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  • News, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 11:08 - 63 Comments

    National incompetence: UK broadband massively improves while Australia dithers

    oops key

    news UK telco regulator Ofcom has released a report showing that the country’s average fixed-line broadband speed has dramatically improved by 11Mbps over the past five years, a period in which Australians have seen virtually no improvement due to a failure of the nation’s politicians and telcos to agree on a unified upgrade path.

    The report, available online, examines fixed-line broadband performance in the UK. Fixed-line broadband connections include the copper class of broadband connections (such as ADSL, VDSL and so on), as well as HFC cable broadband. In November 2008, Ofcom noted in a statement publicising the report, the UK’s average fixed-line broadband speed was 3.6Mbps. However, by May 2013 it had risen to 14.7Mbps.

    At the heart of the average speed upgrade is two key infrastructure factors which represent significant investment by the country’s telcos and the UK Government to upgrade the basic nature of the infrastructure available to consumers.

    In 2009, British incumbent telco BT kicked off a major effort to upgrade its copper network with fibre to the node technology. The company recently announced that the network upgrade had passed more than 16 million premises, with more than 1.7 million customers having signed up for active connections to the infrastructure. BT is also working directly with the UK Government to extend the network to rural areas, and it is also working on live trials of the new vectoring standard, which will allow speeds of up to 100Mbps on its FTTN infrastructure.

    The current BT FTTN rollout offers speeds of up to 76Mbps, and it is available to be sold by rival telcos on a wholesale basis. It is also offering fibre to the premises extensions, which, at a cost (modest for businesses, pricey for consumers), allow customers to have fibre laid all the way to their premise (FTTP), delivering even better speeds of up to 330Mbps.

    Secondly, HFC cable operator Virgin Media has also doubled the speeds of most of its cable broadband customers in the UK, with the company now offering speeds of up to 120Mbps to customers.

    “The proportion of broadband connections classed as superfast – that is, offering headline speeds of 30Mbps or more – is increasing,” Ofcom wrote. “By May 2013, 19 percent of residential broadband connections were superfast, up from 14 percent in November 2012 and more than doubling from 8 percent over the course of the last year.”

    And the average broadband speeds in the UK are increasing very rapidly. “The average fixed-line broadband download speed provided by UK residential connections has continued to increase,” wrote Ofcom. “Compared to November 2012, our research shows that average actual download speeds increased by 2.7Mbps (22 percent), to 14.7Mbps. This represents a 64% increase compared to the May 2012 average of 9.0Mbps.

    “A key driver of the increase in average actual fixed broadband download speeds over the past few years has been rising take-up of ‘up to’ 30Mbps and above services (also known as superfast services), a trend which continued in the six months to May 2013 … 19 percent of residential fixed broadband connections were classed as being superfast in May 2013, five percentage points higher than in November 2012 and 11 percentage points higher than in May 2012. Eighty-six percent of connections had an advertised speed above ‘up to’ 10MBps in May 2013, a rise of 18 percentage points since May 2012.”

    “This shift to higher-speed services is partially as a result of Virgin Media’s ‘double speeds’ upgrade programme, which doubled the speeds provided by most of its cable broadband connections. In addition, customers are also choosing to migrate to fibre broadband services, and over the course of the 2012/13 financial year the number of BT retail fibre broadband connections increased from around 550,000 to over 1.3 million.”

    The news comes as Australia’s own politicians and telcos have continually failed to reach consensus on how Australia’s own broadband infrastructure should be upgraded, in the past eight years.

    In November 2005, then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo first proposed that Telstra upgrade its copper network to the same FTTN technology being deployed by BT. However, Telstra and the then-Coalition Government, including then-Communications Minister Helen Coonan, were unable to come to agreement about the terms of the upgrade, and it never went ahead.

    Led by Kevin Rudd, the Australian Labor Party took a FTTN-based upgrade policy to the 2007 Federal Election, but never enacted the policy, choosing instead from April 2009 to focus on a much more ambitious fibre to the premises-based policy. However, Rudd and then-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy chose an unproven model to deploy the infrastructure, with a new telco, NBN Co, to be set up from scratch to deploy the new FTTP network without the involvement of Telstra. This model has not been used in other countries globally, and resulted in significant delays, with only a very small proportion of NBN Co’s fibre network having been deployed since 2009. The company has revised its targets downwards several times this year alone.

    The new Coalition Government elected last month is again proposing a FTTN network upgrade similar to that conducted by BT, but further delays are expected as NBN Co and the Government negotiate with Telstra over the terms of access to the telco’s network.

    Similarly, although in the UK Virgin Media is automatically upgrading the broadband speeds of consumers on its HFC cable network, in Australia it is not clear that the two telcos operating HFC cable networks have automatically upgraded customers’ speeds on the infrastructure. Both theoretically offer 100Mbps speeds on their networks, but it is believed that neither Telstra nor Optus have automatically upgraded customers to the higher 100Mbps speeds, with customers needing to opt in to receive the speed boosts, and often needing to pay higher fees to do so.

    As a consequence, in Australia, average broadband speeds have severely lagged behind the rest of the world. A report published by Akamai in January this year, for instance, found Australia placed 40th in the world on average connection speed for fixed-line broadband connections, at 4.3Mbps. Only 4.1 percent of Australian broadband connections offer speeds above 10Mbps.

    opinion/analysis
    As I wrote in September 2011, the one thing that Australia desperately needs is stable telecommunications policy:

    “… in large part it is the ridiculously unstable telecommunications regulatory environment which Australia’s incessantly warring politicians have gifted the nation with which has held us back in so many different areas over the past decade, and will continue to hold us back over the next five years if the two pathetically similar sides of politics cannot come together on a joint proposal. One, perhaps, founded on bringing many of the aspects of Labor’s visionary NBN project and the Coalition’s more targeted policy (which, as we have already noted, has many positive aspects) together.”

    “If Telstra had been separated five years ago, if the bush had received wireless broadband, if competitive rural backhaul links had been funded and if Labor and the Coalition could have agreed on a way in which to invest public money in broadband in a moderate fashion which would suit both sides of politics and stimulate competition in the sector, right now Australia’s broadband landscape would look very different than it does today.”

    “The long-term nature of infrastructure investment and the squabbling of the past half-decade has made it increasingly clear that a bi-partisan approach to telecommunications policy is needed in Australia. The only difficulty may be convincing our arrogant, indecisive, stubborn and incredibly own-party blinkered political leaders that they should sit across the table from each other and discuss the issue like adults. At times they appear to forget that they are all employed by the same person — the Australian taxpayer.”

    The UK situation displays a stark example of how Australia’s politicians and telcos have abjectly failed to upgrade the nation’s broadband infrastructure over the past eight years, despite countless opportunities to work together on the issue. At this point, it is impossible not to conclude that Australia’s politicians and telcos are more interested in fighting each other on this issue than they are in actually delivering better solutions to all Australians. This is gross incompetence on a national scale, and it’s time we started talking about it in these terms. Labor, Liberal, Telstra, Optus … these political parties and telcos have not been able to come to consensus on this issue, despite at least eight years of debate. They should be ashamed.

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    1. midspace
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink |

      ” found Australia placed 40th in the world on average connection speed for fixed-line broadband connections”

      Hmmm, not sure if you mistyped, or read wrong (or had a different report). Australia is 41st, according to this
      http://www.akamai.com/html/about/press/releases/2013/press_072313.html

      And compared to UK, which I think is important for this report.

      Average Connection Speed. (Q1 2013)
      Rank 12 United Kingdom 7.9 Mbps
      Rank 41 Australia 4.7 Mbps.

      • midspace
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink |

        http://wwwns.akamai.com/soti/soti_q113_figures.zip

        Average Connection Speed.
        Figure 23 (for Australia). 4.7 Mbps.
        Figure 27 (for UK). 7.9 Mbps.

        Average Peak Connection Speed.
        Figure 24 (for Australia) 26.3 Mbps.
        Figure 28 (for UK). 36.4 Mbps.

      • Posted 01/10/2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink |

        That was the July report — I was referencing the January report. Although I could update the article with the July data.

        I didn’t directly compare the figures with the Ofcom data as they obviously use different methodology.

    2. quink
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink |

      Let’s find some netindex.com data. Downloads and Uploads

      And reflect on stats like this: ADSL1 average urban distance 1631m, speed 7.4 Mbps. ADSL2+ average urban distance 1640m, urban 7.6 Mbps. It seems that the ADSL2+ hasn’t given the UK much benefit over ADSL1, so maybe that and competitive pressure from DOCSIS 3.0 is driving the adoption of VDSL2, neither factor would apply here.

      And here’s some info on VDSL2, where ‘What speed can I expect from fibre broadband? (FTTC)’ is not going to apply so much to Australia. One is that the coalition is planning vectoring, which should increase speeds, although how that’ll work out in practice is yet to be seen, especially since removing competitors’ DSLAMs is going to be anything but fun. And the copper in Australia has a smaller diameter, which means slower speeds, and the quest by a privatised Telstra for profits and the continuous firing of the people actually working on the network is leaving it in a very bad state, whereas in the UK BT had continuous pressure from HFC competitors.

      So, yes, the UK as a whole has moved past Australia for a roughly 66% increase in speeds since 2010. But the UK will also find it much harder to move past VDSL2 now, whereas we, if we’re going with FTTH, will find it much easier. So, in a nutshell, BT appears to be on 22/6 Mbps on average now, and that’s an admirable increase in excess of what we’ve seen here on ADSL2+. But for downlad speeds in particular, having only 40% slower speeds so far is not leaving us massively behind especially if we have a plan to leapfrog past this.

      Let’s accept the claim is out there that Australia is dithering presenting country-wide statistics as evidence, and looking at those that seems to have been the case since early 2010. Alright. So what we should be want to be seeing is a rise coming from the NBN, very few subscribers, but due to the very much higher speeds, they should drive a massive increase in the average in the providers that focus on the NBN. Providers like Internode, iiNet, AAPT in particular.

      Have a look at this page: http://www.netindex.com/upload/2,18/Australia/

      And let me know if the 100%+ increase in the #3 ISP in the whole country could have been driven by anything other than the NBN.

      I’m sorry, but while it’s true that Australia is dithering in the grand scheme of things, the statistics that have been coming up these past few months like a groundswell aren’t really supporting that this proposition was to be the case much longer.

      Looking at this objectively, we’ve been massively left behind in upload speeds, but the evidence isn’t there to support the same for download speeds. And we’re currently still on a plan that technically enables upload speeds of 1.25 Gbps, and 40 Mbps being the most likely choice in the market place, one that is meant to finish rolling out within about 8 years.

      So, the only conclusion we can draw here at best is that NBN Co is slow in rolling out the NBN. Which, let’s face it, is not so much news as a fact of life by now.

      • Posted 01/10/2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink |

        “the UK will also find it much harder to move past VDSL2 now”

        Why? They can just extend the fibre to the premises. They’ve already started.

        • quink
          Posted 01/10/2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink |

          I didn’t exactly say BT would find it much harder, I said the UK would.

          BT now have a product, VDSL2, that’s more competitive with FTTH at a capital investment they need to earn back yet. They have every incentive to make VDSL2 work, cheaply, especially with DOCSIS 3.0 competitors being out there. The competitive situation for FTTH is much worse because for so many FTTC is good enough, simply put. Beyond that, VDSL2 has also crippled FTTH as a product because of the ISAMs, 330/30 Mbps is the maximum.

          So when it comes to the results for BT, VDSL2 has been good for them. When you look at it from the FTTH perspective, the only positive coming out of that is really that there’s a bit more fibre in the ground. Everything else is a negative for the FTTH proposition.

          When it comes to a market like we have here in Australia where there’s only the one company for infrastructure then the NBN model is a better way to go. When it comes to minimising the capital expenditure in the long run, giving a much better result on each cable and one that’s more equitable too, I’m not sure you should be looking as much at BT’s latest annual report as the long term outcomes that the UK is going to see, compared to Japan, the UAE or Latvia.

          And as long as digging work is going to cost in the thousands for each new FTTH connection, putting it above the reach for telcos to subsidise it through reduced opex only, we’re not going to see much of a change in the UK towards FTTH for a decade or decade and a half yet. Either that or consumers are en-masse willing to pay more because they have a genuine need for FTTH.

          Surely you’ve read what Mark Newton has written about this.

          > FTTN doesn’t bring FTTP any closer, but it does push it several billion dollars further away.

          > This notion that FTTN is a “stepping stone” to something else is pure fantasy. If an FTTN network is built you’d better like it, because it’ll be around for a long, long time to come.

          Sure, you can argue that BT’s rollout of FTTP-on-demand is a counterpoint, but with it barely showing that much of an improvement from DOCSIS or FTTN and no further upgrade capability without replacing the ISAMs or, more sensibly, just rolling out au-naturel FTTP, the question is how much longer is it going to remain a counterpoint at all?

          Especially when the uptake, I’d predict, is going to be very minimal for a long time to come?

          tl;dr: Network effects is why.

    3. tinman_au
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink |

      They should be ashamed.

      Couldn’t agree more, they both need to pull there heads out. Labor because the were so damned stubborn it held things up, and the Libs because they are just so damned “anti” anything Labor did.

      And all because of politics…

      • Woolfe
        Posted 02/10/2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink |

        Totally agree.

        The Labor plan was an excellent plan, that was unfortunately not delivered in the timeframe defined. No matter the base reasons behind this failure, it is still a failure.

        It is of course possible that they may have caught back up on the timeframe, but it didn’t and will never happen now.

    4. Tailgator
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink |

      And if the NBN was allowed to keep going in it’s current form, then in 7-8 yrs time 90+% of the Australia could have had access to 1 Gbit speeds, increased reliability, etc and the rest of the world would have been playing catch up. As it is the current govt appears determined to consign us to a lottery of mediocrity.

      Shrugs.

      • Mathew
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink |

        > And if the NBN was allowed to keep going in it’s current form, then in 7-8 yrs time 90+% of the Australia could have had access to 1 Gbit speeds, increased reliability, etc and the rest of the world would have been playing catch up. As it is the current govt appears determined to consign us to a lottery of mediocrity.

        Of which in 2028 Labor predicted that less than 5% would actually access 1Gbps and in April 2013 47% were connected to the fibre at 12Mbps.

        The rest of the world is building services like Google Fibre – 1Gbps or free.

        • Alex
          Posted 01/10/2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink |

          Predicted… *rolss eyes*

          • tinman_au
            Posted 07/10/2013 at 10:54 am | Permalink |

            Mathew doesn’t like people having a choice (the choice of 12Mbps-1Gbps), he holds a communist view on it (Everyone should only get 25Mbps, unless everyone can get 1Gbps).

        • Observer
          Posted 01/10/2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink |

          I notice you are still pushing the old “Labor plans for 50%…” on other sites. Can you do us a favour, since there are two Mathews, could you rename yourself Mathew 50%, so we don’t have to read the same stuff over and over again?

        • Posted 02/10/2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink |

          Australia could have had access to 1 Gbit speeds, increased reliability, etc and the rest of the world would have been playing catch up. As it is the current govt appears determined to consign us to a lottery of mediocrity.

          And I could also have a Mecerdes Bends SLS if I sold everything I owned and ate cheap ramin for 6 months. Having a reasonable compremise, like speed tiers oh FTTH, in order to improve things, would mean that not everyone can get 1Gbps, but allows the network to be realistic in its goals.

          Oh, and I’m glad you feel the current government (which is LNP) is going to make things worse by a “lottery of mediocrity”, because for a while there I thought you were happy with the current proposal, given how much you have complained about the state of the previous governments NBN and their existence of speed tiers.

          Of which in 2028 Labor predicted that less than 5% would actually access 1Gbps and in April 2013 47% were connected to the fibre at 12Mbps.

          It was NBNCo, not Labor, that predicted the uptake rates.
          And 26% were 100Mbps, more than was predicted by NBNCo.
          That 47% includes voice only customers.

          The rest of the world is building services like Google Fibre – 1Gbps or free.

          No, actually, they’re not. As a percentage of the worlds population Google Fibre and similar services barely make a dent in the worlds population, even if we (sensibly) limit it to OECD countries. The rest of the world is building services like:

          Chorus and other UFB providers providing 30Mbps and 100Mbps services on top of their existing ADSL2+ as an optional upgrade, with 1Gbps to select towns as part of a “pilot project”
          BT are building a hybird FTTN/FTTP approach with aimed speed of around 40Mbps for the majority of the population
          DT are building a hybird FTTN/FTTP approach with similar speeds to BT
          AT&T are building a FTTC network with aimmed speeds of around 25Mbps

          Do I need to go on here, or is my point well enough made here? If you want 1Gbps, either pay for it, or move to one of lucky cities that is getting a Google Fibre or Google Fibre like service for cheap money.

          • quink
            Posted 02/10/2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink |

            Downloads have grown 66% over the past year alone.

            If you want to make a car analogy, you’ll need to use a period in which distance driven increased 66% over a certain interval.

            Which, if the FTTH is a Mercedes Benz SLS makes FTTN something akin to an ox-wagon.

            > If you want 1Gbps, either pay for it

            At $150 a month wholesale for AVC pricing alone, what aspect of that did Labor’s NBN plan not fulfill?

            • Posted 02/10/2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink |

              Me thinks you haven’t been paying attention quink.

              I’m not against FTTH, in fact I support it, however Mathew here has extremely unrealistic expectations for network usage, and has consistently supporting it.

              I pre-emptively countered what he would counter with. I thought most people here would know enough to expolitate my intentions.

              At $150 a month wholesale for AVC pricing alone, what aspect of that did Labor’s NBN plan not fulfill?

              Nothing, which was, in fact, my point.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 07/10/2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink |

          Mathew said : “Of which in 2028 Labor predicted that less than 5% would actually access 1Gbps and in April 2013 47% were connected to the fibre at 12Mbps.”

          So in your view people having the choice to get “up to 1 Gbps” being downgraded to “up to 50 Mbps” is actually an improvement?

          That’s some very “special” logic you have going for you there Mathew…

    5. Gordon Drennan
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink |

      Whenever a lot of effort is thrown at something, and it fails, not generating the benefits claimed, the commentariat divide into two factions: the believers who say it was the right strategy but we just didn’t do it hard/well enough and we have to redouble our efforts and replace those in charge, and the disbelievers who say, not unreasonably, that it failed so it must have been the wrong strategy. We’ll see this when Julia Gillard’s billions spent on schools fails to produce better results. We’ll see it when the billions she spent on hospitals produces the same. And we’ll see it in this column and the computer media when Labor’s NBN is discussed in terms of studies like the one in the article that shows Britain has leapt ahead in broadband speeds, while Australia has slipped further and further behind with only tens of thousands of households on fibre despite five years and $10B being spent on it so far.

      Whether you want to blame the whole idea, the implementation of it, or the shortcomings of individuals, or “bad luck” (ie, bad management) Labor’s NBN failed by all objective criteria. And some of us were telling you believers that a long time ago. Long enough ago that it could have been stopped, fixed, and done right rather than thrown in the rubbish bin.

      • quink
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink |

        Government funding isn’t meant to reach $10.6 billion until the end of FY2014, according to the 2013 corporate plan. But between that and relying on future events that haven’t even eventuated yet, like education and hospitals funding, to prove your point, I’m doubting your conclusions.

        > while Australia has slipped further and further behind with only tens of thousands of households on fibre despite five years and $10B being spent on it so far.

        If NBN Co spent $10 billion, which it hasn’t, entirely on connecting all of a few ten thousand premises, I’d agree. But it didn’t. I’d urge you to maybe leave the realm of deliberate dishonesty and maybe then you could help bring a more productive argument to the table for the ‘believers’.

      • PeterA
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink |

        I think it has only failed on meeting a few monthly targets.

        So, lets agree to disagree that the NBN under Labor “failed on all counts”. Because it only fails on all counts when you shift the goal posts to count the things it failed.

        Or do you disagree? You seem to disagree a lot.

        • Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink |

          “I think it has only failed on meeting a few monthly targets.”

          They were forced to reset the targets three times in six months. And even when they did reach targets up to one third of the premises they said were passed couldn’t actually connect to the fibre (eg MDUs).

          Failed? Yes. I’d say Labor failed to deliver its version of the NBN. Abjectly failed.

          • quink
            Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink |

            > Failed? Yes. I’d say Labor failed to start connecting premises to its version of the NBN within the timeframes it gave. Abjectly failed.

            And more info: http://theconversation.com/factcheck-will-the-nbn-take-another-20-years-to-complete-16962

            If you consider the entirety of Labor’s NBN to have abjectly failed, then I don’t know what, from that point of view, could ever have been considered a success.

            • quink
              Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink |

              And yes, by all means screw Labor for their failure to start doing things right from the day they were elected in 2007.

              But I’d like to thank you. I’m now looking through the list here and quite a signficant number of things on this list faced problems of similar, larger and smaller magnitudes, but I’m quite certain that the four space shuttle missions sent to Hubble were worth it. In fact, it seems like most of these worth stuff worth doing. And I consider this whole project not something the government should be doing for infrastructure reasons, rather it’s something the government has an obligation to do because they screwed up any genuine chance of a good free market so very very badly starting in 1993 and especially in 1997 under Howard. This whole NBN project doesn’t just represent a piece of infrastructure, so judging it to be an abject failure solely based on a delay in that is just not very productive without bringing other aspects to the table.

              Anyway.

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

              “I don’t know what, from that point of view, could ever have been considered a success.”

              http://delimiter2.com.au/bt-fttn-rollout-shows-what-australia-could-have-had/

              “The success of the fibre to the node rollout deployed by British incumbent telco BT, despite its many and obvious flaws, must come as a stark reminder to Australia’s politicians, telcos and regulators of what could have been achieved in Australia over the past eight years if the various players had stopped their incessant, poisoned infighting on the broadband issue and actually got together to make things work.”

              • quink
                Posted 01/10/2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink |

                What, you want FTTN in the context of a whole nation?

                UK, delayed by two years: http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/07/07/uk-rural-broadband-rollout-delay/

                Germany, delayed by about three years: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/schmalband-deutschland-warum-unser-internet-immer-noch-zu-langsam-ist-a-901508.html (which also says, to support also something I stated earlier here, “VDSL is the last gasp of copper technology, the more it’s exhausted, the later fibre will come”)

                USA, AT&T U-Verse appears to be moving backwards and lost six million premises?

                Belgium, an early adopter to VDSL, is now moving to VDSL2 with vectoring, after only about 6 years?

                New Zealand started with VDSL (on 0.50mm mind you, unlike 0.40mm we have here) and moved to GPON pretty soon after that for 75% by 2019.

                If these are successes, then by no means is the NBN a failure. Honestly, I asked you for an example of what you’d consider a success and you show me something delayed by two years. Sure, the specifics are different, here the delay is more on the tail end rather than the front end, but all in all there’s a double standard here and I don’t think I like it.

                • Posted 01/10/2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink |

                  “UK, delayed by two years: http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/07/07/uk-rural-broadband-rollout-delay/

                  I’m tired of hearing this about the UK rollout. Huge furphy. The audit report quoted in that article refers purely to the “rural” portion of the UK rollout, not the overwhelmingly metro part of it. READ THE ARTICLE AGAIN.

                  • quink
                    Posted 01/10/2013 at 8:17 pm | Permalink |

                    Correct. The NAO looked at the rural part only.

                    They’re getting 23 percent of funding from BT instead of 36 percent they expected, only 9 out of 44 areas will be done by the target date of May 2015 and is 22 months behind schedule. They didn’t look at the urban part of the rollout, where there are no big signs of things going wrong at all.

                    It is part of something which is supposedly exemplary for its rapid and well-managed rollout.

                    The NBN has had a focus so far in rural areas too. From satellite, interim and long-term, fixed wireless to greenfield new developments in distant suburbs and exurbs. And Tasmania. Only this many years into the project are we starting to see some brownfields FTTP worth speaking of in the capitals. So far with a delay of quite a bit less than 22 months.

                    I’ll also be happy to point out that BT’s FTTC in urban areas rollout has actually been moved forwards a year some time ago, from 2015 to 2014. I don’t think that the claim for an abject failure to refer to the NBN is accurate in international comparison, for many reasons I’ve elaborated on by now quoting relevant things throughout.

                    Yes, it is scary to see the UK pull ahead a little on download speeds and a lot on upload speeds. But the interim progress this relatively early is not a good measure to call a plan to leapfrog that an abject failure. Especially if the results are already starting to show up in the statistics.

                    iiNet has caught up to near enough half of BT’s upload speeds within the past few months from around a fifth or a quarter, looking at netindex.com. Because of the NBN. And it seems like it’s going to catch up within an amount of time that’s not far distant at all. Not the sign of an abject failure, really.

                    But whatever :P

                    • Fibroid
                      Posted 02/10/2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink |

                      @quink

                      ‘iiNet has caught up to near enough half of BT’s upload speeds within the past few months from around a fifth or a quarter, looking at netindex.com. Because of the NBN. And it seems like it’s going to catch up within an amount of time that’s not far distant at all. Not the sign of an abject failure, really.’

                      BT one of the world’s largest Telco’s , and by far the largest incumbent Telco both retail and wholeale in the UK with their wholesale company Openreach reselling infrastructure access to the majority of UK residences directly equals in upload speed comparisons one ISP retailer in Australia iiNet in Perth reselling NBN Co FTTP?

                      • quink
                        Posted 02/10/2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink |

                        What are you trying to say?

                        I can take the BT subsidiary Plusnet, which is near enough a similar size to iiNet and transitioning from ADSL2+ to VDSL2. According to netindex.com, BT is at 6.35 Mbps upload, Plusnet is at 6.02 Mbps upload average. So, if you want to argue my conclusion from the statistics is flawed on the basis that I’m comparing apples with oranges I’m still ending up in the same place if I compare Plusnet and iiNet, which have a similar size and are both mostly ADSL2+ ISPs switching to some form of FTTx, with Plusnet being well ahead.

                        But taking yet another step backwards, you don’t have anything at all to say about the massive improvement on the iiNet side, with so many hundreds of thousands of data points behind that data?

                  • quink
                    Posted 02/10/2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink |

                    Also, if you want other examples of FTTN perhaps not being quite smooth sailing: http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/bts-fibre-on-demand-product-strains-affordability/

                    http://mybroadband.co.za/news/broadband/87799-telkom-20mbps-40mbps-vdsl-roll-out-reined-in.html

                    • Fibroid
                      Posted 02/10/2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink |

                      So problems overseas with FTTN always directly translates to what will happened here?

                      So therefore I assume the problems Australia had with the Labor FTTP rollout can also be a warning to overseas FTTP rollouts of what could happen to them?

                      • Observer
                        Posted 02/10/2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink |

                        Are you kidding?

                        You have repeatedly been using what happens in the UK as evidence of what would happen here. Now, you’re intimating that it doesn’t apply here.

                        Oh, I get it. Only the good stuff applies here, the bad stuff won’t happen here. Maybe you should start using the two screens again but this time to check what you previous posted to make sure you don’t keep contradicting yourself.

                      • tinman_au
                        Posted 07/10/2013 at 11:23 am | Permalink |

                        So problems overseas with FTTN always directly translates to what will happened here?

                        Only if we ignore them…

                        So therefore I assume the problems Australia had with the Labor FTTP rollout can also be a warning to overseas FTTP rollouts of what could happen to them?

                        The only problems the NBN had was milestone slippage (which happens on any large project) and Conroy allowing it to become so politicized…

              • Goresh
                Posted 01/10/2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink |

                “The success of the fibre to the node rollout deployed by British incumbent telco BT”

                In fact, on the criteria that you have used to judge the Australian roll-out, BT’s effort is a far bigger failure.

                http://www.zdnet.com/turnbulls-uk-nbn-template-turns-sour-7000017751/

                • Posted 01/10/2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink |

                  READ THE ARTICLE AGAIN.

                  “RURAL”

                  “RURAL”

                  It refers to the “RURAL”, extremely minor, aspect of the BT rollout.

                  Honestly. I am so tired of this utter bullshit.

                  • Goresh
                    Posted 02/10/2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink |

                    “Honestly. I am so tired of this utter bullshit.”

                    Yes, me to.

                    The BT roll-out provides UP TO 24Mbps, it is based on ADSL2+.

                    On this basis, it has achieved a total of 0% of the coverage promised by the coalition, which is a MINIMUM of 25Mbps.

                    The service provided is so bad, that it hovers around 10% take up, the rest can’t be bothered.
                    Of the 16 million “premises passed”, a fraction of that are really connection ready.
                    BT claims all the customers as covered the moment they switch on the node planned to service the area.. No checking of the cable has been done so certainly no remediation has been done. There is only the possibility that they can be connected, with no guarantee of any improvement in service at all.

                    If you are going to compare apples with apples, then you should include every ADSL service in Australia as part of the NBN since they are already enjoying the level of service BT offers.

                    If you are going to

                    http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/why-bts-fttn-roll-out-is-not-a-good-example-for-australia/

                    • quink
                      Posted 02/10/2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink |

                      Huh? It’s VDSL2. Although take-up, if you round it up, is at 11%, but that’s not necessarily indicative of the take-up in the next few months and years.

                      • Fibroid
                        Posted 02/10/2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink |

                        The BT take up figures include FTTP as well, take up is low because UK residences obviously need convincing that ADSL2+ is not adequate for their BB needs, BT need to shut down ADSL2+.

                      • Alex
                        Posted 02/10/2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink |

                        @ Fibroid…

                        The take up in the UK s low? Really?

                        And here you were preaching the virtues of this mystical, practically perfect in every way, UK FttN wonderment.

                        Were you telling porkies before or now? It’s hard to tell which one of the endless procession of contradictions are the actual porkies!

                      • tinman_au
                        Posted 07/10/2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink |

                        The take-up is low due to a number of factors:

                        http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/4604-low-take-up-of-fttc-broadband-services-frustrating-bt.html

                        If you read the comments in that article, you’ll get a feel for it, but the two main factors are price (BT isn’t the cheapest provider) and competition (Sky and Virgin to name just two). It’s a 3 YO article, but the problems haven’t been addressed by BT.

              • Mark
                Posted 01/10/2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink |

                Renai, I think that the only thing the NBN Co is guilty of is over estimating the time frames it would take reach certain milestones in the project. The current slippage on this project is minor given the size of the project undertaken.

                Please bear in mind what Telstra itself (with it’s large workforce etc) said during the Technology Briefing in Dec 2008 (given by Telstra’s then Chief Operations Officer Greg Winn)when they outlined the massive technical requirements and logistical issues facing the chosen builder of the National Broadband Network. That was a FTTN not FTTH and Telstra detailed their proposal and the level of complexity that would be involved in such a FTTN project, saying they would need to work 24×7 every day for five years to complete a project of that size.

                Also bear in mind that was to provide customers in capital cities with a local copper loop of no more than 800m from a node, while those outside of capital cities would be within 1500m of a node. He stated that “..The number of customers to be cut over to the NBN will average 6,000 per day ‘for the life of the programme’ – though it is likely daily peaks over much of the period will be closer to 20,000 cutovers.” A key point was they had already done all the design and testing work saying “We’ve had 900 engineers spend the best part of the last three years working on the formal proposal”.

                See:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rZksi1TWBg

                and

                http://www.crn.com.au/News/130170,inside-telstras-technical-plans-for-the-nbn.aspx

                • Fibroid
                  Posted 02/10/2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink |

                  @Mark

                  ‘ I think that the only thing the NBN Co is guilty of is over estimating the time frames it would take reach certain milestones in the project. The current slippage on this project is minor given the size of the project undertaken.’

                  But the project is not even close to being in the category of ‘given the size of the project’ , it didn’t even reach halfway, it didn’t even get to a milestone of having a Telstra exchange area shut down because it had reached the 90% NBN CO FTTP footprint requirement as per the NBNCo/Telstra agreement.

                  If the rollout figures needed to be amended three times in the short space of time during the early part of the rollout timeline between 2010-2013 where the number of residences that were predicted to be passed was miniscule, what makes you think it would have all magically all ‘come together’ and reach the target of 93% of residences by 2021?

                  • quink
                    Posted 02/10/2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink |

                    > But the project is not even close to being in the category of ‘given the size of the project’ , it didn’t even reach halfway, it didn’t even get to a milestone of having a Telstra exchange area shut down because it had reached the 90% NBN CO FTTP footprint requirement as per the NBNCo/Telstra agreement.

                    So this is pure fiction? http://www.zdnet.com/au/nbn-co-prepares-to-switch-off-copper-network-7000005510/

                    > what makes you think it would have all magically all ‘come together’ and reach the target of 93% of residences by 2021?

                    The rate which NBN Co says it needs to reach is by now only very marginally higher than peak rate in the HFC rollout in terms of premises per year. That’s it in a nutshell, why shouldn’t a Labor government in 2013 not be able to accomplish essentially the same thing as the Labor government did in about 1996?

                  • tinman_au
                    Posted 07/10/2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink |

                    if the rollout figures needed to be amended three times in the short space of time during the early part of the rollout timeline between 2010-2013 where the number of residences that were predicted to be passed was miniscule

                    At least two of those “amendments”/delays were due to Telstra, and not NBN Co. If you take those out of the equation, NBN was actually pretty close to where they should have been, time-frame wise.

          • Quasimofoso
            Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink |

            I’d prefer you say that NBNCo was successful in delivering exactly was promised to those connected to the NBN – standardised FTTP / wireless broadband infrastructure with RSP’s competing on delivering services using that infrastructure.

            The massive failure was the inability to implement to the time frames set down (and changed, changed again, and then changed again…)

            IMO there is an important distinction between the two.

          • Brendan
            Posted 01/10/2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink |

            Renai,

            I would proffer that NBNco overestimated reach of deployment. Not that the NBN it is an abject failure.

            It’s the same mentality that would see the baby, bath water, bath and plumbing fixtures all tossed out because someone says it’s too slow. The same someone whom has just asked for everything to stop (apart from those things they cannot stop due to contractual obligations). Irony, in the making.

            By aping Turnbull with the “abject failure” throw-away lines, you discredit a lot of work that has in the process. It’s not deployed as fast as planed.

            Well shit, if that’s the worst outcome of an otherwise in-build network that has been delivering outcomes, regardless of all of the political muck-racking, then you’re in for a nasty shock when delay after delay strikes any FTTN build.

            Because it will happen.

            NBN itself isn’t an abject failure. NBNco has failed to meet real world outcomes, on the single biggest infrastructure project since the Snowy River scheme. The most cost effective outcome is to rejig the management and pull out all the stops, not stop all the work and pull out of the build.

            In the UK the combination of competitive forces shaped their broadband evolution. Same thing happened here, however there were different inputs and as such, different outcomes. It’s tempting to exclaim we should be in the same place.

            We’re not because of Telstra’s wholesale and resale choices, then state of the copper network and (the incredible lack of input from) government. A few handouts helped kick of a land-grab in the ADSL2+ space, because unlike BT, Telstra had no pressure to compete; they owned a large chunk of the only thing that could have competed against it. HFC.

            We are where we are, because of what has transpired in our market. It’s fine to compare it with other countries, but context is everything.

            This is where Turnbull falls down, because we’re not the UK. I believe this is becoming ever clearer on a daily basis. Decisive, clear direction is needed. Not a bunch of thought bubbles and rough handling of the break lever.

    6. Aryan
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink |

      “In November 2009, then-Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo first proposed that Telstra upgrade its copper network to the same FTTN technology being deployed by BT. However, Telstra and the then-Coalition Government, including then-Communications Minister Helen Coonan,”

      I think your timing is wrong Renai, that certainly wasn’t November 2009…

    7. Fat Pat
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 1:52 pm | Permalink |

      *Nothing* happened when the Liberals were in chanrge. Throughout the whole 11 years (Of John Howard) we has talk talk talk, but nothing happened!

      Effectively we went backwards – and our copper CAN just deteriorated!

      When the ALP got into power, they needed to sort through the proposals and work out was best for *All* Australians, and best value for the Taxpayer.

      FTTP was chosen.

      Then they need to address the delivery medium, so needed time to negotiate with Telstra.

      This takes time, but it was achieved, and it removed Telstra from the wholesale space as a bonus and delivered structural seperation to boot.

      Then they started the roll-out – which will be a 10 year plan. What happened at *every* step of the process? The Liberals opposed it and their National Paty mates (whose constituents wiill be the ones to truly suffer with the new paradigm) remained silent. Even though their members actually came up with the idea of FTTP early on (Fiona Nash anyone?)

      So, now we are back to the point of talk talk talk, and probably nothing will happen for a further 3-6 years (apart from some window dressing), and Australia will slip further in the rankings.

      Once upon a time we used to be a country of “early adopters”, with the LNP in charge we have become a nation of “wait and see’ers”.

      I weep for the damage that will be done to our Country and the future of our Children!

      • Mike
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:42 pm | Permalink |

        I weep for the damage that will be done to our Country and the future of our Children!

        And their children.

        And their children…….

        Climate change, anyone?

        +1000

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

        Trying to change history?

        The Labor Party proposed FTTN, sent out a request for proposal expecting Telstra to submit a reasonable proposal which the Labor party would then accept. Instead Telstra thumbed their nose. Labor abandoned the process and proposed FTTP as a face saving measure.

        > I weep for the damage that will be done to our Country and the future of our Children!

        Thankfully the Labor Party are no longer in power so we don’t have to weep just pay back the mountains of debt.

        • Observer
          Posted 01/10/2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink |

          “proposed FTTP as a face saving measure”

          A bit of rewriting of history, don’t you think?

          Still waiting to the answer to my question. To be sure, name a major social reform undertaken by the LNP in the last 50 years.

        • Alex
          Posted 02/10/2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink |

          @ Mathew

          History…

          “The labor party proposed FttN and sent out a request for proposal” – correct and incorrect.

          They initially proposed FttN but the RFP’s asked for FttN ‘OR FttP’. Remembering too, the Coalition back then referred to FttN as fraudband and opposed it. Yet now they support it.

          “Expected Telstra to submit a reasonable proposal” (in fact I’d go as far as to say it was written for Telstra). “Instead Telstra thumbed their nose” – correct.

          As such it would seem obvious that even the incumbent (who previously also withdrew from FttN discussions with the ACCC) and who can keep squeezing every last cent from their own copper, know FttN is dumb. Especially when FttP has been planned and is underway. Either that or they know the copper is not up to it. Why else would they have withdrawn themselves from what would appear to be beneficial FttN negotiations “twice”, otherwise?

          “Labor abandoned the process and proposed FTTP” – correct and incorrect.

          As mentioned above the RFP’s were also for FttP. However the nature of the build was altered markedly.

          “As a face saving measure” – seriously!

          The panel of experts advised of a ‘better way forward, relating to FttP (one of the technologies asked for) due to a number of factors and the then government simply heeded this expert advice. Exactly as I’d expect the Coalition/MT to do, or would have done, under the same circumstances.

          “Thankfully the Labor Party are no longer in power so we don’t have to weep just pay back the mountains of debt”.

          Clearly demonstrating what we have all known about your exclusive motives in blindly opposing the NBN and repeating silly groundhog day figures, daily.

          We will see how Tony and his government go, because as I have said for ages all politicians are tarred with the same brush (they just pander to their different financial backers) IMO. And seeing what’s occurred so far in relation to the new government (although early days) nothing has occurred to change my opinion. But granted Juliar does have a better ring to it than Tonyliar.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 07/10/2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink |

          Thankfully the Labor Party are no longer in power so we don’t have to weep just pay back the mountains of debt.

          Perhaps you haven’t been following, but the public debit for either plan is pretty well the same…

    8. Chris Watts
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink |

      You know, I would so love to say ‘I told you so’ about the 10 year schedule of the NBN. It always seemed patently absurd to me that you could properly spend $40 odd billion on one project in ten years, let alone a project that would be as hampered with red tape that a GBE would be. Having said that, it was my only real problem with the NBN.

      But, I am not that person, so I won’t….

    9. Cdinoz
      Posted 01/10/2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink |

      Dear Delimiter,

      I am currently working in the UK. I pine every day for Australian broadband. 3G is so inconsistent it’s not funny. Home broadband a few miles from cities the size of Melbourne is just embarrassing.

      Travel here, make real life comparisons, and you will go back to Oz and hug iiNet and Telstra and thank them for what they have given us.

      Using theoretical information as you are here is nonsensical.

      • Matt
        Posted 01/10/2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink |

        I’m in the UK too (since 2007) and am able to sync at 80meg on VDSL2. While there are some things I like about the Australian model (data allowances + lack of traffic shaping, generally better educated/techy culture surrounding ISPs), things seem a lot better here than back in Oz.

        That said, VDSL2/FTTC doesn’t really make sense in Oz (lower housing density).

        Also I don’t think Fibre on Demand is actually available to anyone yet, the pricing is ridiculous, and there’s a 3 year contract which will be with your retail provider (if/when anyone offers it). Knowing OpenReach/BT, that 3 year contract will be have to be paid out even if you try to switch to another FoD retailer.

    10. quink
      Posted 02/10/2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink |

      Hi Renai

      Here are some things from the 1st of October alone:

      AT&T are going 1 Gbps: http://www.lightwaveonline.com/articles/2013/10/at-t-to-launch-1-gbps-ftth-in-austin.html

      Free have gone to 1 Gbps: http://www.free.fr/adsl/internet.html

      BT’s Fibre-on-Demand product strains affordability: http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/bts-fibre-on-demand-product-strains-affordability/

      Telkom’s project to replace its existing ADSL infrastructure with multi-service access nodes (MSANs) has been dramatically slowed according to a source with knowledge about the situation: http://mybroadband.co.za/news/broadband/87799-telkom-20mbps-40mbps-vdsl-roll-out-reined-in.html

      And this from the 30th of September:

      CenturyLink uses Calix systems in Omaha gigabit FTTH pilot: http://www.lightwaveonline.com/articles/2013/09/centurylink-uses-calix-systems-in-omaha-gigabit-ftth-pilot.html

      • Fibroid
        Posted 02/10/2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink |

        So in the main you are advocating a private/Government rollout, rather than a Government funded rollout by one Government owned monopoly company?

        • quink
          Posted 02/10/2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink |

          Or maybe I’m just saying that even commercial operators find good value in FTTH and that FTTN can be problematic.

          But if you feel that question is one that needs answering, I think the government imposed, with Telstra, a complete mess onto the telecommunications market in 1997 and no provider, especially Optus, has any chance of competing with them. The government owes it to us to fix a problem it created because it’s not getting solved any other way.

          And essentially the wholesale model where NBN Co charges just enough, with ACCC, to pay back its funding while providing a competitive playing field on top of that is a good enough transitional model that represents a better interim outcome. Especially also for regional areas.

          NBN Co is also seeking about one third of its funding in private markets, and the possibility of privatisation, with significant ACCC restrictions through the SAU and all, is there.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 07/10/2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink |

          So in the main you are advocating a private/Government rollout, rather than a Government funded rollout by one Government owned monopoly company?

          Personally, I don’t give a fig as to who builds it, as long as its:

          1. Open
          2. Fibre

          We need to stop wasting money and time on “interim” technologies, and just do it.

    11. Zeo
      Posted 03/10/2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink |

      I consider that the FTTH is akin to electricity, sewerage, roads etc to every household. This isnt just something that is going to happen overnight, it will be the accumilation of the whole thing. If we had complained about the cost of the previously mentioned utilities do you think they would have been built? Also, even though lately both governments like to privatise everything for short term profits, it should be owned by the government for the people!




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