25Mbps in flats? Turnbull “dreaming”,
says strata association


blog The issue of how to treat those Australians living in multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks has always been a thorny one for both Labor and the Coalition. The current Labor FTTP NBN has a number of complex issues in trying to get fibre into such complex buildings, while on the Coalition side, those apartment blocks in the HFC cable footprint will be prioritised last, behind the rest of the country, for the Coalition’s fibre to the node rollout. This morning, following the release of the Coalition’s rival NBN policy yesterday, the strata representative group Strata Community Australia raised this as a major issue. AAP quotes SCA chief Mark Lever (there’s a version of the story on the Herald Sun website here):

“For apartments, they are dreaming if they think they are going to get 25Mbps … Most residents in Bondi will have worse internet connections than in Boggabilla,” (in far north of inland NSW).”

As an inner-city apartment dweller myself, I have to say I agree with Lever that the Coalition’s NBN policy will be an issue for those living in apartments and units, although I’m not quite sure whether I agree that the internal apartment wiring won’t be able to cope (that, after all, can be replaced by the strata groups themselves; as the copper wiring inside our roof recently was). There are a growing number of apartment-dwellers in Australia as the country’s inner city high density housing becomes more akin to that found in other major international cities. Not everyone lives in a family home in the suburbs, and multi-dwelling units often have some of the poorest broadband around. I’d like to see the Coalition pay more attention to this issue, especially the fact that most MDUs can’t currently get HFC cable.


  1. I’m not sure that I understand his argument.

    I live in an apartment quite some distance from the exchange (a suburb and a half away) and sync at around 15Mbps. Wouldn’t this be even better (approaching 25Mbps?) under a FTTN system if the node is only a couple hundred metres from my apartment?

    • I’ll be willing to bet that there will be an awful lot of interference/crosstalk in the MDU, which immediately rules out VDSL but certainly not an ADSL2+ service.

      The clincher is that unless you’ve got a fibre node in your basement and every unit rewired with ethernet cable, I doubt that the MDU will ever get speeds above that of ADSL2+ due to interference/crosstalk.

  2. Renai, how dare you not live in half an acre of bushland in the middle of suburbia? That’s so un-Australian! You’re lucky you’re not being thrown out of the country with the rest of the “boat people” who don’t understand Australian values like commuting in oversized SUVs complete “my family” stickers for over an hour in peak-time traffic every day. How dare you!

    Next you’ll want working public transport as well… and we all know where that slippery slope leads to…

  3. Renai have you read the background documents?

    MDU’s get fibre run to the basement/telecom room. From their it uses existing copper. Unless you live in a huge skyscraper or they wrap the copper around your walls 20 times for insulation, you are talking about very short copper lengths. Companies have been doing this for a long time and getting very good speeds

    An australian example:


    An american example


    Not to mention if your copper has just been replaced it is very likely cat5 standard.

    Even if it isnt, it would be a relatively small investment to upgrade the internal wiring to cat6. While you are at it put structured wiring in the apartments as well. A small increase in body corporates for a few years and you have higher resale value for your apartment.

    While we are talking MDU’s, another point in the background documents is that the corporate plan included no plan or costing for MDU’s, despite recognising they make up 30% of premises. This is considered one of the most expensive parts of the build, and contracts for MDU’s have only been signed in some states and that was only in December. The corporate plan seems to assume the same cost for these premises as normal premises, which is clearly false.

    I am concerned from the articles that have come out today that you havent read the background documents, although yet to see a full analysis of the coalition policy from you.

    • Which documents?

      NBNco is running Fibre to the Premises, which means potentially to the ingress point of a MDU.

      The coalition is not proposing this at all.

      Strata and similar corporations typically control building infrastructure, as such within the walls is a building owner/ corporate issue.

      The coalitions proposal makes this worse in that existing copper will need to be used as the technology used for the last mile still requires it.

      As such, under coalition process, the MDU is likely to have individual copper tails, which are patched inside the building; for larger MDUs it might be fibre, but that’s not going to be the norm (as it’d require negotiation with Telstra or any other Fibre owner).

      MDUs are complicated because of the split ownership issue. Neither really gets it right, but much of the issue comes down to the in-building cabling. Which is really a body corporate concern and indeed will likely remain so.

      • > Strata and similar corporations typically control building infrastructure, as such within the walls is a building owner/ corporate issue.
        > As such, under coalition process, the MDU is likely to have individual copper tails, which are patched inside the building; for larger MDUs it might be fibre, but that’s not going to be the norm (as it’d require negotiation with Telstra or any other Fibre owner).

        The way I view the coalition process, the strata corporation would pay NBNCo to run the fibre to the MDU. One off cost of $3000. Not that expensive when you share it with other owners. So for MDU occupants the coalition plan should be a winner – cheaper access to fibre.

      • Actually, the Coalition is proposing that fibre will be run to MDU’s where ‘feasible’, where it would be terminated to the MDU’s existing copper cabling. From here, premise owners would have the option of then connecting fibre, pending building owner approval and the obvious negotiation of who pays for it.

        The real question is though, define ‘feasible’.

        As well as that, whilst the copper runs will be short, unless it is ethernet cable running to each unit, the interference and crosstalk will rule out VDSL but I’ve little doubt you would get a seamless ADSL2+ connection.

        I’ve little doubt that ‘feasible’ will depend on what the fibre would be terminated into, the cooperation of the building owner and the amount of premises that would benefit, which will no doubt rule out many MDU’s.

    • They haven’t ignored it, they put out a contract for MDU’s specifically in 2011. As The Australian says though:

      “As MDUs account for one-third of the nation’s premises, an unwillingness by body corporates to connect to the NBN, coupled with disparate state approaches to the way premises are being connected to the network, could wreak havoc on the government’s and the NBN Co’s plans to ensure the maximum number of premises sign up to the network.”

  4. Concerned as everyone else that Australia will relegate to internet stone age under coalition version of the NBN.

    What will the plan be in the Coalitions NBN when all the FTTP space has been used up in the specific node? it may not happen instantly but it will happen especially around the some of the more high density living suburbs?

    Have they really planned enough for the population growth? and its effects on ever increasing medium or high density housing?

    Who will pay for the upgrade of the node? Or provision of the new bulk fibre to the existing node location?

    • Who is responsible for deploying new street side pillars in the current copper network? And who pays for that?

      The answer to that question will help you to the answer of your question.

  5. MDU isn’t really any more complicated than plonking a cabinet on a street corner.

    The highest fibre penetration countries in the world like Japan, South Korea, etc are chiefly MDU (and its roughly a 50/50 mix of FTTN and FTTH deployments). If anything its technically easier as MDUs are typically made with centralized utilities in mind and an additional communications cabinet added is no big deal.

    The big problem is replacing wiring with fibre for strict FTTH and most importantly the cultural and legal environmental differences in terms of getting building/unit owners to cooperate. For whatever reason we have laws which allows councils to be easily overriden for cabinet installs on street corners, but not the same for putting one in a unit block basement. In other countries the environment favours the telcos a lot more. Its a political decision really to change this over here

  6. Not to mention that MDUs are likelier to have a higher concentration of renters. Landlords are going to be very unlikely to stump up the $$$ to put fibre into units, so renters again will just have to cop being second class citizens.

    • Too many renters will just have to cop whatever is being offered up on their fantastic Foxtel Satellite service, or make do with any mobile broadband and all it’s congestion and cost limitations for wanting to use much data over it.

      As data usage increases, and the number of renters continues to increase in total and as a proportion of all Australians, mainly due to our high property prices, and tax incentives to invest in property, any delay in getting MDU’s and other rental properties off mobile broadband, and onto good ADSL/2+ HFC, FTTN/B/P, will likely adversely impact on everyone’s mobile broadband experience in too many locations across the mobile broadband network in suburbia and town centre locations. There is only a limited amount of spectrum for mobile broadband, and with data usage increasing, the MDU and renters issues with Broadband will only get worse.

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