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  • Opinion, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:03 - 177 Comments

    Spectacularly shortsighted:
    Debating 2012 NBN take-up rates


    opinion Reality check: The National Broadband Network is a project which will continue to serve Australia’s telecommunications needs for at least the next fifty years. Debating take-up rates in the first year of its existence is nothing short of incredibly short-sighted and trivial.

    Over the Christmas break period, your writer took several weeks off to enjoy the beautiful Australian summer, spend time swimming in our crystal clear waters and catch up on his science fiction/fantasy reading, usually with a tequila sunrise in his right hand. But unfortunately, Australia’s addled politicians apparently failed to do the same.

    When I returned from this idyllic vacation, I found that our two politicians primarily responsible for shaping policy relating to the nation’s telecommunications sector, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, and his opposite, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, had spent at least some of the break engaging in a somewhat shabby and facile war of words over what the take-up rates of the initial handful of people to be connected to the Government’s National Broadband Network meant.

    Conroy’s contribution to the conversation appeared to be an attempt to answer Turnbull’s ongoing criticism of the Government for not paying more attention to what’s going on in overseas telecommunications market.

    Claiming to be outlining “the facts” about Australia’s take-up of the NBN so far, Conroy pointed out that in areas where the NBN’s fibre service had been available for over 12 months, more than 25 percent of premises in total had volunteered to connect to the NBN.

    The good Senator then proceeded to highlight the fact that this figure represented a world-beating statistic, judging by the fact that similar rollouts of fibre services in the US (Verizon, 24.2% after three years, 37% after seven years), Europe (total average take-up of 21% after three years), Singapore (20% after three and a half years) and New Zealand (less than 2%) had performed worse than the NBN’s fibre in terms of take-up.

    Conroy further went on to highlight the fact that the speed at which the NBN was being taken up was “far superior” to that of other internet technologies, including dial-up, ADSL and HFC cable.
    “By any reasonable comparison the take-up of the NBN’s fibre services has been rapid,” Conroy proclaimed. “This is further evidence that Australians want the Gillard Government’s NBN.”

    Now, we have no doubt that much of what Conroy is saying here is broadly correct. There is ample evidence that most Australians approve of the NBN project and that early take-up rates show strong demand for the NBN’s fibre. Indeed, we think Conroy should probably have mentioned the fact that demand for the NBN’s highest 100Mbps speeds is particularly high.

    However, of course Conroy neglected to mention one of the key reasons why initial take-up of the NBN’s fibre has been so high: Many users are aware that eventually they will have no choice but to switch to the NBN, as the project has already commenced plans to switch off the existing copper and HFC cable networks in some areas.

    Sure, in the case of Singapore and New Zealand, the fibre networks being rolled out also constitute monopolies, but one suspects that the take-up rate on the fibre owned by Verizon and some of the European telcos would be higher if infrastructure-based telecommunications competition was being shut down in those countries, the way it is being shut down in Australia through the NBN. Then too, there is also the fact that many early adopters on the NBN network have been receiving free or significantly discounted services as they function as test subjects for telcos trialling NBN products. Free is always the greatest incentive to sign on to anything.

    And of course these and other relatively points were exactly the arguments which Malcolm Turnbull laid out in his inevitable reaction blog attempting to correct what he labelled as Conroy’s “bizarre contribution” to Australia’s broadband debate.

    Turnbull’s argument is broadly that Conroy’s numbers mean little, given that “FTTP take-up has been weak everywhere”, adding: “Senator Conroy argues the NBN fibre rollout is a raging success because demand so far is not quite as weak as elsewhere (over a tiny sample size of households in the NBN’s hand-picked initial markets).” The really significant figure, the Liberal MP argued, was not the 25 percent of premises which had signed up for the NBN, but the 75 percent which hadn’t. And even that 25 percent who did sign up, Turnbull claimed, were strongly influenced by the NBN’s “huge marketing budget”, “free trial periods”, “anti-competitive” shutdown of rival fixed broadband networks and more devilish government inventions.

    And of course, Turnbull also circled back to his overall point … the point he has been making continuously over the past several years since he was appointed to the glorious role of chief Coalition telecommunications pontificator.

    “The fact that people use the NBN is hardly surprising,” Turnbull wrote. “Nobody is suggesting that there is no demand for broadband at all. The argument against his approach to building the NBN is that it is costing far too much and taking far too long than a more rational strategy would take.” The reader is encouraged to believe that Turnbull’s alternative fibre to the node vision, where fibre would still rolled out nationally but only to neighbourhood cabinets, would solve all of the government’s aims — if it would only listen to reason, goddamnit!

    Now, unfortunately for both Conroy and Turnbull, personally I’ve just had a lovely three week break lying on the beach in a special magical world I like to call “rational land”. This, and I know many people will find it hard to believe such a place exists, is a world where intelligent people can have intelligent and polite conversations without constantly accusing each other of making “bizarre” statements

    It’s a world where the media isn’t constantly tearing itself to shreds over the latest micro-scandal, and where issues are considered in context and with insight, rather than through the lens of political spin and obnoxious personal insults.

    In this world, I’ve been calmly considering notions such as what my take-up rate of tequila sunrises should be (two per day seems to the optimum number) and how many pages of my Wheel of Time books I should complete before heading to the water for another leisurely swim (the correct figure appears to be between 50 and 70, although it depends on whether I’m reading a Mat Cauthon chapter or not). They’re hardly complex issues, it’s true, but I feel I’ve approached them rationally, availing myself of all the evidence on hand to make decisions, and I feel this measured paradigm could also be applied to the more sophisticated field of the NBN.

    With this in mind, I’d like to encourage both Stephen Conroy and Malcolm Turnbull to consider that the issue that they seemed so hell-bent on debating in December is actually one of little consequence, and that neither can see the wood for the trees right now.

    Firstly, it is important to realise that only 52,000-odd property owners actually had NBN fibre rolled past their premises as at September 30 (when NBN Co released its most recent set of rollout statistics). Extrapolating demand from the low numbers of those with the NBN at the moment in Australia is just … pointless. The sample size is too small. It’s all very well to talk percentages, but any statistician will tell you that extrapolating the intentions of a few thousand people to the intentions of 23 million-odd is always going to be a bit tough.

    Then there’s the fact that we’re not comparing apples with apples. Let’s assume for argument’s sake that in 2012-2013, only 25 percent of 23 million Australians would connect voluntarily to the NBN’s fibre if it passed their premise. Could you say the same thing in 2020, when the NBN project is slated to be completed? I would think not. With bandwith and Internet usage continuing to explode, it seems likely that the proportion of those who want NBN connections will increase markedly over time.

    And that’s not even the whole story.

    What about in 2030? 2040? 2050? What about in 2100, for heaven’s sake? In these kinds of timeframes, when Generation Y has become grandparents, could you reasonably say that only 25 percent of Australians would want to connect to the NBN? I hardly think so.

    Conroy and Turnbull are debating the NBN using completely the wrong framework. The way these politicians talk about the network is as if it’s the latest iPad, or perhaps a new type of laptop. You know, you upgrade it once every few years, just to keep up with current trends and the Jones’.

    However, the NBN is not like an iPad. It’s not going to be out of date in 10 years, or 20 years, or even 30. Like Australia’s great highways, railways, ports and airports, like our electricity, water, gas and sewage networks, the NBN is foundational infrastructure which will underpin our entire country’s telecommunications needs for at least fifty years. Personally, I’m betting it will be around in many forms in a century — just like Telstra’s existing copper network, which was built piecemeal over the last hundred years. The point here is that we’re not building the NBN for today; we’re building it for the next fifty years. That’s how basic underlying infrastructure works.

    Of course, there’s other smaller reasons to criticise the underlying nature of NBN take-up debate.

    There’s the fact that many of those currently on the NBN live in early rollout areas in places such as rural Tasmania … locations which feature demographics hardly comparable to areas where most of Australia lives — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

    There’s the fact that it’s only been a few months since some telcos, notably Australia’s biggest telco Telstra, started offering commercial NBN services.

    And of course there’s the fact that the NBN is so new that much of the necessary ecosystem around it has not yet been developed. Paid content services like Foxtel and premium IPTV services have not yet made a full migration onto the NBN, meaning, for many Australians, that the network may not yet have the ‘killer app’ that will drive rapid adoption.

    But for me personally, what gets me every time about the issues the politicians are talking about here is how short-sighted they are. If you take a few steps back and examine Conroy and Turnbull’s frenetic Christmas argument from a calm perspective, it seems incredible irrational to try and use take-up rates from the first year of a fifty year foundational infrastructure project to demonstrate whether that project should or should not go ahead.

    Almost every major foundational infrastructure project I’ve ever examined the history of — notable examples in Australia including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Snowy Mountains Scheme — were debated intensely when they were in their infancy. But fifty years later, almost all of these projects had easily stood the test of time and are regarded as engineering triumphs. I strongly suspect this will also be the case with the NBN.

    Image credit: Commonly used Internet meme

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    1. Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink |

      The whole concept of debating take up rates is pointless until the copper network starts getting switched off from around Q1 2014, when people will be forced to move.

      When people pick up their phone and there’s no dialtone, that’s going to change everything.

      Until then, take up rates are, to a degree, somewhat irrelevant.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink |

        In the context of 20 years, take-up rates in general are irrelevant. In 20 years’ time, everyone who has any kind of fixed broadband connection today will be on the NBN.

        And that’s not that long a time period, frankly. I’m 32 years old. I was relatively educated and aware when I was 12. I was reading Dune and Lord of the Rings and thinking about the world. And if I can remember back 20 years, surely those in power today should be able to prognosticate forward 20. That, after all, is their goddamn job.

        • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink |

          Absolutely agree.

          I was thinking on the construction timeline only.

          With all the 4K televisions launched today at CES, people are going to need 100Mbps to stream content to them. When 8K televisions come along, the required bandwidth will be much higher again.

          NHK in Japan are doing 8K at 500Mbps compressed already ( http://mwyr.es/13cdIkV ).

          Such bandwidth won’t be able to be provided via terrestrial broadcast systems, so streaming it is, and would only be possible in the foreseeable future using a fibre deployment.

          We should build one, or else Australians won’t be able to benefit from this technology.

          Oh wait, we are building one.

          • midspace
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink |

            4K televisions today?
            LG launched their 4K televisions back in October in the US. If you had $20K+ to spare.

            • NBNAccuracy
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink |

              Given the rate 1080p sets dropped 4K TVs should be $3000 in a couple of years. HD TVs started at 20K not too long ago.

            • Posted 08/01/2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink |

              But there were a lot more released today. I don’t believe I suggested there weren’t any before today.

              • midspace
                Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink |

                It was the wording of “With all the 4K televisions launched today at CES”.
                I got the impression of “all the 4K televisions launched today”.

                Well, I did get an E in English after all. I blame my teachers for not teaching proper sentence conjugation.

                • Aaron
                  Posted 11/01/2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink |

                  It’s the teachers what dun made you talk bad?

        • RocK_M
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink |

          I’m of the opinion the furthest a politician can ever prognosticate is roughly in lots of4 years… usually falling around the crazy season we call “election year”

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink |

        Michael, there is also the spectre of literally doubling the number of RFS Brownfield FSAMs in April which I am concerned about. This large number of FSAMs ‘dumped’ in one hit will lower overall takeup rates – currently ~15% overall.

        This, coupled with a general lack of installation contractors – to which some say the labour will be available Real Soon Now – means that at the end of the financial year we will have lots of properties ready for service but not many people connected. This will lead Turnbull et al to the ‘Nobody wants it’ line…. again.

        I like the “FSAMs active for 12 months” metric as it gives the installers some time to get into a module and get some connections online. Still, overall national takeup divided by properties ready for service will give us a decent clue once the copper is decommissioned.

        • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink |

          “This large number of FSAMs ‘dumped’ in one hit will lower overall takeup rates – currently ~15% overall.”

          Which is why it’s really only fair to state take-up rates per FSAM, and relate that take-up to the amount of time the FSAM has been active.

          Of course, the naysayers will twist the stats the other way.

          Lies, damn lies, and statistics.


      • Michael
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink |

        That ignores the very large issue of economic forecasting vs reality. There is a strong case for analysing the takeup figures and comparing them to the figures forecast to compare revenue forecast to actual revenue generated and update those forecasts with more recent information.

        • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:47 pm | Permalink |

          And if you do so, NBN Co is on track, and in some cases, above expected.

    2. Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink |

      Looks like your 3-week break refreshed and cleared your head Renai.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink |

        It sure did :)

        • OneEyed
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink |

          As a technology writer, you shouldn’t be having breaks. You can write anywhere and publish your articles anytime you want, why would you want a break? Just a poor excuse “Refresh”. You can refresh yourself by walking your dog. I can think of a million things to do to refresh yourself, such as walking your dog.

          This whole NBN thing is a wast of money. The Gov can use that money to save strayed dogs, build more parks for dogs and their owners, provided subsidised hydro washing for dog owners who are on pensions. Encourage dog food companies to sell them cheaper and most importantly, provide free worm treatments and vacinations.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink |

            Dogs? I support a pet species agnostic solution! Let consumers decide what kind of person they want. It’ll enjoyable competition and be cheaper to deploy… – Turnbull.

          • midspace
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink |

            Statistics are in.
            Cats are more popular than dogs.

            Any polls that contravene this, are old.
            “According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), cats, as of the year 2010, are now the top ranking and most popular pet in the United States.”

            • Aaron
              Posted 11/01/2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink |

              That’s a bizarre statement. The take up rate of dogs, per household (36% of AU households have a dog already), suggest that rolling out dogs is a much more efficient and ultimately cheaper alternative to a full government subsidised cat rollout (23% of households own a cat).

              The Noalition believe that a mixture of pet technologies provided by private pet shops is, in fact, the best way to go. The money being pumped into the government’s profligate cat program could better be spent on kennels, catteries, vets and puppy schools.

          • Ben Zemm
            Posted 09/01/2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink |

            But the holiday places don’t have access to fast Internet http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-07/telecommunications-gridlock-causes-concern/4454834 until the NBN gets here!

            The best quote in that ABC article is “… and the NBN should be fast tracked”. Yeah, fast-tracked everywhere!

        • Kevin Davies
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink |

          I think taking a break is good. Renai needs one just like any of us. Getting away from it all for a while gives you perspective. It gives you time to come back with fresh eyes and new articles which reflect the wisdom gained from time away. Renai is spot on when he talks about take up rates.

          You know, if the opposition did not have News Ltd blindly supporting them like a big puppy dog no one would give them the time of day. I find it incredibly hypocritical of Abbott and Turnbull to call for a fact checking group when %80 of what they spew into the public arena on a daily basis is just bullshit. It’s like a tactic to gain credibility buy calling for something they would never actually want implemented because it would show them for the buffoons they truly are.

          I used to think the art of debating was honorable but seeing Abbott and Turnbull in parliament is horrific. The way they have abused the nation, abused the people and abused their position by spinning misleading information into the public eye is truly incredible and I am disgusted. The opposition lives in the gutter and they don’t care a whit about the respectability of the Australian government.

    3. Soth
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink |

      Mmm good read, definitely hate the `think in 4 year terms` attitude.

      Sounds like you had some well deserved time off. Batteries recharged to face the election year!

    4. Mud Guts
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink |

      Both sides of politics typically focus on what can be achieved in a single term of office. The Coalition has not discussed anything beyond what happens after the election in 2016/2017.

      This short term attitude is partly because people are not too fussed about what happens in the long term, it’s what they get now that matters.

      • Soth
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink |

        I want my goddam NBN now :P

        • Tom
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink |

          3 years late already.

          Nobody has considered the consequences of a totally inept and innefficient government run monopoly.

          Keep waiting!

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink |

            As I have asked you multiple times on Twitter, where has this “3 years” figure you keep producing been sourced from?

            Could you please take the time to find a reference because training as I might I can’t seem to. As far as I can tell the NBN is only a few months behind schedule.

            • CMOTDibbler
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink |

              In the “SELECT COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL BROADBAND NETWORK – 01/10/2009 – Implications of the proposed National Broadband Network” meeting on 1 October, 2009 …

              Senator Birmingham … “When do you consider the eight-year clock will start ticking? ”

              Mike Quigley … “I believe now that we have the company on its feet, to some extent up and running, around this time would be a good point to start. ”

              So, the eight year clock started ticking in October 2009. That would have the NBN finished in October 2017. The target date has been changed a few times since then, but that’s the first date Mike Quigley committed to.

              • Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink |

                Come on CMOT. That’s completely out of context and you know it.

                Quigley wasn’t even told at that stage there was going to be an agreement with Telstra. Nor was the first CP even done for another year!

                That was a deliberate attempt by Birmingham to back Quigley into a corner on timing. The implementation study wasn’t even complete then so they didn’t even know HOW they were going to do it.

                • Michael
                  Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink |

                  While I think it’s understandable that the timeframes have changed, he does have a point.

                  The NBN is actually running far, far later than it was originally envisioned to. The NBN is only a few months “late”, but of course it can be as “on time” as they like if the goalposts get moved every time the situation changes.

                  Remember the NBN was also supposed to take 8 years to build. That was included in the most broad mission statement – it really shouldn’t have been negotiable. Build time has since been revised to 10 years (which makes 2020 unlikely, btw), which may have been an entirely wise choice but it doesn’t change the fact that it has not met the time expectations declared at the start of the project. Yes, the new timeframe may have been a wise choice, but If that makes it “on time” no project would be running behind schedule ever.

                  I guess the tl;dr is: NBNCo has probably revised their timeframes for good reason, but it doesn’t change the fact that if they were working for a private company they would be doomed to paying YEARS (not months) of late penalties.

                  • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink |

                    Actually they wouldn’t. An important part of the client/provider relationship is realistic delivery of goals. If the client changes the requirements, which they did, the provider responds with “this will cause this to happen.” The client then signs of the change and accepts the modified budget or timetable.

                    NBN Co, as a provider, has not failed to meet any of it’s mandates, every delay on record has been a result of a requirements change. If they, for example, only manage to average 4000 premises a day, THAT would count as a breach of contract, and they would be penalized in a commercial relationship.

                  • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink |


                    Remember the NBN was also supposed to take 8 years to build. That was included in the most broad mission statement – it really shouldn’t have been negotiable.

                    I’m sorry Michael but that is reckless (the opinion it shouldn’t have been negotiable) and completely unrealistic. The 2009 media release was based on information of the time and was a POLICY not a business plan. How many infrastructure policies can you name that have begun when they said they would REGARDLESS of whether they were successful or came in on time or otherwise or which government started them? I can’t think of any. Policy doesn’t allow in timeframe for unforeseen or even normal foreseen circumstances of business and regulations. Once their business plan was drawn up, THAT is when the clock starts. Anything before that is political postulating for votes, nothing more. A business plan/detailed engineering design, after which money starts to flow is the measurable start of any infrastructure program. Since the clock has started, they are 6 months behind.

                    but it doesn’t change the fact that if they were working for a private company they would be doomed to paying YEARS (not months) of late penalties.

                    Which, again, is completely unrealistic and very narrow minded. We’re talking a project that is fundamentally altering the entire telecom industry. It is not a new highway. Or a few new train carriages. Be realistic when talking of the size and scope of this project and THEN compare its’ progress to something of similar scope.

                  • TechinBris
                    Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink |

                    Michael, I would have to agree with seven tech. Sorry! As much as I am pro NBN, I try to always look at arguments from both sides, until it becomes ludicrously stupid and lacking reality, then I cease to bother. Bullshit seems to be masqueraded as truth a lot these days, by those we expect and have given power of trust to in the past, but have shown they longer can be trusted out of their desire for financial gain. Money does corrupt anything it touches eventually. The old saying is more true today than ever before.
                    Everyone always thinks they know what is the best use of finances, but it is not till you look to the end of the outcomes attained to see who best benefits from a decision do you really understand why the argument is taking place at all. Money will be spent always. It’s just that everyone always wants it to be for their advantage. After years of Big Business having the advantage in Telecommunications on any money given, I think it is fair that the Australian Public has a go at it, otherwise there is no balance and we start looking like bad Parents favoring the petulant tantrum prone child over the well behaved child. Do you support that sort of behavior? I doubt it. So finding anything to support a hypothesis to a stated outcome in order to win the argument is silly. So pinning onto someone what someone else says or goad the conversation to, whilst conveniently ignoring what is said by those people which by their own admission will lie, but who are supporting your hypothesis in this case, looks awfully like supporting those who will support your case regardless of the facts of science and definable benefits and to whom each side say the benefits stated are for. I leave it to you to decide who is lying, as eventually it will be obvious. But don’t expect MSM to tell you the truth. Not anymore. The compromise is blatantly obvious. Rupert’s blüt blatt proves it and Media Empire proves it also (eg: Fox News *cough*) They don’t call it Limited News for nothing. And they are only one of them.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink |

            As is made clear here, the NBN is only six months late:


            • William
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink |

              Already 6 months late so soon?

              • Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink |


                It started rollout 6 months late. It isn’t 6 months behind in terms of rollout speed. The rollout was simply moved back by 6 months because of the Telstra deal. Its not an ongoing delay, it was once off.

                • CMOTDibbler
                  Posted 08/01/2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink |

                  The NBN is expected to be complete three years from it’s original target date.

                  The scope of the project has been changed several times and the target date has been revised correspondingly.

                  The latest target date, set after the last scope changes, is in the 2012 corporate plan.

                  There is no evidence the NBN is late according to the latest accepted target date.

                  If the NBN is late then it is around three years late. If it is not three years late then it is not late at all. The one thing that is certain is that it is not six months late.

            • Cameron
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink |

              But is it really late Renai? Weren’t most of the delays identified as risks in the initial business plan? If that is the case then I think they are not really delays.

              Also note that the Telstra deal will speed up the build out of the network, so it may have shifted a couple of the initial milestones but shaved more time than that off the completion date.

              In other words, if the delays were identified as risks/uncertainties from the project outset how are they an indication of failure? I would say the exact opposite would be true.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

            “3 years late already.”


            Is that you Malcolm?

          • Goresh
            Posted 10/01/2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink |

            3 years late?

            No 15 at least. Howard was promising us better telecommunications at the start of his first term.

            After a decade of waffle he finally gave us his OPEL solution that, even a year into the Rudd governemtn had still failed to connect a single customer or turn on a piece of infrastructure or even build a piece of infrastructure or even acquire a bit of land on which to build a bit of infrastructure.

            Comparing that to the NBN is like comparing climbing Everest to kicking a stone down the street.
            NBNco is a long way from teh peak, but at least they have established the base camp.

            • alain
              Posted 11/01/2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink |

              ‘After a decade of waffle he finally gave us his OPEL solution that, even a year into the Rudd governemtn had still failed to connect a single customer or turn on a piece of infrastructure’

              That’s because Conroy cancelled all OPEL contracts as fast as he could within weeks of Rudd gaining Government.

              • NBNAccuracy
                Posted 11/01/2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink |

                Rubbish. They were cancelled the agreement 5 months after winning the election, not weeks. Conroy had commited to honoring the agreement provided they met the terms of the agreement. They had already wrangled an extra nearly 60% more money to fullfil the contract. They then dropped the coverage figure from 90% to 72%. That is what prompted the cancellation.

              • Posted 11/01/2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink |


                And I’m glad he did- even 5 months AFTER Telstra lost their court case and were talking about an appeal and nearly 12 months after OPEL had promised to start, nothing had been done. No trials even…..and you reckon the NBN is bad for taking 18 months for trials….

    5. CMOTDibbler
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink |

      In the absence of really meaningful information people will debate the less meaningful. The really meaningful measure imo is revenue against target. How often is that reported though? Is it six-monthly to the oversight committee or just yearly in the annual report. That’s not often enough to stop people debating other ‘measures’.

      afaict take-up rate is only really meaningful to the NBNCo as they have 18 months in each roll out area to get everyone across to the NBN before the copper/HFC is decommissioned.

    6. Tom
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink |

      23 million odd customers? There are only 12m households in Australia according to ABS. With those numbers the NBN is definitely going to become another Labor Party financial disaster.

      Where are you guys getting your numbers from?

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink |

        He gets it from the ABS. 23M Population, not 23M customers or 23M accounts. Please read the article.

        And also, every NBN Network Termination Device can support 4 separate data connections, so on 12M premises you could easily have 24M NBN services. Pay TV is one example, maybe an employer providing a secure connection back to the office for telecommuting could be another.

        • Tom
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink |

          That still doesn’t make any sense. It’s cafe to assume 90% of households will opt for just one connection. As for businesses, how many corporations are there in Australia? Definitely not 12 million.

          NBN will become a financial disaster and it’s very obvious.

          It’s a real shame Delimiter has not done any financial analysis. This is just an NBN fluff piece.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink |


            Renai has spent considerable amount of time analyzing the NBN Business plan, if you would look through his prior articles you would find this analysis.

            Also do not equate the postings of a commenter to that of the authour. I agree, most households will probably only opt for one service, however again as pointed out to you:

            Renai was pointing out that 23 million people will be making a decision to use the NBN. As a lot of them are in a common household, like families, 4 people may only account to one account.

            Secondly, as PayTV will also be used on the NBN, one account might have multiple connections. Now the assumption that everyone will get an NBN connection and everyone will get a PayTV service may be flawed but the points made to you are very clear.

            More importantly the points made are in line with the NBN business plan, which indicates that the business plan is broadly correct, meaning the NBN is on track to make 7% return.

            So, with that in mind, what makes you think it’ll be a financial disaster? What assumptions of the business plan are incorrect and why?

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink |

            “It’s a real shame Delimiter has not done any financial analysis”


            Yes. Because the financials of the NBN are never analysed on Delimiter. Ever.

            • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink |

              Yes, get to it young man, or I’ll have words with your editor. Again.

              • GongGav
                Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink |

                Maybe that new guy that started today will be better. What was his name? Renai, or something like that?

                • Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink |

                  Nah he failed his probation period already. Had a nasty habit of drinking tequila sunrises at his desk.

                  • Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink |

                    Heard his editor is a real hard arse too…

                    • Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink |

                      Apparently he’s the sort of person who won’t even take free product bribes from vendors! What a stick in the mud!

                      • Woolfe
                        Posted 08/01/2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink |

                        I’ve always been of the opinion, take the bribe, but immediately advise EVERYONE that not only was it unsolicited, but now any comments you make on that device/company may be coloured by said bribe.


          • Tinman_au
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink |

            Many larger SMB’s will use multiple ports for both VOIP and Data.

            But if your going to try making a point here, back it up with something besides Coalition histrionics…NBNCo has a business plan and I’ve seen no one credible actually prove they wont achieve it.

            If you have evidence to the contrary, please feel free to post it.

            • SMEMatt
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 5:28 pm | Permalink |

              I’m expecting to put in two points in our main office.
              One business grade services for high priority tasks and One lower grade services for Web Browser traffic. Pretty much what we do now with an expensive 10/10 business link(not as expensive as it was thanks to the black spot project) and a ADSL2+ link for web browsing.

            • jane
              Posted 08/04/2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink |

              Don’t hold your breath waiting for any credible evidence. I suspect Tom is even now feverishly flicking through his Liars Party handbook looking for something remotely credible, but only has a photo of Liealot saying the word NO

          • NBNAlex
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink |

            So let’s get this right Tom.

            You “assume 90% of Australian households will have one connection.”

            That’s a very nice take-up rate there Tom, particularly when you add those businesses you speak of too.

            • Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink |

              Whoops. Wrong Liberal Talking Point line used there. He meant to say that “90% of people don’t even want it”…..

      • nonny-moose
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink |

        the important word is ‘premises’ when we talk ‘fttp’. Premises does not equate to households – it is businesses AND households and any other class of connection (i suppose wifi’d parks would count as a premises?).

        so, no wonder you are having trouble making the math fit.

        households, and businesses, and with 4 ports/2voice per box – dont forget MDU complications – and theres not too much difficulty reaching as many customers as there are residents. we already have high car ownership, high mobile ownership to the point that theres probably two of each ‘per person’. having n>1 per capita doesnt mean thats it for a given market, on that basis. id actually regard the mobile example as particularly relevant being another telco tech, i would actually suggest it indicative of what you are likely to see with NBN connections.

      • Marie
        Posted 02/03/2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink |

        Tom, you are being a tad shortsighted. This is, as the article says, infastructure that will see us into the future. Technologies have not yet been invented that will make use of the fibre. At the rapid rate of technological advances over the last decade, this country will be completely left behind if we begrudge the cost. Australia has already benefited from the NBN. The vast array of telescopes we will build are only viable using fibre optic cable. I prefer not to be as ridiculous and selfish as the coalition MP for the area that these telescopes are to be built in who said that he is still against the NBN as the fibre optic cable could be run just where the telescopes needed it. As the technologies that will need fibre are yet to be produced or marketed or even thought of, we will have to wait another 40 or 50 years to decide if it is a waste of money or not. What you can guarantee, is that fibre to the home will eventually have to happen, so why not now? Just maybe, the NBN will even facilitate the discovery of yet more technology.

    7. Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink |

      Excellent analysis. And very true.

      But of course Turnbull isn’t supposed to believe that the NBN will be around for 50 years or more (though I believe he does, he just can’t admit it) so he will continue bringing this up as evidence of “4 more years of failure under Labor”….

      Yes, compared to, what 10 more years? 15? 20? without the NBN?

      It’d be nice one day for infrastructure to actually get bipartisanship because it’s good for the country….god forbid…

    8. Cameron
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink |

      Good read Renai, broadly agree with you with a couple of thoughts below.

      Early utilisation (takeup) rates are often used in a projects early life to predict long-term utilisation, such as public transport, toll roads etc. It is not relevant to the NBN project though as we already have the legislative framework to mandate the copper cutover, if the project is allowed to run to completion we already know exactly what the long term utilisation will be, there’s no significant “risk” there.

      Conversion rates (prior to copper cutover) is also rather complex, although anything over a few thousand is significant statistically the real issue is self-selection.

      Couple that with the uncertainty that many people that are “passed by the NBN” would have as well as the eventual mandatory cutover I think you can’t read too much into the rates.

      So where does that leave us? The premises passed and the premises design and under construction stats are what is important to track project progress.

      The real place the LNP should be focussing is the policy side of the NBN. Decisions like NBNco designing an “optimal” 14 PoIs and the ACCC splitting the difference with Telstra (a company that has held Aus telco industry hostage) and averaging it out to 121. The government can legislate to fix that so we get an optimal outcome for the greatest public benefit.

      What about investigating the idea of a “safety net”, could we see all government services delivered to every household in Australia even if a low income household doesn’t subscribe to the “retail internet” (if you get what I mean). ie If you have no RSP provisioned there is a default service giving access to all government services.

      The time to complete the build between the ALP and the LNP policies is ridiculous as well, the LNP are planning (so it seems) to build 1/3 to 1/2 the network than NBNco is currently building out. DOing half the job and saying you can do it quicker is no something to be proud of.

      So I ask this, what would it take to see what I would call a sensible approach from the LNP? I’m sure there are things that could be improved with the current build, I’m also sure that Mr Quigley could and would provide that list to Mr Turnbull if asked nicely.

      The dull reality of politics at the moment is both majors think they have to be “fighting” the other. This isn’t true, but there is still enough antagonism available if the LNP chose to improve the NBN rather than reinvent it.

      I guess the question for Turnbull is: “Are you on the button maker’s side or the zipper maker’s?”

    9. Kevin Cobley
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink |

      Have a look at this video stream if people want to understand why the NBN is an urgent necessity, and this video is from real leaders in the IT industry not politicians http://www.nvidia.com/object/ces2013.html

    10. Tom
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink |

      Also, why is the elephant in the room being ignored?

      Wireless is already disrupting many industries. What would 5G do to NBN?


      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink |

        Because the wireless spectrum is already congested. Jamming more people onto it is not going to make it any better.

        • Tom
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink |

          That’s funny. We Aussies can’t do it but telco giants like Softbank and AT&T with ten times population can.

          What gives?

          Are Asutralians with just 23m population going to clog up the spectrum so quickly? This is versus 320m population in the US.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink |

            I’ll think you’ll find that 320 million Americans don’t live in the exact same location, nor do 23 million Australians.

            Population is NOT a valid measure of spectrum use. In both countries, the populated areas have quite high population densities.

            To demonstrate, look at the fibre/wireless/satellite footprint map:


            93% of Australians – (that’s 21,390,000 of us) – live inside the fibre footprint. The red parts of the map.

            Not a lot space, is it?

            • jwbam
              Posted 09/01/2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink |

              “Population is NOT a valid measure of spectrum use. In both countries, the populated areas have quite high population densities.”


              Saying that spectrum is no problem in Aus because our population is lower than USA is like saying there are no traffic jams in Sydney or Melbourne roads at peak time. It’s not the NATIONAL density that is the problem, it’s the LOCAL density. The few million cars in Australia are NOT distributed evenly across the out back

          • AustImages
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

            As you’ve demonstrated so often on Twitter, you clearly don’t understand the issues surrounding wireless.

            The limit of wireless has nothing to do with total population, but with population density and the number of simultaneous users trying to access the network in a given location, and therefore making use of a certain volume of radio spectrum.

            On any wireless network, be it 4G, 5G, or 28G, the amount of bandwidth available is a physical limitation. While wireless improves with each generation, the improvement in total bandwidth (though improvements in spectral efficiency) is relatively small.

            There is only a finite amount of radio spectrum in existence, and more users use more spectrum. More speed also uses more spectrum. LTE-advanced gets more speed by using a huge amount of radio spectrum. Even if you could allocate 100% of the entire radio spectrum just to providing mobile broadband (which you can’t, since there are so many other uses for spectrum), you could not deliver 1Gbps to more than a few dozen simultaneous users at any single location.

            This is why there is not a single country or telecommunications company in the World that is proposing to replace their urban fixed networks with wireless. This is a fact that you seem utterly unable to comprehend.

            • Cameron
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink |

              @AustImages In other words: “Wave guides kick arse! Also, Shannon-Hartley”

            • jwbam
              Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink |

              “As you’ve demonstrated so often on Twitter, you clearly don’t understand the issues surrounding wireless.”


              “On any wireless network, be it 4G, 5G, or 28G, the amount of bandwidth available is a physical limitation. While wireless improves with each generation, the improvement in total bandwidth (though improvements in spectral efficiency) is relatively small.”

              “There is only a finite amount of radio spectrum in existence, and more users use more spectrum. More speed also uses more spectrum. ”

              Even if Tom ASXguru were to understand that, he seems to think that spectrum is shared per user ACROSS THE NATION – eg like allocating 10-digit phone numbers to phones, he may understand it is limited to 10 billion combinations, more than enough for any country. He may think that each number gets allocated a tiny slice of the spectrum, and if there is enough for all Americans then it’s more than enough for Australia.

              He’s not understanding that spectrum is only allocated on a per tower basis as needed, and there simply isn’t enough for every phone to have its own 20 MHz LTE broadband channel. Spectrum is reused on a cell by cell basis and each user can only get more spectrum for faster broadband if they build more cells each with its own tower, and each of those cells must be have backhaul.

              “LTE-advanced gets more speed by using a huge amount of radio spectrum. Even if you could allocate 100% of the entire radio spectrum just to providing mobile broadband (which you can’t, since there are so many other uses for spectrum), you could not deliver 1Gbps to more than a few dozen simultaneous users at any single location.”

              I would think that most people have a lot of trouble understanding this.
              They think each new generation of cellular broadband is packing more speed into the same channel, when the spectrum requirements are actually increasing 1000x from 1G to 4G and its spectral efficiency is only increased less than 10x.

            • jane
              Posted 08/04/2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink |

              I think it’s more that Tom doesn’t want to comprehend the limitations of wireless, rather than an inability to do so.

          • NBNAccuracy
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink |

            Tom, I’d stick to twitter if I were you. You will find no one clueless enough to buy into your wireless is the future or other FUD. It’s been posted here many times in the past and most readers of Delimiter know it for what it is, garbage.

          • Andrew Mestoth
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |



            I would suggest you watch the whole thing, but if not, go to 23 mins through and learn. Perhaps you will understand in more detail.

            Welcome back Renai!

      • Paul Grenfell
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink |

        Nothing, 5g may become faster, but still relies on limited availability of spectrum.. Then there is the cost of data.
        NBN will still carry the big loads irrespective..

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

        It isn’t being ignored, Australia, which is broadly in line with the rest of the OECD, saw the following this year according to the ABS 8153.0 stats:

        While wireless services grew at 6.64%, fixed line still grew 1.29%. This indicates that consumers are buying both. If fixed line services were dying we would see a decline in the as wireless grows.

        Wireless services experienced an average usage over a 3 month period of 1.44GB whereas fixed-line services had an average of 64.42GB for the same period. This indicates that users are still using more on their fixed connections and most likely overloading their data onto WiFi when at home.

        Not only that but the NBN business plan indicates that approximately 13% of all households will not have a fixed connection at all, and still can make the promised 7% return.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink |

        “What would 5G do to NBN?”

        Use it for backhaul.

        Problem solved.


        • jwbam
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink |

          Good one, Renai!

          The break has done you well

      • Tinman_au
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink |

        Wireless cannot handle the “bulk” jobs of data transfer, which is why data caps are crap on wireless.

        If wireless is expected to compete/replace fibre it needs two things:

        1. it needs to be much, much cheaper.

        2. it needs to have a lot (and I mean a whole lot) of spectrum added.

        Wireless is great to check an email while out and about, but you can’t run a house on it unless you live by yourself and, like, don’t actually do much.

      • Gwyntaglaw
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink |

        The idea that 5G, 6G or xG will magically deliver all the bandwidth we’ll ever need comes from the same place that confidently predicted that by 2000 we would all be getting around in flying cars, and electricity would be too cheap to meter.

      • jwbam
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink |

        You should ask that question on this thread http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1837156
        where you will get plenty of answers from people within the telecomms and wireless industry

    11. Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink |

      “Many users are aware that eventually they will have no choice but to switch to the NBN, as the project has already commenced plans to switch off the existing copper and HFC cable networks in some areas.”

      May I ask for evidence for this statement? I realise it may at some point become an issue, but I don’t see that happening at the moment.

      ps. I just got back from the local Dymocks store to buy the final Wheel of Time – not in stock. Bastards!!

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink |


        • Posted 08/01/2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

          Yes, but is this affecting consumer behavior yet? (Or have there been any automatic cut-overs by ISPs yet?) That’s what I was trying to ask. So far it seems like conjecture.

          • NBNAccuracy
            Posted 08/01/2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink |

            OK, not very well put, but I get what you mean. When Malcolm Turnbull asked me for reason why his article was misleading that was one point I made to him. His number one point was that the number was artificially high because copper and HFC were being decommisioned so people wouldn’t have a choice. When it was pointed out that no decommisioning had occured yet he didn’t answer that. He did answer a lot of other points that I said made the article deceptive, but they were pretty lame, pretty much ignoring links to figures with replies like “So you contend”

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink |

            He didn’t say it “was” affecting consumer behaviour, he said it “will” affect consumer behaviour.

            • NBNAccuracy
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink |

              Unfortunately Mr Turnbull in his article listed it as a reason for the current figures being higher, that and free connections (trials, very small number) and advertising campaign (as if no one else advertises, then links it to initial uptake figures to make it look like it cost 6000 for each customer gained). Tris to imply the number there is a huge way to go to get it’s 75% uptake it needs (this time ignoring that when copper is decomissioned it is almost mandatory). A huge exercise in selective presentation of facts to suit the argument he was putting foward in each paragraph. He didn’t even bother to put them into seperate articles to hide that what he conjectured on one paragraph conflicted with the others. I guess he thinks most Australians are morons. hmm maybe they are, I tend to avoid them to see if they are in the majority.

              • Michael
                Posted 08/01/2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink |

                To elaborate on one point,

                Future events will definately affect current consumer choice. The simplest case to look at from a model’s perspective is a certain event in the future, (lets pick an example, decomission the copper network…). Given that these events will affect them (maybe not today but eventually) they will take them into account when making decions about what choices to make today.

                Given that we Know that the copper / HFC will be decommissioned in the future for certain we can infer that this will have an effect on current consumer choice of internet plans.

                • Posted 08/01/2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink |


                  You make one VERY large assumption there- that most Australians know that the NBN will mandatorialy replace the copper in the 93%. Do you have ANY evidence this is true? I’ve never come across someone not interested in the NBN who knows this. Why would they?

                  You assume all these people know, as soon as they have the option to get the NBN, they know they’ll have to have it anyway. That simply isn’t true. AFIAK NBNCo. don’t mention that on their Welcome flyer.

                  • Michael
                    Posted 09/01/2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink |

                    True knowledge is a simple assumption (and often necessary) but can be quite large.

                    However, that aside as you said there will still be people who are interested in the NBN who know about the decomissioning and it would be safe to assume that residents in NBN areas would have done some research (not all but some) so there would be a (small) proportion of the population who do know about it. Therefore it would have an effect. Even a small effect is more than nothing as argued by others since there was no relationship.

                    • NBNAccuracy
                      Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink |

                      There may be some effect due to the prospect of future decommisioning, yes. How big that is, who knows. My bet is the ones who know and think about it would be the ones with more knowledge of the NBN which were those most likely to take it up when it arrived anyway.
                      The point remains claiming that the percentages are so high because the NBN they don’t have any choice is deceptive. Currently they do have choice and to swap over to the NBN because you have to isn’t on the books for a while yet, so claiming the numbers are higher because of the NBN being a monopoly is being deceptive. The layman reading it will not know the other services are still available and assume what MT is saying is gospil and that they were basically forced to go on the NBN.

                      • Michael
                        Posted 09/01/2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink |

                        Its not because they “have to” it’s because “they know they will have to”. It is different sets of circimstances. Certain knowledge of a furture event will affect current behaviour.

                        While you can debate how many people have knowledge of the decomissioning all you like, it does not change the fact that it does have an effect.

                        As Ryan posted below, anecdotal evidence is just that, different people will have different experiences. I personally would expect people to become more knowledgable about the NBN as it gets rolled out in their local area.

                      • NBNAccuracy
                        Posted 09/01/2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink |

                        I can read what you wrote Michael. You are really stretching things there. The ones who know that are most likely the ones who are interested in the NBN and would more likely get it. I feel that the percentage changing over a year and half before they have to because they know they will anyway would be a very small percentage. To play that as any sort of significant percentage of the uptake seems to be desperation to cast it in a bad light.
                        Face it, there has been a good uptake, better than many other countries. Try using desperate arguments to try to make out that it is anything but people wanting it if you like, but I and many others aren’t buying it.

                      • Michael
                        Posted 10/01/2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink |

                        I am not commenting on the magnitude, all the evidence I have seen surrounding that is completely anecdotal. All I am saying is that it will definately have an effect on people’s choices and the overall take-up rate.

                        Personally I think the largest determinant on the take-up rate will be interactions with fixed term contracts and when the NBN is finished in a particular area.

                  • RyanH
                    Posted 09/01/2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink |

                    I live in Deloraine Tasmania which is basically a retirement village masquerading as a small town. The oldies that I have spoken with (so it is a small sample) were quite aware that the copper is being removed and eventually they will have to be on NBN. There has been moderate switch over to NBN in this town. The main impediment is that most people are on 2 year contracts with Telstra. They seem to be quite accepting of the whole project but in no great rush to change faster than waiting out their contract.

                    As Telstra have prices that are identical to their other prices, this creates no demand for change. I tell them that I am paying substantially less for a better service but anything non-Telstra is just a little too confronting once you get to a certain age.

                    • RyanH
                      Posted 09/01/2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink |

                      To answer why they would know about the decommissioning of copper, it was the NBN caravan that drove around Tasmania.

                      Tasmanian’s are funny.

                      It’s a great place to live though, if you can get a job.

                    • alain
                      Posted 11/01/2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink |

                      ‘The main impediment is that most people are on 2 year contracts with Telstra’

                      How do you know this?

                      • Posted 11/01/2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink |


                        Here’s one paper that suggests as much for business, page 33:


                        There have been MANY anecdotal reports. And almost all Telstra customers (the large majority of broadband customers in Australia) are on contract. Telstra ALWAYS rings up a customer towards the end of their contract to try and sign them up for a “new and better product” on a 24 month contract.

                      • alain
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink |

                        The point of course is the insinuation and it is only that with no evidence to back it up that BigPond 2 year contracts is impeding the uptake of NBN in those areas where it is active.

                        What you may find galling is many residences at end of contract just keep going on out of contract on their ADSL plan even though they could move to the NBN, they will move onto the NBN only when they are forced to.

                        The major impediment to NBN take-up is that Telstra have not shut down any exchange areas yet.

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink |


                        The point of course is the insinuation and it is only that with no evidence to back it up that BigPond 2 year contracts is impeding the uptake of NBN in those areas where it is active.

                        I gave you one paper already. And who said “Bigpond” contracts. ANY major RSP, Optus, Telstra, or TPG (not iinet or Internode as they prefer the NBN) are going to keep you on the NBN- Optus because of HFC, Telstra because they own the copper and TPG because they don’t have any NBN plans. That’s about 80% of the market right there.

                        What you may find galling is many residences at end of contract just keep going on out of contract on their ADSL plan even though they could move to the NBN, they will move onto the NBN only when they are forced to.

                        I don’t find it galling at all. Some people wouldn’t be particularly interested/don’t know how they get internet (or ordinary phone) just as long as they keep getting it (it’s how Telstra make so much money off people who don’t know what a mobile cap plan is- I saw a lady who was paying $350 a month for mobile and was shocked when I told her she could easily pay $50 or less and get the same amount).

                        There will always be a significant portion of people like that. But there’s no evidence to suggest that it’s the majority. Quite the opposite in fact, particularly with Kiama, Brunswick, South Morang etc. showing just the opposite.

                        The major impediment to NBN take-up is that Telstra have not shut down any exchange areas yet.

                        Doesn’t really matter. They legally have to, so the uptake will get to >70% in 18 months in those areas anyway. So, once again, it’s irrelevant.

                      • alain
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink |

                        ‘Doesn’t really matter. They legally have to, so the uptake will get to >70% in 18 months in those areas anyway. So, once again, it’s irrelevant.’

                        Well you HOPE the uptake will get to to the magic NBN Business plan figure of 70% , I am glad you agree though that the success of the NBN uptake is underpinned by the removal of fixed line choice not because residences necessarily want FTTH.

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink |


                        I am glad you agree though that the success of the NBN uptake is underpinned by the removal of fixed line choice not because residences necessarily want FTTH.

                        Here I’ll fix that for you

                        I am glad you agree though that the success of the NBN uptake is underpinned by the removal of fixed line choice not because residences necessarily want FTTH/FTTN/HFC/Wireless.

                        It’s not FTTH that’s the problem alain. It’s market forces. And when people begin to realise over the next 6-18 months the NBN (which happens to be FTTH for 93%) is:

                        1- More reliable than copper
                        2- Faster than copper
                        3- Cheaper, in almost all cases, than copper
                        4- Doesn’t cost anything to install

                        Then the “market” will begin to turn against the copper. A technology is only as popular as the education surrounding it. I know you think the campaign by the Government and NBNCo. on the NBN is a waste of money. But some of us realise it’s called public education for the betterment of the country. And it still pales in comparison to what was spent on Workchoices over 18 months of Howard….

                      • NBNAlex
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink |

                        Déjà vu…

                        What two year contracts? Forced fixed closures… etc.

                        Interesting that some are unable to comprehend people may actually be on contracts (gee like I am). Or also unable to recognise technological advancement (seems such closures of obsolete technology only occurs with the big bad NBN) :/


    12. FatPat
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink |

      First DL post :)

      The “debate” is only shortsighted because we allow the LNP to keep it short term. If the media actually applied the sort of analysis to the project that it deserves – in light of other such nation building projects like the PMG network or the trans-Oz railway – we would see the NBN for what it is, an absolutely required network … Now!

      Most, if not all people I mix with, mostly non-IT are well aware of the NBN and also want it now. No comment from them that whatever ADSL service they have now is “good enough, so I don’t need any more…”

      Unfortunately, we allow our journalists to continue with the lazy ways, pandering to their interest groups that are opposed to the NBN on economic grounds (i.e. it will affect their Foxtel profits and the like).

      We have got the media we allowed ourselves to get, sadly!

      As for the “debate” about switch-off/cutover dates, I would turn off my copper line in a heartbeat, I no longer need it, I want my fibre, and I want it now.

      On another topic, has anyone done any analysis on how the LNP will approach the NBN situation at the next election, acknowleding that they will discontinue it? It would be a hard sell to state that Suburb A will never get it, because they didn’t have it installed prior to the election, or some arbitrary cut-off date.

      I can imagine how Labor will play up that sort of scenario during an election campaign. Vigioursly and visciously methinks!

    13. midspace
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink |

      I hope you had a great break Renai! Nothing like relaxing and forgetting about all those fools you have to deal with at work.

      I believe John Boehner the speaker of the US House of Representatives said it right recently.
      “We are standing here not to be something but to do something or, as I like to call it, doing the right thing.”
      But it seems a lot of people, like our politicians, or the guy who pulled out in front of me this morning, do not know what “the right thing” is exactly.

      Take up rates have little importance with how popular the NBN is, as already evidenced, it is biased because of the factors already mentioned.

      I’ve always maintained, a single percentage value has little meaning by itself.
      I mean, was does 25% take up mean exactly?

      Does it mean that the other 75% don’t want the NBN?
      I certainly don’t think so. Certainly some of in the process of connecting. Some are considering. Some are building/renovating. Some are vacant blocks. Some don’t have a fixed phone line and don’t care one iota. Some are waiting on adequate plans/bundling/services to be made available before jumping in.

      The 25% figure doesn’t really speak much by itself otherwise, unless you’re looking at how fast an area may take it up in comparison to others. But then, time becomes the more important measurement, more so than the percentage itself.

      How long does it take to achieve saturation?
      How long does it take from enticing customers from copper to fibre, to go to enticing customers from other NBN providers?
      How long before the bandwidth on my GPON is filled to capacity?
      And ultimately, how long it takes to achieve 90% take up, to kick off the copper switch off.

      All these figures of course have different meaning to different organisations.

    14. Rory
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink |

      Great article and I too find that mat cauthon’s chapters much more interesting :P

    15. harry buttle
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink |

      Suggesting that you know today which technology will serve our telecommunications needs for the next 50 years is nothing short of incredibly short-sighted and trivial.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink |

        @harry bottle

        Not at all. Copper has <1/100th of the CURRENT capacity of fibre and lasted us nearly 100 years. Fibre has not got a current limit of bandwidth. There IS nothing else that can carry data like fibre. It will be around for at LEAST 50 years.

        • nonny-moose
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink |

          does anyone have a source for what the oldest fibre link is? ive heard it from apocryphal source that the oldest lines were laid in main trunks somewhere in the 70s and are still in use today?

          as for capacity the current record is something in the order off 26 Tbps? even on the data use curve we are on we wont come close to the current known best connection as personal use for a long time(if ever), so for practical purposes its capacity is not limited, at least in our lifetime.

          if Harry is suggesting there may be advancement in the like of quantum comms that sort of research isnt likely to build a reasonable machine in the next 40 or 50 years anyway – i.e. the lifetime of the NBN as is. such a machine might work much slower for doing what it does as well, so the optical standard might be necessary for a while yet.

          harry tis all very well to talk of 50 years, but we are talking now, if there is something that betters it in say 30 years, fine. we have a good interim solution for the meantime. even if something was developed tomorrow, or announced, the NBN will be well finished by the time it gets to a consumer level good. i dont see any such likelihood of such an announcement or standard. so what you are saying is ‘hold up the NBN, til we make the invention/standard we havent come up with yet! then you can go right ahead…’ ? it sounds like a nonsense to me.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink |



            1977 by Bell labs in Chicago.

            • nonny-moose
              Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink |

              hmm that dint say if it was still in use but thats definitely much closer to a source than i got….. thanks :)

              • Posted 08/01/2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink |



                Laid in 88. Used until 2002 but I don’t believe it was retired because of reliability of the fibre- the sheath was poorly designed. It also only had 6 pairs, only 4 of which were used.

              • Abel Adamski
                Posted 08/01/2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink |

                Telecom installed initial trials early 80’s in Toorak (multimode) followed by commencement of interstate links and main trunks, most major sporting venues and the convention centre were up and running early 80’s still in use

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink |

        Actually it isn’t. Telecommunications technology advances in some form of another all represent incremental improvements of existing technology.

        – The telephone was using telegraph principles to deliver voice.
        – The internet was using telephone principles to deliver generic data.
        – Fibre was using signal modulation principles on a medium that had less attenuation, allows for less need to “repeat” the signal.
        – Mobile technology was using radio principles to deliver telephone services to non-fixed technology.
        – ADSL was using the unused spectrum on a telephone service to deliver data.
        – DOCSIS was using unused spectrum on a television cable service to deliver data.
        – ADSL2 was an improvement of the signaling techniques used in ADSL1 to improve throughput and latency.
        – DOCSIS 2.0 and DOCSIS 3.0 were an improvement on signaling techniques used in DOCSIS 1.0 to improve throughput and latency.
        – 2G, 3G and 4G were an improvement on signalling techniques used in 1G mobile networks to improve throughput and latency.

        The only KEY change in our telecommunications needs over the past century is switching from service dependent delivery to service independent delivery. For example: almost all phone backhaul is done over SIP, a TCP/IP protocol. 4G is now based upon a TCP/IP design, and uses a variant VoIP to deliver voice service (in a PURE 4G deployment anyway, both Telstra and Optus use a hybrid deployment that still falls over to 3G for voice).

        The NBN is planned to be a service independent delivery system. Because of this the amount of assumptions it is making about usage needs of the future are minimised, and will be minimally affected by new developments.

        The only exception for this is a unforeseen deal breaker, but the nature of that is it is impossible to foresee such a technology. To not proceed based upon this represents bad policy making decisions akin to saying “We shouldn’t have the government house in Canberra because it could be leveled by an earthquake tomorrow.” Well considering the low risk of earthquakes in Australia in general, you’re equally likely to level government house no matter where it is.

        So let me be perfectly clear: there are no FORESEEABLE technological or societal behavioral changes (and yes, I realize the enormity of this statement) that question the viability of a universal telecommunications network such as NBNCo plans to deliver. This is why LNP are arguing not the “if” but the “how”.

      • NBNAlex
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink |

        Ok Harry so FttN it is then…

        Oh wait :/

      • jane
        Posted 08/04/2013 at 9:40 pm | Permalink |

        harry, that makes as much sense as saying you’ll continue to drive a model T because there might be something better in the next x years.

        No doubt eventually there will be a superior technology to fibre, but that is what we have now and will be using until something better comes along, whenever that may be.

    16. Gordon Drennan
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink |

      The reason we should be be allowed to see, and debating the issue of takeup, is that it tells us whether the NBN we’re getting is one that will serve us for 50 years, or whether its being done wrong in some way that we need to know as soon as possible because its so big a project that huge amounts will be wasted if it heads in the wrong direction.

      I am not fundamentally an opponent of a high speed broad band utility available to pretty much all Australians. But having worked in small business and big business the people the government has chosen to dictate how its being done look like the wrong people making the wrong decisions with the people who are going to be expected to consume it having virtually no input except getting to decide whether they will, and having even that decision taken away from them if they don’t make the “right” decision.

      In every area of business decision-making you see the market divided into consumer products and suppliers of them and enterprise products and the suppliers of them. The phone market. the computer market. The car market. Etc, etc. Enterprises want different things than consumers. Enterprises want lots and lots of everything and who cares about the price. Consumers want value. In the NBN I see a product being built by people who have spent their whole careers creating for and selling to enterprises, and who are dismally out of touch with consumers.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink |

        In the NBN I see a product being built by people who have spent their whole careers creating for and selling to enterprises, and who are dismally out of touch with consumers.

        Say it with me. “Wholesale only monopoly”

        NBNCo IS selling to enterprise. It is up to the Retail Service Providers to “bridge the gap”.

        • Gordon Drennan
          Posted 08/01/2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink |

          Its exactly that “its my job to build the technical best product I can, its your job to sell it” that is what is worrying about the NBN. Holden only sells to dealers. Its dealers can’t “bridge the gap” if they’re not given a product the consumer wants.

          • Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:02 pm | Permalink |

            Flawed analogy is flawed.

            A car produced by Holden IS the end product the consumers receives.

            The products NBNCo sell are NOT the end product the customer will receive.

            Let us tackle this another way: what about NBNCo’s product offering do you feel do not meet residential consumers needs?

          • NBNAccuracy
            Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink |

            Actually I think their is a huge feedback loop. Holden don’t just build what they want. They have input from the dealers, custumers. They also don’t necessarily go with what is technically best. They look at what will sell the best and design it and produce it as well and as cheaply as they can.

          • GongGav
            Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink |

            In this case its more like the Govt provides the roads as a wholesale monopoly while Holden/Ford/Toyota/Ferrari provides the product. Competition isnt in what road you drive on, but what car you drive on it.

            The consumer decides which car meets their needs and/or desires, but in the end is still driving on the same road, kindly provided by an organisation they have no direct interaction with.

            So you, as the consumer, have the choice of a small car thats cost efficient (or the 12 Mps/50 Gb plans), or the ferrari (100 Mps/unlimited plans) that you’re going to drive on the roads. Nissan Micra, or Bugatti Veyron, take your pick.

      • NBNAlex
        Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:28 pm | Permalink |

        Oh Gordon…

        “But having worked in small business and big business the people the government has chosen to dictate how its being done look like the wrong people making the wrong decisions…”

        So WHO are the right people, if not undeniable experts in their field such as Mike Quigley and Co?

        Feel free to say Morgan and Ergas and then all becomes crystal clear.

    17. Paul Krueger
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink |

      If only you had asked a statistician instead of guessing!

      1000 people is enough to extrapolating the intentions of 23 million-odd (if they are random)

      52,000 is just a crazy large sample, which might make your report between 0-1% more accurate.

    18. John
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink |

      I would agree take up numbers are irrelevant at this early stage but one figure which may be interesting is despites wireless limitations, how many people who have had the choice have decided to take a wireless only option.

      • Posted 08/01/2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink |


        That’s not a number NBNCo. could know or would collect.

        The ABS don’t even collect that data. Telstra estimate it as 12-15% of customers. Analysts reckon closer to 7%. NBNCo. are working on 15% by 2021.

        • alain
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink |

          Well the NBN Co do know and collect it, because it is a key part of their proposed fibre 70% take-up rate by 2025 in the Business Plan, if wireless only households increase beyond the predicted 16.3% the 70% figure is in jeopardy.

          What is most interesting in this article is the comment by the Telstra CEO.

          ‘The NBN estimates that while 13% of households are wireless only now, that will jump to 16.3% in 14 years. But that comes alongside comments Telstra chief executive David Thodey made yesterday that state the company now has 12% wireless-only households and that could reach 24% “fairly quickly”.


          • Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink |

            No one collects this data. They estimate it. Hence why there is considerable differences between the percentages reported.

            • alain
              Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink |

              ‘No one collects this data. They estimate it. ‘

              Telstra collects this data as they are the monopoly fixed line provider and also the major wireless provider, keep in mind it would be a low conservative figure as it is based on their internal statistics from both Telstra Wholesale and Telstra Retail, it would not count wireless only households on Optus or Vodafone as they would know if a residence cancels Telstra fixed line but would not know if that residence instigated or was on competitor wireless.

              Telstra can see the accelerating wireless only trend internally hence the ‘that could reach 24% “fairly quickly” prediction.

              The ultra conservative NBN prediction of 16.3% wireless only will be easily passed well before the completion of the NBN FTTH rollout, which has a direct bearing on 70% take-up and predicted revenue based on that 70% take-up.

              • Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink |

                No, they don’t. They can’t. It would be a violation of privacy to do so. Let me explain:

                – They can look at their retail accounts and look at how many accounts have no associated land line or cable service.
                – The can look at their wholesale accounts to look at how many land lines have a service connected.

                Now, if privacy were not a problem they do the following to make their estimate more accurate:

                – Cross reference addresses on wholesale and retail accounts and combine them to a single record.

                This will probably be the most accurate estimation on wireless only services too date, but it will still be an estimate because they will not know the following:

                – Fixed line connections on Optus and other providers like Opticomm.
                – Mobile connections on Optus, Vodafone.

                • alain
                  Posted 11/01/2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink |

                  Telstra know exactly how many residences have CANCELLED a fixed line service from them, they also know if that residence has a mobile service from them that continues on, if the CEO states this will reach ‘24% fairly quickly’ unless you know of any research that contradicts Telstra’s own internal statistics as the all of Australia monopoly supplier of exchange based fixed line and major supplier of wireless I for one believe him.

                  • Posted 11/01/2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink |

                    Just completely ignore everything just said and repeat a point you have already made then.

                    • alain
                      Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink |


                      ‘Just completely ignore everything just said and repeat a point you have already made then.’

                      I assume that means that no you don’t know of any research that contradicts what Telstra know about fixed line cancellations and wireless only residences?

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink |


                        It’s not “research”. It’s internal estimates. That’s not research in anybody’s book.

                      • alain
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink |

                        When Telstra produce figures it is glibly dismissed and waved off as ‘estimates’ but when the NBN Co produce estimates in their Business Plan it is all set in stone and is not allowed to be disputed.

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink |


                        2 things:

                        1- Telstra lies. They’ve lied for years, been caught and then they continue to lie. NBNCo. have never been shown to lie that I’m aware of (bad grammar). Honesty breeds belief in assumptions.

                        2- NBNCo’s business plan is based on consultation with the industry and current speeds TODAY, as WELL as trends that are publicly available. The business and IT community has looked at NBNCo’s numbers and almost unanimously, found them to be if not conservative, decently achievable.

                        Meanwhile Telstra gives an estimate based on nothing more publicly available than a sound bite from their CEO….and if asked where they get those numbers, no doubt they’ll say “That’s CiC sorry”.

                        So yeah, that’s why people believe NBNCo. and not Telstra. Publicly available data.

                      • NBNAlex
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink |

                        @ alain…

                        “… but when the NBN Co produce estimates in their Business Plan it is all set in stone and is not allowed to be disputed.”

                        I see nothing has changed :(

                        No one has said the estimates are set in stone, so please… In fact most here quite often suggest they are conservative figures, as all financial projections should be. However they are a basis of evidence to work from, rather than those who oppose blindly suggesting the NBN will fail, err just because…

                        The estimations are certainly allowed to be ‘rationally’ disputed, But unfortunately as we witness regularly from a select few here and a very negative opposition (whose ministers even contradict each other) they do so irrationally, from a basis of at best, uneducated misinformation and at worst blatant lies.

                      • alain
                        Posted 14/01/2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink |


                        ‘- Telstra lies. They’ve lied for years, been caught and then they continue to lie. NBNCo. have never been shown to lie that I’m aware of (bad grammar). Honesty breeds belief in assumptions.’

                        I don’t why it is in Telstra’s interests to lie about ‘wireless only residences’ figures – perhaps you can enlighten me what their motivation is as they are both the monopoly exchange based fixed line provider and the major wireless provider?

                        ‘The business and IT community has looked at NBNCo’s numbers and almost unanimously, found them to be if not conservative, decently achievable’

                        They have? – it seems 50-50 on both sides of the argument to me, depends which eye you shut I suppose.

                        ‘So yeah, that’s why people believe NBNCo. and not Telstra. Publicly available data.’

                        The ‘people’ do?

                      • Posted 14/01/2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink |


                        I don’t why it is in Telstra’s interests to lie about ‘wireless only residences’ figures – perhaps you can enlighten me what their motivation is as they are both the monopoly exchange based fixed line provider and the major wireless provider?

                        Ahh, that IS their motivation- they are about to have that monopoly taken from them. Of course they’re gonna say they’ve got more wireless only households, it doesn’t matter to them and they want to make it appear as though they’re agreeing with both sides at the same time. Being a major wireless provider….well, that’s self-evident. Ever heard of talking yourself up?

                        They have? – it seems 50-50 on both sides of the argument to me,

                        Really? Show me a business or IT analysis NOT directly linked to LNP or Labor viewpoints that says they are doing a bad job or being ridiculous in their predictions?

                        The ‘people’ do?

                        Yeah, people….as in people. Pretty much anyone who’s ever been with, dealt with or otherwise talked to Telstra….

                  • Posted 11/01/2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink |

                    Telstra know exactly how many residences have CANCELLED a fixed line service from them, they also know if that residence has a mobile service from them that continues on

                    No they don’t. I have a registered landline service with iinet, who wholesale Telstra in my area. It is registered to my home address- that wouldn’t be included in their numbers. I also have a Telstra mobile….it’s registered to my PO Box in a different town.

                    There would be millions in the same position.

                    if the CEO states this will reach ‘24% fairly quickly’ unless you know of any research that contradicts Telstra’s own internal statistics as the all of Australia monopoly supplier of exchange based fixed line and major supplier of wireless I for one believe him.

                    Yes, because Telstra have NEVER lied before….


                    • alain
                      Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink |

                      So why wouldn’t Telstra Wholesale know that you have a resold Telstra landline?

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink |


                        Telstra RETAIL wouldn’t know who I was, because I’m not with them- no name, no address. Telstra WHOLESALE wouldn’t know who I was. They only have an address and ID number from iinet. They have an address, no name. And if your address for your Wholesale account (in my case for iinet) is different from your mobile address (like mine) you’re not included in their numbers.

                        Which means, Telstra would ONLY know the % of wireless only if:

                        1- Retail broadband customers have the same address for their broadband as their Telstra mobile service
                        2- Wholesale broadband customers have the same address as a Telstra mobile service

                        That narrows it quite alot.

                        And besides, you never responded to my initial comment- Telstra have 65% of the retail broadband market and about 60% of the mobile market (actually I think it’s lower than that) so 24% of 65% is….15.6% overall of the market. And that assumes their numbers are accurate, which, as I’ve explained above, is not necessarily true. They’ve probably taken a sample and extrapolated it out over their entire market.

                      • alain
                        Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink |

                        My point remains, if for example you cancel your iiNet PSTN service Telstra Wholesale certainly know about it because they are the ones physically cancelling the exchange line, and they would also know if it stays cancelled.

                        Let me ask you another question as you and others want desperately to try and denigrate Telstra sourced figures, why is it that Telstra the monopoly supplier of fixed line PSTN and the major supplier of wireless connections have got it wrong but any figures in the NBN Co Business plan about wireless only residence predictions either current or future are naturally correct?

                      • Posted 12/01/2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink |


                        ….I JUST answered that question.


                        You have selective reading… it’s like selective hearing, only on the internet.

          • Posted 09/01/2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink |

            Welcome back alain.

            You’ve slightly misinterpreted this data. One, as Night Khaos has said, Telstra is very unlikely to know this data for certain, as they have no right to ask about people’s choices of landlines/mobiles.

            Second, 24% of TELSTRA customers may be their estimate. Telstra are likely to keep most, but not all, of there market under the NBN. Their current market is about 65% of the broadband market and about 60% of the mobile market. 24% of, say, 65%, is….15.6% of the total market would be wireless only (if their numbers are correct). Cheaper landline operators would have a lower % as they would allow people to have both for cheaper prices.

            So what Telstra says actually doesn’t conflict with NBNCo’s analysis. The reporting style just appears to make it so.

    19. Abel Adamski
      Posted 08/01/2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink |

      In relation to the wireless take up specifically, but it also impacts across all areas., namely the elephant in the room.
      It is called the bundled service. especially in the regional areas, for many the only wireless/mobile service available is Telstra. Friends of mine now have Wireless NBN available which they would love to have, but Telstra does not offer wireless NBN at this time and their bundle including both their mobiles and NextG broadband also includes rental on their unused copper, the key is their bundle includes free mobile calls. To change to another broadband provider they lose their bundle and the total costs skyrocket as they are heavy mobile phone and data users away from home.
      Telstra did a massive sign up campaign, focusing on bundles

    20. Paul Krueger
      Posted 09/01/2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink |

      I found an online form to remove the need for any statistical skill


      If.. Margin of error = 5%, confidence level 95%, population size 23 million & a response distribution of 25% you only need 289 samples.

      If.. Margin of error = 1%, confidence level 99%, population size 23 million & a response distribution of 25% you only need 12434 samples.

      Perhaps we could drop the myth of … “but any statistician will tell you that extrapolating the intentions of a few thousand people to the intentions of 23 million-odd is always going to be a bit tough.”

      The sample is far higher then needed.

      • Paul Krueger
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink |

        You can use similar numbers to show that the 50% of people choosing the 100/40 plan is VERY statistically significant and that the sample size is much larger then the norm of 5% error & 95% confidence.

        • NBNAccuracy
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink |

          That is a little harder. With the sample for those who have taken up the NBN the sample was pretty random, simply those areas that have had the NBN rolled out. With the 100/40 you are looking at the sample of those who have choosen to take up the NBN first. Be it that they needed the extra speed, are tech early adopters who would usually go for the best.
          I am not saying to discount the 40 odd percent high tier takeup, but later adopters may take up the higher speeds at a reduced rate. No matter what however the high speed take up will be way above NBNCo’s very conservative expectations.

        • Paul Thompson
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink |

          Does this site talk about the importance of the sample selected being random?

          • Paul Krueger
            Posted 09/01/2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink |

            Why is NBN take up non random? The NBN is doing sites based on the efficiency of the network build, not based on religion, sex, race or politics. If anything, a location based sample, where everyone participates, is more random then many other forms of sample taking.

            If anything, a greater rural bias would be against NBN take-up, if the assumption is that they have not had their lives as totally integrated into the internet as would a city user who habits have been formed by permanent access to mobile, wifi and fixed lines over the last decade.

            Provide your rational as to why it is less then random, and indicate how significant it is, and in which direction the swing would occur.

            • Cameron
              Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink |

              @Paul Krueger

              Are you serious? If I had any doubt that just completely destroyed any credibility you had left.

              You are either trolling or wilfully ignorant, either is unacceptable in a discussion that Renai was hoping would rise to an acceptable level.

              • Paul Krueger
                Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink |

                Serious about what? Ignorant about what?

              • Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink |

                With respect you’re fighting a strawman. Paul has not drawn a negative conclusion from the take up numbers, he has just indicated that a statistically significant conclusion CAN be drawn.

                • NBNAccuracy
                  Posted 09/01/2013 at 8:14 pm | Permalink |

                  About the percentage takeup, yes. But about the speed level take up, not. It is statisticly bias by the percentage being drawn from those who took up the NBN quickly. The remainder who are taking their time may not be as interested in the top level plans.

            • Paul Thompson
              Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink |

              On one hand, you say that the NBN sites are selected based on certain criteria. On the other hand, you claim it is a random sample. You can’t have both.

              Please provide a detailed statistical analysis of the difference to 11 decimal places, and co-signed by the pope, or withdraw your claim as spurious.

              • Paul Krueger
                Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink |

                I was making no claims, just asking if you had evidence or a convincing example or logic train, that the take up rates are less then a random sample of Australia.

                And NightKhaos is quite correct, I am only showing that it is incorrect to ignore existing evidence by saying the sample size is to small when statistical maths shows that it is not (I thought that was clear).

                Anywho warm weather right?

                • Paul Thompson
                  Posted 09/01/2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink |

                  Young man, I think you are taking the holy art of statistics somewhat too lightly. No wonder the pope didn’t want to get involved with your sacrilege.

                  Seriously though – any claim to any level of confidence would need to take into account the effect of any non-randomness on the sample size.

                  I don’t claim that I know the exact reasons why the NBN have chosen the specific sites that they have. I also don’t claim to know any significant demographic anomolies that may exist within those sites as compared to the rest of the population. This is pretty important information.

                  As you are the one who is claiming that we can use your site to make valid assumptions, then I would be interested to know what assurance you have that the sample is as good as random (I am working on the assumption that you don’t claim to have the abovementioned knowledge about the NBN sites either).

                  • Paul Krueger
                    Posted 09/01/2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink |

                    You argue doubt well, but since the NBNs take up is 25% when I believe the corporate plan suggested less the half that, it’s 12 times higher then New Zealand FTTN take up, and that it has a higher takeup rate then anywhere overseas amongst the pockets scattered, seemingly at random, throughout Australia.

                    I feel it is rational to suggest that the NBN is not a failure due to low take up, that the NBN has got the price and the product correct.

                    That Australians want the NBN MORE then the historical evidence based on take up rates in other countries would suggest.

                    I would put this down to some combination of greater reliability/a better price/lack of alternates suggesting that the NBN is both likely to continue with success, and that it is offers greater value then that which has been offered overseas.

                    The historical evidence from overseas is mostly from builds directed by the profit motive, where they would have looked to begin/cherry pick the most profitable areas with the highest expected take up. There is a lot of evidence that the NBN has not done this, instead rolling out the network based on build costs rather than need (except for the trial sites).

                    Surely this makes the take up rates even more remarkable?

                    PS my last post here. On to today’s news.

    21. Stephen H
      Posted 09/01/2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink |

      I find it hilarious that there are people opposed to the NBN who are saying “it’s already running late!”. If you have a look at why, you’ll find that a fairly large proportion of the delay was due to political bickering. So “It’s already running late!” is equivalent to “I’ve been doing my part really well”. Yeah… no. Shut up and get out of the way, and it’ll be a lot easier, faster and cheaper.

      In the meantime, hands up if you can remember 28.8kbps. Surely that’s fast enough, right? Because it’s what we had 20 years ago (in fact the V.34 standard was ratified in 1994). The NBN is a once in a generation project that will last a lot longer than 20 years. So this crap about “what we have now is enough” is just short-sighted rubbish. Unless you’re happy with dial-up speeds.

      The other factor that both politicians have ignored is the behaviour of ISPs. They’ve spent the last year trying to sign people up to 2 year deals. So there are going to be a fair number of people already covered by an existing non-NBN contract when the trucks roll past. They won’t switch for somewhere between 6 and 18 months, thus further distorting “sign-up” figures.

      • Paul Thompson
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink |

        Very true, Stephen H.

        I find it incrediblly hypocritical of the opposition to set a clear goal of destroying the NBN, then complain about how it isn’t succeeding as well as it should be. I think they need to be honest about how much responsibility they have to bear for that.

    22. alain
      Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink |

      ‘Almost every major foundational infrastructure project I’ve ever examined the history of — notable examples in Australia including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Snowy Mountains Scheme — were debated intensely when they were in their infancy. But fifty years later, almost all of these projects had easily stood the test of time and are regarded as engineering triumphs. I strongly suspect this will also be the case with the NBN.’

      Well yes indeed and I could add to that Westgate Bridge in Melbourne, but all those ‘engineering triumphs’ did not require existing working infrastructure to be shut down to underpin the success of the project.

      • Posted 09/01/2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink |

        So the Sydney Harbour Bridge did not cause the collapse of multiple ferry companies?

        All new infrastructure will result in the depreciation of previous infrastructure, all NBNCo is doing different is acknowledging the companies it is set to replace and saying “You know you’ll lose this fight, so he’s a graceful exit”

        Telstra and Optus have signed the deals out of survival. If they truly believed that they could compete they would, because if they could compete they would.

        The advantage of this is it solidifies the business case yes, but there is no indication, as you seem to be implying, that without the deals NBNCo would fail.

        • jasmcd
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

          If they were allowed to compete Telstra and Optus could, and in certain areas they would be able to undercut NBN Co. who in its charter is obligated to offer the same level of service and costs to 93% of Australians.

          In fact, Telstra and Optus would decrease the ROI for NBNco by cherry picking the best sites and leaving NBNco with the smaller, harder, less appealing areas. ie. probably 90% + of the geographical roll out area. This would have a clear result of increasing prices for those outside the most profitable areas. In order to service all properties, NBNco could not simply avoid rollout in profitable areas as they would have to make unrealistic assumptions as to which areas a competitor might be interested in. The final result would be an NBN with the same build cost, higher wholesale charges and lower ROI.

          Telstra would also not be able to afford longterm competition with their existing copper network, as the network ages they would have less customers to spread the maintenance costs around. The copper network would have to be turned off in areas returning a loss which would not be nearly as well coordinated as the copper shut down associated with the current NBNco.

          I think NightKaos hit the nail on the head with NBNco looking into the future and just seeing a slow and painful death for the current networks of competing providers and the resulting difficulties it would pose for the establishment on the NBN and they offered the most logical solution for all parties.

      • Abel Adamski
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 1:15 pm | Permalink |

        Prior to the Westgate Bridge there was a ferry service and the long way around, I have taken that ferry service on a couple of occasions many years ago before it became redundant

        • alain
          Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink |

          The analogy is not correct, the ferry service is still running and enhanced even further to run from Southbank, and the main vehicular alternative to the Westgate Bridge the Footscray Rd/Williamstown Rd route was not shut down to ensure vehicles used the new bridge.

          • NBNAlex
            Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink |

            Welcome back… my it’s been quite a while. Where have you been?

            And straight back to the same old spiel the “shut down” argument.

            So you don’t think old, obsolete technologies should ever be shutdown then? Man you must have some old dilapidated junk at your place.

      • Posted 09/01/2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink |

        For the record:

        (A) One section of the original Westgate Bridge collapsed because two moron engineers tried to fix a manufacturing error in pre-fab section of bridge deck by BENDING it with a number of multi-ton concrete blocks to correct a camber mismatch, instead of fixing it properly.

        (B) The Westgate Bridge was tolled until it was paid for, much like the NBN.

        (C) There was not an existing bridge that the Westgate replaced.

        (D) The Williamstown ferry service continues to operate – it might be compared to wireless when talking about the NBN.

        (E) The previous main road crossing from the west – (Footscray Road) – may be compared to a tin can and string in any comparison.

    23. The lone gunmen
      Posted 09/01/2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink |

      When the NBN sign up rates are appalling even for the houses it passes and people point his out, the NBN supporters play the person and not the ball. Petty name calling not reasoned argument. He are some recurring NBN themes over the last 5 years:
      • The NBN has not met its own published targets, and then it has missed its revised targets;
      • The roll out is extraordinary slow. The first version of Labor’s NBN was suppose to be finished in 2013. Convenient memory loss on that boast. Now we do not really know the end date;
      • The take up rates for houses the NBN has already passed are low, in fact very low.
      • The so called uses of the NBN, at least more recently, are just being made up.

      At what point are supporters going to demand accountability? Now that is an anathema for Delimiter and its supporters.

      • Stephen H
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink |

        Would you prefer that we wait until Google decides to roll out a local network? Or maybe rely on Telstra and Optus to do their job – since they’ve done so well rolling out cable so far.

        Oh, in answer to your questions, scroll up – and stop being part of the delay.

      • NBNAlex
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 4:33 pm | Permalink |


        Firstly the current NBN was announced in April 2009, so less than 4 years ago. So your 5 year claim by going back pre the current NBN, is disingenuous.

        Yes the government changed their minds, as have the opposition regarding comms (in fact many times – is that also a convenient memory loss). It’s known as improvements from both political sides.

        FYI – it is well documented that the NBN is 6 months behind schedule because of a number of early stage issues. Such as an initial stalling of contracts, negotiations with the ACCC re: POI’s/regulatory issues, negotiations with key players who had concerns over CVC/AVC, political argy-bargy etc. Then of course, and particularly, the protracted Telstra negotiations.

        Also, I think everyone knows and accepts that there WILL be hiccups. This is a once in our lifetime (remembering the PSTN was a once in a lifetime for previous generations) build and unlike other infrastructure, there really isn’t a template to go by… hence the need for pilots.

        As for take-up, one can surmise that some people are on contracts and either unable or unwilling to make the switch as yet? But as has been highlighted, our initial NBN figures are ahead of other countries. And let’s be realistic, the actual roll out is still in the infancy stages, so…

        These are all rational explanations (not excuses).

        So at what point are detractors going to stop asking why the hold-ups, as well as prematurely asking, why the slow take-up? And when given rational answers, not accepting those answers?

        Seriously, if Labor win the next election and the NBN is still being rolled out… by say mid 2014 if NBNCo are getting further behind, then I agree, tough questions will need to be asked…

        But as it stands now, such premature grandstanding reeks of ulterior motive and is as the headline says… “spectacularly shortsighted”, imo.

    24. stoffs
      Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink |

      apologies if it has been mentioned before, now that homes are being connected up and people are on the nbn – what i’d like to see is the revenue they are generating each quarter from these connections.

      All i hear about is the cost of the project, and that it will eventually generate a return – but how is that built into the costing? (current customers )

      • Posted 09/01/2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink |


        The Corporate plan has year-by-year breakdowns of revenue. And the annual report has yearly actuals for revenue.

        The revenue is built into the costings as described in the Corporate Plan. It will achieve positive cashflow in 2022 and pay off all debt (assuming 7% return and no higher) by 2038.

      • Paul Krueger
        Posted 09/01/2013 at 4:00 pm | Permalink |

        You should be able to work out income roughly, by multiplying the number of connections by ~$35

        ~$30 for connection, and perhaps $5 for bandwidth. I know this is a guess, but the numbers seem reasonable.

        So, 20,000 connections would be $700,000 per month or $8.4 million a year.

        If you expand that to 8.5 million connection you get a figure of 3.6 Billion

        Take $500 million off for operating costs and you get.. $3.1 Billion, not to far from a 7% return (working a guess then confirming with something published)

    25. Goresh
      Posted 10/01/2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink |

      I think the whole point here is highlight want versus compelled.

      The coalition position that the NBN will fail because issufficient people are “taking up the option” is obviously a red herring since, in the end, they will have no choice. Even teh humble home phone will require an NBN connection so near 100% take up is inevitable.

      What Conroy’s numbers show however is that during this phase of rollout when take up is optional and before competition properly takes hold to drive prices down, we are already seeing people taking up the option at higher rates than any other comparable rollout.

      Furthermore, as you yourself point out, that take up has been heavily biased towards the faster (and more profitable for NBNco) data rates. In many areas the number of 100Mb/s services already exceeds the projected numbers for when the option is removed and everyone is on the NBN.

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