Broken dreams: The NBN’s bubble has burst



opinion With its rollout schedule significantly delayed yet again, its contractual and political relationships on the rocks and its transparency thrown out the window, it’s apparent that NBN Co is not delivering the National Broadband Network the nation was promised. So what’s the future of this great Australian dream?

After NBN Co’s dramatic revelation last week — in the midst of Labor’s leadership crisis, no less — that it was three months behind in terms of its fibre rollout schedule, I sat down for a bit of a long think and asked myself what the future of this troubled project was likely to look like.

The most attractive thing about the NBN dream has always been that it’s a panacea: A universal remedy to all of Australia’s long-term telecommunications problems. When I talk to the average guy on the street about telecommunications (not all of my friends and family are early technology adopters or IT professionals), I usually hear a litany of complaints about the issue; ranging from dropouts to crappy speeds, poor telephone call quality, a lack of mobile reception, exorbitant prices or even an inability to get fixed-line broadband at all in certain areas.

Faced with these ongoing complaints, my answer, for years now, whenever anyone finds out I’m a technology journalist and asks me about these problems, is to let them know about the NBN, and promise them that things won’t always be this way.

The NBN is the one big idea which which should have been the panacea to resolving all of these issues. It was to have brought fibre to most of Australia, wiping out all of the issues with Telstra’s ageing copper network which have plagued Australians’ broadband connections for so long, delivered massive speed improvements, eliminated blackspots and even potentially driven mobile coverage beyond where it currently is, due to its ability to deliver backhaul to any mobile phone tower, anywhere. And of course it also has had the potential to level the playing field in the competitive telco market and bring competition into areas, such as the bush, where Telstra still dominates.

But as the situation with the NBN stands right now, I’m no longer confident giving the answer that the NBN is the long-term panacea to Australia’s telecommunications needs. The project has run into too many issues over the past year for me to have the levels of confidence in it that I once had; and I’m convinced that the next several years of its life will be even more rocky than the first five have been.

The first and most pressing issue that is confronting the NBN right now is that Labor and the management of NBN Co itself appear to have drastically underestimated the complexity and effort which will actually be required on the ground to deploy this largest and most complex of telecommunications networks.

As a concept, the current NBN model has been the dominant one since April 2009, when then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy abandoned the previous, much more limited fibre to the node model and opted for a near-universal fibre alternative. Since that stage, the rollout of the NBN has been substantially delayed twice that we know of.

The first delay — formally confirmed in August 2012 when NBN Co released its second corporate plan — was forgivable. As NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley has pointed out repeatedly, the groundwork of the project shifted underneath it several times in the first several years of its life, as NBN Co’s deal to use Telstra’s infrastructure took much longer than anticipated and it was also handed responsibility for greenfields developments.

However, the second major delay, announced last week, is, frankly, not forgivable.

Cast your mind back to mid-February this year. At that stage, NBN Co’s management fronted a Senate Estimates inquiry and strongly pushed the line that NBN Co was on track to meet its June 2013 targets, specifically the target of 341,000 total fibre premises having been passed nationwide. Several weeks later in mid-February, Quigley himself fronted the media for an extensive press conference session in Sydney. Although the progress of the rollout didn’t come up in detail, again there was absolutely no indication that NBN Co wasn’t on track to meet its mid-year targets.

Last week, as NBN Co drastically revised its rollout timetable down (it now plans to reach just 190,000 to 220,000 premises by the end of June), Quigley acknowledged to journalists that “over the last month or two”, it had become “increasingly evident” that NBN Co wouldn’t make its mid-year targets. Last week’s announcement, then, represented the formalisation of that understanding; as NBN Co’s board was taken through the delays by its executive team and approved the release of new targets.

The problem with Quigley’s comments is that they imply a level of straight-out deception on the part of the NBN Co chief executive. If Quigley and his team had been seeing increasing evidence of delays in the project’s rollout over the past several months, why has it been publicly insisting that it was on track?

It’s also not the first time this has happened. In late 2012, NBN Co let the public know that informally, based on data from its construction partners, it expected to actually reach about 300,000 brownfields fibre premises by mid-2013, instead of the 286,000 its formal business plan called for.

By mid-February, NBN Co was insisting that it was still on track to make its original mid-2013 targets, but acknowledged that delays with the rollout caused by its contractor Syntheo meant it wouldn’t make the higher 300,000 target. NBN Co has since taken back construction work in the Northern Territory from Syntheo, and Quigley is shortly planning to make a personal visit up north to check out the situation on the ground.

Do you see what’s happening here? If you look at NBN Co’s behaviour over the past six months, NBN Co is suffering signs of, as Greens Communications Spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam, said last week “either high-level delusion or basic contract mismanagement”. Either NBN Co hasn’t understood its rollout well enough to predict how it’s going, or it’s not managing its contractors well enough to be able to predict how it’s going. And meanwhile, the company appears to be misleading the public about the status of that rollout.

There are also other signs that the company’s rollout figures are not to be trusted. It took NBN Co the better part two months to deliver basic figures for its rollout and the number of active connections it had on its network when a Freedom of Information request was filed for them in mid-December; and yet, figures released by NBN retailer ISP DeVoteD several weeks ago inadvertently revealed that internally, NBN Co did indeed have week-by-week updated rollout statistics that it discloses to its ISP partners but not to the public.

At this stage, basically every stakeholder involved in the NBN is concerned about it. The company’s own contractors are leaking like a sieve — to the extent that the Financial Review newspaper was able to predict almost to the exact number last week by how much the company’s rollout was delayed. Pro-NBN politicians such as Ludlam and Rob Oakeshott (who based much of his original support for the Labor Federal Government back during the 2010 Federal Election on its NBN policy) are publicly doubting the project. And even the company’s most enthusiastic retail ISPs, such as iiNet, which currently appears to be taking the lion’s share of retail customers, are concerned the rollout is progressing too slowly. TPG’s lack of interest in the whole endeavour is starting to look prophetic.

For the first time, ongoing comments by Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that nobody has any confidence that NBN Co’s current management can complete the rollout by its end date of 2021 are starting to be correct. Even the NBN’s keenest supporters are doubting it at this point.

There are also other reasons to doubt the NBN; reasons less related to its rollout. Quigley’s choice to hold a press conference last week to announce the delays literally as the Federal Labor Party was meeting to decide if it still had confidence in Julia Gillard as Prime Minister (Quigley’s press conference was held at 4pm; the Labor vote proceeded from 4:30) stunk, no matter how much Quigley would like to deny it, of an attempt to bury the NBN delays as a story.

Puzzling too, was Quigley’s admission that he had not spoken to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy that day about the delays, and the confirmation by NBN Co chairman Harrison Young — completely independently of any public relations processes which NBN Co or Conroy’s office might have wanted to put in place around his departure — that he would not seek another term as the leader of the company’s board.

Yes, to those following the NBN last Thursday, the whole project, like Labor’s leadership non-ballot, appeared to have descended into a farce, with its rollout falling around its ears, its contractors not delivering what they said they would, NBN Co’s own management attempting to conceal the truth from the public or just flat out resigning (as many NBN Co senior staff had already done over the years) and the company’s own media spokespeople refusing to comment on any of these issues until extremely late on Thursday afternoon.

The conclusion you might have reached by now — which is the conclusion I have reached — is that the NBN was a great idea from the Australian Labor Party — a great vision, a great dream, to resolve all of the problems in Australian telecommunications; but that Labor and NBN Co’s management is screwing it up; not delivering it as promised; mismanaging it, driving without both hands on the wheel. By the time the September election occurs this year, only a few hundred thousand premises will be able to connect to the NBN’s fibre, with a few hundred thousand more under construction. Not precisely the panacea which so many of us were expecting. And at that point, everything will change again.

For those still clinging to hope with respect to the NBN, the question now becomes: Can the Coalition, which is pretty much definitely going to win the September Federal Election (especially considering Labor’s implosion last week), salvage the project? Can it bring it back on track, impose better control over NBN Co’s contractors, expedite the rollout through a fibre to the node rollout? Can the Coalition bring the NBN back to the panacea which I described earlier in this article?

My own personal opinion is that no, it cannot.

As the ABC’s Technology + Games Editor Nick Ross has exhaustively chronicled, to start with, the Coalition’s rival NBN vision is nothing like Labor’s; on a range of fronts, it fails to deliver on the same aims when it comes to a number of basic service delivery outcomes. It won’t resolve many of the problems with Australia’s copper network, because vast chunks of that network will remain in place as the Coalition extends fibre only partway to Australian premises; and in the short to medium-term it won’t even attempt to target areas which are already covered by the existing and highly flawed HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus. “Covered” in this case, of course, for those who live in apartments, means “not covered”.

As Quigley himself pointed out on the ABC’s Inside Business program over the weekend, there are also extensive questions right now as to how the Coalition’s plan will even work in practice, given that it will require NBN Co to come to some form of deal to leave Telstra’s copper network, and many of the IT systems associated with it, in place. Hell, no organisation globally has ever succeeded in upgrading a copper network to FTTN in the style the Coalition is proposing, apart from incumbent telcos. If NBN Co goes down this path, I’m not sure anybody knows right now whether such a model can even work. And if it does, does anyone reasonably expect it to be rolled out in a faster, better way than the current NBN vision is being rolled out? Surely it will suffer precisely the same problems, with the same contractors.

We can also expect many delays from the implementation of the Coalition’s NBN policy over the first few years of its life. Delays as the Productivity Commission painstakingly undertakes the study into Australia’s future broadband needs which Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has long promised. Delays while NBN Co renegotiates its massive contracts with Telstra and perhaps Optus. Delays while Turnbull forces NBN Co to reshape its entire rollout and billions of dollars of contracts around a fundamentally different rollout style. Delays while the Coalition evaluates the current NBN legislation and potentially alters it. Delays while it audits NBN Co’s finances. Upheaval while dozens (hundreds?) of NBN Co staff quit in protest and are replaced.

All of this, in the context of a Coalition front bench which has demonstrated time and time again — through the words of senior politicians such as Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Christopher Pyne, Warren Truss and others — that it does not fundamentally understand the technology underpinnings of the NBN, and may not agree with the views of its portfolio spokesperson (Turnbull) on the issue.

With confidence with regards to Labor’s management of the NBN rapidly eroding, can anyone have any confidence that the Coalition’s alternative will be any better? No. We simply cannot. The Coalition has not given us any reason to over the past several years; in fact, the opposite. As I’ve previously written, the Coalition is a total shambles when it comes to NBN policy.

Going back to the start of this article, I wrote that the wonderful thing about the NBN dream is that it’s a panacea: A universal remedy to all of Australia’s long-term telecommunications problems, designed to fix, once and for all, problems with dropouts, crappy speeds, poor telephone call quality, a lack of mobile reception, exorbitant prices or even an inability to get fixed-line broadband at all in certain areas.

The NBN is still a wonderful dream; wonderful enough that anyone from overseas who visits Australia tends to praise it as a fantastic undertaking that they wish their own government had undertaken.

But let’s be real about this: For the foreseeable future, the NBN is going to remain just that — a dream. The NBN is not coming to your house or business any time soon, and in the next five or so years Australia can expect the current disgraceful level of political infighting about the project and delays in its rollout to continue. This dreadful situation is not going away any time soon, and neither are the problems with your broadband connection. So get used to the dropouts.

The NBN has always been a fantastic dream. But all dreams must end as we wake to grisly reality. This project has been mismanaged by Labor, and is about to be screwed over wholesale by the Coalition. At this stage, the suggestion by then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo back in 2005 that the Government pay Telstra a few billion to deploy FTTN itself (and lock out competitors along the way) is looking more and more like it would have been a winner, comparatively. We may not have had competition in the telco landscape, and we may not have had fibre to the home. But at least we would have had something.


  1. I think you are reading too much into what is simply a major contractor going belly up and a manpower shortage. Fibre installers don’t just grow on trees and its a bit hard to bring 457’s into this.

    • +1.
      Said it more concisely than I ever could have.
      …And I realise that by saying that line above I’ve once again fallen to my bad habit of expanding my comments beyond their initial scope. And this one.

    • Except for the fact that if you don’t have enough manpower, you don’t have a project.

      Meeting the manpower requirements is something they should’ve tackled years ago. Instead, they’ve paid contractors fire-sale rates (confirmed from multiple sources) and if the contractors aren’t meeting their targets, there’s seemingly nothing they can do.

      The contractors probably knew they wouldn’t be able to meet targets, but they don’t care because there’s little recourse – NBNco’s only option is to renegotiate and pay them more if they want more people on the ground.

      • From first hand experience, the term “fire sale” is as close as it gets. Some of theTier 1 contractors or Delivery partners (DP) as they are correctly referred too ! Are displaying dismal management, in fact management is not the correct word to use here. They simply have very little understanding of a) what is required b) how long it takes c) what has actually been completed or is to be done. Then they throw peanuts at companies to get them to actually sort out what is required to be done. The best reforming DP was also removed , from what understand was as a result of a partnership that didn’t sail ? Other DP’s are now using contractors whilst they gear up to undertake the works internally, Ditch the contractors and move on !
        Meanwhile offering rates that barely cover costs.
        Is it really any wonder the roll out is stalling, the skills required are out there, the people with them are simply not going there, as there is no reward for the risk !

        NBN Co, why not engage directly, put your vastly over resourced management team and $15 million office fit outs to proper use ! Ensure a fair dispersion of money to the areas of he project that actually need it ! Not on companies that simply manage others and take the lions share for doing it !

        That is the big problem in getting this thing rolled out !!!!

  2. Have to disagree with you Renai. Despite the problems you have noted regarding the speed of the roll out, and the other ‘issues’ you mentioned, NBNCo is still in the process of ‘the dream’. Not as fast as hoped or forecast but it is still being done.

    To say the dream ended just because it wasn’t absolute perfect in every detail is akin to a child asking for a pony Now and not being happy because it was delivered 1/2 an hour later. Yes there issues which need to be rectified but it’s not worthy dismissing because it isn’t perfect.

    • So what do you make of Turnbull’s plans? At the very least, they will turn the NBN upside down and shake it hard; it’s very hard to imagine the project delivering on most of the same aims after that process takes place.

      • Turnbull’s plans are full of shit.

        If you read anything of the past debates on FTTN, Telstra plays key roll of FTTN.

        That’s including Regulatory + Legislation exceptions.

      • The Turnbulls plans are atrocious. Short term gain with long term pain.

        FttN may well end up being ‘faster and cheaper’, but at what cost? Its still worth persuing the longer term benefits of FttH rather than backtrack and rely on whats failed us so far.

        • Not sure you could even argue that Turnbull’s plan is a short-term gain. For all the reasons Renai has listed it will happen no faster, probably no cheaper (certainly more expensive long-term), and deliver less.

          • The simple reality is that with whichever plan we end up with, someone is going to be the last connected. If those people get FttN a year or two earlier than they would FttH to many thats considered a gain.

            If the build cost for FttN is $20b versus $40b for FttH, to many thats also considered a gain. They stop at that point and refuse to debate the other side of the argument.

            So, FttN. Faster to build. Check. Cheaper to build. Check. But the faster to build aspect never takes into account how much more time it will take to negotiate with Telstra. The cheaper to build doesnt recognise that FttN has no plan to recoup the costs.

            Short term, yes FttN IS faster and cheaper. But long term it isnt. To be generous, in a decade FttN will need to be replaced. $20b to build a 10 year infrastructure, then more cost to upgrade/replace it to FttH.

            Does anyone think its going to cost a buck fifty to do the last mile fibre connections in 2023? Or any simpler with the FttN cabinet now part of the build confusion?

            Putting FttN in the way of whats inevitable is only going to slow it down then. Its going to add cost, and its going to have the same problems – someone is going to have to be last to get the service. Only at that point, there’s already been $20b+ wasted on dead technology.

            They talk about NBN being a white elephant. FttN pretty much fits right into the definition of a white elephant…

          • And let’s add the biggest elephant in the room… who will own copper/fibre infrastructure which will eventually be changed over?

            Lets all be honest here wholesale/infrastructure market competition does not exist in Australia. The biggest factor of decay in the whole system is the fact that Telstra is not obliged to do anything beyond making sure the copper can handle phone calls. It’s only just recently that Telstra has started upgrading areas and opened more ports. Anybody who has been on areas of huge congestion can attest to how terrible speeds became once 5-6PM hit.

            Now do we a) buy all the copper once we need to upgrade which results in more payment to Telstra *after* we’ve already paid them out after the change in NBN plans?

            or do we

            b) Legislate either separation or impose service agreements? But then again last time I checked this would go against the Conservative ideology of self governing Free Markets which should not be interfered w/ by governments..

            So what do we do w/ the copper in a few decades when FTTN hits it’s peak?

      • If I or anyone else knew what Turnbull’s plans were in detail then I’d comment. But what can be gathered from the conflicting and vague information he has provided is that ‘shaking it hard’ is the least of the NBNCo’s worries. It also appears to be the least likely outcome with a stated preference by Turnbull for something a lot more dire than that.

        If Turnbull gets his hands on the NBN the dream will rapidly become a nightmare.

      • Renai – you’re on the money about the problems Turnbull will face. All the contract renegotiations, same contractors, and most of all the lack of understanding of this new fandangled internet thingamie within his own party.

        On top of that the LNP has promised to cut a range of taxes and cut the debt. Funding is going to be hard to find in support of something most of the party sees as only a means to download porn and watch youtube videos.

        Turnbull has promised to deliver something sooner and cheaper. There’s a few ways to do that which involve effort. The easiest way though is to deliver much less.

        Odds on we end up with very little at all while a lucky few sit in pools of light eminating from the end of their fibre optic cables.

        • “Odds on we end up with very little at all while a lucky few sit in pools of light eminating from the end of their fibre optic cables.”

          This is going to be Australia’s future for at least the next 3-4 years, IMHO.

          • Under Turnbull’s “plan”, it will be Australia’s future for the next 30-40 years. I would much prefer it to be only 3-4 years.

        • The first thing that came to mind reading the start of this article was Flip Flop, as in was seems to happen regularily to the tone of delimiter articles.
          Sure its great to be ‘Logical’, but thats taking it too far I think :-)
          If it is really necessary to keep changing logical state, perhapse its best not confuse hysteresis with hysteria.

          • Renai’s position actually hasn’t changed at all with this article. It is exactly the same as it was a week ago.

            His position seems to be he supports the NBN because there isn’t a better alternative, but is unhappy with the risk this project presents.

            This article highlights the risk, where others have highlighted the benefits.

          • +1

            This nails it on the head.

            I’ve reported on hundreds of government technology projects which have gone wrong because of poor project management over the past decade. The indications are now there that the NBN will be the same. Governments are just not good at project managing this kind of stuff. The private sector is usually better and gets the projects there in the end (although there are usually also problems, they tend to eventually push through them).

          • So give them a chance to push through then you would if it was a private company yet because it is NBNCo you say they can’t do it.

            Of course you can name many Government projects that went overtime but can you name for me the many Government projects which ran to schedule?

            The answer is no you can’t because nobody mentions them because running on time is not news worthy

          • And as a caveat no one really cares either as long as the project succeeds in what it needs to do.

            Railways? Telegraph/Telephone? Harbour Bridge? Snowy Mountain scheme…

            Most of these would have never run on schedule but are never mentioned to be “a waste”. The problem here is one of confidence. There are always issues. It is merely a question of whether the team can handle the issues that arise. Most companies only have to worry about that step…. NBN unfortunately has to worry about the continued politicisation of the problem creating a hyperinflation of perceived “risks” to reduce “confidence”. Unfortunately as is the case with most issues perception is reality to most people

          • “The private sector is usually better and gets the projects there in the end (although there are usually also problems, they tend to eventually push through them).”

            The problem, even if this were true, is that no private company would undertake such project. Furthermore, the private sector may be good at managing project but very poor on the maintenance side or further infrastructure (eg: electricity, transport…).

            Lastly, the management team at NBNCo all have a private sector background. Is it possible that because they are managing a government infrastructure, they have suddenly forgotten all they knew? You may argue that they have no experience in building a network but then again who does in this country.

            A last point, because you have seen government projects fail before does not mean that all government projects will fail in the future.

          • I don’t have much problem with most of the points in the article, but when you put headlines like that up there, they set the tone of the article. I bet some people are not going to read past the headline.
            A ‘bubble burst’ suggests that the NBN had nothing in it and now there is nothing left to show for it. That is plain inaccurate.
            OK, its really disappointing that things have slipped and it does appear NBN have been evasive in providing information (a pointless and counter-productive tactic when the info seems to be leaking like a sieve). It is however a schedule slip and (politics aside) remains to be seen if NBNCo can ramp up or not to avoid it accumulating.

      • “So what do you make of Turnbull’s plans?”

        Still waiting for it. No seriously I don’t see how switching to a FttN patchwork at this stage solves anything, I’m guessing it’ll just exacerbate the problem further. For all the faults the proper NBN is still the best thing we have, if it is rolled out to completion we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about. However since we have to consider a colation win at the election they’ll tell us it would have failed anyway and as they wont complete it we’ll never know for sure, we’ll just have to trust they are right but since they’ll have destroyed the evidence that would hardly make them credible… Even more scrutiny needs to be applied to them should they decide to turn NBNco into GimpCo especially if they miss deadlines.

  3. I’m very disappointed in your analysis Renai.

    To expect NBN to run a perfect “score” is entirely more dream than anything else.

  4. I would be a lot more optimistic about the project if the Coalition where not hell bent on destroying it because Labour came up with it. I see far more problems in what MT has been suggesting for their ‘NBN’ and think it’s sad we are probably going to miss out on having one of the best telecommunications networks in the world instead getting.. What are we at now? FTTN and HFC?

    • +1

      I would prefer the NBN to go ahead as it is. However, the facts are that Labor has mismanaged the project — and the Coalition is about to screw it up further.

      My article is less about ‘what should happen’, and is more attempting to inject a dose of reality, AKA ‘what will happen’.

      • We know what will happen.

        That’s why there was no need to point the so called ‘reality’ to it.

      • Labor has mismanaged the project? Or NBNCo has mismanaged it? I’m pretty sure they are two separate entities, and should not be conflated. Maybe you could elaborate on how much mismanagement can be laid directly at the feet of labor, vs NBNCo vs the subcontractors?

        • From what I am gathering.
          NBNco have
          a) failed to manage subcontractors properly
          b) failed to manage communications to their shareholders(us) properly

          Labor meanwhile have failed to manage NBNco properly.

          They should have been watching like a hawk, this is a flagship product that is a big win in a world of hurt they are going through at the moment.

          Now they have lost even that advantage

      • As useless as I think the ALP are at the moment I’m not sure you can lay mismanagement of NBN at their feet. NBN Co manage the roll-out, not Labor. Even then, I think mismanagement takes things a bit far. Sure it’d be better if there weren’t a delay, and it looks as though someone’s missed something about how to implement the roll-out, but we’re talking 3 months (at the moment) in a 10 year roll-out at the start of the ramp-up stage. It’s particularly bad timing, and it’d be better if they were more forthcoming with information, but mismanagement?

        It’s a moot point, the Coalition are going to bugger the whole thing up royally anyway.

      • if the coalition genuinely want to ‘fix’ it their proposed policy wont do it. the best thing they could do is run with FTTH but under the Liberal remit of ‘we’re watching costs and working to efficiencies’. given the 73% popularity of the NBN that kind of tack would destroy Gillard. watching costs and working to efficiency would also ensure its not something that will hit the budget line – work to ensure that it actually makes that return – and they can happily trumpet look we can turn our focus to roads health and whatever it is they want to hang their hat on.

        TBH i havent seen much evidence of that yet, nor evidence they will concede and run with NBN. so yes i fully expect a farce of the first order by the time the circa 2016 cycle rolls around.

        Even with the delays identified, how much would be done by 2017? if they persist with their plan how much less will be done? on the former theres now a distinct amount less – but it would not halt, Syntheo is only responsible for certain areas. the other contractors dont – at this moment – appear to be suffering the same problems.

        on the latter, if they want to start over with a rejgged build i expect SFA will happen for a large portion of that tenure. its a cock up, theres no two ways around it. and the worst part of it is that if the libs would listen to the engineers rather than their ideology the potential damage done will be far smaller than the alternative. weve already seen low long the hangover from a telcoms cockup lasts – Telstra privatisation – and i seriously fear the lesson of the past will be ignored and we’re prepping to do it to ourselves all over again.


  5. I rather a delayed NBN “Dream” then what the Coalition has to offer.

    No one in the world has done a project like this, of course it was going to have issues

    Coalition will only make matters worse

    We will become the laughing stock of the world as the Coalition sets as back 20 years.

  6. The question, really, is, how do we save this project? It is only those with an agenda that want it to fail, and are actively trying to make it fail, and then they can feel justified when it fails.

    It sickens me that this great vision, this policy of upheaving the telecommunications industry for the better, has become politicised instead of enjoying the bipartisan support it deserves. It sickens me that the Coalition lacks the vision necessary to bring us into a new age, and is intent on sacrificing this great national project in its bid to get into power. And it sickens me that we live in a country that allows the power-hungry to take power to the detriment of others, without any policies, any visions for the future.

    While Labor will likely be second-last on the ballot this year, I’ll be putting the Liberals last. I encourage others to do the same.

    • Meanwhile, all your choices at the top of the ballot will be directing their preferences to Liberal and Labor…


        • All I’m saying is that it doesn’t really matter whether Labor/Liberal go at the top or the bottom of your ballot paper. Sure, it might be different to put Labor above Liberal (or vice versa), but in the end all your preferences will most likely go to one or the other.

          • If you fill out all the preferences, then the preferences will only ever go where you want them to.

            So yes if the chosen candidates don’t get enough votes to win, then they drop, and your next preference comes to play, and so on until someone has enough to win. Yes that often means we end up with Labor or Liberal at the bottom getting them all.

            But if you choose everyone other than Labor and Liberal first, your preferences will go to the others first. If everyone does that, then the others will get voted in.

            It is a major mistake to think that way. And it is why you should always choose your OWN preferences, don’t let any candidate do that for you.

          • Tom,

            YOU are the one doling out the preferences by the way you complete your ballot paper, NOT the candidates you vote for preferentially. When it come to preferences, the word “direct” is too strong a word. How to vote cards are only suggestions as to how people might vote. The order of preferences on how to vote cards have no more significance than that.

          • Yes, and no. If you one or the other first even though you really don’t like either it perpetuates the 2 party clusterf*ck we have at the moment. Independents do get in, but rarely if they’re not above the other two. Also, parties see the preferences, if there’s enough votes getting through to them on preferences alone it will (ideally) send them a message. Given both of them ignored last election’s message though YMMV.

            Anyway, this is a tech site so we probably shouldn’t pursue this line.

      • In the past I have done some vote counting related work for a state election, and I’ve learnt that Australia’s preferential voting system is less about who you vote for, but more about who you vote against. This should be common knowledge but unfortunately (for minor parties especially) isn’t.

        Preferences are counted by exclusion. After the first count (of first preferences), the candidate with the least amount of preferences is excluded, and the count proceeds by looking at those votes that would have gone to that candidate, and distributing them to the next preferences listed on the ballot papers. The count proceeds and candidates are excluded until only two candidates remain (usually Labor and Liberal, but not always), and the candidate with the most preferences at this point wins the seat.

        So when you go into a vote, it is easier to understand it as voting against candidates from the bottom. Who would you least want to win the seat? Put them last. Who would you next least want to win the seat? They go second last. And so on.

        But a consequence of this system is that the very last preference on your ballot paper is under no circumstances ever counted in that candidate’s favour.

        So by putting Labor second-last and the Liberals last, I’m willing to give a minor party or independent a chance, but will not allow my vote to pass to the Liberals.

        So what’s a ‘preference deal’? And this is probably where your confusion comes from. Basically when you arrive at a polling place and you have the big parties standing out the front with their “how to vote” cards (that tell you exactly how to preference candidates), that how to vote card is the preference deal. It means that dyed-in-the-wool Labor or Liberal voters will preference candidates in that way, because they do what the Party tells them to. If the Labor or Liberal party candidate is excluded in the vote before the minor party or independent candidate, then many of the preferences will flow on to the minor party or independent candidate that has made the deal for the second preference, giving that candidate a real chance of winning the seat.

    • Oh, so you can seriously say with a straight face that the Greens, Family First, the Sex Party, or any other minority you care to throw into the mix, could do a better job at managing the construction of major infrastructure than the two major parties? Who have zero track record in government and some of the above are heavily criticised for their fiscal policies?


  7. The issue here is that if everyone starts screaming for someone’s head (ie, just like in politics) then the next person to get the spot has to spend another 12-18 months making sense of the situation, and causing further delays.

    Whilst the transparency in the number being reported is an issue – that’s governance not being followed, I don’t think it’s need to run for the exits just yet.

    If the delay had been accompanied by a blowout in costs then, sure, the cranky pants get put on.

    But if it’s just a dip in timing due to manpower issues not meeting budgeted levels, then the issue is why wasn’t the manpower issue anticipated and what’s happening to rectify the situation.

    What you don’t want is to create a bubble in fibre splicing skills as otherwise wages/contract costs will skyrocket and then the project will be in serious cost territory.

    I can only hope my area gets connected before the election!

    • I’m considering getting my cabling qualifications, signing up with Syntheo with a provisio that I will only work in my suburb (hey, they can’t afford to turn away any help, can they?) then quitting after my place is cabled…

  8. I think the sad part about it is that NBN Co wont get a chance to hit its straps. I think its the right set up, rolling out unarguably the right solution. It will have some teething problems which will be resolved. I still dont think we should settle for the Libs second rate solution. It doesnt fix anything, and even worse build in massive digital divides which we are supposed to be getting away from with new policy.

  9. I half agree with you.

    I think the idea of rolling out to the countries first is a big mistake – Labor isn’t getting many runs on the board. In the city, nobody cares about NBN in the bush.

    Yes, if the Libs win, they will screw everything up.

    But I do think you should have done some analysis on “how” they can move forward from here to deliver. I think we should import 50,000 people from overseas and pay them Australan peanuts (a good wage from where they live), get the job done and then say “thanks very much”. Let’s do the rollout in 5 years and then we can all get on with our lives.

    • Totally disagree with your comment about the bush not caring about the NBN. Having spent most of the past 8 years in regional Australia my impression is that many viewed this project as an opportunity to finally get decent services. There are also many businesses in rural areas that will directly benefit massively from the capabilities of fibre – that is swapping a several thousand dollar a month service for one costing a few hundred dollars that is superior in performance and reliability. There are also those that couldn’t afford anything other than ADSL that will benefit in an economically productive sense from an improved service.

      • Sorry…maybe my comment wasn’t clear.

        It should have read “Nobody in the city cares about the NBN’s progress in the bush.”

        Yes, we all want the NBN. Yes, many people in the city can’t even get ADSL1.

  10. Set backs aside, the only thing that is going to put a steak through the heart of the NBN is the Coalition/Lib Gov.

    If by some bizzare twist in fate the Lab Gov gets to stick around, the NBN will still roll out. It’ll probably be late and delayed but it’ll still roll out.

    Lib= Death of NBN
    Lab= Survival of NBN

    its as simple as that.

  11. Yep its all to hard so why bother

    Why do anything it may be difficult

    How was starting up Delimiter I bet it was always easy going you never had any challenges it was all rainbows and kittens all the time

    At the end of the day nothing worth having comes easy

    • I’m not saying that it’s not worth pursuing — in fact, the NBN is definitely worth pursuing. However, what I am saying is things are going to get (much) worse before they get better.

      We’ve got 5 years of turbulence ahead of us.

      • How do you come to the conclusion that the next 5 years will be turbulent?

        Unless, you know something that most of us are not aware of, I can’t find a logical thread between what is happening now and its impact will be over the next 5 years.

  12. How much of the delay is in delivering the backhaul trunk and how much connecting premises to this backhaul? The backhaul is needed whether we get FTTH or FTTN. Surely the trunk could be built quickly.

    • Does anyone have any insight on how the more established contractors are performing? For instance, Visionstream in Tasmania have been at it for quite some time and are now moving into the major cities where they have to do much more underground work. In the smaller towns they seemed to be quite effective but it was all up on poles.

  13. This article will be unpopular Renai so very impressed that you wrote it. I dont think things are quite as glum as you portrayed them.

    Keep in mind Turnbull had the scoop on the 50% delays well before even the AFR. He has clearly been talking to industry when formulating his plan.

    I honestly think this is yet another case of Conroy thinking he is the smartest person in the room when he isn’t. See red underpants, big red button, prejudicing IInets court case, internet filter 1.0, internet filter 2.0.

    Conroy has made his career from ignoring anyone who thinks he is wrong. Big industry players like Simon Hackett and Bevan slattery have long said it would take much longer and cost much more than Conroy said.

    I think under a new government it will become apparent that FTTN is a necessary evil to prevent people remaining on dial up for the next 25 years. I dont agree with your concept that most of the people in NBNco will resign in disgust. I think it is very likely the politics is influencing this project at a level above most of the staff.

    Keep in mind there are clearly staff level leaks as well, I think a lot of the staff if they are even vaguely ethical would be pissed at being forced to lie to the australian people for so long.

    Have a read of the “big red button” email’s. I think very similar emails would have sent between NBNco and their political masters. “There is no way we can meet these targets” and receiving back “STICK WITH THE POLICY DIRECTION”

    • “a necessary evil’?! its going to be the height of hypocrisy to whine and whinge about how much the NBN is costing and then install an expensive replacement. no, that is not necessary. and it will perpetuate cynicism and distrust – at times warranted mind you – of the countrys leaders or would be leaders. none of that is necessary, none of the damage either in terms of telcoms or economics or government is necessary.

      i dont think this is a case where i can happily say ‘well i got FTTN, at least i got SOMETHING…..’ more likely than not, given the falloff curve, most people will get a minimally incremental improvement. that is in no way a justification for a ‘necessary evil’.

  14. It would be interesting to get more detail direct from NBNCo about what is actually happening at their interface with their contractors. Are the contractors sitting on problems and not letting NBNCo know? Is NBNCo aware and simply holding the news back until their regular reporting cycle?

    An actual source inside NBNCo could shed some light on this problem.

  15. A project of this size is expected to experience some hiccups and even if it is behind schedule it is far superior to the alternative. Finding enough skilled workers was always going to be a problem when most of them worked for either Telstra or Optus originally.

    Perhaps a better option would have been to subcontract to either or both once the copper for fiber issue was resolved.
    Once again the coalition will pounce on any adverse issue arising as it gets more belligerent as the election gets closer. Its plan is crap but do not let facts get in the way of a stouch and the national interest gets defamed again.

  16. Good grief, Renai. I thought you might be climbing back on the fence. It looks like you’ve decided to kick the fence down and trample it to pieces. Have a glass of something nice and think nice thoughts.

    The NBN and NBNCo are in the deep brown smelly if Turnbull can get the public to realise what’s been happening. It has now been clearly demonstrated that the NBNCo has been misleading the public and the parliament on the state of the project. It is now all but impossible for anyone but the dyed-in-the-wool NBN supporters to believe anything the NBNCo says.

    The best thing the NBNCo can do is have an honest and realistic reassessment of the assumptions underpinning the corporate plan and produce a new corporate plan they are convinced they can deliver on. They should give that to the shareholder ministers and let them decide if it should be released to the public. At least the NBNCo will then be able to say honestly that they have done the right thing. If the polls are right it’s probably too late anyway.

    I don’t think we’ll see the Coalition policy until the actual FY2013 roll out figures are released in July and the full extent of the shortfall is known. That would give Turnbull a very good platform for releasing his own policy. It would be nice to see it earlier but I doubt it will happen.

    I think the best we can hope for from the Coalition is …

    * satellite and wireless as now
    * greenfield FTTP as now (possibly back to BOT)
    * brownfield FTTN (under-served areas first, HFC areas last)

    It may be possible to get FTTP to many business and government premises either by the existing market and/or state government schemes, or by user-pays NBN extensions. I think this would be good but we’ll have to wait and see.

    It may be possible to convince the ‘powers that be’ that some HFC areas are actually under-served. Good luck with that one though.

    Telstra thought they could build an FTTN network. If they co-operate then there’s no reason the NBNCo can’t build an FTTN network. That’s a very big “if” though.

    Also, Optus thought they could build an FTTN network too. Remember the G9 and Terria?

    • “I think the best we can hope for from the Coalition is …

      * satellite and wireless as now
      * greenfield FTTP as now (possibly back to BOT)
      * brownfield FTTN (under-served areas first, HFC areas last)”

      And I’d add my pet – Businesses get prioritised.

      That’s what I would expect. Prioritising the problems doesn’t mean FTTP is doomed as an end result. But upgrading perfectly good services when others have no or poor services is the wrong direction. Once everyone has a service then they have the option to step up to the next level. I thought Turnball himself suggested this basic strategy originally but I haven’t heard him say it since then. Perhaps the finance people intervened with red ink covered paper.

  17. Malcolm knows the difference between FTTN and FTTC, and FTTH.

    Yet he still proposes FTTN system, with out large Local loop.

    The difference with FTTC system is a shorter loop.

    So we as tax payers and users of this system are getting no different in terms of the current copper network.

    Everyone is being fooled with MT’s cheap slogans.

  18. Gee a week is a long time at Delimiter!!

    Yes, the NBN was never going to be on-time and on-budget – far to complex a beast to manage well. Argued as much last week. And yes, it will probably get worse between now and September.

    As to what the Coalition will do with it post the election, well who knows? They certainly want to change the design to FTTN believing that will deliver a lower cost – but they dont really know that. They have no detailed plan that rigorously determines that. Their cost difference is simply to remove the cost of the ‘last mile’ of fibre from the NBN price tag and replace it with a zero cost of laid ‘copper’ – well that’s it broadly. But any half meaningful analysis of a single exchange will tell that that concept is fatally flawed.

    I doubt they will get rid of NBNCo simply because they need it. Someone still has to do its design and rollout job, whether it be FTTP or FTTN or FTTx. The thing that will change is that NBNCo will not be a monopoly wholesaler. Its also true to conclude that Telstra will not have any final monopoly either. The Coalition have made too much noise about NBNCo being a monopoly to allow them the luxury of making Telstra one again, and Thodey knows that only too well.

    My broad take is this then: The Coalition will still build an NBN. It won’t be entirely FTTP. Under a Coalition assessment the FTTN design will prove to be very expensive in certain places and FTTP very cheap in others, so there will be more FTTP than some might think. NBNCo will be retained as the designer and builder. There will a ‘crazy’ CSA/FSA/FSAM auction to allow for multiple wholesalers, probably with a CSO restriction. Telstra will be a major player, but will seek to become the monopoly player in the mobile market and will ‘force’ major design changes to the NBN for their benefit.

    Then again it could all be a dream!

    • Get off the whole ‘monopoly’ business. That piece of fibre in the ground is no different to the power lines and water pipes that feed your house. The reason NBNCo is being built as a monopoly because last-line communications are a ‘natural monopoly’.

      The whole ‘monopolies == bad, competition == good’ manta is a heap of rubbish. All it does is demonstrates how little of economics people understand.

      Society does not gain at all by trying to promote competition into things that have huge capital costs.

  19. I wonder how much of the delay can be contributed to remediation work of existing telstra infrastructure as well. Like collapsed pits or broken conduit etc. The collapsed pit down the road from my house still has yellow fences around it and it’s been like that for 3 months or more now.

      • NBNco or Labor mismanaged?

        Make up your mind.

        By your article am I meant to assume Stephen Conroy, Anthony Albanese, Julia Gillard and Kruddis are sitting in the NBN offices each day pulling the strings and twirling the dials?

    • As I understand the process NBNCo have to to give Telstra a Work Order for work to start on any pits, etc. It’s a very formal process! As far as I am aware Telstra are claiming they are up to date and are in effect waiting on the NBNCo to provide Work Orders for areas Telstra knows should have started some time ago. That’s not to say that Telstra are delivering what they should on time. And I bet they know exectly how far NBNCo is behind its schedule and how far they can stretch the rubber band.

    • You know Telstra switched to alloy ‘little yellow’ fences years ago because the steel ones were out in the weather so long they would rust away on some sites…

  20. Why do I bother commenting on this site anymore or any site for that matter, even though clear evidence that NBN is not alone, and no matter if it’s done by private sector or not.

    Delays are normal.

    Expect the unexpected they say.

    • Its not actually the delays. They are bad yes. But what is worse is the purposeful hiding of the delays and the lack of transparency from NBNCo. On top of that Labor should have been breathing down NBNCo’s neck making sure it went right.

      With Labor badly damaged due to idiocy, and one of their “win” products (the NBN) being shown to have delays that the average Joe will think are bad.

      So Labor are probably out. Which means the Libs are in, which means if miracles happen, they will continue the NBN in its current form, but only after years of checking and going over everything, plus stripping out the current management etc. So the cost will blow out.
      More likely they’ll go in and try and change huge swathes of it to FTTN which will take years of checking and going over everything, so the cost will blow out.
      Or they may manage to put FTTN in, and then the copper will need to be replaced, which will cause the cost to blow out.


  21. Geez. STUFF. TAKES. TIME. And projects don’t always run on time.

    If it was Telstra building this network all-on-their-lonesome, nobody would give a toss that it’s been delayed and even if they did it would be their perogative to tell everyone to shut the hell up about the delays. They also would not be required to present one iota of detail about their rollout schedule.

    The only difference from the above is that it’s being build by a CAC, and somehow the delays mean the world is ending???

    You know what I want from our leadership? I want them to stand up and say “This is a hard project. There will be complexities we cannot avoid. But you know what, we know how important the project is to this nation’s future, and we will push on, because we must”.

    It would be nice to get the same from the media.

  22. Okay, the project has hit problems. At this point, we have a couple of options:

    1. Start pointing fingers, recriminating and blame-shifting. It won’t achieve anything, but will let people say “we’re doing something about the problems”

    2. Figure out what the problems are. Whose fault are they? Could they have been foreseen? Can we expect this in the future? How do we manage this risk? Is the level of planning we have done adequate? What can we change? Can we meet the 2021 deadline, and how much will it cost?

    In other words, don’t just throw the NBN out because there have been some early hiccups in a decade-long project. Learn from those hiccups. Develop a strategy for dealing with them. Update plans.

    The biggest problem here is that the managers in NBN Co have just shown that they are not up to the task of being honest about progress. That needs some immediate remediation (i.e. heads must roll).

    It is very easy, when presented with incontrovertible evidence that something you have championed is not going the way that you and others thought, to turn on it. That is not the solution. A National Broadband Network is still something worth championing. Fibre to the Home is worthwhile. But there is an early roadblock that needs to be sorted out – and if it is not lanced fast then the Coalition will have plenty of backing for getting rid of the entire project. That’s throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Get rid of the people who lied, and get someone in who can get the project back on track. And do it publicly.

    • Your correct, the larger issue is not the delay, but the concealing of the statistics that pointed towards the delay.

  23. This story is so depressing I’m thinking of ending it all now (or maybe I’ll just move to Kansas City instead).

    As one of the biggest supporters of the NBN in Australia, I regrettably think Renai is spot on. At the very least we’ve been mislead by NBN Co, and given I defend them at every step, its hard to not feel a little betrayed.

    The most pertinent point is that the election is unwinnable by Labor. So at the very least we have to accept that the dream of next-generation broadband ubiquity is over. Whatever the NBN is under the hands of the coalition will be so watered down and pathetic, that it won’t be worthy of the NBN name. More like The “Some Houses (If You Are Lucky) Narrowband Network”. And The ‘SHIYALNN’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    • It is depressing. Labor just hasn’t been able to get enough done on the NBN to stop the Coalition shifting wholesale to NBN. And you just know that the Coalition is going to take an age to get anything done with it, and will suffer many of the same problems NBN already has.

      I’m in the first-year rollout zone for the NBN. I might as well be in the year 10 zone, for all it matters.

  24. It wouldn’t matter if there was no delay or any misleading, the Coalition would have canned NBN anyway.

  25. it’s always darkest before the dawn

    Unless the Coalition get in then it’s just dark all the time

    (when it comes to the NBN)

  26. This is an un-winnable campaign. It’s become political, unrealistic criticisms, no media backing, stupid people allowed to comment and now contractual problems.

    Good luck running any program perfectly. If this had bi-partisan support we’d have rolled up our sleeves and kept at it citing ‘Challenges but the great Aussie spirit will see it through’ or some such guff.

    I’m near on giving up.

  27. This is what’s happening in the UK:

    on ‎14-02-2013 10h50

    Mine started at 31-March-2011 and has been bumped every quarter to now stand at 31-March-2013. The other 35 cabinet nodes in our area completed rollout over a year ago. We get around 2.5Mb/s. 200 yards away they get 76Mb/s.

    However, the BT Wholesale checker is showing a couple of things I hadn’t noticed before:
    Other Offerings
    Fibre Multicast — — — 31-Mar-13


    The Stop Sale date for Datastream is from 30-Jun-2012; the Formal Retirement date for Datastream is from 31-Dec-2013. The Stop Sale date for IPstream is from 31-Dec-2012; the Formal Retirement date for IPstream is from 31-Dec-2013.

    Could anyone suggest what these additional items mean?


    Jon in Leeds.


    I emailed and have received a reply. Looks like I’m out of luck:

    Your cabinet 19 has had several possible positions to locate it surveyed, however, the financials were too great to build and maintain this cabinet at this time and as such, this cab has been deferred from the programme. You must understand that this decision was not taken lightly, however, we have made a commitment to our customers, shareholders and the government to roll-out fibre broadband to 66% of the UK by November 2014. This is a complex and long term project with finite timescales and funding, we have to work within this confinement which ultimately means some areas are deferred. However, we do intend to revisit areas not included in the initial rollout for possible deployment at a later date.


    Some cabinets not getting installed for 2 years.

    • @Daniel

      ‘This is what’s happening in the UK:’

      Sorry I don’t know what the link is between what is happening in the UK and this Delimiter article headed :

      ‘Broken dreams: The NBN’s bubble has burst ‘

        • FTTN is not just being rolled out in the UK for a start, so unless the Coalition NBN Co is importing en masse the UK rollout contractors the management team the BT rollout Budget and the weather I don’t know how that translates directly as – ‘that’s what will happen if a FTTN rollout takes place in Australia’.


          • You mean FttN already found unviable in 2008 and elsewhere already found wanting an improved to FttP…

            This is your great white hope… ROFL

            I’d suggest some here would be happy with smoke signals and pigeons, as long as they are Coalition flavoured :(

  28. The NBN rollout which has the political aim of 93% FTTH to all residences is overly optimistic in the time frame stated in the Corporate Plans Mk1 and Mk2, keeping in mind Mk2 was only released last year and it is supposed to cover the period 2012-2015.

    Already in March 2013 we have an amendment to those figures in the form of this announcement:

    ‘There are doubts about the NBN Co’s ability to meet its revised rollout figures just a day after its chief executive Mike Quigley cut the target by between 35 and 44 per cent.’

    So not only are the targets massively downgraded there is some dispute that they have not gone far enough!!

    It is therefore bewildering to see the comments that the Labor NBN rollout’s ‘bubble has burst’ but if the Coalition get hold of it will only make it worse.

    Worse than what exactly?

    The problem is much pro NBN comment is locked into mindset that it is Labor FTTH to 93% of residences or nothing, any ‘lesser ambition’ for want of a better word in the form of a rollout which is mix of technologies that is used the else where in the world cannot possibly be considered at any (lesser) cost or speed of rollout.

    The Labor NBN is starting to become unstuck, the Coalition want a Productivity Commission CBA review of the rollout, but -shock-horror- we cannot possibly have one of those, we don’t need it because the Labor NBN is traveling so well.

    As I have said before the best thing that can come out of a Coalition win is a proper full review of the Labor NBN.

    Political commentators have stated that the NBN is one of the few good policies Labor have going for them heading towards September, but the gloss on that one is peeling away rapidly.

    • The problem is much pro NBN comment is locked into mindset that it is Labor FTTH to 93% of residences or nothing, any ‘lesser ambition’ for want of a better word in the form of a rollout which is mix of technologies that is used the else where in the world cannot possibly be considered at any (lesser) cost or speed of rollout.

      Actually, no. Most pro NBN comment is currently under the determination that we cannot see any tangible savings in either time or expenses for rolling out FTTN over FTTH.

      • Well that’s interesting approach to take, the existing NBN rollout is well behind target but a partial FTTN rollout that utilises a portion of existing infrastructure that includes the connection to the residence will be even slower than than the slow FTTH rollout!

        • Well behind? What because they’re now what 1 year behind? On a project of this size and complexity? Are you kidding?

          • So why publish any targets then, why should the NBN Co be accountable with the billions of Government debt either to Parliament or the shareholders of the rollout the Australian people?

            Perhaps the NBN Co Corporate plan should have just one target in it called whenever?

          • “Perhaps the NBN Co Corporate plan should have just one target in it called whenever?”

            Why not, it’s working for the Coalition :)

            And people such as you seem to not only accept thios, but love their, whatever network which may or may not be built whenever.

      • @Daniel

        ‘Alain, latest interview with Malcolm stated no Productivity Commission, or CBA’

        I am referring to a CBA on the Labor rollout, what are you referring to?

        ‘Thus if they get the Opportunity will go FTTN.’

        Yes we know that (assuming Telstra and the ACCC agree).

        ‘UK did not do any reports on how it spent money till after they spent it.’

        Sorry you have lost me there, I am not sure where you are coming from, you support a CBA because the UK didn’t do one or you don’t support one?

        ‘Also Mike Quigley stated twice, that “”We didn’t negotiate … rights to use their copper. In fact ,that wasn’t part of the remit,” he said.”’

        Yes I know what the current Labor NBN Co remit is, if the Coalition get in there will be an amended remit under the control of the Coalition version of the NBN Co.

    • @ alain…

      So why are you unable to answer these questions?

      As such, I I’ll ask you again, for the 5th time….tap dance, avoid all you like but you are just showing you oppose the NBN because it’s Labor as you are unable to justify the Coalitions alternative…

      So in relation to the Coalitions plan (including FttN)…

      * What are the technologies to be use %ages and where are these technologies to be used
      * Total cost
      * Funding – who pays and from where
      * ROI – who gets it taxpayers or private enterprise
      * Ownership – who owns the finished product, taxpayers, private company/companies or a mix
      * Telstra – the need of their CAN, how will that work
      * If they need to pay for the CAN, how much (to purchase or lease)
      * Since the copper is required for national infrastructure, should the government simply seize the CAN from Telstra for the good of the nation
      * If not, why not – considering it would reduce the most important (to some) cost, significantly
      * HFC isn’t open access, will Telstra and Optus be forced to provide wholesaling to competitors
      * ACCC – regarding access for other Telcos/ISP’s, to the Gov/Telstra’s network, how will that work
      * Maintenance of the old copper – who pays
      * What about copper repairs or replacement when FttN is rolled out and they find the copper no good?
      * Do they replace copper with copper or fibre?
      * If fibre why (since fibre is apparently overkill and a white elephant/waste)
      * What if they find the copper in the majority of areas needs replacing?
      * What benefits will we see, considering we will still have a copper bottleneck
      * FttP – will it ever be needed
      * If not why not
      * If so – please repeat the first 5 dot points
      * Wireless – where does this come into it (remember all those towers)
      * What happens if FttN is held up legally because of Telstra’s CAN (either by Telstra or competitors).
      * Ditto regarding HFC but with Telstra and Optus

      As you can see, the Coalitions Plan has more holes than Swiss cheese. And while the NBN isn’t perfect, it of course has issues (and I have always said this) it is IMO, nonetheless, clearly, far and away the best option… as all of the above problems have been addressed, even if not to everyone’s liking.

  29. The major problem appears to be a lack of skilled workers.

    Possible SOLUTION:
    NBN employ many of the under-employed and unemployed older IT professionals and give them a quick fibre training course. Then use them to connect homes and use existing contractors to roll out fibre down streets.
    IT professionals generally have a good understanding of networking and many are adept at building/rebuilding/fixing PCs and are thus good with their hands, so for many, after a little training, connecting homes to fibre would be quite straight forward.

    This would kill a couple of birds with one stone. Firstly helping resolve the blatant age discrimination occurring in the IT industry, and secondly, propping up NBN labour shortfalls.

  30. Everyone knew the minute labor came up with the idea of the NBN it would fail.
    If you look at the prices they are basically the same as what we have now …Most could not careless about the NBN in itself all they want is a reliable connection with good speeds and cheap prices …

    • The reason why they are the same was due to transition from copper to fibre networks.

    • @ John…

      So we need the NBN as the alternatives will not necessarily supply what you ask.

  31. [troll] Cmon everyone it is obvious, over the weekend Renai was drugged, kidnapped and sent to a murdoch papers/coalition re-education camp where he received the full treatment…. [/troll] :D:D:D:D

    • “over the weekend Renai was drugged, kidnapped and sent to a murdoch papers/coalition re-education camp”

      My perception of Renai’s political position has always been that he is a firm supporter of the coalition.
      His conversion to a FTTP dream for the NBN was forced on him by simple harsh reality, it IS the best way forward and over time he has come to realise it.

      • Agreed, you can see this in the last paragraph of his article the most.

        The NBN has always been a fantastic dream. But all dreams must end as we wake to grisly reality. This project has been mismanaged by Labor, and is about to be screwed over wholesale by the Coalition. At this stage, the suggestion by then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo back in 2005 that the Government pay Telstra a few billion to deploy FTTN itself (and lock out competitors along the way) is looking more and more like it would have been a winner, comparatively. We may not have had competition in the telco landscape, and we may not have had fibre to the home. But at least we would have had something.

      • “My perception of Renai’s political position has always been that he is a firm supporter of the coalition.
        His conversion to a FTTP dream for the NBN was forced on him by simple harsh reality, it IS the best way forward and over time he has come to realise it.”

        I have been very public that I have been a long-time Greens voter on refugee issues. I used to preference Labor on the basis that they weren’t John Howard, and now I preference the Coalition on the basis that they don’t introduce crazy-ass tax regulation and small business red tape as Labor does.

        In general, philosophically I’m in favour of small government and of government keeping its hands out of the private sector. When it comes to the NBN, I believe it will significantly weaken real-world competition in the telecommunications sector, but that the massive improvements in underlying service delivery will make the project worth it.

        What I really want from the Government when it comes to the telco sector is for it to break Telstra’s power once and for all. If it were up to me, I would have separated Telstra long ago and thus incentivised a Telstra wholesale company to work with the retail ISPs to upgrade the copper. However, I think that this dream is over.

        The NBN as it stands is overall the right plan for Australian telecommunications. It may not be the best plan, but we haven’t had a better one so far. However, my point today is that it is being mismanaged. The right plan in the wrong hands, so to speak. And what my ultimate point today is, is that there may not be any good hands to manage the project well in its future. Both sides are fucking this up.

        • The biggest problem with the NBN is that it has been politicised. Once this happens, honest, intelligent debate is no longer possible. We are left with a combination of high school debating and used car salesman type of arguments.

          • It hasn’t become politicised it has always been that way since the Labor Party announced it in 2008.

          • Alain

            Your really need to start trying a lot harder. This comment is just silly.

            Let me try to explain. Announcing a policy or a program does not amount to politicising it. Opposing it and coming with crappy reasons for doing so. Now, that’s politicising it.

            To emphasize the point, just try to imagine what would have happened if both parties had agreed that the NBN in its present form was the way to go and the opposition was making sure that it was proceeding as well as possible. What we have had instead is “”we don’t need it, “destroy it”, and finally, “we will do it better, cheaper and sooner”. Now, that politicising!

          • So on the other hand Labor MP’s including Conroy stating the Coalition will ‘tear the NBN out of the ground’ or ‘demolish it’ is not politicising the debate at all?

          • I must say you are either very good at missing the point or you perhaps you like the feel of grasping at straws.

            Off course, Conroy comments are political but it did not start the politicisation, it continued it. The starting point was the arguing against the project by the coalition. How do you know it is purely politically motivated?
            See how they kept changing their tune, when support for the NBN became evident.

            As I have stated before, the main motivation for the coalition’s opposition, is that it cannot afford to have Labor doing anything right. It does not go with their narrative of an hopless government in disarray and a near perfect opposition which has all the answers.

        • (In general, philosophically I’m in favour of small government and of government keeping its hands out of the private sector.)

          That philosophy and practise caused the Global Financial Crisis.

  32. Whether or not Renai is correct in his assessment of NBNco and the government’s failings is moot.
    What matters is only that the coalition is looking at an easy victory and it’s first order of business will be killing the NBN.
    The fact that these events can be used to generate a perception in the public’s mind that it was warranted is all they need to proceed (actually I think they would kill it anyway and just wear the backlash, such as it may be from the technical literate).

  33. Renai,

    While our dreams may have been shattered a little I agree, I don’t think a 3 month deal at teh start of a 10 year project is a reason to jump from the roofs screaming the world is coming to and end….that’s what I would expect from Malcolm and the Libs not from cool headed IT professionals.

    Yes it is regrettable, yes I’m disappointed about the delay and YES I totally expected there would be some hitches, some delays, some problems along the line….show me a large infrastructure project anywhere in the world that doesn’t encounter these!

    I think NBNco have been doing a great job thus far, unfortunately they were let down by one of the contractors and perhaps yes they should have had their eye on the ball a bit earlier to act sooner.

    The real test will be to allow them to recover from that and see how things are managed from here on. If they continue to drop the ball then by all means crucify them…..BUT please let’s not turn into a liberal fan party yelling out “Labor waste, mismanagement etc etc”

  34. I suspect that if you went back through our history books and examined the circumstances around most of our biggest infrastructure projects in Australia, you’ll find political wrangling, project delays and budget blow-outs, public uncertainty and much more – just like we see on this project, which is (arguably) far more complex and geographically challenging than anything else every attempted in Australia.

    Think of the major infrastructure we are most proud of in Australia and think about how smooth (or not!) the development of it was.

    These major projects are not easy to build – if they were, we’d have everything we need already!

  35. Here is a theory for anyone…

    Mike Quigley said on the Interview that uptake is above expectations, so would that suggest that demand is more than the faster than the network can be built ?

  36. Optimism on minute, despair the next. You don’t happen to suffer from manic depression do you Renai?

    A national broadband network always was a good idea. Even the Opposition agreed with that.

    It just needed to not be implemented by handing an effectively blank cheque to fanatics who were driven by messianic visions, but by people who were technology agnostics who could see and empathise with what consumers considered important it deliver, and simply do whatever worked technologically and financially.

    As I’ve said, NBNCo is the wrong people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

    What it needs now, is not for it to either be left to proceed down the road its on now that is looking increasingly unlikely to arrive at its target on time and on budget, or for it to be abandoned as having failed, because it hasn’t. But for there to be a review that takes it out of the hands of the technologists and politicians, looks at what the Australian public wants from it, and then goes back to the technologists and asks them for ways to deliver that.

    • It just needed to not be implemented by handing an effectively blank cheque to fanatics who were driven by messianic visions, but by people who were technology agnostics who could see and empathise with what consumers considered important it deliver, and simply do whatever worked technologically and financially.

      Your comment is invalid.

    • I’m not bi-polar on the issue. We simply got a lot more evidence about the NBN last week than we had before. I focus on evidence-based journalism.

    • The thing is, FTTH must eventually be rolled out. FTTN just delays that rollout, but not by very much. Every year that goes by makes the FTTN step more redundant, with a shorter useful life.

      How about instead of having a whinge, the problems are sort out, Australia develops expertise in FTTH rollout. Then when other countries do their FTTH rollouts we will be the ones to go to.

      Or we could just follow the UK for another couple of centuries.

    • Background
      Mr. Michael Quigley, Mike serves as the Chief Executive Officer of NBN Co. Limited. Mr. Quigley served as the Chief Executive Officer of Alcatel-Lucent since August 2008. Following the merger of Alcatel and Lucent at the end of 2006, Mr. Quigley provided transition assistance to the Chief Executive Officer of the merged company and also testified before United States Congressional Committees on several occasions, both as an expert witness on the United States and global telecommunications issues and in support of the Alcatel/Lucent merger before he returned to Australia in August 2007. He served as the President and Chief Operating Officer at Alcatel-Lucent since April 19, 2005. Mr. Quigley served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Alcatel USA Inc. Mr. Quigley served as a Senior Executive Vice President at Alcatel-Lucent since 2001 and also served as a Managing Director. He served as the President, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior Executive Vice President at Alcatel Optronics. Mr. Quigley also served as the President of Alcatel North America from 2001 and from 2003 he served as the President of Fixed Communications. He joined Alcatel USA in December 1999 as a Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and served as a General Manager of Alcatel Australia since 1996. Mr. Quigley started his career in 1971 in Alcatel Australia. He served for ten years in research and development. Mr. Quigley involved in almost every product area of Alcatel, from customer terminals and enterprise solutions to submarine optical systems and network switching. He joined Alcatel as a Cadet Engineer. Mr. Quigley’s broad-based experience encompasses most areas of telecommunication products, including switch, access, transmission, business systems, network management, and intelligent networks. Mr. Quigley served as Executive Chairman of NBN Co. Limited and serves as its Director. Mr. Quigley served as the Chairman of the Board at Alcatel since April 28, 2005. Mr. Quigley serves as a Member of ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions) Board. He has been a Director of Audinate Pty Ltd since January 2009. Mr. Quigley is a Member of Advisory Board of Innovation Capital. He serves as a Director of Lucent Technologies Inc. Mr. Quigley is currently an Independent Director of Leighton Contractors. He is also a Senior Visiting Fellow of the School of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Australian School of Business, UNSW. Mr. Quigley holds both Australian and British passports. He holds a B.Sc. degree from the University of New South Wales (Australia) in Physics and Mathematics and a B.E. (Hons 1) degree in Electrical Engineering.

      This is one smart fanactic

    • Delays are important issue (because it may involve costs), politically (even though it should not be dramatized or slogan-infested).

      Delays in UK are not cost based.
      Blowouts in NZ are cost based.

  37. Spot on article. I think the change of government would invite a more interesting and improved outcome (with respects only to the NBN). The Libs dont understand change very well, hence their mis-understanding of the NBN and its benefits up to this point (with exception to Turnbull), but they do understand business very well.
    And at this point, what this massive undertaking needs is strong business acumen providing the steady hand it needs – and not the random support measures that Labor sporadically injects.

    • No, Renai is going overboard with the dramatic sequence.

      And that’s the problem with Goverment MP’s with their former lives as business.

      Ignoring the very reason why they do policies in the first place.

    • Kras
      Let us be realistic, Business acumen is something to be treated with care. Business acumen insisted that the original overland telegraph was an idiocy. Business acumen applied to the NBN would reduce it to just the profitable areas destroying much of the actual long term benefit.
      Business acumen and the inhouse economists and accountants determined that maintenance costs for the inground infrastructure and copper were a drain on Telstra’s profitability and had to be cut sharply..
      Business acumen is by nature short term planning, the NBN is adressing the future 50+ years and benefiting us now and in the immediate future as an aside.
      50+ years is beyond the scope of conventional Business acumen regardless of the bleats of the Fin Review and News Ltd.

  38. Hmm. I think quite a few people here are not really getting the point I was making in my article. My opinion is still that the NBN is the right plan. However, it has recently become clear that it has been mismanaged by Labor, and it is about to be mismanaged by the Coalition.

    I am still enthusiastic about the concept of the NBN. But it’s become mired in shitty politics and poorly managed, as with so many other things in Australian society. This is the problem here, not the underlying concept.

    • Renai,

      I don’t think there is such an issue as such.

      I have quiet rightly displayed that rollout’s are not always forthcoming and not always on time.

      As I said in the above posts, BT till this day, are having rollout issues, and moving people back and back multiple times.

      It’s a world wide issue, not just NBNCo.

      The only thing I would say better, would that NBNCo should have said something sooner.

      Not this whole kerfuffle, about how NBNCo exploded or anything.

    • You should not be surprised; the reaction will always be the same from many people to any criticism of the NBN.

      Given that there are many point for improvement, including more transperancy,

      i.e. releasing figures that ARE available and not playing politics would render the public significantly more sympathetic when something goes wrong.

      • Herein lies the difference Michael… most of those who support the NBN have always siad “it isn’t perfect” but it is the best alternative we have and it still is.

        Conversely, we are up against those who will not rationally discuss the issues including the alternatives.

        I have asked the #1 NBN detractor here to answer a few simple questions on why he supports the NBN and done so on 5 separate occasions and he either refuses or simply has no answers.

        So until such time as a better alternative is presented or even a viable alternative is presented, I for one will continue to argue it’s virtues, warts and all.

        • Its not even debating the merits of alternatives, but debating aspects of it,

          i.e forecasts, transperancy etc.

          Many people get caught up in all or nothing, black or white, but fail to grasp that taking that simplistic a view will doom projects to failure.

          A great example is how the AFR has been ridiculed about its “bias” or is it now its prophetic nature?

        • The second and larger issue, as I said, is not so much the delays themself,

          But the hiding of the delays.

          The politicisation of a supposedly non-political GBE.

          They hid statistics which was show that they did have.

          They released damaging statistics 30min before the ALP leadership spill in an attempt to bury it.

          That is much more damaging to NBNCo’ than actually running late. As many people have said, delays are expected but it is how you handle them that shows you true colours.

          They have failed this test so far.

          • That’s all good and well Michael, but you seem to miss the point always… there are two sides to every story…

            It’s all good and well for the usual suspect detractors (not you per se`) to keep banging away at the NBN…

            Seriously lets face it, the detractors have tried every fucking trick in the book, from ridiculing Conroy (fair enough, to a degree) to attacking Quigley, to dismissing McKinsey, dismissing the Corp Plan, primarily dismissing every positive report (or even FUDding it all up), misrepresenting the funding, suggesting private enterprise will do it (even though they haven’t), saying we won’t need the speeds/maybe something faster will be invented :/, socialist monopoly, wireless is the future, no wait change in policy FttN is the future, ignoring technological improvement/replacement of obsolescence and saying we are forced, saying HFC was a failure so too will FttP be/why close down the thriving competition like HFC :/ … should I continue?

            So we have said righto then, instead of FUD we are all ears, tell us why you support FttN and convince us?

            A1. From some (enter complete silence here)
            A2. Or from others “Err, ah, umm, because it’ll be faster and cheaper”

            Yeeees, thank you :(

            Now as HC pointed out elsewhere, that’s all forgotten as they now have a new angle to hone in on, mismanagement… so please.

            Regardless (and this is the bit you don’t comprehend)… until we hear the alternative properly and especially how they will fill all of those many many holes, as outlined on numerous occasions to alain, such as here –

            …which are already filled by the current NBN, the alternative to the NBN, which in all likelihood we will be lumbered with post Sept 14 anyway, isn’t even up to the infamous napkin stage yet, let alone boarding a flight to discuss it.

            So those who bag the NBN for mismanagement or tardiness or whatever todays FUD is, who have no answers as to how FttN (or the Coalition’s alternative) will be better, as good, or even fucking viable (remember the PoE findings) they are nothing but A grade hypocrites and/or blind political pawns, IMO.

          • “FUD”

            Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

            Interesting, when all of our fears, uncertainties and doubts have come to bear. I now you repeatedly assured us that there was no wriggle room in the business plans but annually they are revised down.

            A good project manager will have a healthy error margin factored in, unless they have an artificial benchmark they have to meet.

          • Oh and please answer the issue, from above:

            “Its not even debating the merits of alternatives, but debating aspects of it, ”

            But since you think the current NBN is perfect and once it is built Aust. will become utopia, i suppose there is no merits discussing how it is built.

          • Oh dear, here we go again, Michael getting all huffy and bringing out his usual strawman…

            “But since you think the current NBN is perfect”…

            Please point out where I said the NBN is perfect (here it comes the fulcrum point to now try to turn it all back on me… sigh)

            In fact Michael here is exactly what I said – “most of those who support the NBN have always said “it isn’t perfect” but it is the best alternative…

            Anyway, not going to get bogged down in semantics and pedantics with you again… feel free to answer these then, since you hate the NBN (see I can do the strawman too).


          • I can only ask you to answer my questions in the original posts which you repeatedly decline to do so.

            Or stop trolling.

          • As suggested, try to turn it back on me…surprise, surprise…

            Which questions Michael? (note the ? I just used). For the life of me I can only see one question mark in your electioneering comments above and it appeared to be a rhetorical question about the AFR…

            So nice tap dance.

            No need to apologise for your strawman either, just answer my questions on FttN?

            Feel free to use either A1 (again) or A2 if they help…! My pleasure.

            Or stop trolling ;)

          • It is difficult to find something not in plain sight but here is your answer:


            Or to be specific, the first 4 lines of the post.

            But since you are incapable reading into something, let me ask you outright;

            What is wrong with holding NBN Co’ to account for not meeting their own targets?

            What is wrong with holding NBN Co’ to account for not meeting acceptable levels of transparency?

          • @ Michael

            ROFL… When you ask questions, please add the universally recognised question marks. Don’t as an after thought, childishly try to blame others for your own shortcomings, by suggesting we didn’t answer questions that were never actually asked, thank you.

            Anyway, I’ll answer that one rhetorical question you did ask, the one with the ? FYI – I have never personally accused AFR of bias (no more strawman arguments please). I have the Telegraph though, simply because they were found in breach of ethical codes and therefore proven guilty in relation to the NBN. But I’d suggest regarding the AFR, it is neither bias nor prophesy, it’s a typical media beat-up and you have even suggested that this whole episode is an overreaction yourself –

            “I dont think things are quite as glum as you (Renai) portrayed them”, seems you agree that this is being FUDded up? Oh but wait, strangely and in true contradictory terms you then turn around and say – “Interesting, when all of our fears, uncertainties and doubts have come to bear.” So which is it?

            Anyway, there is nothing wrong with holding NBNCo accountable or asking transparency, quite the opposite, they should be… wow what a revelation.

            And… many pro-NBNers such as myself have done so many times, in relation to AVC, CVC, POI’s, the NBN and filtering etc and we said previously in relation to this very topic, let’s wait and see the actual progress figures before pre-empting. They are now in and here’s what I said… “Certainly cause for concern, but bubbles burst?”

            As mentioned above, my problem is with FUD and the relentless BS by mindless NBN detractors contradicting themselves and claiming all sorts of rubbish…

            For example –

            NBNCo – we are already exceeding our early projected take-up of NBN services, in many areas
            NBN detractors – NBNCo are lying

            NBNCo – we are finding the uptake of the higher speed plans are also exceeding our expectations
            NBN detractors – NBNCo are lying

            NBNCo – however we are behind where we expected to be in relation to our roll out, for many varied reasons
            NBN detractors – ahha see here’s the proof from the horses mouth, NBNCo even admit it… the NBN is doomed

            The first two which don’t fit the cause are dismissed out of hand, but the third is not only jumped on but coloured and expanded. What I’m saying is, sure hold NBNCo accountable and expect transparency, but just do it fairly! Is that really too much to ask or is my position too difficult for you to comrehend and accept?

            So now I have answered all of your questions, it’s time for you to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk, by addressing my Coalition plan/FttN concerns?


          • Your problem is that, this is not about the LNP plan, this is about the NBN plan and how it it is rolling out; nothing more nothing less.

            You can try to spin it into a comparison of alternatives (hence why I call it strawman, as you claim you can have one or the other but never improve on what you already have).

            The LNP plan; What plan?

            “I dont think things are quite as glum as you (Renai) portrayed them”, seems you agree that this is being FUDded up? Oh but wait, strangely and in true contradictory terms you then turn around and say – “Interesting, when all of our fears, uncertainties and doubts have come to bear.” So which is it? ”

            – So by your definition FUD as you refer to it is BS, but here it is. It has all come to pass. The predictions were true and all your redicule is right back at you.

            So the fears / uncertainly / doubt are very well founded in experience and past historical examples. But according to you, that is wrong as everything needs to be taken on faith and believed…..

            But moving on to transperancy; you state that transperancy is needed but you seem to be ok with the current approach to hide known statistics and then bury the release in a leadership spill.

            [sorry Renai I should learn to do italics]

          • OMFG… you are mirroring another who NBN detractor here, who relies on nothing but pedantics and fluff :/


            Compartmentalise it all into categories, so you can ignore the parts you cannot answer… nice.

            Ask for answers to questions you never asked.

            Introduce the strawman – arguing about me claiming the NBN perfect when that is an out and out lie. I have said it ISN’T perfect and even said it above.

            Say “things aren’t so glum” – then next breath say “all of our fears, uncertainties and doubts have come to bear.”

            Then get all huffy over me mentioning FUD :/

            *rolls eyes*

            We are talking about the so called NBN “bubble bursting” and naturally that leads onto what may occur later…

            I answered your’s now where’s my answers? No excuses… come Sept 14 this will be reality according to almost everyone, so give me some answers or at least your opinion?

            What are you scared of?

            I look forward to another waffling list of nothing excuses and not one answer or opinion on how our next network will operate and how the many holes may be filled. Because after all you must believe yourself, that you have won this meaningless debate (as you claimed previously…LOL) against me and therefore are compelled to have the last word, regardless of how inconsequential that word may or in fact, obviously will be, eh Michael :/

          • @Micheal: Nice deflection but that’s like saying in the dessert when you have no alternative between muddy water and dying of thirst “muddy water” is “perfect”. We know its not. Muddy water will most likely kill you w/ something else. But compared to the alternative of dying of thirst muddy water is what one will take. Just because there is only one favourable choice does not make it “perfect”. it’s just the best out of the possible deals dealt..

            Now lets look at this again we have an NBN and an “alternative”. The NBN has numbers and constant reports coming out. One that as of late has shown some aspects have gone pear shaped. Unfortunate but it happens. The other is an “alternative” that just says “were better”

            Now explain to me how is it “better”?

            Now it’s very easy to start saying the existing plan is terrible. You can nitpick at the issues and we all agree there are issues and it *needs* to be fixed if we want the current plan to continue. However if your asking people to even consider an alternative then you need to say more than “were better”. You need to put forward something concrete. Yes the figures look bad for the NBN and there are definitely stuff hidden behind close doors but the sticking point is this…. NBN *can* show those figures and estimates.

            The alternative only offers promises of being better. All we need is some physical plan or backing to show the alternative *is* better. A plan should be fine and stand on it’s *OWN* merits. Not because your comparing it to a “worse” alternative. At the moment all we are hearing is a comparison of the plan as “better” because the existing plan is “worse” by picking at whats gone wrong. Not by explaining whats *better* w/ the alternative…

  39. I don’t blame NBN for these things, i don’t blame the contractors, who i do blame is the Coalition.

    They keep saying if they get into government they will destroy the NBN.

    To me, that leaves uncertainty and doubt, why should the contractors continue rolling out? The contractors are looking at it and thinking, wtf are we going to do if the Liberals get in?

    The Liberals need to just say that they will continue on with the NBN as it currently stands, only when they do that, will the NBN rollout itself get back on track.

  40. this is not the Governments fault or the NBN Co its the contractors, the same contractors that will be rolling out FTTN, delays and stuff up are part and parcel of all construction projects, I’ve been involved in enough to know that, get over it.

    • Actually it is NBN Co’s fault for poor project management. And NBN Co did present a picture of the rollout which wasn’t strictly accurate.

      • Certainly cause for concern, but bubbles burst?

        On the bright side, you’ll be back on MT’s Xmas card list Renai…LOL

      • (Actually it is NBN Co’s fault for poor project management.) I say it was poor project managemnt on the contractors part and the contractor/s presented a picture to the NBN Co that was overly optimistic..

        • …. and the NBN Co couldn’t review the figures and determine they were overly optimistic BEFORE going to print with them because?

          • You keep saying we can’t know if the NBN is a success until 2033 and yet you expect NBNCo to predict the future?

            Get off the grass.

            The only thing NBNCo did wrong here is not admit a problem when they first became aware of it.

          • The whole basis of the NBN Co Business Plans is all about ‘predicting the future’, they are predicting the rollout targets, they predict the active connections, they predict how many millions they will need year by year, they predict the revenue vs cost breakeven point (2019), they predict wireless only residences figures.

            These figures form the basis of Parliamentary approval and will determine the coming May Budget figures for allocations to the NBN Co and the ongoing debt.

            The NBN Co predict all debt will be repaid by 2033, which as I keep saying is very interesting as they won’t be negotiating that debt until 2015.

            They have even predicted ROI to the decimal point, they upgraded the ROI percentage from 7.0% to 7.1% in the latest Business Plan last year , this is in the face of missed rollout targets that have been downgraded massively by 35% -44%, with many saying those figures are still too low.

            Go figure how you UPGRADE ROI in the face of downgraded rollout targets!

          • That’s how business plans work Alain. You know how they revised things in 2012?

            They’re an educated guess. Sometimes they get it wrong. There is nothing wrong with that. Move on.

          • “The whole basis of the NBN Co Business Plans is all about ‘predicting the future’,”

            Here you go again, changing a word here and there. In other words, distorting the argument, misrepresenting the situation.

            The business plan, in fact, all business plans are NOT (emphasis, not anger) about predicting the future, there are about preempting outcomes and setting targets. You know, something you aim for, something to measure your progress against.

            This is what a plan is about. Do you suggest they should not have a plan?

          • It’s just a continuation of the old damned if they do/don’t and the typical contradictions which go hand in hand, eh alain?

            All the projections which aren’t quite stacking up you grasp with both hands, but the ones where that are you ignore or better still use the old, we won’t really know until 2033…


          • “…. and the NBN Co couldn’t review the figures and determine they were overly optimistic BEFORE going to print with them because?”

            Most likely they have been misled. Unfortunately this DOES happen when you outsource work to vendors… they often overpromise and underdeliver (although they will never admit to that).

            What often happens is that there is so much preassure on the frontline teams that their reporting person always tries to provide the “best case” view which is misrepresented as a “most likely” view as it passes through many hands – ultimately ending in a distorted view being presented to the highest levels. I’ve seen projects fail because of this, I have even seen companies go under.

            So who is responsible (and accountable) when this happens? The frontline worker? The vendor? Ultimately it is the top level (project and company) management who created an environment where this type of behaviour is allowed to take place. Good project managers establish relationships such that the vendors and the frontline workers understand the wart and all view is more important than anything else. They ask the right questions and they prefer a bad answer to an inaccurate one. That’s why replacing a project manager can often see a complete turnaround of a project (Those in the project world have seen this happen time and time again… it’s called remediation and it works).

            The question will be whether a coalition government is able to put the right people in place to manage the NBN to completion and whether they are prepared to move on from politics and get down to management once they are in. Much as I prefer the ALP vision on this, I think the coalition members have a much better track record at delivery (let’s face it, labor has stuffed project after project which is why it’s on the nose in the first place). I really hope they can deliver something worthwhile!

    • “this is not the Governments fault or the NBN Co its the contractors”

      It’s debatable for sure however it sounds to me like they are handling it despite the delays.

      Also I would take this as a very good argument that FttP should have started rolling out years earlier… but imagine if someone suggested rolling out fibre in say 2003, would we be able to foresee 2013 and the issues NBNco are having and thank ourselves for starting it sooner?

  41. After London, I think we should give up on the Rio Olympics too.

    Given the Opposition’s proposals are so badly flawed as explained so well by Mike Quigley on Inside Business, it only muddies the water by going on about NBNCo management’s glasses being too rosy. NBNCo’s life would be easier if they just rolled over and let the contractors walk all over them. Just like RailCorp does with 20% of its costs being recovered from the farebox; the rest by taxpayers. No there’s something to rant about.

    NBNCo’s shortcoming are remediable; the Opposition’s are terminal.

    • ‘Given the Opposition’s proposals are so badly flawed as explained so well by Mike Quigley on Inside Business,’

      Well I didn’t get the impression they were ‘explained so well’ at all, depends on how you look at it I guess.

      Here is another way of looking at it .

      ‘FTTN “viable”, says Mike Quigley’

      If the Labor decision in 2008 was for a FTTN rollout that’s what the NBN Co would be rolling out in 2013.

      • LOL…

        Mike Quigley is apparently a mismanager when it comes to FttP but a poster boy and expert when it comes to FttN, got it.

      • It is viable, as in its physically possible, and physically achievable. It’s viable for Australia to build a high speed EMS maglev line from Brisbane to Melbourne, but no one is willing to commit the resources to such a project. In fact the closest anyone has come is a TGV like 300km/h conventional system proposal.

        No one has argued FTTN is impossible, only that it’s a costly idea, long term, to implement, that will probably end up costing more long term, and medium term.

        There is even evidence, like the $700m/yr maintenance bill of the current CAN that is indicating FTTN might not be cheaper even in short term.

        • So why are the following companies still rolling out FTTN ?

          Belgacom _-Belgium
          Telekom – Austria
          Deutsche Telekom – Germany
          Chorus -NZ
          OpenReach – UK
          AT&T -USA

          They have all got it wrong and you are right?

          • Not only do you not have your facts completely accurate, for example Chorus is actually rolling out FTTH, but this is another point we have discussed at length before.

            I tire of your short memory and deliberate misrepresentation. I tire of having to repeat pre established points, like the fact that FTTN is only cheaper for an incumbent to deploy and that NBNCo, who according to Turnbull will be doing the rollout are not an incumbent and thus must secure access to the copper network.

            But most of all, I tire of your strawman arguments and moving the goal posts. To think I actually opposed your banning by Renai. It seems my faith in your ability to see reason was misplaced.

            If you have truly forgotten the answer to your question here, then might Be suggest you search through our previous conversations. They might enlighten you as to why, come after the election, FTTN is a foolish and expensive choice.

            The fact that from naught it will be cheaper is irreverent, the fact that others are doing it or, in the case of Chorus, have done it, is also irrelevant, and you would be wise to take this into consideration.

          • @NK

            ‘Not only do you not have your facts completely accurate, for example Chorus is actually rolling out FTTH, but this is another point we have discussed at length before.’

            I didn’t say Chorus were not rolling out FTTH, or any of the other Telco’s for that matter.

            ‘I tire of having to repeat pre established points, like the fact that FTTN is only cheaper for an incumbent to deploy’

            Well it might have been cheaper for our incumbent Telstra to roll out FTTH as well, they own the ducts the majority of NBN Co fibre is being pulled through and they own the exchange buildings that houses the NBN Co equipment.

            To therefore state only the incumbent can roll out FTTN is incorrect, the Coalition NBN Co may end up owning or leasing the copper link and the current contractors rolling out the Labor NBN install whatever percentage the Coalition come up with for FTTN.

            ‘If you have truly forgotten the answer to your question here, then might Be suggest you search through our previous conversations. They might enlighten you as to why, come after the election, FTTN is a foolish and expensive choice.’

            You keep repeating that mantra as if some sort of discussion took place where the undeniable outcome was that FTTN in any way shape or form was the unarguable conclusion, I don’t remember that discussion.

            ‘The fact that from naught it will be cheaper is irreverent, the fact that others are doing it or, in the case of Chorus, have done it, is also irrelevant, and you would be wise to take this into consideration.’

            I know what many major overseas Telco’s are doing, it is a mix of FTTH and FTTN, that is exactly what the Coalition propose, we don’t know what the mix is yet, and as I have stated to poster Soth because of the commitment by the Coalition to keep the existing NBN FTTH as is and honour all build contracts beyond September IMHO it is heading towards the high probability that FTTN will be the minority rollout.

          • I didn’t say Chorus were not rolling out FTTH, or any of the other Telco’s for that matter.

            But you DID say they are still rolling out FTTN. Not “rolled out”, past tense, “rolling out” present tense. In the present tense they are doing nothing of the sort. They are rolling out FTTH.

            Well it might have been cheaper for our incumbent Telstra to roll out FTTH as well, they own the ducts the majority of NBN Co fibre is being pulled through and they own the exchange buildings that houses the NBN Co equipment.

            Yes, it would have. Good point. I don’t understand how this (somewhat obvious) point pertains to the current situation either.

            To therefore state only the incumbent can roll out FTTN is incorrect, the Coalition NBN Co may end up owning or leasing the copper link and the current contractors rolling out the Labor NBN install whatever percentage the Coalition come up with for FTTN.

            I don’t understand how you think you can get away with such an obvious strawman. Did I ever say that NBNCo couldn’t? No, in fact I dedicated an entire post to saying that it was entirely possible to do so, but you shouldn’tbecause it is a stupid and expensive idea to do it. I specially said that it is cheaper for an incumbent to do it. That is all.

            You keep repeating that mantra as if some sort of discussion took place where the undeniable outcome was that FTTN in any way shape or form was the unarguable conclusion, I don’t remember that discussion.

            Probably because every-time anyone brings into question the viability of FTTN, for example, considering the fact that the NBN is already in process and the fact that NBNCo will need to negotiate for use of the copper lines in order to roll out FTTN, you ignore it or remove yourself from the conversation.



            GongGav asked you “What do you think about wasting billions on FttN alain? Where’s the justification, when one of the key arguments about the technologically superior alternative is its cost? How can the FttN cost be justified when there is absolutely zero plan to get the money spent back?”

            I pointed out“You know as well as I do getting a deal signed with Telstra takes time.”

            TrevorX provided a rather long summary about why FTTH is preferred.

            In all of these cases these people make some important points, addressed to you directly, which you ignored. You have done it me on occasion as well, and quite frequently to the community as a whole. So, have we ever actually had a conversation about this? No, because you put your fingers in your ears and run away screaming (figuratively of course) every-time someone tries to present a rational argument that shows FTTN is going to be more expensive and costly than FTTH.

            I know what many major overseas Telco’s are doing, it is a mix of FTTH and FTTN, that is exactly what the Coalition propose, we don’t know what the mix is yet, and as I have stated to poster Soth because of the commitment by the Coalition to keep the existing NBN FTTH as is and honour all build contracts beyond September IMHO it is heading towards the high probability that FTTN will be the minority rollout

            Because they will benefit financially from a mixed rollout. Governments don’t make decisions based upon what make the most profit, they make decisions based upon what benefits society the most.

            And it doesn’t matter how much of a percentage of the roll-out is FTTN, what matters is if we, as a country, can afford the project. Strange as it may seem, after everything that has happened so far with the NBN, like the deals with Telstra and Optus, it seems as through we are better able to afford a full FTTH roll-out than a mixed one utilising pre-existing copper drops. Which is what I have been trying to tell you.

            Course, why should I bother, as above you have demonstrated an amazing ability to bail from an argument whenever you start to lose.

          • @NK

            ‘But you DID say they are still rolling out FTTN. Not “rolled out”, past tense, “rolling out” present tense. In the present tense they are doing nothing of the sort. They are rolling out FTTH.’

            I did say rolling out FTTN as in the ‘present tense’, that’s because they are:

            ‘Openreach, the wholesale infrastructure arm of British telco giant BT, is spending £2.5 billion to roll out 3 million kilometres of fibre and 50,000 new cabinets for a fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises open-access regulated wholesale network that will be completed by mid-2014.’

            50,000 NEW cabinets for fibre-to-the-cabinet by mid 2014 where they make the distinction from fibre-to-the premises sounds present tense to me.

            …… and pertinent comment:

            ‘Speaking exclusively to ZDNet, Opeanreach’s director of network investment, Mike Galvin, said that BT would not have been able to justify the cost of deploying fibre to the premises across the UK.

            “Fibre to the cabinet is considerably cheaper. It varies from site to site, but in brownfields, it is typically four times cheaper, maybe even more,” he said.

            “We would not have a business case for doing that if we were doing fibre to the premises, simply because of the additional cost. Even as it is, it is a long-term investment with payback in the mid teens of years.’

            …….. and for Chorus NZ:

            ‘The government has a separate NZ$300 million program for regional New Zealand to roll out fibre to schools, as well as having Vodafone New Zealand upgrade and build more mobile towers, and for Chorus to roll out fibre to the cabinet in rural areas, offering speeds of up to 20Mbps. So far, New Zealand has upgraded 131 of 387 towers, and built 30 of 154 new towers. Chorus has upgraded 347 of the 1,224 cabinets, with 36,100 households reached so far.’


            ‘I specially said that it is cheaper for an incumbent to do it. That is all.’

            Yes I know what you said , I don’t agree it is ‘cheaper for an incumbent to do it’, keep in mind the very same companies that are contracted to roll out the Labor NBN would in all probability be the same companies that roll out any FTTN

            To say that just because Telstra the company can get cheaper contracts to do the job then a Coalition NBN Co doing exactly the same thing is total conjecture.

            Also I have never said that a Coalition partial FTTN rollout has not got any problems, I have said in the past well before this current discussion it depends on Telstra being interested and the ACCC casting their eagle eye of approval over it all to see if such a deal increases Telstra’s already massive market dominance, I don’t think the ACCC will allow it if Telstra has continued ownership of any part of a FTTN infrastructure.

            ‘Course, why should I bother, as above you have demonstrated an amazing ability to bail from an argument whenever you start to lose.’

            I’m not bailing at all, and it’s not a contest anyway but trying to make it personal though is totally unnecessary.

          • I did say rolling out FTTN as in the ‘present tense’, that’s because they are:

            I specifically mentioned Chorus. So why are you now talking about BT?

            …….. and for Chorus NZ:
            ‘The government has a separate NZ$300 million program for regional New Zealand to roll out fibre to schools, as well as having Vodafone New Zealand upgrade and build more mobile towers, and for Chorus to roll out fibre to the cabinet in rural areas, offering speeds of up to 20Mbps. So far, New Zealand has upgraded 131 of 387 towers, and built 30 of 154 new towers. Chorus has upgraded 347 of the 1,224 cabinets, with 36,100 households reached so far.’

            See, here’s the problem, that isn’t FTTN, well, let’s be clear, it’s physically rolling out fibre to cabinet based nodes, yes, but it’s ADSL2± based, not
            VDSL2. It’s effectively a long overdue regional infrastructure upgrade bringing previous generation technology to regional communities and ensuring that the recipient’s can actually use it.

            Had you known anything about NZ communications Infrastructure you’d know how out of date it is. When you were all taking about the original OPEL project most of NZ only had dial-up. When you were talking about NBN Mark I NZ had just “Unleashed” ADSL1, and completely under provisioned it.

            FTTN, in the Broadband space, means a physical topology, a cabinet based hybrid network, but in the political space it means VDSL2 based broadband over short line lengths. It’s confusing, I know, but important to understand the difference, because you’ll confuse an upgrade, which is effectively what you in Australia call an ISAM, with what BT have done and continue to do or what Turnbull intends.

            This confusion is dangerous, because you will start to believe, wrongly, that companies doing it, like Chorus, endorse the model proposed by Turnbull. They don’t, they are rolling out UFB (their name for FTTH) to deliver next generation broadband, not FTTN.

            Further, they don’t have a regional plan to deliver UFB. If they did they’d very quickly discover diminishing returns, like BT has, and like Turnbull will, if you try and rollout FTTN in regional towns. This is because the cabinets end up servicing less people, and so the cost per household goes up.

            Yes I know what you said , I don’t agree it is ‘cheaper for an incumbent to do it’, keep in mind the very same companies that are contracted to roll out the Labor NBN would in all probability be the same companies that roll out any FTTN
            To say that just because Telstra the company can get cheaper contracts to do the job then a Coalition NBN Co doing exactly the same thing is total conjecture.

            I’m sorry, but you’re an idiot. I don’t say this lightly, so hear me out.

            The cost to physically rollout a network is exactly the same provided the two entities have access to the infrastructure, within a reasonable error. This is obvious.

            But what you have seemed to have missed, and I have seen this from others who take this stance, is the key point. “If they have access to the infrastructure”.

            So let’s be clear, an incumbent, owning the infrastructure, does have access to it. Naturally. NBNCo, for example, doesn’t. They would need to acquire rights to it. They have already spent the better part of $11b to this effect, but that doesn’t include the copper drops themselves.

            That is where the extra cost comes in. That is why it is cheaper for an incumbent. As you said above, this would also apply to FTTH, and you’re correct, but that deal is already signed.

            It’s signing the new deal, you get access to the copper drops, which believe me Telstra will want if they have any sense, because the CAN has just gone from, in the governments eyes, a whole lot of scrap metal, to a fundamental part of their FTTN rollout, which is the problem. It’ll add a couple of billion to the project. Which is enough to tip the balance in FTTHs favour.

            Also I have never said that a Coalition partial FTTN rollout has not got any problems, I have said in the past well before this current discussion it depends on Telstra being interested…

            They aren’t, they have no interest in cancelling the $11b deal, which they would have to in order to take lead away from NBNCo and return the HFC networks to the table

            …the ACCC casting their eagle eye of approval over it all to see if such a deal increases Telstra’s already massive market dominance, I don’t think the ACCC will allow it if Telstra has continued ownership of any part of a FTTN infrastructure.

            Not without structural separation, but irrelevant considering the above points.

            I’m not bailing at all, and it’s not a contest anyway but trying to make it personal though is totally unnecessary.

            Then I dare you to go reply to the three comments I linked, and address their questions. In particular I’m interested in your take on TrevorX’s points.

          • @NK

            I came up with some pretty lucid stuff about FTTN from the real world , did you like the comments the Openreach Director of Network Investment said about brownfield rollouts of FTTN?

            Here it is again:

            “Fibre to the cabinet is considerably cheaper. It varies from site to site, but in brownfields, it is typically four times cheaper, maybe even more,” he said.’


            ‘Galvin stressed that fibre to the home is best for new housing sites, but said that a cabinet deployment at a maximum of 1km from each premises significantly cuts down on the cost of deployment, and makes it roll out much faster. The company is currently passing over 100,000 premises per week.’

            You let all of that go through to the keeper – but hey what would he know about FTTN eh?

            In the end one of the best retorts you can come up with is a personal attack in the form of I’m a idiot!

          • I insulted you because you have no idea what you’re talking about.

            Why? You just managed to prove my point while trying to refute it.

            alain, enlighten me, what is the difference between Brownfields and Greenfields?

            I’ll tell you: the difference is in Brownfields there are pre existing pipes, pits and drops. What defines the incumbent? Ownership of pipes, pits and drops.

            If you don’t have access to the pipes, pits and drops, you need to negotiate for them. Like NBNCo did for the better part of $11b. That extra cost blows the cost of FTTN out of the water. That is what makes it “four times cheaper”.

            Without that, the prices become much closer. To the point that often FTTH can be cheaper, particularly because the majority of the cost is trenching. Now if I understand that quote apparently BT got FTTN cheaper even in Greenfields. Well good on them, they must have some good suppliers of FTTN equipment, or they are ignoring the increased operating costs.

            Either way, even they stressed FTTH was better in Greenfields.

          • The NBN Co had to negotiate for the ducts and exchange space from Telstra as well for FTTH.

            Openreach in the UK is rolling out both FTTH and FTTN, so they are in the prime position to comment what infrastructure is more costly and which is faster to deploy.

            The pertinent point is they have found that FTTN in brownfield is 4 times cheaper maybe more, nothing to do with being the incumbent, it’s a straight out comparison of FTTH vs FTTN infrastructure rollouts.

            You didn’t comment on this juicy rollout statistic either:

            ‘and makes it roll out much faster. The company is currently passing over 100,000 premises per week.’

            BTW classy the way you opened your response with a justification why it’s ok to call me a idiot.

          • Alain it’s all well and good to say X is cheaper than Y, but in order to apply that it helps if you understand why.

            It’s clear from our exchanges that you don’t. You’re just parroting what BT are saying and assuming that it replies to NBNCo.

            It doesn’t.

            You have attempted to refute my point thrice now, and you still haven’t.

          • Because there are stupid people in the world who will pay less for obsolescence, such as FttN… pretty obvious really.

      • “If the Labor decision in 2008 was for a FTTN rollout that’s what the NBN Co would be rolling out in 2013.”
        NBN Co WON’T be rolling out ANYTHING in 2013 alain. It will be 2 years minimum before the Coalition get anything physically started, so don’t make it sound so easy/done deal that Turnbull can do a little bit of renegotiating here and there and “hey presto” FTTN full steam ahead “easy as pie” But we all know this isn’t about FTTP vs FTTN alain don’t we. It’s about the fact that it’s a GBE and so against Liberal IDEOLOGY.

        You would like to keep the Status quo going as in before 2007. Come September 2013 when the the Coalition takes office, I’m going to look forward to all the delays/renegotiation’s/falling behind schedules/delayed reports/censored reports/cost overruns/taking longer to build/excuses etc/etc.

        Then see how you TRY to explain/gloss over/spin all these problems that the the Libs will be facing. But you might not even do that because you might see all this as MISSION ACCOMPLISHED and simply not appear/post on delimiter ANYMORE.

        Have a nice day/life

        PS: I urge everyone to vote Greens/independents in the senate to KEEP the bastards honest

        • @Avid: Chances are you won’t even *hear* of these delays anyway.. it will either be presented as a “positive” negotiation process or a “well thought out and measured planning meetings”. Or in general just not even covered by the MSM. Most would have moved on to the “flavour of the day” post election on what the Coalition will be doing… unless Labor decides to stoop to the same low level of mudslinging come post election..

  42. An Optimist looks at the half filled glass and says it half filled.
    The Pessimist looks at the same glass and says it’s half empty.
    The Engineer looks at the glass and says it’s twice as big as it needs to be.

    I’m sort of with Renai on his assessment of the state of the NBN, in that I’ve felt for a while that somehow, in some way, NBNCo isn’t going about things right. I don’t have a sense that they have a proper understanding of community perception of the project and whether it’s worth having.

    Aside from the slowing down of finished construction that has been revealed, I don’t think they have promoted themselves well, have made a real effort to answer the FUD and outright lies its opponents constantly generate, and haven’t targeted the areas that would have produced the greatest amount of completed premises in the elapsed time. I keep having the sense that, in their attempt to be above politics, NBNCo has also been above the dynamics of real world requirements in getting the most done as could have been done.

    Labor’s performance over time has made the NBN stand out as one really good idea and appears almost as an aberration. I had hoped that they had a long term plan to approach the elections in such a way that they could build public opinion to vote them in again. Instead they come across to me as stumblebums who are self destructing; almost not being content that the Libs are so far in front but they feel the need to remove all doubt about a coalition win, sort of like a guard dog that welcomes a burglar and brings him some slippers to wear for comfort.

    No doubt Labor will blame everything on Rudd, but Rudd hasn’t stopped them from making a better presentation of themselves to the electorate. The electorate, thick as bricks too often, will be shaped by the media as a substitute for thinking, are cheesed off with what they are being told about Labor infighting and other issues they are being told are wrong. I have little hope that Labor will keep power and the NBN will be changed into something that doesn’t deliver what Australia is critically short of: ubiquitous, affordable broadband with decent up and down speeds.

    I suppose the liberal shills will be very happy: we’ll end up with a half-baked broadband system that doesn’t deliver the infrastructure that people have been begging for years and Australia will be the poorer for it. Well done.

    • “I suppose the liberal shills will be very happy: we’ll end up with a half-baked broadband system that doesn’t deliver the infrastructure that people have been begging for years and Australia will be the poorer for it. Well done.”

      Doesn’t really matter. As half-baked as it will be they’ll claim their patchwork mess a success regardless since they’ll be forcing those who want fixed line broadband to use it.


    4.18 In the course of the Committee’s inquiry into the Australian telecommunications network, Telstra discussed where it thought the future of telecommunications was likely to go. One alternative Telstra outlined was that the existing network could be upgraded to provide very high-speed DSL by replacing parts of the existing CAN with optical fibre. However, it said that that architecture was unlikely to provide a sufficient increase in speed for long enough to justify the cost of its deployment. The more likely alternative is that a passive optical network, which delivered data to the home over an optical fibre, would be deployed.[249]

    The real reason for the delay – Labor stole our policy.

    • So yes the Coalition had the answers in front of them in 2002 but still haven’t managed to come up with a realistic policy 10 years later … and people call Labor incompetent.

    • And yet despite this information they still came up with OPEL?

      You’re saying that if the Coalition had listened to the Senate Committee in 2002, we could have had a subsided PON network begin construction, probably by Telstra and Optus, back in 2005?

      • Yeah OPEL was a bit of a worry, I don’t think to many were upset when Howard lost the election and Conroy knocked that one on the head.


        • I agree… in regards to OPEL alain.

          However, the canning of OPEL (and Telstra withdrawing from FttN negotiations with the ACCC), is what lead us to the RFPs and inevitably to the NBN…

          Surely you don’t hate Howard and OPEL more than the Gillard and the NBN?

  44. Good call keeping them honest Renai, but I don’t think it stands that they won’t be able to accelerate the rollout.

    I also disagree with you strongly about Telstra being given the opportunity to rollout FTTN. Telstra have conclusively demonstrated with ADSL and their nextg rollout that their goal under Sol was to sell an expensive high margin product not a ubiquitous one. Only when forced to compete did they lower their prices to squeeze potential competitors out of the market. That would have likely meant that FTTN prices would likely drop after 7-10 years when their investment had been written down/off, and a selective urban rollout, so for all practice purposes we’d still be wistfully dreaming about high speed broadband.

    The project was never going to fit neatly into a rollout schedule, but what’s important now is the same as any other agile project, being able to respond effectively to the difficulties in scaling the project, and demonstrate they are able to do that within a reasonable timeframe. Having additional government intervention at this point would be counterproductive, but there are certain ironies that it is private enterprise that is failing to deliver at this point.

    • The ACCC would have determined the wholesale price and access conditions of a Telstra FTTN rollout not Telstra.

      • The ACCC is a reactive organisation, not a proactive one. They would only set prices if shown significant evidence they’re too high.

        Telstra already know how to play this fact to their advantage, what makes you think they’ll suddenly dumb it down had they built FTTN?

        • The ACCC set Telstra ADSL wholesale pricing many times after submissions from ISP’s, the ACCC changed the NBN Co number of POI’s after submissions from ISP’s.

          What makes you think a Telstra FTTN rollout would be left intact with zero submissions from resellers and Telstra would be allowed to charge what they liked on a FTTN monopoly infrastructure?

  45. What is actually extremely important is to ascertain the reasons for the delay.
    I note that areas that are on the rollout map, disappear off it. I have an area within a few Km that was on the 1 year rollout around Christmas (Springvale South – a 1950’s area), I do a cruise around every now and then – not much apparent action, I only cover a small sector each time – over 3 Months I would have anticipated seeing some work in progress or some nodes in at least. I do only check it out on weekends however.
    I was eying off Edithvale, some nice properies in a nice location there. off the map ?
    I wonder

    Lets face it, 6 months ago would you have been supportive of your son/dtr even yourself taking on training for a job as a fibre splicer with one of the NBN contractors, with the relentless constant anti NBN media and Coalition barrageof misinformation and deception and the next government going to demolish it, or change it all to FTTN with minimal fibre splicer employment. Definitely no job security – look elsewhere.
    Can’t blame the contractors for being hesitant to commit resources for the same reason, after all just one heartbeat away from a Philistine Abbott Government and no future, even now.

    The boots on the ground need weekly pay, hanging around twiddling thumbs waiting for ducts and conduit to be remediated and Council permits issued and plans ratified doesn’t pay the bills for them or their employers.

    Really Telstra should have been sent out and been remediating the ducts and conduits to be ready for when the siting plans are to be drawn up, that could have incorporated the feet on the ground confirming premises and cable records and meant minimum downtime for the skilled workers and the contractors, from one job straight to the next.

    The biggest problem is the stop start aspect caused by these delays with all the flow on consequences. Too much faith in the Telstra executive assessment of the good state of their underground infrastructure and the claims by supposed experts such as Morgan that the majority of the underground infrastructure is in good state and suitable for FTTN. The being bandied figure which NEEDS to be ascertained is 30% that needs remediation is it less or more?, there are indications that some ducts are kaput and new pits and ducts have to be dug and provisioned. Telstra did lease all their underground infrastructure and are responsible to make fit for purpose. Get to the task Telstra

    I would consider the NBN team have been a tad naive, they should have not trusted Telstra’s or the supposed experts claims re the state of underground infrastructure and devoted teams to ascertain the actual state prior to planning an area. Giving adequate time for any remediation that may be needed to be concluded.
    Due diligence, too much haste not enough speed

  46. Agree entirely with the entire article.

    It’s turning into a balls up from all quarters. A horrible mingling of incompetent ambition and shortsighted realism, with no middle ground for decent long term development.

    The real question for me at this point is who will have control of the Federal Senate post election. That’s what it’ll all come down to imo.

    • Well expert political opinion is of the mind that the Coalition or Labor will be pushing hard to win enough Senate seats to get a majority , it is after all only a half Senate election, so in all probability it will be controlled like it is now, by the cross bench.

      So it depends who the cross bench side with the most on legislation this time around or what amendments they insist on before approving legislation passed in the Lower House.

  47. Anybody that expected this project to run to forecasts is off their rocker, it was never ever going to be smooth, slick and miraculously fast, Jesus wasn’t running the show, neither was Samantha Stevens.
    It’s a matter of having patience it’s a 10 or possibly a 15 year program if things go horribly wrong, I don’t think that’s the case yet. It’s going to take at least 3 years of solid construction to really work out the eventual costs and time scale. Any predictions made at this time are without foundation.

    If it takes 15 years to complete the project that might not be as good as 10 but it’s a lot better than never.

    Malcolm Turnbull is going to go through the exact same problem profile, after of course, all the renegotiating and reneging of contracts and law suits that result, the renegotiating with Telstra where Thodey in this poker game has the four aces and is going to call all of Turnbull’s bluffs and screw him to the floor over money (he’s in a much stronger position than Sol). I know what I would do if I were Thodey so I’m sure he will do what I would do, Turnbull ain’t going to like it at all, but there is nothing he can do.

    Abbott and his weirdo freak show will get jack of the whole thing when Turnbull fouls it up, pay out Telstra and wash their hands of the whole thing.

    Watching Abbott’s crew is like watching zombie hordes in SE2.

  48. Good Story.
    Will always be the case when the over paid top heavy expect
    the underpaid workers to work thier guts out to support somebodys

  49. I find it amusing at the almost frenetic attempts to divert this discussion back onto the Coalition that I had to check the headline Renai had written was not:

    ‘Broken dreams: The Coalition’s NBN bubble has burst’

    I think many pro NBN supporters are of the mind that the NBN Co is far too specific in its publishing of target figures in its Business Plans even though they are constantly amended every few months anyway.

    Target figures should be more generic something along the lines of TBA or subject to negotiation or with a footnote – * these figures should not be taken as any indication of what may actually happen.

    The NBN Co should be accountable for every dollar it spends and every missed target it does not meet, I am sure if the targets were met or exceeded the pro NBN lobby would be crowing so loud it would be deafening.

    Apparently the NBN Co is only responsible for target predictions when they are correct.

    • Do you actually believe the rubbish you write alain?

      “Target figures should be more generic something along the lines of TBA” — what, exactly, do you think the reaction to that approach would be?

      Having said that, I do agree with some of the things you say. I think the rollout plan HAS been too specific, for the very problems that have caused these delays – promises made dont mean promises kept.

      There should be very clear commentary on the plans that they are subject to third parties meeting their obligations, and that in the event of failure to meet those obligations, the numbers may vary from period to period. Particularly for when the project is still in a ramp up phase.

      It wouldnt be nice, but it would be accurate. Unfortunately, it would also be seen as an excuse by you and others wanting to undermine what is Australias biggest infrastructure program in a good number of decades.

      As it is, its a delay of a further 3 months. Frankly, to me (and I know you’ll disagree so no need to comment) this is the first real delay with the actual rollout. Not nice to see, and while I personally hoped it wouldnt happen, not all that surprising.

      But as usual, you just get caught up in the number, and not the reason behind it. A third party making agreements they couldnt keep. And really, what effect does it have? A 3 month delay on a 10 year project is NOT a significant issue. Hell, for something like this, a YEAR delay is not a significant issue.

      Certainly better than rolling out FttN then replacing that with FttH straight away.

  50. The real issue here is not delays, costs etc. the real issue is if the Coalition romps into parliament there will be no NBN at all, Abbott promised to demolish the NBN and pride will see him do it.

    Sorry folks it’s all over now.

    • Good point LD…

      3, 6, 12 whatever month delay vs. perpetual/unending FttP delay….

  51. alain is the wisest guy here.

    I find it funny how this article, shining light on how bad the NBN is being run out, got the highest comment replies in a long time! All the pro NBN geeks are having kittens at the moment!

  52. Just like to leave a comment here, even though I previously got banned because I critiziced the NBN and Renai used to hold what NBNCo said as some gospel of truth through some bible

    This is not a case of NBNCo “suddenly” failing. NBNCo was always going to fail. There was no way there were going to deliver the project, on time and on budget. Anyone with half a brain and some decent maths realized this. Its like being asked as a contractor to build a house in half the time (or half the budget) required, something has got to give.

    So it was always going to be a case of NBNCo either being deceiving, or admitting they can’t deliver, or making up excuses (we all know its a mix of all these).

    The stark thing that the NBN proponents need to realize, is that the Labors NBN was always going to be a dream, just like solving poverty making no one starve. The figures were just completely unrealistic from the outset, and even if the NBNCo was somehow built, internet costs would have skyrocketed because of the pricing model they were using (this was already well documented), just because NBNCo was technically a financial investment that paid for itself

    If NBNCo would have actually delivered, they would have had to a mix of the following 3 things
    1. Change NBNCo from a financial investment to a government infrastructure project (as it stood, that 7% ROI figure was completely ridiculous). Of course doing this would have forced NBN to go under scrutiny from the PC because the government is paying for it (also the current government completely wasted the surplus, and we now know there won’t be any surplus in the future, again obvious to non partisan people)
    2. Extend the rollout to a longer date (frankly unacceptable, 10 (extended to 13, and now even longer) years is already ridiculous, anything longer would be siguisting. There are people stuck out there with speeds not much better than dialup, asking them to wait for that long and be happy about it is laughable
    3. Change the target to a mix of technologies and leave the HFC. This would allow NBN to prioritize people with crappier internet (we now know that NBNCo has been cherry picking the FTTH rollouts, that is, picking areas that were the easiest for NBNCo to do, rather than areas which needed it the most). It also means that the people on near shitty speeds would get improvements much faster, rather than not at all or when its too late

    As for the people that have doubts over the coalition, remember 2 things
    1. Opposition governments never ever have the resources to answer the kind of questions that NBNCo proponents were asking. Yes Malcolm has said silly stuff, it was purely politics (he needed to say something, staying silent would have made it even look even worse politically). When the liberals get into government (which most people agree they most certainly will), they will have access to PC (which will review the NBN) as well as other departments, as well as all the papers showing the true extent of NBN’s financial and construction status, tl;dr, he didn’t have any of the resources to actually make well informed answers to questions people were asking him, questions that no person in his position would be able to answer properly
    2. Considering all of the shit that Conroy has done, Malcom is factors more capable and competent of this role (and on the plus, you don’t have to worry about him censoring the internet/media)

    I also hate to say “told you so”, but this stuff always happens when a government releases a project of this scale, the project is too ambitious and unrealistic, and then stuff like this happens.

    NBN proponents also need to change their attitude, instead of applauding a solution they think is “correct”, they should instead be applauding the minister/government they think will be most capable of fixing the problem, because the latter is actually what helps fix the problem in reality. Anyone can come up with “correct” solutions that look on paper, doesn’t make a difference in the ream world. It is just a dream until then

    Also I am not going to reply to comments, so don’t bother in making replies that are expecting answers

    • Since you’re not going to reply I’m not going to point out how bad the following assumptions are to make

      1) This delay is somehow going to snow ball into a 3 year delay.

      2) The fact that the two migration deals prevent us from utilising the HFC. Using HFC was an okay idea when it was first suggested but it would have required Telstra and Optus to agree to make them OANs, and now it’s going to be even more difficult.

      3) The NBN is a mix a technologies in its current form. Turnbull has thrown the line technological agnostic out there to try and distract from the fact that the NBN isn’t just fibre and the fallacy that infrastructure competition is going to be better for Australia.

      4) I personally have suggested that NBNCo be subsidised and only partially debt funded.

      5) NBNCo aren’t cherry picking based upon the easiest, if they were doing that they’d focus only on inner city areas, not regional towns. People seem to think the black spots are isolated to specific areas, and that you can “focus” on them. The fact is you can’t. They’re everywhere.

      6) I can come up with a better plan than Turnbull has in the last 6 months in a couple of hours with no funding or resources. Using his lack of resources as an excuse doesn’t fly.

      7) Internet prices only allowed to go up 1% in real terms a year according to the SAU is hardly skyrocketing. Saying something is well documented without presenting said documents doesn’t make it so either.

      8) Considering the above I don’t think Turnbull is the right man for the job, even if Conroy isn’t either.

      I look forward to you not replying.

    • Not going to reply. Why because you think you have delivered the ultimate wisdom.
      I don’t think so. Nor do I think that Renai has done so either. So, the “I told you so” maybe a bit premature.

      As for the project needing 13 years. If so, then, so be it. It’s a lot better than the 11 years of nothing from the people you think are going to make it all better.

  53. I support the NBN in its current design. I think it is the best available option, and that private enterprise has failed us in the 10+ years prior, thus government is needed to do the work.

    I also think that NBN Co should be held accountable. I think this is a delay, however in reality it is relatively small, and has some obvious external reasons for at least parts of it. However the way they have handled the communications about it is bad, and transparency is at issue.

    I am not a Labor supporter, and I think the way they have handled NBN Co has been poor.
    I am not a Liberal support, and I think the way they have approached attacking the NBN Co(despite some predictions being correct) has been poor. I also think their current FTTN plan is not a worthy alternative.

    I believe that large traditional media companies, are against the NBN in a general way. As it does threaten their traditional markets. I do think they understand that it is inevitable, but I also think there intention is to get as much out of traditional markets as they can before they fall to new markets.

    I also believe that Renai has done a good job of bringing some balance to the issue. He has raised issues and called for more transparency from NBN co several times now, but has still overall been supportive of them and forgiving of what are often quite reasonable delays.

    This article has struck very true to me, and saddens me greatly.

  54. I am going to enjoy this: I told you so.

    Anyone with basic project management experience and some common sense has seen this coming for a long, long time.

    For so long you and your readers lived in denial, mocking the Opposition when they ask relevant questions, instead you just believed the relentless spin of Labor and NBN Co, brazenly calling it analysis. Thinking you new better, self rightous in your moral superiority.

    You still have the hide to blame the Opposition for this stuff up. The Labor Government has not successfully delivered one, not one, major project. So why would you think they could deliver the biggest and most expensive?

    The NBN engaged is as much spin as Labor did. But the truth is now emerging, the NBN was never going to cost 37 billion, upwards of 100 billion is more realistic, but taxpayers would not pay that, so they told fibs about the real cost and plenty of readers here were willing to believe the lies.

      • Only 100billion? pshaw! why stop there!

        Watch as it inflates to 200billion just before election when all the “secret” contracts are revealed and whatnot =P

        (Hey if my earlier punt on the price being exaggerated to 100bil came through why not go for broke? xD)

    • Well it’s a shame that the Coalition won’t take over the NBN if they win and try and head it in the right direction instead of tearing it up.
      It’s worse knowing how close we came to getting fibre to the home :(

        • Well they are revising the original plan as we all know, or as we are led to believe, until we get some hard evidence on what the Coalition is actually doing, hopefully they will release their plan before the election.

          • Well what we do know Soth is that both Abbott and Turnbull have stated they will leave any existing rollout intact, by September that’s still a reasonable amount of residences that will remain on FTTH.

            The Coalition have stated they will honor all existing NBN build contracts, so that’s still a hell of a lot of FTTH build taking us well into 2014-2015.

            So it may well be that FTTN may be the minor player in the final outcome.

          • This is one of the things with the Liberal statements I’m never certain of alain, and why I dont trust them. Their statement was they will honor contracts. They also said, in a nutshell, that where a build hasnt started, they will renegotiate.

            I’d like to think that FttH contracts in place starting post September 14 will be honored, and that there will be 3 more years of FttH being built. But with everything else Abbott and The Turnbull have said on the subject I cant trust them to leave those contracts unchanged.

            Here’s the thing for me. If they DO leave those contracts in place unchanged, then they represent a significant portion of the population. By then, the build SHOULD be at the stated peak of 6,000 premises per day, which means some 2 million a year.

            Even with a year of half peak, and two years at peak, thats 5 million premises passed. Or about 40% of the country. Add to that the fact that the build footprint is going to cover every exchange in the country by then, then its logical that FttN has no place essentially being built over the top of that infrastructure. Its cheaper just to extend FttH from whats already there.

            The first KM or so around each exchange will be FttH by then. The cost of putting the extra FttN equipment in for the KM or 3 beyond that isnt cost effective.

            So either Abbott and The Turnbull end up putting in a FttH build (either Govt or privately bribed/funded) because those 3 years puts the project beyond the point of no return, or the contracts for areas not yet started are changed, and FttN goes in instead.

            The second scenario means that there wont be 3 years of honored contracts as we expect it, but FttH being completed where its started, and FttN going in where it hasnt.

            Just remember that they have repeatedly said they will complete the goals of the NBN, but their belief of what the goals are is different to Labor. Their belief is that the goal is to get everyone 12 Mbs speed, so changing the 2-3 year contracts from FttH to FttN wont change the LNP goals.

          • @Gongav: Slight correction their belief is that average speeds *up to* 12Mbps is sufficient. We all know FTTN does not guarantee a steady connection of 12MBps.

          • @GongGav

            Well as I have said before this current Delimiter piece I don’t think we have much to worry about the Coalition changing much at all, sure there will be some FTTN to save face – maybe just up Turnbulls and Abbots street. :)

            I don’t think the HFC thing will gain much traction at all either, it will only be Telstra that MIGHT be interested because they are leaving it up for Foxtel anyway, but although opening the infrastructure for open access is technically feasible I don’t think Telstra will be interested in forgoing the $$$ for shutting it down for BB they will get from the current NBN Co agreement.

            What will change of course is the structure of the NBN Co as we know it and tighter control over costs, debt, contracts and a full PC CBA and review of the current rollout.

            I also expect the Coalition Department overseeing their version of the NBN Co will have a more hands on approach that what Labor are currently doing.

            All good compared to the current circumstances we are now facing don’t you think?

          • So without being sarcastic now, to condense that…

            You’re now saying that after years of bagging not only Labor, NBNCo and FttP, you aren’t actually opposed to FttP after all (even though we apparently “don’t need it in every home”, “won’t ever use such speeds” and it’s therefore “wasteful”) you primarily just despise Labor and Labor’s NBNCo?

            Is that what you meant?

            Because… that’s not really a scoop :)

          • “All good compared to the current circumstances we are now facing don’t you think?” — if they change absolutely nothing about the build, the legislation behind it, or any of a dozen other things I’m missing right now, then yes, it IS better. There are definitely aspects of the Labor vision that could be done better. Despite your beliefs you wont actually get much argument against that on this site.

            But from everything thats been said by the LNP on the subject I cant see them leaving the important parts alone. They WANT private enterprise to drive this, and will do everything they can to have that happen.

            I want FttH because I think its the best option moving into the future. Anything that confuses that only serves to slow us down, and FttN is a $20-$30b amount of money out of our budget that will never be returned.

            For all those incorrectly screaming that the Labor NBN cost should be spent on roads, hospitals, etc, THIS is exactly those dollars you want. ITs $20-$30b lost from the public monies forever. Money that COULD be spent on those roads, or hospitals, or schools.

            So what part of wasting $20-$30b is good, and what part of allowing private enterprise to keep failing us is a good idea? This is what the Liberals have said they will do, and what I expect them to do. Until I see otherwise, nothings changing that opinion.

            If you have faith that they will essentially leave the FttH build alone, best of luck to you. The only way I can see that guaranteed is if Labor wins on Sep 14. As things stand, the only result I can see from the LNP is putting technology in place that makes it harder in 10 years to undo, and wastes tens of billions of dollars.

          • Don’t mention roads without first reviewing the amount of tax generated from Petrol excise, versus amount currently spent on roads…
            “less than one-third of the revenue raised from fuel excise was reinvested back into the road network” -RACV ,

            Why should NBN funds (although off book) be redirected to roads when a tax explicitly for the purpose of road funding is being redirected to other uses?

          • Different topic SBD. While you’re right, and that it should be considered, its got little to do with the point I was making. Basically, many of the nay sayers scream that the money being spent on the NBN could be better spent elsewhere.

            But the Labor NBN is funded outside of budget consideration, so cant be diverted to be spent elsewhere. The Liberal NBN on the other hand, IS being funded out of budget, and hence COULD be spent elsewhere.

            I just tossed roads in as an example of where people think the money could be better spent. There was a heavily discussed story earlier this year about a survey done by a Liberal MP in Queensland (I think), where one of the questions was “Which is more important? a) fixing Bruce Hwy, b) improving local roads, c) faster internet” then followup questions about improving and fixing roads including a specific question about diverting some of the bond-funded money raised.

            If that stance is typical of the Liberals, how do they get away with their approach of actually wasting budget dollars on infrastructure, versus not wasting budget dollars. There is debate on whether the Labor approach counts as budget or not (note: by international standards, it doesnt), but there is no debate whatsoever that funding private enterprise to do the dirty work, as per the Liberals, DOES count as budget dollars.

            If they are so budget concious, and they seem to be given the screaming they are doing about the surplus, then a $20b spend is incredibly hypocritical.

        • No, they wont tear it up.
          They will give what has already been built to Telstra as equity in return for rolling out an FTTN system.

    • So lets see now. A 2.5% delay is enough for you to come gloating and bragging, and assume your other unproven claims are valid as well.

      Nice one TLG, nice one.

      Come and see us when whatever the Liberals plan is built without problems. Until then, you’ve clearly proven whatever your point was, so can leave the site and never return.

      See you. You wont be missed.

    • Many positive reports and articles are dismissed/ignored and one or two negative ones are jumped on… LOL

  55. I will not be voting Liberal until they agree to leave the NBN rollout as-is and deploy it as per the current specification. Simple as that and here are my reasons why.

    Its taken nearly four years of testing, design, infrastructure and manpower to get the NBN to commercial rollout status this year. Thats how big this project is as we connect a country. Not withstanding delays from contractors who collapse in the middle of the rollout and a shortage of manpower, change to a different model would very likely end up being more expensive. As for cost, what of it? It won’t cost you a cent. The business model has been examined in minute detail over the last four years and the market supports it’s conclusions. It is only News Ltd (Australian/AFR) and the Liberal party who fight it. It is a guaranteed income stream as everyone pays for their Internet. This will pay down the loan to build it. My conservative estimate is 280 million a month in revenue. Thereafter its a huge revenue earner which can be used to extend the fibre footprint even further on demand.

    As for the build itself, they cannot just switch to a different model overnight. They have to go through a large amount of testing again = delays. The state of the copper in the ground isn’t so good and for VDSL purposes it is likely remediation will be required. Even then it is not like the copper is laid where they need it. To install powered cabinets for FTTN they would have to re-route a lot of the existing copper so where are your savings? You still need a new device in the house for the new technology just like the current rollout.

    Australian’s need to start telling the Liberal Party to leave it alone. When will we *ever* get the chance like this again to put Australia in a world class position when it comes to telecommunications? It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and public interest should outweigh private interests in this case. The opportunities it will bring to this country are unprecedented. It will change the landscape we know today and bring everyone closer together in a country as large as ours. It’s the right choice to have the network public hands and FTTH is the right model for our future

    • “Australian’s need to start telling the Liberal Party to leave it alone”
      Since when have we lived in a Democracy? Oh wait :)
      Yes it will be a big job and some time to take for changes to a project of this size.

    • Income stream.?
      Sure the public will contribute with their monthly payments, but the big contributors will be business and Government and they will not only be hugely benefiting but also saving money.

      by Chris Greig who is Group Executive – Telecommunications, Macquarie Telecom

      • Abel,

        Good point. My conservative estimate is based on avg spend vs population figures from the ABS. I haven’t even factored in what business will pay, they will likely add to that monthly figure considerably. Needless to say when its built, it’s a continuous incoming stream that can be used by NBNCo to make it even better than they propose now. Its a great model, it is not like we are going to stop using the Internet tomorrow now is it? I just wish the Liberal party would pull their head out of there ass and smell what they are shovelling on the Australian public.

  56. You say it isnt perfect, but when anyone criticises it, you then ask why should I listen the LNP has no alternative………

    SO by your definition it is perfect. No faults = perfect, unless you know of another definition.

    But you do not want to have a simple discussion of the NBN by itself without dragging in the LNP plan (which does not exist) and attacking it for free cheap shots. Wow your a big boy.

    How can what we have be improved? …

    Well it can start by NBN Co acutally reporting statistics that they have, as Renai has repeatedly asked them for. And not misleading the public (i.e major shareholder in the project currently, misleading the market is grounds for a large fine or even a jail sentence on the ACCC discretion frrom memory).

    You call it the “bubble bursting” – what a misnomer, you have called all questioning of the forecasts FUD or BS as from your previous post but then if it is a bubble, is it not expected to burst? how can it be a doubt or uncertainty if it is EXPECTED.

    My position has not changed one bit in the past year. I support the NBN, there is no alternative currently and since none has been relased yet, I do not know. However, I seriously have doubted the figures in their corporate plan and the optimism (zealotry) shown by many supports towards the project.

    I still don’t know how you manage to use the same arguments in every discussion, lol.


      With all due respect to your unmovable opinion and steadfast ideology Michael (most admirable), having read your topsy turvy comments, the incessant strawman arguments, contradictions, your unwillingness to look forward past this threads topic to our future and gauge the importance of the NBN’s probable alternative (as any rational person would), I’m sorry to have to say it, but you remind me of the star of the above clip :/

  57. I think the NBN is guilty of a major mistake. Given the political environment surrounding the issue, to proclaim realistic estimates on current information (thats what they appear to have done) was a major blunder. It would have been better for them to take an approach of determining what the minimum they could achieve was, setting that as their goal, while also stating their underlying data with error margin. Ie. We antcipate passing 50,000 premises in June 2013 {70,000 +- 20,000)

    Under promise, over deliver. The last thing this project could afford is actually failing to deliver a projected target. Now Malcom will actually have a real fact (perhaps his first) to dance about with, rather than his usual made up figures. Alternatively view it as NBN’s predictions degrading toward the same quality level as the Liberals vague mutterings.

    I’ve often wondered if it would be better financially for us to have bought back a majority in Telstra, then force it to roll out a decent network (and separation). 11 Billion is a significant portion of the funds raised from privatisation, and the shares are still worth less than they were sold for.
    I think the real world impact of the poor condition of ducts, coppper etc has yet to be heard.

  58. Bubble? What bubble? Delays? Isn’t that what people like yourself are constantly trying to stir the public to do? Delay the NBN. The NBN is a necessity to take advantage of the digital age. The digital age is here to stay. It is not a hype that is being brainwashed into people’s minds.
    Just look at any massive undertaking to build an infrastructure……….DELAYS! So get over it. How hypocritical to say they have not delivered when neither did the Coalition nor any private entity.
    The Coalition WOULD not have proposed to contribute to any upgrades if it weren’t for the NBN proposals. As far as I am aware, they are all lip service and WILL not deliver on any promises to build something quicker nor will it be any cheaper.

  59. The major risk of course is, to get more workers they may have to increase the value of the contracts.

    Then we’ll end up over budget and over time. (You can hear Tony Abbott screaming in the background now, saying I told you so, with Malcolm Turnbull nodding sagely.)

    It still remains the panacea however, as it does deal with the multitude of issues plaguing this country, unlike the plans presented by Malcolm Turnbull.

    Plainly there is not enough detail to go on.
    For example, will they allow the NBNCo rollout to continue whilst they did their analysis?

  60. I think the coalition will sacrifice good sense and any true effective outcome to create the perception that they are moving forward.

    We will get nothing but the average punter will be convinced the Coalition is being proactive and energetic in protecting ‘their’ interests.

    Audits, public investigations and much hand-wringing will occur to soak up a year or two while our new politicians come to terms with their lack of a plan – all the while blaming labour for inherited problems.

    I have worked on major projects. They take years. They face set-backs. It’s hard enough normally but what I see here is that NBN Co is also weighed down by the political infighting. Maybe we would be moving forward better if the coalition had decided to support Labour ratehr than simply resort to the default behaviour of criticism.

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