proportion of multiple-occupancy dwellings.

          Australia’s population density might be under 3, but the population density of the NBN fibre footprint is a few hundred per square km, the same ballpark as any other national fibre rollout.

          The big difference is that we can build it without the constructing entity requiring a 15-20% profit on the project, and the alternative (FTTN) requires $15 billion compensation for access to Telstra’s copper.

          • Bob.H
            Posted 03/08/2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink |

            @ Francis Young.

            There is a big difference between the Australian and the UK population density and as you rightly point out the number of MUDs. I think you will find that the UK is much less enchanted by the “1/4 acre” block than Australia.

            “No, an urban fibre rollout is an urban fibre rollout, guys.”

            I would think that economies of scale still apply in urban roll out and that population density would be one of the factors. I would expect the cost per head to roll out in Tokyo to be different to London and different again in Sydney.

          • Jono
            Posted 03/08/2012 at 11:48 pm | Permalink |

            Just read this in your post and it triggered a memory from a few months ago.

            “Greater Sydney includes water bodies, national parks and cemeteries, none of which are getting fibre.”

            It seems that Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney will be receiving FTTG (Fibre To The Grave). Ok, ok, it seems to be the admin buildings, and sorry for the bad pun.

            http://www.itnews.com.au/News/287270,nbn-co-targets-the-dead-in-sydney-fibre-rollout.aspx

            According to the NBN website, the rollout here commenced in December 2011.

        • Bob.H
          Posted 03/08/2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink |

          Population of Greater London according to Wikipedia is 8,174,000 at the 2011 census (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_London).

          Back in my primary school days, about half a century ago, they taught us that the population of Australia was smaller than Greater London. I was going to say things about teachers being bloody liars until I saw that the poms changed the boundaries of Greater London in 1965. It seems those bloody poms have done it again and changed things to confuse the convict colonials. :-D

          • Posted 03/08/2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink |

            @ Bob H.

            Huh. When we were there in 2005 we had people saying to us “Oh yes, well, with 12 or 13 Million people, London is one of the busiest cities in the world.” And there was an advertising campaign about a product that used the slogan “13 million reasons why the city….”….

            I guess they know something we don’t :P

    6. Lord lngleby
      Posted 03/08/2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink |

      ——–

      Our vision for the UK’s broadband infrastructure

      In addition, in order to realise our vision, our view is that the UK’s future
      broadband infrastructure should deliver the following:

      Every such hub should be fed by ample fibre-optic cable, providing open
      access to optical links back to the exchange, and back to the public
      internet—which will not be free, but made available on fair, reasonable
      and non-discriminatory terms, allowing third parties to build their own
      local access networks
      meeting appropriate technical standards, using
      whichever technologies they choose, from that hub;

      At the very least, we expect a hub to be able to provide backhaul for a
      wireless network, where there is demand, so that premises would be able
      to gain access to a wireless internet service from at least one of these
      hubs—assuming they can afford to do so.

      We recommend that the Government consider our vision for the UK’s
      broadband infrastructure as set out in this report. As a first step, we
      recommend that the Government undertake to produce detailed
      costings of our proposal, not least because our proposal removes the
      final mile—the most expensive per capita component of the network—
      from the costs requiring public subsidy.

      An important feature of the hub, however, is that the dark fibre running into it should
      be open access; so that anybody is permitted to build a link between a premises in
      the community and a fibre in the hub by installing their own passive or active
      electronic equipment in between
      , and then rent the existing fibre they are
      connecting to, which extends the connection from the premises out from the hub
      and onto the wider network. This would enable any type of compatible access
      network to be built by any local community, SME or infrastructure provider.

      ———–

      The House of Lords endorses infrastructure competition in the last mile. Marvellous!

      • Posted 03/08/2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink |

        @Lord Ingleby

        That is correct. But you missed the point- Australia doesn’t HAVE any infrastructure last mile competition apart from HFC which services less than 10% of the population…..

        The UK does. It has 3 separate networks which, separately, all service over 50% of various parts of the UK.

        Their competition works because their incumbent is nowhere near as “incumbentised” (Trademark) as our incumbent.

        Ours doesn’t work, because Telstra owns 85% of all fixed lines in use….

        • Posted 03/08/2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink |

          @Lord Ingleby

          You also missed the part about the last mile being EXCLUDED from the subsidies- ie. the government will pay to run the backhaul fibre to the cabinets, but no further

          This is completely pointless in Australia- there is plenty of backhaul competition- PIPE, Telstra, Optus, NextGen. But there is little to NO last-mile competition.

          So that would be totally pointless to compare with Australia for the NBN….

          • Alex
            Posted 03/08/2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink |

            What that is in essence, imo 7T, is an admission from someone who is apparently an NBN critic, of the importance of the last mile…

            As such, perhaps there’s also a realisation of just how ridiculous it would be to run fibre whilst again reusing the copper last mile.

            :-)

          • Marquis of Londonberry
            Posted 03/08/2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink |

            You are correct — the House of Lords does not support monopolisation of the last mile by a state monopoly (which is the essence of Labor’s NBN).

            The differences between the policy recommendations of the House of Lords and Labor’s draconian, heavy-handed, statist interventionist NBN couldn’t be any starker!

            • Posted 03/08/2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink |

              @Marquis

              You are correct — the House of Lords does not support monopolisation of the last mile by a state monopoly (which is the essence of Labor’s NBN).

              Funny….I was sure an FTTN system built by Telstra (what the Coalition plan is) is EXACTLY what The House of Lords was advocating against- monopolised technology build of last mile solution.

              Which seems better? A private company, working on between 25% and 35% profit with no interest in the average Australian except as an income source for their shareholders? Or a government who is mandated to provide services and support to its’ citizens equally?…..

              You’re making political arguments, not factual ones. That’s why they fall apart….

        • Marquis of Londonberry
          Posted 03/08/2012 at 9:12 pm | Permalink |

          There isn’t any infrastructure competition in Australia other than two HFC networks that passes 1 in 3 households in Australia (not to mention Neighbourhood Cable and Transact, etc).

          By this definition, infrastructure competition doesn’t exist in South Korea either because competitive network builds are concentrated in the Greater Seoul Area.

          Also, following the same logic, there are no international airports in Australia because there are none in the regional areas…

          LOL

          • Posted 03/08/2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink |

            @Marquis

            Having fun changing names are we?

            Would you like some numbers?

            Optus & Telstra HFC pass approximately 3.5 Million customers. Subscribers? 900 000. Total. Why? Several reasons.

            Both Optus and Telstra do not allow businesses to connect or business type connections (small business from home)

            Both Optus and Telstra do not allow connection of MDU’s. They sight legal reasons. The industry sights contention issues.

            Both Optus and Telstra also actively artificially limit individual areas uptake as otherwise, as you get on areas of Optus’ HFC, end users slow to 10Mbps at peak times because contention ratios are SO high as to make some HFC worse than ADSL.

            The only way to cure these points in several hundred MILLION dollars worth of node-splitting on BOTH networks to allow that “30%” to even have the CHOICE of connecting (many want to but simply cannot and are refused). Neither Optus NOR Telstra will make this investment themselves. They have publicly stated this several times. So the government would have to pay. AND you’d be left with a Duopoly, as HFC is NOT open-access. Some competition…..

            Secondly, you mentioned TransACT, iinet FTTH etc? Would you like to know the TOTAL % of premises all these individual networks of FTTN and FTTH pass? 1%. Total. Look up those networks. They pass a total of ~120 000 premises altogether.

            So, in total, 31% of the country has competition….but of that 31%, only around 15% can ACTUALLY connect to those networks. So 85% of the country has no competition in infrastructure.

            You were saying….?

            • Marquis of Londonberry
              Posted 03/08/2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink |

              Infrastructure competition is alive and well in Australia.

              Thanks for confirming.

              • Posted 03/08/2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink |

                @Marquis

                Thanks for confirming you don’t read or accept any factual data.

                Cheers

              • Posted 03/08/2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink |

                hey Marquis,

                with respect to this statement:

                “Infrastructure competition is alive and well in Australia.”

                I consider this to be factually inaccurate. The majority of Australians only have access to one form of fixed telco infrastructure — copper. As I have previously written, the HFC cable networks do go past many premises, but Optus and Telstra often won’t connect them, especially if you’re in a MDU. And I don’t consider mobile towers to be realistic “infrastructure competition” with the copper network, at least when it comes to broadband.

                I welcome alternative points of view on Delimiter, but let’s keep it based in fact, please.

                Cheers,

                Renai

              • Alex
                Posted 04/08/2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink |

                @ Marquis…

                Australia currently has one “Australia wide” provider for last mile, Telstra.

                Then there’s two companies (one the same as above and Optus) who offer HFC to a small number of premises.

                _____________________

                And for today’s inevitable NBN critic’s contradiction: “Optus are supplying HFC competition” – “Optus has neglected its HFC network over the years and relied instead on below-cost access to Telstra’s copper network.”
                ____________________

                So which is it…??????

                BTW – Optus are accessing Telstra’s network legally. In fact Telstra were fined $18m for acting illegally, by denying access to competitors as their ownership rules demand (one might say they breached the rules and therefore relinquished their ownership rights all together ;) But that’s digressing… back on topic.

                The NBN critics, perhaps even yourself under a yet another different nom de plume, have said the NBN is no good because there will only be 4 or 5 RSP’s able to afford to offer NBN services Australia wide.

                So tell us which is better for consumers –

                1. Telstra only copper, available to everyone and Telstra (or maybe Optus HFC – which as it, awaiting your answer above) available to a select few?

                or

                2. NBN Co’s upgraded FttP available from 4 or 5 RSP Australia wide (which is written in the Corp. Plan, will cost the same or less, for a superior product)?

                Seriously, we are talking about what’s best for consumers, not what’s best for the *politics and ideology.

                Because I’m positive, when you or I go to buy a retail product, we don’t care who the wholesaler is, we are only interested in best retail price.

                So why do people such as you apply a different set of rules to the NBN?

                For the answer, refer to the Telstra like * above.

      • NBNAccuracy
        Posted 11/08/2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink |

        Why is Tosh pretending to be part of the UK House of Lords?

    7. Abel Adamski
      Posted 03/08/2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink |

      Lets add OPTUS HFC to the mix

      http://afr.com/p/opinion/optus_wants_real_choice_6qsdiUrTok40kQciZ8SS6H

      Your editorial about the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s approval of Optus’ agreement with NBN Co to transfer customers from our HFC [hybrid fibre coaxial] network to the NBN reflects muddled thinking (“ACCC grasping at straws on NBN”, July 31). Its logic would have the ACCC intervening more, not less, in Optus business and commercial decision making, with the perverse result of inhibiting freedom to offer greater choice in products, services and communications infrastructure.

      The ACCC’s decision recognised that a commercial transfer of HFC customers on to NBN infrastructure had a range of national benefits. Doing otherwise would impose ongoing intervention into the Optus business.

      Requiring Optus to carry the cost of duplicate systems and maintaining a legacy regional network to compete against a new national NBN platform, when no other carrier was expected to, is pro-competitive in theory only.

      Not being conscripted to armchair theories of HFC-based infrastructure competition allows Optus to direct capital to what consumers want: a greater range of new products and services on a national platform, and new highly competitive 3G Plus and 4G mobile network infrastructure.

      That’s real choice and a real competition on a national scale.

      David Epstein Vice-president, Corporate Affairs & Regulatory Affairs, SingTel Optus Pty Ltd

      The Australian Financial Review

      • Marquis of Londonberry
        Posted 03/08/2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink |

        That’s right, Optus has neglected its HFC network over the years and relied instead on below-cost access to Telstra’s copper network. However, it’s going to be fun watching Optus eat its words and scramble to reclaim its HFC network when the Coalition trashes Labor’s plan for a state monopoly.

        • Abel Adamski
          Posted 03/08/2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink |

          Doubt it.
          Already over 15 years old, more than likely put it up for sale and focus on Mobile and Corporate and Fibre Backhaul.
          I am sure those that so love it can come up with the price.
          Considering NBN is paying $800Mill to MIGRATE customers which will still be Optus customers, would place a value as customers, future income stream and infrastructure, say $2Bill. I am sure News Ltd. or Gina could buy it and upgrade it

        • Alex
          Posted 04/08/2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink |

          Oh, so Optus aren’t supplying wonderful HFC competition at all then… it’s Telstra only!

          So why did you infer otherwise above?

          Suggesting and I quote – “Infrastructure competition is alive and well in Australia.”

          http://delimiter.com.au/2012/08/03/uk-lords-back-universal-fibre-nbn/#comment-484884

    8. Observer
      Posted 04/08/2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink |

      I would love to see politics completely out of the debate on an NBN. The reality, nevertheless, is that comes down to a choice between the coalition’s ideology which ultimately will end up with a private monopoly, Telstra, running the show or Labor’s ideology which delivers a state monopoly. The aim of the former being to maximise profits while that of he latter is a modest return on investment.

      Given the many years under Telstra monopoly, you would think that the choice is a no brainer but this is politics.

      Perhaps, the best way to sell the NBN to the mums and dads is to boil it down to a simple choice: Telstra or NBN?

      Even though, Telstra has many broadband customers, many of them use the company because there is no other choice available not because they love the company or its service.

      • PeterA
        Posted 07/08/2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink |

        Spend money directly and create a government owned monopoly.
        (use buying power and non-compete laws to reduce the cost of network construction for everyone)

        Or spend money via subsidies to encourage people to build newer/better networks.
        (monetary incentives to reduce barriers to build cost, then use market competition to increase efficiency in network build/operations, and finally – due to multiple infrastructure competitors – provide competitive pressure to reduce end user access costs).

        Fundamentally, that is what people are for or against. Everything else is window dressing. (These 2 positions are pretty much diametrically opposed and ultimately a matter of opinion – free market, vs government intervention. Which is why there is no agreement on the fundamentals).

        Anyone else believe otherwise? (I have *tried* to be fair here, but if I have fundamentally mis-characterized something I’d like to know).

        • Alex
          Posted 07/08/2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink |

          PeterA, although I appreciate your view point, I can’t agree…

          The alternative to the NBN… the Coalition’s market driven subsidisation plan, will involve a CBA – from a “Government Dept, The Productivity Commission and by using Telstra’s network, which will also require regulations from another Governmental dept – ACCC.

          If the ideologues are willing to accept such inevitable government intervention in their “must be market driven” political partiality… then why not go the whole hog and just do it properly?

        • Bob.H
          Posted 07/08/2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink |

          You have it right as far as the opposing views but the problem is that one group is saying that only the Government should provide national infrastructure or else you will have a privately owned monopoly. The other group is saying the Government is inefficient and can’t possibly provide the national infrastructure as cheaply or efficiently as private enterprise.

          The truth is that in any infrastructure development either of the groups could be right. However ideology is not going to produce the best result for the taxpayer or the consumer.

          If we look at what the NBN objectives are then the solution must provide:
          Broadband coverage for all Australians with ability to get higher speeds than exist at present in the regions.
          The capacity for equality of access to the network for all retail service providers
          It must be affordable for the consumers
          It must be capable of providing the varying capacity requirements of the consumer for the next 20 – 30 years.
          It must be able to be upgraded to meet expected demand in the future.

          With Australia’s geography and demographics taken into account what is best way to provide the solution for theses objectives? Is being locked in to one or another ideology going to help in making a rational decision on the best solution?

          The ideology is really pointless. What we need is the best solution to achieve the objectives for Australia.

      • PeterA
        Posted 07/08/2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink |

        PS. I agree with what you say about the likely outcome of a coalition style NBN.

        But, it *can* happen that there would be infrastructure competition. It is the belief of some (as far as I can tell) that if you can pull it off, it is better for everyone hands down. I am not convinced of this, but most importantly, the chance of pulling it off in Australia’s telecommunications environment is very slim (the Telstra factor).

        • Posted 07/08/2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |

          @PeterA

          The Telstra factor is one thing. But the geography factor is another. Infrastructure is expensive EVEN if you’re only company. If there are multiple companies, having to rollout HUGE lengths of cabling, with little recourse for profit because of 3 or 4 operators and a sparse population?…..

          As midspace said on another Delimiter article….Magic 8 Ball says: Try Again….

        • Abel Adamski
          Posted 07/08/2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink |

          Peter.

          Plain ordinary old practical reality needs to be applied. There are high profit areas where competition could work, however most estates and corporate areas are tied up in private networks. So that leaves SMBE and Rural and residential that will benefit most, plus business now having better National connectivity.
          When the only provision of better services and competition is in very select areas, what happens to the rest of the Nation??
          This very issue is a factor in the US and is a reason open access wholesaling is very rare on cable and fibre. Let’s face it they are the epitome of the private sector and competition, yet the US govt is forced to spend$350Bill in subsidies and that will not be adequate.

          The private sector must achieve a rapid ROI and a high return to be viable, and they do NOT have the economies of scale or cheap financing available. I remember iiNet complaining re the Ballarat NBN install that they could not be competitive as a wholesaler with that local Transact service.

          That is why the current reality is that choice in infrastucture creates vertical integration and complete loss of choice of retail product unless all potential infrastructure suppliers install to every possible premise when only few will sign up to them, which raises the point in this scenario of what then will actually be installed and how will all this unused infrastructure be paid for .

          Also moving property will truly be a broadband lottery, very expensive to upgrade, whose service are you going to be FORCED to connect to, and what packages are you going to be forced to accept at what price. Will you be FORCED to pay $Thousands to have a fibre run from the node to your new premises, how long do you expect to live there??

          • PeterA
            Posted 08/08/2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink |

            This is fundamentally my position. I was trying (above) to avoid putting an opinion into my comment. I am sure I failed to appropriately box each side of the equation.

            Biggest problem with trying to take politics out of this debate, is twofold. The opinion on the role of government in general, and less precisely, where the government-commercial transition should be.

            People can agree that government should provide a minimum level of health care, but they can also agree that private heath-care should be allowed to exist to cater to those that can afford to pay. Unfortunately this same debate appears to be happening in telecomms in australia, and since the government interventionists (like myself) are coming from a point of view that is (at first glance) appears to be one where government is entirely divorced from telecommunications, and are now exerting force into the industry.

            Sadly, we aren’t there. The ACCC broadly runs our internet access services in all but name. In my opinion, the government needs to spend some money to get out of the hole that was dug by the sale of Telstra, and if you are going to spend money solving a problem, you may as well solve it properly, instead of throwing good money after the same bad decisions.

            The FTTN is a ductape solution to our current regulation-heavy broadband market. It takes our current market, waves its hands (which are holding 15 to 30 billion dollars in cash) the money disappears and we end up with a network marginally better than the existing one, and there is no guarantee based on what the coalition has said that the money will be buying assets, instead of buying assets for Telstra.

    9. Abel Adamski
      Posted 08/08/2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink |

      Another interesting Opinion piece

      “http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/changes-to-model-to-boost-nbns-costs/story-e6frg9io-1226445138186″

      Apart from the interesting overall tone, the bit that caught my eye
      “The key ones are the Optus hybrid fibre coaxial payout, which in real dollars will come out to about $2bn”
      Personally cannot see any justification for that assessment unless he has been influenced by this
      “http://delimiter.com.au/2012/08/03/uk-lords-back-universal-fibre-nbn/#comment-484896″

      HMMM

      • Posted 08/08/2012 at 1:39 am | Permalink |

        Posted this this on Whirlpool.

        I can’t believe even more he puts in $19 billion as the ‘real dollar value’ of the Telstra deal….

        At 2.5% CPI I get $14 billion for a start. And second, that’s only relevant if the government were to borrow all the money NOW….which they aren’t….

        They can really get away with some crap when labelling it as ‘opinion’. At least they note the total CAPEX will not exceed $36 billion planned….score one for facts….

        • Abel Adamski
          Posted 08/08/2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink |

          I suspect he got mixed up with the Coalitions extra cost of buying the copper on top

    10. Abel Adamski
      Posted 08/08/2012 at 3:00 am | Permalink |

      http://afr.com/p/business/chanticleer/nbn_co_update_plenty_of_figuring_pPTdFGHprI2HGID08bDMsM

      Do I note a some changes?

      • Posted 08/08/2012 at 3:02 am | Permalink |

        Yeah, because they’re Editor is obviously in bed this morning….

        • Abel Adamski
          Posted 08/08/2012 at 3:38 am | Permalink |

          In that way maybe smarter than us :)




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