Turnbull “copper” NBN plan “bizarre”, says Albo



news Communications Minister and Deputy PM Anthony Albanese has taken a pick axe to the Coalition’s rival NBN policy, describing its reuse of portions of Telstra’s copper network as “bizarre” and “neanderthal”, despite the fact that its so-called ‘fibre to the node’ rollout scheme has been used successfully by British telco BT and other telcos across Europe and the US to upgrade broadband speeds to millions of premises.

Like Labor’s NBN policy, the Coalition’s policy proposes upgrading Telstra’s copper network with more modern fibre cables. However, the Coalition is proposing only to upgrade the copper part-way for most of the rollout; with the new cables reaching to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ on streets and the rest of the distance to premises continuing to be served by the existing copper. The Coalition is planning to cover 22 percent of Australian premises with fibre to the premises similar to Labor’s NBN vision and seven percent with satellite and wireless, again similar to Labor’s vision. However, the remaining 71 percent of premises — most of Australia — will be served by the so-called ‘fibre to the node’ technology.

“You know, the idea that you have fibre to a fridge on a corner, and then use the old copper network of not last century but the century before to connect up to the home, with all of the unreliability that copper brings, is quite bizarre,” said Albanese during a NBN launch event in Melbourne yesterday.

“You know, in 1910 in the Federal Parliament there was a debate about copper versus iron. And during that debate there was a fantastic speech by a member of Parliament saying, we don’t need this new fandangle copper stuff. The iron, wire we’ve been using for 30 years for the telegraph, it’ll do. It’s good enough.”

“It wasn’t good enough. Copper was good enough in 1910. It’s not good enough in 2013. In 2013 it is fibre first and Neanderthal land second. It really is. It really is. There isn’t a debate anywhere in the world which says copper will do. And we need to compete in this century of growth in our region, by using the best technology possible.”

Albanese is correct in his statements, in the sense that globally, experts in the telecommunications industry are virtually united in the view that the use of fibre-optic cables will be crucial to the future of broadband service delivery. Globally, major telcos in every country are gradually upgrading their existing infrastructure using fibre cable.

However, it is also true that the FTTN rollout methodology proposed by Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the Coalition’s rival NBN policy has also been used globally with great success to upgrade broadband speeds and fundamental service delivery to millions of premises in countries such as the UK, Germany and the US.

For example, it is useful to compare Australia’s NBN policy, which was initiated by the then-Kevin Rudd Labor Government in April 2009, to the broadband policy pursued by incumbent British telco BT in the UK over the same period.

BT, which operates a similar network to Telstra, first started deploying fibre to the node throughout Britain in January 2009, with a number of trials being conducted around the country that year, and commercial services launching 12 months later in January 2010. At the time, the platform was dubbed ‘BT Infinity’. The deployment of this kind of service can broadly be considered analogous to the 2005 plan outlined by then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo to upgrade Telstra’s copper network to FTTN, in that the rollout is predominantly being conducted by an incumbent telco which already owns its own copper network and all associated infrastructure, and which already has tens of thousands of engineers in the field to help deploy new infrastructure.

That same year, 2010, BT’s infrastructure arm Openreach, announced it would deploy FTTN to some 19 million households across the UK, and in October 2010, UK regulator Ofcom announced that BT would be required to provide open access to its fibre infrastructure, in the same way that telcos such as Optus, iiNet and TPG access Telstra’s network in Australia.

In May 2012, OpenReach announced it had passed the 10 million premises mark, and the end of June 2014, Openreach expects to have completed its rollout, although it has also already announced that it will extend the rollout to new areas, beyond the two thirds of the UK that it had initially planned; and it seems easy to predict that some rollout work will progress indefinitely.

BT’s Infinity plans offer download speeds of up to 76Mbps, much greater than the speeds generally available to most Australians under existing ADSL infrastructure, and the prices are comparable to existing broadband plans in Australia. In that time frame, Labor’s NBN policy has seen only 207,500 premises passed in terms of its fibre network, with about 70,000 premises using live services.

Albanese also went on the attack against the cost of the Coalition’s NBN policy. The Coalition has costed its model at $29.5 billion, while the Government’s plan will require $29.5 billion of government investment.

“There are two costs to the NBN, or the NBN and its alternative. One is $30.4 billion. Gets you 1000 megs per second. The second is $29.5 billion. So, you know, less than a billion dollars less, almost the same price, gets you 25. Now, if you went into the Hungry Birds Café there and they had a deal that said this is about the future, for as long into the future as you can see. If you give me $29, I’ll give you a card and then I’ll give you 25 cups of coffee. But if you give me $30, you can have 1000. What sort of mug would take the $29 option?” asked Albanese. “That’s the alternative option. That’s the alternative option.”

However, the Communications Minister did not mention that under both NBN policies, if they deliver as they are planned, the actual cost of the network will end up being somewhat immaterial. This is because both policies plan to ultimately deliver a return on the Government’s investment in either, meaning that the funding involved of building either can only be counted as an investment, and not as an expense.

The Coalition has claimed that the cost of Labor’s NBN policy could be dramatically higher than Labor has estimated — up to $90 billion. However, this estimate by the Coalition rests on a series of ‘worst case’ scenarios that would all have to occur simultaneously for the $90 billion figure eventuate. Current estimates place the cost of the NBN much closer to the Government’s estimate.

In general Albanese attempted to push the Government’s message that it was only through the current fibre to the home policy that much of the benefit of universal high-speed broadband could be wrought.

“The other thing is it will be connected up to your home for free. You’ve got to pay for future usage, as you did with other forms of new technology, but it’s being delivered as an essential service. Fibre to the home is as essential as water and electricity. It is an essential of life in terms of the quality of life. So we should do it once, and we should do it with fibre,” Albanese said.

And in reference to the delays suffered so far by the NBN project, in terms of its construction: “This project is ramping up, and with any infrastructure project, what happens when you build, and I’ve been Infrastructure Minister for six years, you don’t announce a highway’s going to be built and then have cars in it the next day. What you get – there’s a ramp up effect and it’s not linear. And that is what we are seeing with the NBN. An exciting project.”

I think the current political debate about the NBN is fascinating, in that we’re seeing highly misleading statements made by both sides, as they frantically attempt to show that their model is the only viable model, in an attempt to influence the electorate’s vote ahead of the upcoming Federal Election.

From Albanese we’re seeing this view that the Coalition’s NBN model is simply crazy — that nobody would pursue it. However, of course, what Albanese fails to acknowledge is that the model is not crazy, and that it’s been pursued very successfully in countries such as the UK, where millions of households are right now enjoying high-speed FTTN broadband. And it’s taken BT about the same amount of time to deploy its FTTN network to millions of households as it has taken NBN Co to deploy FTTP to just over 200,000 households. Sure, fibre all the way to the premise is the right long-term vision, but NBN Co is not doing a good job of delivering on that vision — and right now, courtesy of its FTTN model, most of the UK has access to FTTN speeds up to 76Mbps. And yes, courtesy of BT’s separation, there is open access by other ISPs to the network.

Of course, the Coalition is also misleading the public with respect to the current NBN rollout. The truth is that NBN Co’s rollout has been delayed, but as Albanese mentioned, it does take a while at the start to get any fundamental infrastructure project off the ground, and the NBN is gradually ramping up to a higher deployment speed. This time next year, we should see a hugely greater number of premises connected to FTTP broadband.

The Coalition’s FTTN vision — while viable — will hardly take much less time to deploy than Labor’s FTTP vision. It will doubtless take quite some time for Turnbull to turn the FTTP ship around that NBN Co is currently sailing. Contracts will need to be renegotiated (including the massive Telstra one, the cause of much of NBN Co’s delays to start with), equipment bought and new training conducted for construction contractors. Nothing will be as easy as Turnbull is saying.

Meanwhile, in broad terms, the availability of broadband to the actual public hasn’t really changed much over the past half-decade. Most people are still stuck on low speeds on ADSL2+, a few of us are lucky enough to be able to access the at-times-congested higher-speed HFC cable networks, and most of the rest are quota-constrained on the 3G/4G mobile networks being rolled out.

Great. Isn’t politics fantastic?

Image credit: Toby Hudson, Creative Commons


  1. The fttn network is a stop gap measure. not a solution to the aging copper and lagging system currently in place. at some point, the copper to the home will have to be upgraded.

    also, the speed the uk are getting is up to 76Mbps…. we will only see 25Mbps here in australia.

    we need fibre to the home, otherwise its just a half-assed upgrade.

    • “The fttn network is a stop gap measure”

      That doesn’t invalidate the idea. It’s working very well for BT.

      The evidence is pretty clear that FTTN works and is faster to deploy. Millions of premises in the UK on FTTN since FTTN. In Australia, again, since 2009, 207,000 FTTP premises for NBN Co.

      I’d say the difference in terms of what each country has been able to achieve in that time is pretty stark.

      • “That doesn’t invalidate the idea. It’s working very well for BT.”

        The difference is that BT upgraded from their old copper to FTTN. They didn’t starting rolling out FTTH and then go *backwards* to a worse system.

        (I’m not even going to go into all the other issues with Turnbull’s plan, such as the promises on what percentage of properties will get certain speeds, which are impossible to guarantee under his FTTN plan)

        • “The difference is that BT upgraded from their old copper to FTTN. They didn’t starting rolling out FTTH and then go *backwards* to a worse system.”

          Nailed it.

          • Actually, he didn’t. He might have nailed it if we’re already passed 6 million premises and they were planning on undoing it and redoing it. As it stands, they haven’t passed that many and it’s no where near too late to change direction considering FTTN actually requires you to deploy fibre to everywhere but the last stretch between the node and the house (the same concentrators they’ll be using to route fibre from the home to the backhaul anyway)…

            But don’t let facts get in the way of a good old fashioned bit of head in the sand.

            Of course, yet another flip flop (Opel, NBN mk I, mk II, NotNBN etc) will involve a consequent slow down which puts a product usable by most even further away. Oh for some sort of non-partisan Sesame-Street style co-operation… You’d figure if 5 year olds could work out, politicians might with some intensive training.

          • “Actually, he didn’t”

            Actually, he did. Your comment is irrelevant.

        • BT also own the copper in the UK, our federal government does not own a copper network in Australia, and the company that does has shown no interest in rolling out an open access FTTN network.

      • Comparing BT rolling out FTTN with Australia isn’t a like for like comparison. Australia is much larger country and rolling out fibre in such an environment is more costly and takes longer. The differences are stark because they are two completely different situations.

        FTTN will require upgrading to FTTP at some point in the future anyway. It makes much more sense to do it now instead of shifting the cost to future governments/budgets/generations just to make a policy seem more appealing to those with little network infrastructure understanding or experience.

      • I think the difference is:
        Started rolling out in 2009 on their own copper
        Started rolling out in 2015 on someone elses copper.

        6 years is a lot of years to lose on ROI

      • You’re right, it doesnt invalidate it… But i think i would prefer an nbn solution that will be faster than what adsl2 promised (as long as you were close to the exchange), as well as something that wont need upgrading in the short term.

        Sure fttn works… so does adsl2 … so does a 56k modem… its not about what works, but what will work tomorrow, and what, in the long term, will be most cost effective and reliable. Knowing that if fttn comes in, at some point the copper will need to be ripped up and replaced with fibre… why shouldnt it be there in the first place. Why not invest now. Why hold off on the inevitable. Im in an area that wont see fibre for 3 years. I know i could have fttn in a year… i want to wait for the better solution. I want the 100Mbps speed, knowing that its easily upgradable to 1000Mbps (1Gbps), with no need to rip up cables again.

        the difference in what each country has achieved in that time frame is pretty stark… but it should be… fttn takes half the time because its less than half the work of a full upgrade.

      • In order to be fair and accurate, you have to look at the circumstances, especially how they are different between Australia and the UK.

        1) NBN co has designed the network, developed and tested the technology, and begun rolling out FTTP, they and their contractors have developed processes and the sub-contractors are now trained to roll out FTTP. Going backwards to FTTN would require re-designing the network, redeveloping and testing new(old) and unfamiliar technology, developing new processes and retraining the sub-contractors towards rolling out FTTN – all towards an inferior end. BT, on the other hand, has a wealth of experience
        2) The copper network is owned by the incumbent that is rolling out FTTN in the UK; BT has a wealth of knowledge about its own network and its capabilities, that NBNco (or perhaps even Telstra itself) doesn’t have about Telstra’s network. Unless Telstra obtains the NBN and begins rolling out FTTN using their engineers and their copper, you can’t say “if it works in the UK, it’ll work in Australia” – hell, didn’t Telstra already propose that back in 2007 and their proposal was rejected? Having said that, a Coalition government selling our public assets to a private corporation for peanuts is a fairly likely scenario…
        3) Residences are more sparse geographically in Australia than in the UK, so the number of residences that each node can service is smaller, meaning a larger number of nodes per capita, meaning a slower rollout and higher cost per capita.
        4) Many reports have suggested that the copper network in Australia is older and less reliable than the copper network in the UK.
        5) While BT will finish their rollout next year, and there will be many years from that date that their network will be useful, by the time an FTTN rollout were to finish under a Coalition government in Australia, it would be obsolete the next day, and unfit to meet the capacity needs of the future.
        6) A better technology (FTTP) exists that is being rolled out now in Australia and in advanced economies around the world in a cost-effective manner – why choose second-best, just because it is also being rolled out?

        So in light of these facts, using the old copper network IS crazy, if you’re anyone other than the Opposition. It’s not crazy if you’re being politically expedient and attempting to neutralise the advantage of the Government’s policy in the next election. While no one (other than maybe Fibroid) would claim that FTTN is better, it would still be playing into the Coalition’s agenda to say that the Coalition’s policy is not much worse.

        While Albo needs to be better-briefed on and do more of his own research into the ‘technical stuff’ he is essentially correct in this regard. The loss of Conroy’s knowledge and experience of the technology and the arguments surrounding the NBN is a huge loss for Labor. I think that Albo needs to follow Conroy’s oft-repeated advice about reading web-forums like Whirlpool and Delimiter to get the conclusive facts, or even just spend an evening with a coffee reading the extensive work of ABC’s Nick Ross.

        • I didn’t finish the paragraph:
          1) […] BT, on the other hand, has a wealth of experience in rolling out FTTN. Maybe the idea has a better chance of success if the Coalition could entice BT to come down here and do our FTTN roll-out for us.

      • @Renai,

        Turnbull fails to mention that NBNCo isn’t an incumbent Telco like BT, and does not own the legacy copper infrastructure.

        For the likes of BT and other incumbent telco it *MIGHT* make sense to do piecemeal upgrades by way of FTTN but for Australia it’s just plain idiotic to do this when we have an opportunity to do it right the first time.

        *Facepalm* what is so difficult about this to understand?

      • The former CTO of BT states ““Fibre to the cabinet is one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made,” he said. “It ties a knot in the cable in terms of bandwidth and imposes huge unreliability risks”

        Also, have you been to Britain? It’s tiny, and most of their suburban areas are very high density living. When you pass a single street front in say Suburban Glasgow, chances are you are passing an average of 4 families. In Western Sydney you are passing an average of 1.3 families. This means that in suburban Glasgow, you don’t need as many nodes to provide relatively high quality service. Unlike Western Sydney, which would require roughly 3 times more.

        Why don’t you mention KPN in the Neatherlands? Probably because when they started building FTTN they found that such a network was nowhere near as cheap as they thought it would be, and they realised that the better investment would be to to do FTTP.

        • “Why don’t you mention KPN in the Neatherlands? Probably because when they started building FTTN they found that such a network was nowhere near as cheap as they thought it would be, and they realised that the better investment would be to to do FTTP.”

          Interesting. URL?

          • @Renai

            Budde picked up on this one a while ago:


            When KPN in the Netherlands began building out FttN it found that the network was not as cheap as originally envisaged. It may look like you are bringing fibre in a 1:100 split, so you could potentially save a great deal of money. However, the company discovered that it had to go all the way through residential streets to get to the concentration points. They often passed 70% of homes on a route. These homes could have been provided with a fibre drop at the gate or even the home at marginal cost. FttN is always perceived as dropping at the curb at one end of the street, but the actual aggregation point may be half way down the street, and fibre fans out from there.

            It’s no where NEAR as simple as a star network that Turnbull is making it. It’s one of the things I’ve been trying to find evidence for, but unfortunately, Turnbull won’t talk about it and Telstra are mum on their infrastructure type and layout.

      • The only reason they have been able to connect so many in the UK is the volume of people that are are living on top of one another compared to here.
        Now if you were to take a look at the distances covered to deploy it to so many millions of there customers
        it would be a drop in a bucket as to the distance that we would need to cover in both fiber and distance and don’t even mention the quantity of cabinets that we would need to deploy to cover that amount of people.

      • As a stop gap measure, its worth a few billion, not 30 billion.
        Turnbull came into this promising his vision would be “a quarter to a third” the price. And in the end, even though is policy document has obvious omissions, he still had to resort to manufactured truth in partnership with the Daily Telegraph just so it wouldn’t immediately be pointed out that his scheme failed on that “quarter to a third” claim.

    • I’m finding the ‘up to speeds’ sentence to be annoyingly meaningless, so I googled a link with recent average speeds for UK with reference to the “Average speeds by connection category Superfast” , which references the BT ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service . http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2013/03/14/average-uk-broadband-speeds-hit-double-figures/ .Which shows a more meaningful figure of 44.6Mbit/s .Linked provided above for anyone else who would like better understanding on what ‘up to’ means.

  2. FTTN is only a variable solution for a private company wishing to maximise their profits in the short time. That is why it is being rolled out over FTTH. It does indeed cost more in the short term to roll out FTTH. However it presents significant long term advantages. The roll out of outdated technology using government funds/bonds is a terrible idea. Why spend nearly as much on a product that offers nowhere near as much and won’t be worth as much to future investors, and for only 2 years faster. Plus we aren’t even mentioning telstra effectively giving up the copper for the same price they currently negotiated (unlikely).

    “Albo” is completely accurate in his statements and represents the views of the majority of us Renai. Plus your story yesterday about the Labor party incorrectly claiming that the LNP Fiber on Demand seems slightly one sided. MT was interviewed yesterday and states that it will cost several thousand for a connection, although he hasn’t done the figures yet. So saying up to $5000 really isn’t a stretch. And based on economy of scale it is highly likely people will be paying that much or more if not many people are willing to spend the cash to extend to a FTTH connection, based upon how much an individual
    Fiber connection costs ATM through private firms.

    • *viable solution. P.s. is there an edit function for delimiter? Stupid ipad autocorrecting things.

    • If you look at the Labor ads, they’re saying you won’t get connected at all if you don’t pay up to $5,000 — you’ll be left on “the old copper network”.

      Well, here’s news for you — you don’t need to pay anything under the Coalition’s policy to get connected to FTTN, which is not “the old copper network”. This is one reason the ads are inaccurate.

      I’m sorry, but FTTN does not equal “the old copper network”. That’s just not true.

      • Please, clearly they are using political wishy washy terms to promote their side. That’s a given on either side of politics. It definitely could be argued that FTTN is on the old copper network though. My connection constantly drops out come the wet season, FTTN is not going to fix this. Unless my copper is replaced by FTTH due it being so poor as per MT claims, however he also hasnt costed that into their plan. Claiming that their up to $5000 statement is inaccurate really isn’t true. He has stated it will cost several thousand and he hasn’t even costed it. Up to $5000 is not a stretch by any standard.

        • “My connection constantly drops out come the wet season, FTTN is not going to fix this.”

          Yes it will, because Turnbull has stated the copper will be remediated where necessary.

          • I’ll be signing up onto that list if the Liberals win :)
            I wonder how they judge if the line needs replacing? Under a certain amount of kb/s?

          • and what satisfies the “where necessary”??

            i know some peoples homes now where its necessary (every time there is a change in ther weather there is a change in the internet connection… but their connection isnt deemed necessary for replacement)..

            and if its not the old copper network.. .are you saying that they will be ripping up the old copper to put new copper in???

          • only if its deemed necessary though right….

            this calls for some midnight phone line slashing just to make sure its in the “necessary replacement” category ;)

          • Well that’s what has me worried, my line is the same it’s already pretty bad without wet weather, I’ve complained many times to Telstra, but it’s never been replaced :(

          • i completely understand… others i know and myself are in the very same (internet doesnt work good when wet/season change) boat.

          • My wife works from home, to make things easier I’ve got a printed out paper near the modem of how to chose the modem profile I have setup for such days.
            I have a Winter profile setup in my modem for those rainy days, pretty much just drops it down to adsl1 and trys to recude any of the line noise, at least this way she can still work… Sad isn’t it :(

          • And what does he deem as suitable for remediation? My connection is pretty good by adsl2 standards normally so its unlikely it will be remediated. What happens if the day they do my FTTN like check its sunny and all seems good? think they are going to come back and change it to FTTH? And how is that factored into his costing? How much copper needs remediation?

            All the LNP “plan” is, is a wish list. I honestly have no idea how yourself as a respectable and intelligent journalist can believe that the LNP would be able to gain power, conduct an analysis of the current rollout, renegotiate with telstra, renegotiate with sub contractors and begin a FTTN rollout. All the while rolling it out faster and slightly cheaper.

            Meanwhile it creates a digital divide around the country like we already see now and we end up investing nearly as much. And the same or more in the long term to upgrade to FTTH. It just blows my mind that this is even being considered as policy.

            P.s. I am in no way a labor supporter. I have voted predominantly LNP in the past. I just can’t understand their current stance. All it seems they want to do is promote something significantly different to the Labor party to grab votes based upon the current labor hate and thus gain power at the next election.

          • Well I guess if Liberals do win and if everyone in Australia signs up to the list then… FTTP? :P

          • i would laugh if that happened and it made their budget blow out to twice the size of labors costs.

      • “Well, here’s news for you — you don’t need to pay anything under the Coalition’s policy to get connected to FTTN, which is not “the old copper network”. This is one reason the ads are inaccurate.”

        please go back and re-read the ad, the wording is not what you have stated, it is “you pay up to $5,000 or youre left on the old, slow copper network”

        if were going to get picky theres a comma in there, its not “the old slow copper network”, its two parts, “old” and “slow copper network” – both are factual points in relation to newer faster fibre network.

        “I’m sorry, but FTTN does not equal “the old copper network”. That’s just not true.”

        quite correct but thats not exactly what the ad states and seeing as the media are being particularly anal about spelling and grammar then this works both ways.

        you are factually incorrect.

      • “I’m sorry, but FTTN does not equal “the old copper network”. That’s just not true.”

        What would be more accurate is to say is that you would be left on the last bit of the old copper network. The one with most of the problems.

        The problem with the Coalition’s plan is not that it won’t work, it is that it has too many ‘ifs”

        Also, if, as you say, the cost of both plans is irrelevant, given that users will pay for it, the only issue left is roll out time. This again is full of ‘ifs” and would require the best outcome for unresolved issues to just be marginally quicker.

        However, the price we will pay is a continuing digital divide.

      • @Renai,

        FTTN is just a highly polished turd that looks shiny because of the copper content.

        FTTN is another Coalition and conservative “short term” and single term of office myopic waste of time.

  3. The coalitions plan is crazy when it’s only a billion dollars cheaper. If FttN was less than 10 Billion, they’d have a good argument on their side.

    The other thing to note is the only FttN deployments happening around the world are being being done by incumbents trying to milk every last cent out of their copper investment (in some cases receiving goverment funding to do it).

    That is the most coherrent argument out of labor yet, hopefully Albanese keeps it up.

    • The cost is immaterial when both plans will deliver a financial ROI. “Cost” is actually the wrong word to use. The correct word is “funds invested”.

      • That is a fair point. But the ROI will likely be far greater with a FttP installation, so the initial investment needs to be far lower with a FttN plan.

        The speed of delivery, initial outlay in costs of FttN is not great enough to justify ditching FttP. There is so much scope for the FttP rollout to be improved (as I’ve stated in previous comments), that the coalition should be arguing, that they can do FttP, do it better, faster and cheaper.

        Saving a billion dollars of invested tax payer money and improving rollout time by 2 years is not enough to justify scrapping FttP.

      • Ok – so if both a giving us a ROI and both require funds invested then what works out better based on what little we know in the way of of a CBA?

        Is it something that returns based on something that connects most of us in such a way where we need not bother for many decades in regards to upgrading again … or is it something that utilises half a future proof ideal and half an older … well current spec? Needless to say that one offers a long term view and the other offers a short to mid term one …

        If they both provide back to the government at the end of the day … well doesn’t that just prove that it should not matter and that the Libs are two glass fibres short of a connection in regards to what they propose?

        Why would anyone in their right mind (if you take into account that they will BOTH have a ROI) go for a half arsed measure over another that both future proofs us now and takes the copper question (be it old, degraded, water logged, ok in parts, alright for a few more years) out of the equation?

        Where is the logic and why, if based on your premise of ROI and “funds invested”, are you even bothering trying to balance this?

      • @Renai

        The cost is immaterial when both plans will deliver a financial ROI. “Cost” is actually the wrong word to use. The correct word is “funds invested”.

        But what business plan do we have that shows this? Turnbull says it will return an ROI. He doesn’t say what, only that it’ll “likely be more because it costs less”….except it doesn’t to the government. Even if it DOES cost what he thinks it will which is unlikely.

        Renai, you’ve said you believe it’s unlikely they’ll be able to meet their goals of 2016 and 2019, which are PARAMOUNT for ROI….so then why do we believe that the FTTN plan will therefore have a similar ROI and therefore be “invested” money and not “spent’?

      • Actually the relative cost *is* material because fraudband will become obsolete or uneconomic long, long before it can ever break even.

        • Well, based on the coalition policy of just beating inflation on the additional investments, say 3% on $30 billion, would result in gains of less than $1 billion per year once FTTN is rolled out.
          The NBN business plan would beat that by 2023 and would return over $3.5 billion after tax profit a year by 2028.

          So it seems wasteful to save $500 million at a cost of over $2.5 billion a year in 15 years, but I’m sure “Mr Internet in Australia” would have considered this due to his wide business experience.

  4. I think some measure of over-simplification and leaving out the full suite of facts is just politics. Providing the overall message has truth I just accept this nowadays. We see it on both sides for every political issue there is. I’d be more surprised if Albo praised a single element of the Coalitions’s alternative, just as the Coalition will always leave out the facts, and never say a single positive thing about Labor’s NBN.

    In politics your policy is the only one worth considering. No matter what the nitty-gritty truth is. Or at least that’s the way you want the public at large to view it. Albo’s coffee and iron metaphors are arguments that laymen can understand. Sure they don’t stand up completely under scrutiny, but given the technical nature of the NBN, some level of simplification is required to get the message through to voters.

    I feel like its war now. Turnbull has been lying for so long he doesn’t even notice when he’s doing it any more. To take on that kind of skilled intellectual manipulator, a bit of dirty “not-the-whole-truth” politics from Labor is just fine by me.

    • There are other strategies a person could pursue. Damning with feint praise comes to mind.

      I live in some kind of naive hope that our nations leaders could debate issues based on evidence, long term planning and the best interests of the community but that will be the day.

      One thing is for sure, Labor doesn’t do itself any favours by spreading false information. Just the same as the Coalition claiming they are superior economic managers when the only whiffs of economic policy they let emerge are quite frankly retarded.

    • “To take on that kind of skilled intellectual manipulator, a bit of dirty “not-the-whole-truth” politics from Labor is just fine by me.”

      I will never be OK with that.

      • +1 I am sick of “not the whole truths”

        It happens. When people are impassioned, they make mistakes.

        But this wholesale deceit and half truths is just sickening.

        I agree with Renai regarding Labor’s ads. It frustrates me that they are getting into the same dirt that has coloured the coalitions arguments.

        Stop it. Post the truth. Explain it fully, warts and all, and let us decide.

  5. It really isn’t helpful to compare the speed of the BT rollout to that of the NBN; Australia is over 31 times larger, with less than 100th of the population density of Britain.

      • @William

        BT started in 2009. NBNCo. started in 2012.

        Not comparable. And BT started WITH FTTN, which is always going to be quicker from scratch. If you’re going to compare, be reasonable.

  6. FTTN would not have been too bad if there wasn’t so much delay beginning from the $4.7 billion tender process in 2007 to where we are now. Unfortunately I feel as if we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because it’s taken us so long to begin the NBN I don’t think going FTTN now is a good option. In 5 years time FTTN connections will start to look a little dated and I predict that many parts of the FTTN deployments in the US and UK will see FTTP upgrades. However lets face it the FTTP rollout is taking its sweet time, and I agree with MT with the fact that there are many Australians that will be stuck with really bad services for a really long time until FTTP finally passes their homes. I also think turning the boat around to make the network FTTN is too late, it will simply waste time and lose focus. We need to work hard at making FTTP happen.

  7. I just want better internet and am totally sick of waiting.

    I have been stuck on congested ADSL1 for years now, speed limited to 2.5Mbps MAX (by Telstra as its on their congestion CMUX list), but Telstra refuse to upgrade the backhaul. In real world usage, I am lucky to exceed 0.5Mbps, often falling below 0.1Mbps.

    The developer paid Telstra hundreds of thousands of dollars for “high speed broadband” when the estate was developed in 2005, but since building and living here I have discovered Telstra only bothered configuring 8Mbps total backhaul to the CMUX for the whole estate, even though there is 24 fibres from exchange to CMUX.

    I was first promised better internet (ADSL2+) under OPEL back in 2006. 7 years later, I still have no light at the end of the tunnel of my broadband hell, as I am not yet even on the NBN 3 year rollout plan.
    I feel like slashing my wrists when I consider I may not see any upgrade for who knows how many years yet – it is looking like my children are going to go from starting primary school to completing highschool quicker than we get any sort of broadband upgrade.

    And yes, my house has been on the market for ages, but have been unable to sell.

    Oh yeh, I work from home 100% of the time, so it is kind of important to me….

    • As that Monty Python skit would tell you.. luxury!

      My ADSL1 hell ended nearly 2 years ago when my copper finally became incapable of supporting a carrier. Since then I’ve been in 3GHell, and predictably, its gotten more congested and less reliable.

      Turnbull has not promised remediation in his fraudband policy. How could he? There’s no way to cost it. I know for sure that if he were to provide it to my address he’d need to rip up and replace about 3Km of copper. When asked on Q+A about this he told the questioner “yes, I”ll fix the copper” despite that being uncosted.

      The thing most people don’t realise is that even copper that can support ADSL2, may fail to give much improvement when pressed into VDSL service because of higher losses at higher frequencies over degraded wires. A remediation likely to give good VDSL service is also likely to escalate into the task of replacing a large fraction of the copper. This just isn’t a real policy. Its a fraud.

  8. Just a quibble with the article.

    “However, the Communications Minister did not mention that under both NBN policies, if they deliver as they are planned, the actual cost of the network will end up being somewhat immaterial. This is because both policies plan to ultimately deliver a return on the Government’s investment in either, meaning that the funding involved of building either can only be counted as an investment, and not as an expense.”

    Technically, the coalition policy only requires “a positive after-inflation return on all post-election equity invested by taxpayers.” This would allow all the existing equity to have no return and still be within their policy. This would allow a deliberate impairment of the existing equity once the coalition is in office, to allow this extremely low hurdle rate to be met.

    As compared to the NBN co’s SAU, which has a revenue cap to limit the IRR to 7sh%.

    So there is a material difference to the actual cost figures and their rates of return, and the article should be amended to show that.

  9. When dealing with big technology projects you have to limit immediate costs as far as feasible for the simple reason that technology changes and progresses so fast that most investments made today will be redundant tomorrow . History is full of example of grandiose project which cost a fortune and turned out to be useless as soon as completed . One does not have to be a genius to understand that . Of course the word genius and “albo” do not exactly go together !

    • “History is full of example of grandiose project which cost a fortune and turned out to be useless as soon as completed ”

      This is an excellent description of FTTN. Thank you.

      “Of course the word genius and “albo” do not exactly go together !”

      So, is MT a genius for proposing what you are evidently decrying?

      “technology changes and progresses so fast that most investments made today will be redundant tomorrow”

      Could share with us what you feel will make fibre redundant tomorrow?

  10. O.K., let’s remove the extraneous effluent in regard to what is happening successfully elsewhere, plonking it down into the middle of the Australian context and assuming success.
    It’s garbage!
    It usually is when you see something that works successfully somewhere and assume it will in a totally different environment. There are simly too many variables not being taken into consideration.

    What’s the staus of the copper network in the U.K.?
    Because here it is appalling.
    I have noted the debate between the union and telstra executive in relation to the state of the copper network here and, please be assured, management are lying through their teeth in an effort at damage control.

    I know of terminal posts with over 20 tickets on them, recommending complete replacement going back years, even decades, and they are still continuously being patched not replaced.

    The degree of water exposure to exposed lines is well beyond standard throughout the length.

    The ‘distance from the exchange’ argument with effect to your degraded ADSL2+ speed has little to do with resistance when it is seen that the line length in two different situations on two different exchanges is exactly the same, but the speed varies by more than 6MB/s. That is due to bleeds to earth and it is endemic throughout the national network because we have a national carrier who is more interested in pumping money into shareholder’s pockets that it is in maintaining the standard of the product.

    Why should it?

    The tax payers can pay for that and they can be dispossessed once again by the same ‘privatisation’ tactic a little further down the line, once overheads have been recouped.
    NBN facilities, with an eye to the future, are being moved into Telstra premises as we speak.

    I have had a completely dead line situation, called a Telstra tech to check the situation out. He arrived, stood outside, made a call, advised that all was O.K., and rushed off to put in the invoice. He was on the job for all of 60 seconds.

    I called an independent data/communications mob, who came down, conducted a spectrograph test at the socket, pin-pointed multiple faults along the course of the line going back over at least two pits, severe water interference, multiple bleeds to earth, and a recommendation that 150 metres of line be completely replaced. I am advised that this is a fairly standard finding by multiple instances of both independent commercial operators and telstra field staff.

    And your recommendation is to take a brand-new, tax-payer funded, fibre optic network and connect it to that, is it?

    Totally brain dead!

  11. Sit back and look at this situation objectively:

    If Telstra were anything resembling a forward-thinking, progressive organisation, they would have been incrementally replacing the old copper and even lead-lined network back when they were still being called Telecom.

  12. It’s a blatant example of arrogance when those who believe they are capable of solving problems are so far removed from the facts, they are simply not in a position to make a relevant decision.

    Obviously this applies to both parties.

  13. “working very well,” I’m not so sure.
    You hear many cases of where BT customers aren’t receiving anywhere near “up-to 76mbit/sec”

    It would be nice if you could look in to it and maybe include more information in future articles about it.
    That “up-to” shenanigans is pretty wild.

  14. I think the really interesting question here is, has large scale FTTN been rolled out anywhere in the world by anyone *other* than an incumbent telco who already owns the copper network?

    It seems entirely possible to me that it might make sense to upgrade the copper network that you already own to FTTN, but not make sense to buy a copper network off someone else and then upgrade that if you were starting fresh. They’re two quite different cases, but the assumption that if FTTN worked for an overseas Telco then it’ll work for NBNCo ignores that core difference.

    If anyone can find a case of a large scale FTTN network being rolled out by someone who didn’t own an existing copper network, I’d be really interested in hearing about it.

  15. Harry Weaver is absolutely right. I have the same issues at my place (S.A)-internet drops out when it rains, multiple ‘leaks’ to earth etc Telstra come and wrap some gaffer tape around wires hanging out the conduit!
    It is an absolute certainty that this copper wire will need to be replaced. Hell, it should have been retraced 15 years ago! It will also certainly cost more to replace in the future, so replace it with fibre now damn it. Here in S.A. we’re finally having our Southern Expressway made into a normal two-way road – the cost of this is far greater now than it would have been if the road had been built properly in the first place (it was supposed to be 2-way, by the way, but Liberal Gov got in & changed the plan). It’s the same with the NBN: it should be done properly first go, which means FTTH.

  16. Oh great…. Albanese, a career politician who has no idea about technology (like most pollies), is now a technologist.

    The Labor cupboard is bare.

  17. I bet under the Coalition plan most big business will have fibre. I just the thousands of us with small businesses and in home businesses that will be stuck with last century technology. It’s a antiquated idea that will eventually cost more than we will pay for fibre

  18. Do it once and do it right!!!!!!!!!!!
    Its time for Fibre To The Home, Sell the copper, It costs too much to maintain anyway. Too many faults. We need this. Its probably the greatest step forward for this country in this century. Like the 19th century rollout of the copper network or the Electrical Grid. We cannot afford half assed measures championed by people who have no understanding of this technology and the benefits it can bring.

    Give us FTTH as we demand. Labor will. Hummn , that makes my voting easy. Stuff the trogolytes.

    And I speak from 44 yaers of of technical experience including 18 at Telecom/Telstra

    Bloody moronic Liberals, This is one thing they should agree with. Its that extra little thing that will cost them the election. Get rid of the copper NOW!!!!

  19. What upload speeds are being delivered by BT in the UK? Small business depends upon upload speeds.

  20. This debate is already trending towards the “FTTP or nothing” argument which I’ve seen repeatedly.

    Folks, the fact that your copper in your street is crappy doesn’t invalidate a FTTN rollout. BT, Deutsche Telecom, AT&T, France Telecom … all of these telcos have dealt with the same issues. They’re not fundamentally different issues in Australia. The evidence is there.

    Is FTTP a better policy than FTTN? Yes. Does this mean it fundamentally won’t work? No. It will work. We’ve seen that in the UK and we’ll see it now.

    To those who say that only incumbents can upgrade their copper networks to FTTN … a lot of people have been making that argument about NBN Co and FTTP for a long time now. It might turn out to be scary if both of these arguments were in fact right.

    • Renai it doesn’t matter if it will work. Anything can be made to work. It is a matter of choosing the solution that offers the most for our country, at the most cost effective price and worth the most in the long term. FTTH ticks all that. FTTN does not. There is simply too many questions about a FTTN rollout and the fact that it will nearly cost as much for far less, and will have to be upgraded eventually. You simply can’t ignore these facts because a FTTN rollout will “work”. We also don’t want a digital divide anymore in this country anymore.

        • Hmm a small quotes out of context makes for a fair argument hey. Disregard every other point I made about the best value for money, digital divide, questions around FTTN rollout and the state of the copper etc etc. because hey i said 1 little thing that sounds stupid when taken out of larger context of the fact that it is irrelevant that FTTN rollout “works”, 56k works are we still using that?

        • The question I want to answered is “Does it work if it needs to be upgraded to FTTH in about 6 years time?”
          Will it have paid for itself? Will it just mean the eventual FTTH network wholesale prices will be higher because we are still paying off the investment in FTTN?

    • The main problem I have with the NBN debate here atm is in the mainstream press, Labor’s plan gets talked about like Turnbull’s 4 worst case scenarios are fact, yet his BIG potential worst case scenario – the pointless remediation of copper when putting fibre in would be just as much work – is largely ignored, as is the upgrade cost from FTTN to FTTH. So despite Labor’s plan being vastly superior from a technology/futureproofing viewpoint, from a cost/efficiency viewpoint the debate is largely skewed.

    • It’s not “FTTP or nothing” – it’s not like we are sitting here on ADSL wondering which one to build next. The FTTP network is ALREADY well under construction. Changing to FTTN is a regressive step.

      The ALP proposed a FTTN network back in 2007-08 remember? That option was deemed not viable and they went ahead with FTTP instead.

      Renai, I know as a journalist you should aim to be impartial; but as a technology journalist you should be calling an vastly inferior network for what it is.

    • Renai, the point is not that it will work, but will it work well enough? I mean there are many options that could work if you tried hard enough. You could probably setup a distributed WiFi system that would work, but who in their right mind would?

      The point is that Labor are mostly telling grey lies, while the Coalition have been telling black lies. There is a difference.

        • You’ve been reading too many of Fibroid posts!

          Honestly Renai, when you look at other Telco’s starting from scratch eg Google, Verizon (cable company becoming a Telco at the time it started FiOS), Power Utilities, Councils, Electronics Giants (Sony) did they think buying an existing PSTN and rolling out FTTN was a good idea?

          No they didn’t, the smartest use of their money was to build FTTP networks – it really doesn’t get any simpler than that!

        • @Renai

          But not in Netherlands for FTTN. Or Singapore, or Hong Kong or Korea.

          We can go around in circles all day quoting different overseas rollouts. The ONLY way for this to be decided would be to know the state of the copper. We don’t and do you honestly think Turnbull can find it out in 60 days? Because that’s what he’s promising. To find out the state of the majority of Australia’s copper in 60 days….

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_premises_by_country

          I can’t find a list for FTTN at all.

          all I can find is this

          FTTN is currently used by a number of multiple-service operators to deliver advanced triple-play services to consumers, including AT&T in the United States for its U-Verse service, Deutsche Telekom in Germany, Swisscom, Belgacom in Belgium, and Canadian operators Telus and Bell Canada.[20] It is seen as an interim step towards full FTTH and in many cases triple-play services delivered using this approach have been proven to grow subscriber numbers and ARPU considerably.
          (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiber_to_the_x#Fiber_to_the_curb )

          Funny how malcom was complaing about the ARPU rising…

    • That’s because, Renai, there simply is no sensible alternative to FTTH.

      You can spend big money on a stop gap. A stop gap that has no chance of recovering its costs. And in the end you’ve still got to face the fact that the cost of a full fibre roll out will follow.

      All you’ve succeeded in doing with this fraudband farce is to spend more money overall, in order to delay the inevitable.

      The absurdity in this ultimately has its roots in a political party determined to win no matter what depths of intellectual dishonesty they engage in. Just like “direct action” uses soil carbon as a prop – one held up to fool the gullible to justify a policy that is essentially cheating voters, the Liberal’s fraudband policy uses FTTN as a prop. And like the props you find on stage, you look carefully and its just a facade.

  21. Yes, it will (should) work – in most places, providing your copper line is not too degraded.

    Where it doesn’t work, they will have to remediate / replace the copper.

    Does the coalitions’ plan include allowance for the cost of this remediation?
    How are we going to determine who required remediation? Is this going to be proacive or are they going to wait until a newly connected customer connects his equipment to the line and discovers he can only sync at 1mb/s on his supposed 70mb/s service?
    HOW are they going to remediate the affected lines?
    How long are they going to take to do this remediation?

    All these questions have to be answered under an FTTN system. To date, almost NONE of them have been!

    FTTN would be a much better option if we actually knew for certain the state of the network and the areas in which it needed to be replaced.

  22. Wow Renai LeMay talks about going after both sides of politics, but seems to be hung up labors errors and still not actually taking time to look into those errors.

    The up to $5000 figure has been in what 3 articles now?, but no mention that the figure isnt actually wrong, or that it is refering to an “option” that isnt even available in the Coalition policy. (there is no fibre on deman in the coalition policy!!! how about putting that peice of info out there…)

    then you report that the cost doesnt matter in regard to the tax payer due to ROI in defending how close the coalition figure is to the current NBN. Well it does matter, becasue that is the half of the coalition 2 word slogan (cheaper faster) it goes to the point its not cheaper at all, and after seeing the DELAYS in the UK has yet to be seen if its going to be faster. (oh wait no mention of BT’s delays in FTTN in the article either)

  23. Albo can’t even answer semi tough questions about what is happening currently with the nbn, therefore is unqualified to criticize the opposition. Anyone who questions Labor on how tax payer’s money is being spent is apparently a naysayer.

  24. Let’s waste $29b on building an obsolete network and run the risk of someone like Telstra or Optus overbuilding it with fibre to compete for customers which makes it even harder for the government to recover their investment.

    Telecommunications should be treated as infrastructure at it rightfully is. There should not be competition at all in the building of it.

    The whole concept of infrastructure competition is stupid.

  25. Taxpayers pay for the nbn to be built. Taxpayers have to pay to connect to the nbn. Then taxpayers have to pay to use the nbn. Can’t wait to be able to download a movie in 2 mins instead of 10mins.

    • Taxpayer pays for FTTN to be built

      Taxpayer gets connected to FTTN

      Taxpayer has to pay to use FTTN

      Taxpayer realises FTTN is no better than his old ADSL(2)

      Taxpayer gets lumped with a network no-one in their right mind would want to buy for the amount the Libs will want to sell it for – even if it worked as stated.

      Taxpayer gets TAXED to pay for the dud network because of the libs’ short-sightedness

      Which is better? You tell me.

      • oops. I forgot to mention a little bit at the beginning – should be point one :


  26. I feel it appropriate to repeat some of my previous statements on the two policies here, so that people know where I stand. From an article in April, after the Coalition released its policy:


    So, do I personally prefer the Coalition’s policy?

    No. I don’t. Fundamentally, it’s a worse policy than Labor’s. Its critics are right; it betrays a tragic loss of long-term vision for Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure. Fibre to the node is a dead-end technology which will, in several decades, be already fading into memory. By investing in fibre to the node, the Coalition isn’t skating to where the puck is going to be, nor even where it is now. It is looking backwards, not forwards, and by doing so it is throwing away the opportunity for Australia’s economy to transition from digging things up out of the ground to a more sustainable knowledge-based export economy — you know, the kind of economy which countries such as Germany and Japan already have.

    Then too, the economics of the Coalition’s policy are questionable. Its claim that Labor’s NBN vision will cost $94 billion is, even by research conducted by Turnbull’s own office, not backed by evidence, and as Turnbull himself has admitted, it is possible that the Coalition’s policy will even up costing as much as Labor’s in the long-run.

    Plus, there’s the simple fact that the Government has a decent deal with Telstra right now to shut down its copper network; and I wouldn’t trust Telstra for a single second not to bend a future Coalition Government over a barrel to charge it through the neck for re-negotiating its extensive contract with NBN Co. There’s no arguing with a company the size of Telstra, which has historically produced enough legal work to keep law firms like Mallesons in caviar for decades.

    On almost any measure, Labor’s policy is a better one than the Coalition’s. It has technical, economic, financial and industry structure advantages, to say nothing of the end benefit to Australian residents and businesses. It’s a winner and I prefer it vastly over the Coalition’s much more modest vision.

    But the Coalition’s policy is not a bad policy, or even a neutral policy. It is a good policy, and fundamentally sound as pre-election policies go; considered, researched, very detailed, and backed by an informed and well-educated Shadow Minister on op of the nuances of his portfolio. It maintains the bones of Labor’s policy and will deliver on many of its aims, while offering the potential to be more financially astute and delivered more quickly; and it will maintain infrastructure competition in some areas due to the continued existence of the HFC cable networks. Your writer has always argued that the shutdown of the HFC cable networks — and the huge payouts to Telstra and Optus that were to result from the move — was highly anti-competitive, and even the ACCC had severe misgivings about the idea.

    From my perspective, although I know many Australians, including myself, will be disappointed by the Coalition’s vision in this area, I would encourage readers to recall where we’ve come from. Up until May 2007, neither side of politics had a workable broadband policy that would resolve once and for all the infrastructure deadlock which Telstra and its cluster of competitors found themselves in. At that stage, Labor’s then-$4.7 billion NBN plan to build fibre to the node nationally was seen as a watershed moment. Funny how it’s not too different from what the Coalition is proposing today.

    Fast forward six years and in 2013, both sides of politics have ambitious visions to spend tens of billions on broadband infrastructure to serve the needs of Australia’s population today and for the future. The two plans retain many common elements but also, fittingly, represent differing political philosophies, and to say Australians would be incredibly better off under either than they are today would be a collossal understatement.

    Many Australians have spent the past week protesting loudly in every direction about how terrible the Coalition’s NBN policy is. But I prefer to see it as it is: A sensible, liberalist alternative to Labor’s NBN and precisely, as Turnbull has been saying for some time, what we should have expected from the conservative side of politics.

    None of this, of course, will stop me or others from holding Turnbull, Abbott and company to strict account for delivering on their alternative NBN vision after September. Stephen Conroy will remember how much fun it was to bathe daily in the fire of public opinion over the years from 2007 when Labor was determined to implement its unpopular Internet filtering policy. If the Coalition fails to deliver on its NBN vision to the same extent that Labor has, there will be hell to pay, and I will personally be lining up to rip the Earl of Wentworth a new one. But then, given how we began our relationship, I would bet that he would expect nothing less.

    • But the Coalition’s policy is not a bad policy, or even a neutral policy. It is a good policy, and fundamentally sound as pre-election policies go; considered, researched, very detailed, and backed by an informed and well-educated Shadow Minister on op of the nuances of his portfolio. It maintains the bones of Labor’s policy and will deliver on many of its aims,

      and this is the bit where many of us in the ICT industry completely disagree and feel you are being far far too kind to Malcolm’s policy!

      • Completely agree djos. There is simply no way FTTN can be considered good policy as it currently stands. If we had not already begun a rollout than yes it could be a sound option. But considering the time, investment and knowledge we currently have, FTTN is not good policy. It is a step backward that costs nearly as much but offers far less. It doesn’t matter that the coalition have come a long way from their previous stance, what matters is where we are currently at in regards to a national network. Something that actually benefits the country and erases the digital divide. As a technology journalist you would think Renai would look at where we are now and what is best for the future.

    • I think where you are frustrating people is that while it is true that the Coalitions FTTN policy is a good broadband policy in isolation, it is not a good policy in comparison the existing FTTP plan.

      If the current plan did not exist, the the Coalitions plan would be worthwhile. Otherwise it is not.

      That is all that people are saying.

      • Exactly, I mean this is like Sydney Metro starting to upgrade from Steam Rail Infrastructure to Electric Rail Infrastructure and 15% of the way in the opposition demanding they stop and rollout Diesel Loco’s instead because they are cheaper and faster to deploy, completely ignoring the significantly higher opex costs and many many other details like pollution, speed and future upgrade potential!

      • Bingo. The solution is for the coalition to adopt bipartisan support and say this is how we are going to roll it out more efficiently and fix the issues at NBN co. That would get my vote. Instead they are forcing poor policy for the sake of being different and to grab some votes based on the current labor hate. Investing nearly as much money, for barely any time saving and providing much less in the long term.

    • “None of this, of course, will stop me or others from holding Turnbull, Abbott and company to strict account for delivering on their alternative NBN vision after September.”

      ….should they get elected.

      It is notable that the MSM stated that Labor’s resurgence was coming to a halt, following Newspoll, showing 52-48 for the Coalition but totally ignoring Morgan showing the reverse and Essential showing a slight increase for Labor.

  27. Arguing now about the feasibility of one plan vs another is academic. No plan of the magnitude Labour attempts to deliver should have been undertaken until a full cost/benefit analysis was put to the people & debated in Senate Estimates. Initial costs of $5 Billion now forecast to exceed $65 Billion & climbing is an indictment to their negligence & deceit.
    The Coalition has every right to hold an Commision of Audit into it’s efficacy before the taxpayer’s are subjected to decades of debt. Daily reports of problems in the implementation phase of this project and extremely poor take-up rates, indicates systemic failure and simply reinforces that urgent professional & forensic scrutiny must be done.

  28. Akamai’s Q1 2013 State Of The Internet report released today shows that “average peak speed” of Australian fixed broadband has risen to 26 Mbps, no doubt helped by the first rollouts of NBN fibre. “Average peak” means the average of the very fastest speeds ever clocked on each unique IP address of a fixed broadband service, not the speed you get when the neighbourhood kids get home from school.

    26 Mbps sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But the next two tables tell the real story.

    Peaks of 4 Mbps are only ever seen by 37% of services, and 10 Mbps by only 4.8%!

    The NBN is supposed to finally reverse Telstra’s cherry picking of profitable suburbs and neglect of the 95.2% who after fifteen years of free market competition cannot get 10 Mbps broadband, nor useful upload speeds.

    This massive digital divide is going to be perpetuated if Telstra’s eight-year-old 2005 FTTN plan gets government funding, as rejected by John Howard then and proposed by Malcolm Turnbull in April.

    It is also doubtful that the cost-recovery model would succeed on FTTN, since revenues will be substantially lower than FTTP, which is seen to be comfortably self-funding in the first release areas.

  29. I’m just gonna say again what I said about 2 months back:

    The Coalition’s policy is a good policy. It is well thought out, it is well researched, it is even decently costed (if pointlessly so). But it is nothing but that- A POLICY.

    Labor’s NBN isn’t a policy. It’s a fully fledged, in progress, network build with YEARS of work behind it that has the backing of most of the Australian IT industry. It is behind schedule. And facing some problems with the rollout. But it is still producing actual services to Australians.

    How is it fair to compare a policy, with no physical evidence it can work, with a fully fledged build in progress and therefore call the Coalition’s policy “reasonable to consider?” It’s not. Not when we’re already in the middle of a network build. If they’d come to the 2007 election with this policy, or even the 2010 election, that would be a whole different story, because we had no evidence for the NBN being the better real-world scenario. We do now.

    I just don’t understand why an election “policy” of which we all know, like the NBN, is likely to morph into something completely different after the election, if it’s even kept, can be compared to a rollout of an actual network that is, bar some slowdown, actually progressing quite decently? And to stop it FOR that policy is tantamount to wasting billions of dollars and years of Australian’s time.

  30. Its so nice to know who to vote for. The real fear is that if the Libs get in we will not even get FTTN as they dont really give a shit.

  31. What will you get by going with FTTN first and FTTP later (doing it almost twice). Greater employment in all areas involving NBN rollout. Who pays for it? The end user. Why not just slightly increase taxes instead of increasing end user fees by going with FTTN first? Ah, that’s right FoD.

    Is it just me that feels like I’ve been told “This is what you want and is good enough, now give me your money… now give me some more and you’ll get what you really want”.

    Would you feel conned?
    Yes – That’s normal
    No – See a neurologist.

  32. Renai,

    Your commentary betrays a willingness to treat fraudband as a legitimate, earnest policy, and not the willful manipulation of voters that it is. As Sortius quite rightly points out, fraudband is a policy designed to fail. A policy designed simply to win an election and leave the Liberals in the position where they can construct inquiries and then move on to do what they really intended to do.

    The crux of your defense of fraudband can be found in the following paragraph..

    “However, the Communications Minister did not mention that under both NBN policies, if they deliver as they are planned, the actual cost of the network will end up being somewhat immaterial. This is because both policies plan to ultimately deliver a return on the Government’s investment in either, meaning that the funding involved of building either can only be counted as an investment, and not as an expense.”

    The problem here is that fraudband has no hope of ever breaking even. To do so it would have to continue well beyond its realistic completion date (around 2020) and then continue operating for the rest of the decade if not longer, in order to seriously count as an investment.

    Given the well known growth trends, fraudband becomes obsolete later this decade. And I’m not going to go yet again into the unaccounted for multi-billion liability that is the copper. There is no accounting for copper remediation in the policy statement. Yet Turnbull has the gall to tell a questioner on Q+A that yes, he’ll fix her copper.

    In very simple terms, Labor’s future proof fibre NBN has many decades to pay for itself. Fraudband will be lucky to escape obsolescence or become uneconomic due to the copper liability, before its even completed. To claim some kind of correspondence between these beggars belief.

  33. How about them batteries Albo????

    “Forced batteries? Aaaaahhh technology question! Um err cough”!

    Yeah I’d believe anything needle teeth Albo says!

  34. FTTN WAS a good idea. it isnt now.

    if Telstra had started the upgrade in 2005, or 2000, then it would be a different story. but to spend 30 billion + whatever telstra charges for its copper and have to pay to upgrade it again in the future seems stupid. It is costing us 11billion just to access the Pits and pipes…

    I am all for incremental upgrades, but the incremental upgrade path for our current network was BEFORE we privatized telecom. Buying back an deprecated asset we sold, at a premium to meet a political need….
    Telstra shareholders will do much better than the Australian public out of this new deal,

    If we wanted to implement the Coaltion plan faster and cheaper (cause we dont even have to do anything), we should just give Telstra 20 billion now (it seems boosting the Telstra share price is more important to the coalition than actual telecommunication improvements), and then start working on the NBN “FTTN” -> FTTP transition…or we could just keep the current FTTP proposed system.

    • To be fair, I am not saying that a FTTN wont offer improvments -> I am saying spending 80% of the capital price now, with a higher, as yet undefined price later to deliver a giant band-aid instead of spending 100% now and fixing it properley.

      The Iron Telegraph versus Copper reference I think is pretty accurate…….(though I have no idea if that actually occurred)

      • Yes, there were actually iron wires used on some earlier, shorter Telegraph routes.

        Actually the quote I love has to do with how the moral heirs of the present Liberal Party balked at expanding the electricity grid on the grounds of “what use is it for, apart from light bulbs”. And sadly I don’t have the reference any more.

  35. The LBN *is* bizarre, given the other claims they’ve made:
    1) 25mbps guaranteed, with 50mbps coming soon.
    2) Something something vectoring.
    3) cheaper than FTTH

    Australia doesn’t have the density of the UK. To get VDSL2 vectoring working you need max 400 subscribers per node. That’s maybe 20000 nodes. And vectoring is expensive – gear and power-wise.

    To guarantee 50mbps you need maximum line lengths of about 500m. That brings average node sizes down to maybe 150 subscribers. That means ~50000 nodes – and that’s not going to be cheap. Ideally you’d have even less subscribers per node. Never mind something like the new G.fast protocol only improves on VDSL2 when line lengths are less than 100m!

    Then, in a decade or so, FTTN users will have to transition over to FTTH anyway. Sure, you can just run fibre from the node to the home, but the FTTN network design isn’t really suited to FTTH. They’re different architectures: FSAMs have 500-3000 subscribers and FSAs have 500-30000.

    Might as well just get FTTH now!

  36. “In May 2012, OpenReach announced it had passed the 10 million premises mark, and the end of June 2014, Openreach expects to have completed its rollout, although it has also already announced that it will extend the rollout to new areas, beyond the two thirds of the UK that it had initially planned; and it seems easy to predict that some rollout work will progress indefinitely.”

    Isn’t this rather misleading? With OpenReach the exchange side copper remains in place and subscribers are moved over to the node/cabinet only when they order a service on the node. Delays can also occur at that point if capacity is not available in the cabinet, in some cases where demand is high requiring the subscriber to wait until a second cabinet can be installed beside the first one. So I’m not even sure if the rollout would actually support all of the 10+ million premises it was supposed to if all of the potential subscribers were to sign up at once.

    Turnbull has said on more than one occasion that the exchange side copper will not be used here, meaning that everyone who will be serviced by a particular node has to have their line cut over upfront and not in some far distant future that may never occur as with the OpenReach approach. Sounds like a lot more work to me, therefore comparisons with Openreach are not at all relevant when trying to gauge the likely rollout times required for FTTH vs FTTN in the Australian context.

    I expected better from delimiter.

  37. hi Renai,

    I note that you wrote that the Coalition’s NBN policy was possible because its FTTN technology has been delivered overseas in countries such as the US, UK, France and Germany.

    Clearly you are now 100% in favour of the Coalition’s NBN policy, and are therefore a Liberal Party shill. You cannot see that the Coalition’s NBN policy is impossible to deliver, and are therefore sucking at Malcolm Turnbull’s teat. How can you possibly call yourself an objective journalist? I am no longer going to read Delimiter, because it is run by a Liberal shill.

    FTTP is the only possible policy. No other policy could ever possibly deliver Australia any benefits. Turnbull is delusional, and there is no way his policy can work. There is no way the experience of any other country could possibly ever apply to Australia, because Australia is fundamentally different from everywhere else. You shill.

    Kind regards,


    • That’s nit what ppl are saying at all, we are asking to take a more critical look at the LBN because the evidence clearly shows it has gaping holes in it that you are flossing over – please just read the posts seriously?

      • hey mate,

        I’ve looked closely at the international examples and I’ve looked closely at what Turnbull has said in Australia. I’ve also spoken to every well-known technology analyst in Australia about it, or read their comments on the matter. The mainstream view of every analyst, and it’s one I hold, is that the LBN plan has problems, but at a minimum it is feasible to deliver.

        The policy is not as good as Labor’s policy, but it is feasible.

        I’m not alone in thinking this; just like I’m not alone in thinking some of the material in Labor’s NBN election ads is shonky.


        • That’s not what myself and others are saying tho, we know FTTN is feasible, that’s not in dispute – what is in dispute are the following Items:

          *Cost to buy Telstra’s copper network – MT claims it’ll be free when it was clearly not included in the current contract and for Telstra to give it away will result in legal action by shareholders and possible criminal charges for breaching the corporations act for failing this in legal duty: “Duty to act in good faith and not to act contrary to the interest of the company”. lets just say it cost 5 Billion extra for the last mile copper, that’s now $34 Billion the LNP needs to find to fund their network.

          *time taken to get the 1st node installed – likely scenario is an FTTN rollout will have barely started by 2016. Changing all the FTTP related contracts, negotiating a new deal with Telstra and then ACCC approvals will take time (years, not months and the LNP has nothing to threaten Telstra with, Conroy had the 4G spectrum as leverage). Not to mention at least 6 months worth of reviews they have promised.

          *What is the real life useful lifetime of an FTTN network? – lets compare realistic average speeds provided over up to 600m max line lengths (to be generous) – lets take 50Mbps as the average speed (VDSL/2 @ 300m) and work out just how long it will be before the entire network will be outgrown by Australian residential and business users? So the question is can an FTTN network can realistically pay for itself and earn an ROI?

          That’s just three big ones which I humbly ask you to look at in more detail, there are others but those will do for starters.

        • As Djos has said renai please do not misinterpret what quite a few of us are trying to say as simply labelling you as a LNP supporter. That is not the case at all. We just feel that you could hold their policy to account more when although it is a workable solution. The policy itself really isn’t a viable option considering where we are currently at. There are so many questions surrounding it and it can’t really be compared against a full blown network that is currently being rolled out. If the FTTN policy had been presented several years ago it would be a fair comparison. ATM are you really suggesting it is viable to effectively halt the rollout, conduct multiple reviews, renogotiate contracts, obtain the copper from telstra, begin a FTTN rollout and complete it all faster and slightly cheaper? And then for it to only be upgraded to ftth a couple of years later. Turnbull has not addressed any of those things, all he has done is create a pie in the sky wishlist, which would work if he was starting from scratch. How is he going to decide if copper is suitable? how much is suotable or needs replacing? how is he going to guarantee the 25mbps? etc etc. Please do an article explaining how you think some of those things could occur.

        • As Djos has said renai please do not misinterpret what quite a few of us are trying to say as simply labelling you as a LNP supporter. That is not the case at all. We just feel that you could hold their policy to account more when although it is a workable solution. The policy itself really isn’t a viable option considering where we are currently at. There are so many questions surrounding it and it can’t really be compared against a full blown network that is currently being rolled out. If the FTTN policy had been presented several years ago it would be a fair comparison. ATM are you really suggesting it is viable to effectively halt the rollout, conduct multiple reviews, renogotiate contracts, obtain the copper from telstra, begin a FTTN rollout and complete it all faster and slightly cheaper? And then for it to only be upgraded to ftth a couple of years later. Turnbull has not addressed any of those things, all he has done is create a pie in the sky wishlist, which would work if he was starting from scratch. How is he going to decide if copper is suitable? how much is suotable or needs replacing? how is he going to guarantee the 25mbps? etc

          • Mate,

            all of the points you’ve raised have been analysed to death, on Delimiter and other sites. The Coalition policy has been analysed to death. Are you seriously asking me to go back over old ground, just because you want me to write negative articles about the policy?

          • Well it looks like we’ll have to agree to disagree mate because I personally dont feel those items have had the attention they deserve on Delimiter. :-(

          • hey mate,

            thanks for your feedback.

            At this point, I am taking two actions. Firstly, I am banning you for two weeks from commenting on Delimiter. This is because you have become increasingly antagonistic recently. I cite the following aspects of the Delimiter comments policy:

            Firstly, as before, comments must be more or less ‘polite’, as measured by Australian social standards. This doesn’t mean you need to maintain the sort of conversation level you would use with your mother. It just basically means don’t be rude to other commenters. You may disagree with their opinions, but you should respect their right to hold them.

            Comments which display a lack of rationality or reasonableness. For example, a number of commenters on Delimiter over the past year have engaged in the debate, but consistently avoided acknowledging substantive issues raised by other commenters in relation to their argument. Instead, they have deliberately diverted the discussion down another path, annoying many other commenters.

            I feel that at this time, there is nothing I can say, that would satisfy you. You are 100% against the LBN policy, and there is no evidence which would convince you that it has any merit. This is not the kind of person I want reading Delimiter and commenting on articles. Delimiter is a site for polite and open-minded discussion.

            This leads me to my second action. I am closing comments on this article. The discussion has become toxic, and it has strayed away from the main point of the article. In addition, there are a number of readers here attacking me personally, as well as other readers. The discussion is also extremely one-sided.

            It is not a polite discussion. It is not an open-minded discussion. And it is not a discussion which respects the author of the article. Generally these are the three criteria I use when I (extremely rarely) close comments on an article. The discussion here meets all of these three criteria. It’s a high bar; congratulations — you guys met it today.

            Let’s hope we can have a more polite and open-minded discussion tomorrow, or on another day. It should not a crime to suggest that the Coalition’s LBN policy is feasible and that there is international evidence for this. I will not tolerate close-minded bigotry on any site I administer.

            Kind regards,


  38. “The evidence is pretty clear that FTTN works and is faster to deploy. Millions of premises in the UK on FTTN since FTTN. In Australia, again, since 2009, 207,000 FTTP premises for NBN Co.

    I’d say the difference in terms of what each country has been able to achieve in that time is pretty stark.”

    In Australia we’ve had a minority government that’s insisted on a rural and regional installation priority which is not the optimum method of deploying a fibre network. The installation figures would look a lot better if city CBD’s and surrounding inner suburbs had been connected first.

    If Labor is returned these are the changes I would like to see to get the NBN moving a little faster:

    1) Appoint Simon Hackett to run NBN Co.
    2) Make the Fibre termination box a single Ethernet port, move straight to VoIP telephone for everybody and legislate for the Telco’s to provide telephones that are Ethernet enabled and a pure telephone VoIP product. This was a Hackett suggestion and it makes a lot of sense, all consumers can provide their own gigabit/wireless routers.
    3) MDU’s to build their own cabling, with NBN Co to provide VDSL routers in the building basements and connections to the existing telephone wiring. Private properties should do all their own wiring at their own cost, also people that live a distance more than 20m from roads should have to provide the required ditching and refilling with NBC laying cable and duct, if not a terminating device would be fitted at the street that connects to the old 2 pair wire for transmission of VoIP and DSL. Legislation would be enacted to enable annual voting with no proxies and a majority vote required to proceed with cabling on private property, perhaps loans could be provided to body corporates and the levy added to existing strata levies for the period of the loan.
    4) The government to step up direct funded investment for NBN Co rather than loans, maybe to around $5Bd per annum, and ensure that training systems are implemented quickly for installers.
    5) Bring better enabled large project constructors like Kumagigumi, Bechtel and Huawei into the project and ditch the non performers.

    • @Kevin

      Firstly, I fully agree Labor’s mandate to equally cover regional areas has hampered the rollout stats. That needs to be made clear over the top of Turnbull’s screeching about “snail’s pace” and “lok what BT are doing!!” As a piece of interesting information too, NBNCo’s latest Service Class update shows they have just passed 186 000 brownfields. People may remember, that was their original June 30 target….so they’re only 3 weeks behind it. And the indication is they’re now connecting at an average run rate of between 1000 and 1100 a day. CONSIDERABLY more than in March when Turnbull pulled out his “only 60 premises a week from start of rollout” rubbish.

      However, in regards to some of your other points about changes:

      1- Simon Hackett is a great internet pioneer. He is not a CEO. He has no serious qualifications for running a business as large as NBNCo. He is a very smart man….but, without being nasty, because I put this badge on myself too, he is an internet geek, not a business manager.

      2- NTD as a single port- irrelevant. You save no significant money on hardware and no money on rollout changes (a 2nd truck roll is STILL required to connect the PCD to this “single wall port”) And all you’re doing is shifting the burden of equipment and replacement to the customer. You’re also removing the standardisation of the network which makes fault finding EXTREMELY difficult.

      3- I have nothing against VDSL in MDUs- BUT- I think it should be minimised. Where it is considerably more cost effective (say a threshold of 50% or whatever they decide), VDSL should be the choice. But under that threshold, FTTP should get precedence. Otherwise, in 10-15 years, you end up with the 1/3 of Australians in MDUs with significantly worse connections than the rest of the country- a digital divide. Exactly what the NBN is trying to avoid. The cabling and trenching I completely disagree with. Telstra have been trenching and cabling for 40 years. Changing it now would cause chaos in the telecoms sector. It should be standardised and an essential service, just like electricity, gas and water. Or are you suggesting people more than 40m from a water main have to pay for their own trenching and connection?? There is a threshold limit on essential services, such as rural areas, but it should not be anywhere near as low as you’ve set out.

      4- The government should NEVER direct fund infrastructure that will return money. It is a burden on the Budget when it is not required to be. We have the lowest bond rates and gross national debt for 75 years. We should use it effectively.

      5- That’s a matter for NBNCo. No one else. Huawei is a different story. I’m still far too wary with all the intelligence reports STILL coming out about them.

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