Visionstream the problem in Tasmania, says Turnbull



news Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published a statement implying that much of the problems with the National Broadband Network rollout in Tasmania could be pegged to NBN contractor Visionstream, stating that the company has done little work in the state since July and is asking for its rates to be substantially enlarged to complete the work.

In early October, following calls by Tasmanian lobby groups for the Coalition to conduct a full Fibre to the Premises rollout throughout Tasmania, as opposed to using the less ambitious Fibre to the Node rollout that is the Coalition’s preferred broadband technology, Turnbull has described the National Broadband Network rollout in Tasmania as being “dead in the water”, with no progress in the state having been made “for months”.

And a week later, internal NBN rollout figures obtained by Delimiter current as at 7 October this year showed that the rollout in Tasmania had actually gone backwards over the several months preceding October. In a new interview with ABC local radio in Hobart at the time, Turnbull said with regard to Tasmanian NBN contractor Visionstream: “As far as we can see no work has been done by Visionstream for at least two months and they’ve basically downed tools … “It’s been dead in the water as far as progress is concerned in Tasmania for months.”

The NBN rollout issue is particularly contentious in Tasmania because the state’s broadband infrastructure has lagged behind the rest of the country for many years, owing to Telstra’s monopoly until the past several years over traffic carriage across Bass Strait. The high price of access to Telstra’s network has kept many ISPs from entering Tasmania and building their own infrastructure. For these and other reasons, Labor’s NBN project had prioritised Tasmania on paper — but much of the rollout in the state has been delayed, as it has also been delayed on the mainland.

In a further escalation of the ongoing conflict with Visionstream, late last week Turnbull published a statement on his personal — not ministerial — website clarifying the Government’s position on the issue.

“Prior to the election I said that the Coalition would ensure the NBN Co honoured all of its existing contractual obligations including those with respect to the Tasmanian rollout,” Turnbull stated. “I also said that we did not have access to the terms of those contracts.”

“The NBN Co has advised me that it has a contract with Visionstream to run fibre past about 190,000 premises in Tasmania, of which around 18,000 have been already passed by Visionstream making a total of 32,000 passed in Tasmania. That contract specifies certain rates at which Visionstream will be paid for its work.”

“I am advised by NBN Co that Visionstream has slowed down its work considerably, passing only 2,000 premises since the 15 of July. The NBN Co further advises me that Visionstream now complains that the rate to which it previously agreed is too low and is not enough to enable it to get the job done. Visionstream has asked the NBN Co to substantially increase the rate for this work – in other words it has asked for more money to complete the project.”

“The NBN Co is currently in commercial discussions with Visionstream about this matter and the Tasmanian rollout is receiving close consideration in the work on the Strategic Review. Honouring an agreement means complying with its terms, but for a contract to be performed both sides have to be be prepared to do that.”

Visionstream’s contract with NBN Co to deliver the NBN in Tasmania was signed in March 2012 to the value of $300 million, after the company had already secured more than $750 million worth of NBN contracts in general. In addition, the company has signed other major contracts with NBN Co. For example, in March this year it picked up a $334 million deal to roll out the NBN in Victoria, Queensland and Southern NSW. “Visionstream has extensive experience in the design, construction and maintenance of telecommunications networks,” NBN Co’s statement said at the time.

A spokesperson for Visionstream has been invited to respond to Turnbull’s comments.

What we’re seeing here is the predictable and expected fallout from project failure. I would draw readers’ attention here to two previous articles. In mid-October:

“Ex-Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has acknowledged that the private contractor model which NBN Co attempted to use in its national fibre rollout has failed due to the inability of the company’s partners to deliver on their commitments, in an admission which again raises the possibility of Telstra being brought back in to assist with the rollout.”

And in mid-August:

“A growing body of evidence is mounting that NBN Co should seriously consider contracting the nation’s incumbent telco Telstra to build large sections of the National Broadband Network infrastructure, no matter which major side of politics wins the upcoming election, and no matter whether a fibre to the node or fibre to the premises model is eventually chosen.”

It’s obvious at this point that the contractor model is simply not working for NBN Co. It’s time to try a new approach.

Image credit: Screenshot of Google Maps


  1. Visionstreams fault “now”?

    Marvellous what a difference an election makes in relation to the blame game…eh!

    I could have sworn pre-election, the then opposition/now government told us it was ‘purely’ the fault of the incompotence of NBNCo and the previous government?

      • Ah, the famous “Labor did it too”. But wasn’t bad when Labor did it?

        Oh, I nearly forgot, the Coalition can do no wrong.

        Isn’t that true, Uterine Growth (I mean, Fibroid)?

      • @ Fibroid…

        Difference being, Turnbull previously, totally blamed the previous gov./NBNCo and ‘not’ the contractors, but now the buck stops with him, he blames the contractor…

        I know you can’t (read: refuse to) admit it, but it is different and it is hypocrisy…

        Much like your good self, he obviously has a set of rules which he relates to him/his ideology/his comments and another set which he applies to anyone who disagrees…. even under the same set of circumstances.

        So you tell us, should the contractor be blamed now and not previously? Yes or no?

        • Okay, so contracts issued by NBNco under ALP control are not being honoured by a contractor who wants to change the rates.

          Essentially correct?

          So, for one, the contractor has basically lowballed their bid and tough tit to them. I would think penalty clauses would apply for non completion at this point if they are just refusing to do the work.

          Two, NBNco is responsible for dealing with it’s contractors. That the situation has gone on for so long is a failure on their behalf to manage the problem.

          Three, the ALP was in the drivers seat at the time, and it’s their project. Ultimately, responsibility for the success or failure of the project during their time in office falls to them. Since the action from Visionstream (or lack thereof) started before the election, they must have been aware of it and did what exactly?

          Of course, I understand it’s far easier to attack Turnbull (who’s been in office, what, 2 months?) than admit that there were any faults under Labor, despite Conroy owning up to the fact they overestimated the ability for the industry to deliver. But at some point, someone has to take responsibility…

          I go back to the house analogy every time. You contract a company to build you a house. The builder subcontracts for the slab, and the subbie organises a delivery of concrete. Do you care that the concrete firm underbid and now won’t deliver because they’d lose money? Do you care that the subcontractor is claiming that lack of concrete is stopping him from doing the work?

          Or do you go to the building company and say “Why isn’t my damn house being built?” They are the ones you contracted with and are the ones who should explain why they haven’t done what they agreed to.

          The gov. works for the people. They set this plan in motion and failed to manage it well. They are the ones that ultimately should wear responsibility for any failures during their tenure.

          • Read my lips…

            The problem is, MT blamed NBNCo and the last government previously, now he says it’s actually the contractors fault.

            Regardless of who signed the deal(s) or who is in government, it is hypocrisy…

          • The hypocrisy is a figment of your imagination, MT is now the Minister in charge of the DBCDE department the NBN Co reports to so is in a position now to see where the carry over problems are, or are you saying MT cannot ever blame contractors because you say so.

          • “The hypocrisy is a figment of your imagination”

            No, the hypocrisy is real. Your inability to see it doesn’t make it any less so.

            Pre election MT: It’s NBNCo’s fault. Bad management. Underpaying Vision Stream.

            Post election MT: It’s Vision Stream’s failt. Will not get more money. Must finish contract as is.

          • Which doesn’t really answer the question, now the Coaltion are in Government and have better access to NBN Co records and status reports they are locked out from criticising contractors because you say they cannot?

  2. Really ?

    none of the connections I’ve ordered through telstra over the last 12 months have worked, no matter what office / state I’ve organized them for. Always have had to get them to come out and fix it ..

    so I’d not have a lot of faith in their ability to roll out nbn connections any better.

  3. So you want Telstra’s contractors to action work instead of NBNco contractors?

    That won’t fix anything, Renai. The rollout is reliant on people doing the work; whether that’s Telstra’s contract pool, or a third party – they’re going to hit exactly the same hurdles, exactly the same delays.

    You might believe Telstra is a miracle worker. It’s not. It can barely keep up with remediation of it’s own network. They’re not going to part the red sea and deliver NBN unto salvation. Sorry.

    The only way NBNco can improve the situation is to directly manage and engage contract work. And actually publish sensible time frames. And have politicians frankly get the hell-out-of-the-way so they can work.

    Turnbull has been bashing the efforts since election. He’s supposed to be managing this thing. It’s a shambles.

    Turnbull is firmly playing the blame game, and doing dick-all to fix it. The ‘review’ will simply suggest building copper, the entire build will slip yet again, and Captain Spin will continue to blame the NBNco.

    How is any of this a surprise, still?

    • “So you want Telstra’s contractors to action work instead of NBNco contractors? That won’t fix anything, Renai.”

      Projects do not fail because of the workers. They fail because of governance. International experience shows the only companies qualified to conduct NBN rollouts are incumbent telcos.

      Got some evidence that I’m wrong about this? Happy to read it if you do.

      • Projects fail either from governance issues, or an inability to get the work done within the time frames allotted. Some might say the later is induced by the former. Realistically speaking, it takes two to tango.

        Conroy has already admitted he put ridiculous expectations on NBNco. But then that’s political motives, for you. Contracting the work out was always a risk. And will always be a risk. Ask Telstra how well contracting the work out has been. They will claim it’s flawless. We know otherwise.

        Turnbull is still in “destroy” mode. Rather than actively attempting to find a solution, he’s thus far called almost every board member into question, sacked most of them & installed people with very little clue into positions that NEED smart people.

        And is now asking for a report that is guaranteed to cause further delay due to re-tooling and shifting a build, who’s only sin is to not meet unrealistic time frames & contracts being tendered that should never have been approved.

        This was never ever going to be a project that was simple and expedient on delivery. FTTN will also not be simple, or expedient.

        Look I don’t have a problem holding NBNco to account; but Turnbull doesn’t get free passes any more – he’s not in Opposition. It’s now part of his problem, too. About time the Minister stepped up to the plate and did more than pointing fingers and yapping to any media that cares to listen.

        • hey mate,

          it’s an interesting discussion, but Delimiter is an evidence-based site. I say again: If you have evidence that a NBN-style rollout globally has been successfully done by a non-incumbent telco, I would encourage you to present it.


      • however – if the incumbent can’t currently install their own equipment – what faith do you have in them being able to do an NBN?

        For example – we recently took on a company that merged with us – in QLD. We ordered a new link for them … was meant to be live at a set date.

        we arrive at that date – and it isn’t .

        Spent 2 days twiddling our thumbs till it was fixed… which put us 2 days behind on our work.

        And that’s just their current “offerings”.

      • No, Renai, that may be true for FTTN where the incumbent owns the infrastructure. Also that’s more a case of extending the life of infrastructure and staving off competition.

        BT deployed FTTN because it owned the infrastructure. It was cheaper. Telstra chose to resist change, and it frankly had no real need to compete due to it’s massive market presence.

        If Telstra had a genuine competitive threat, it would have spent less time resisting, and more time building – which is vastly different to BT, which responded to strong competitive threat.

        A new network that doesn’t touch the existing infrastructure can be built entirely independently, or via leased access. Anyone can build that. Ask Google. Or the dozens of other companies happily dropping in Fibre all over the place.

        Ironically NBNco’s shift to copper will almost certainly require Telstra to play a vastly increased part. The questions is now how much that will cost, both from a financial point of view, and a competitive one.

        • @Brendan

          ‘that may be true for FTTN where the incumbent owns the infrastructure.’

          No one has provided a case that Telstra owning the copper is a FTTN deal breaker.’

          So how does Telstra ‘stave off competition’ when the infrastructure you are referring to is owned by the Government owned NBN Co and then resold under ACCC wholesale access and pricing control to all access seekers

          Yes and it is sold wholesale to all access seekers overseen by the UK independent regulator and competition authority Ofcom.

          Which doesn’t really explain why Telstra was the first Telco in Australia to actually roll out FTTP in greenfield estates.

          Except in Australia so far apparently.

          Well yeah they own the copper link to the residence.

          Well as long as it it faster to rollout than FTTP ( it is) and it is cheaper to rollout (it is) you have nothing to worry about.

          • @ Fibroid, “Well as long as it it faster to rollout than FTTP ( it is) and it is cheaper to rollout (it is) you have nothing to worry about.”

            The faster to roll out furphy has already be proven incorrect… as people who were supposed to get FttP now/soon in many instance aren’t?

            Cheaper (for the gov) to roll out (and let’s face it, that’s all we are worried about) is arguable, as the figures were only showing a $900m saving, but there’s still the Telstra x factor. If Telstra want (nay demand) any more than $900m more than the current deal, then that claim is also blown out of the water…

            But then you know all of this, but for obvious reasions, simply aren’t allowed to admit it, are you?

            So argue with the facts as you must…

            Also FYI –


            What were you saying perviously abouit incompetence…? Gee it didn’t take long for such incompotence to become evident did it…?

            Don’t say (while you were basking in odd, politically biased bullshit) that you weren’t warned…

          • @fibroid.

            ISPs are not required to wholesale unless in breach of the TPA. So, can you please stop suggesting it will be a competitive nirvana? This isn’t the situation now, why would it suddenly become so?

            Turnbull is under pressure to relax overbuild constraints; if that occurs then it’s almost a forgone conclusion that developers and infrastructure owners will carve up profitable areas and lock them behind non-wholesale networks.

            And you are also responding to the wrong question – I’ve never said Telstra’s CAN ownership is a deal breaker. I have said it has value and Telstra may choose to pursue that value during any FTTN deal.

            You, ironically, keep pretending the CAN has no value, despite being quite keen of FTTN. Which apparently is better than fibre.

            So how can something with such value, have no value?

            In your own time. Please, feel free to respond once again by offering answers to questions I never raised.

          • @Brendan

            ”ISPs are not required to wholesale unless in breach of the TPA’

            I have no idea what TPA regulation breach you are referring to.

            ‘. So, can you please stop suggesting it will be a competitive nirvana’

            I didn’t suggest it will be competitive nirvana, so there is no need to stop.

            ‘Turnbull is under pressure to relax overbuild constraints;’

            He is? where did that amazing statement evolve from?

            ‘ if that occurs then it’s almost a forgone conclusion that developers and infrastructure owners will carve up profitable areas and lock them behind non-wholesale networks.’

            You keep repeating the same tired Coalition bashing mantra even though you have been corrected multiple times, you know the Coalition policy doesn’t allow that, and you know that the ACCC would not allow infrastructure investors to lock out access seekers so lucrative areas of our suburbs become mini monopolies in the hands of one retailer rolled out under the dog eat dog principle of ‘who builds it first has it for life’.

            ‘ I have said it has value and Telstra may choose to pursue that value during any FTTN deal.’

            Indeed they might and if you care to read the Telstra/NBN Co Agreement of October 2011 you will notice there is plenty of latitude in how the progressive payments are made to Telstra, because the key conditions on how payments are made in Section 4.2.2 have to modified.

            ‘You, ironically, keep pretending the CAN has no value,’

            I have never said the CAN has no value.

            ‘ despite being quite keen of FTTN. Which apparently is better than fibre.’

            I don’t care if I get FTTN, it is more than adequate for what I need.

          • @ Fibroid “I don’t care if I get FTTN, it is more than adequate for what I need.”

            Yet you argued against FttN in 2007…

            What was it overkill? I don’t need it? A white elephant? … just 6 years ago!

            Seems some never learn from their mistakes, eh?

          • @Alex

            ‘Yet you argued against FttN in 2007…’

            No I didn’t.

            ‘What was it overkill? I don’t need it? A white elephant? … just 6 years ago!’

            I have never said it was white elephant 6 years ago or even now or ever, you are confusing it with descriptions of the Labor FTTP plan.

          • “He is? where did that amazing statement evolve from?”

            TPG is already looking to push into MDUs with their own network. They won’t be the last to seek to do so. And to seek to have legislation change.

            “I didn’t suggest it will be competitive nirvana, so there is no need to stop.”

            Turnbull has previously stated he would consider relaxation of the above legislation. Whilst he has suggested wholesale would be required, it wouldn’t preclude Telstra and others from attempting to use the courts and ACCC to lever an outcome.

            Also to suggest “well they have to wholesale so that’s fine” ignores the 7000 pound gorilla in the room. Not Telstra, though. ACCC.

            And the ACCC have an odd history over regulation.

            “Indeed they might and if you care to read the Telstra/NBN Co Agreement of October 2011..”

            So you’re now accepting there’s likely to a difference between the current $11 billion and any new deal?

            Is that a new stance, I can’t tell?

            Look – FTTN would be a potential massive improvement over the current ADSL, in my case. Unless remediation doesn’t occur and I get, at best, the minimum of 12 mbits.

            My concern is that there is a number of questions over the final cost of re-tooling and shifting to Copper last mile, and Telstra’s financial and market intentions. Never mind the range of services that are no-longer viable, if we switch to FTTN.

            I’m afraid I’m not in the Telstra-love camp. They’re most of the reason we’re even debating this. That Turnbull is continuing to use NBNco should say a great deal of the history between Telstra and government over the last decade.

            Do not forget, Liberals 11-th hour last hurrah prior to the Labor defeat (seeing Howard and a number of others jump from the sinking ship) was to select OPEL (doomed to fail) to action a mini-nbn (FTTN).

            As I have said before, people seem to have short term memory and have forgotten much of the history of why we are here in the first place.

          • @Brendan

            ‘TPG is already looking to push into MDUs with their own network.’

            That’s a idea not yet progressed beyond a idea in any formal way.

            ‘ And to seek to have legislation change.’

            Point out where TPG said they wanted legislative change before proceeding?

            ‘Turnbull has previously stated he would consider relaxation of the above legislation.’

            You keep referring to ‘legisaltion’ what legislation are you referring to and where did Turnbull say he would consider relaxing it?

            ‘Whilst he has suggested wholesale would be required, it wouldn’t preclude Telstra and others from attempting to use the courts and ACCC to lever an outcome.’

            Why would the ACCC and the courts decide to allow Telstra to be even more dominant than they are?

            ‘And the ACCC have an odd history over regulation.’

            They do?

            ‘So you’re now accepting there’s likely to a difference between the current $11 billion and any new deal?’

            No, I was saying there would need to be changes to Section 4.2.2 of the agreement, did you actually read it? – it’s on Page 26.

            ‘My concern is that there is a number of questions over the final cost of re-tooling and shifting to Copper last mile, and Telstra’s financial and market intentions.’

            Well there were a number of questions about the Labor FTTP plan as well, but it’s a new Government, new NBN policy, it’s MT , the new NBN Co and the DBCDE concern now.

            ‘ Never mind the range of services that are no-longer viable, if we switch to FTTN.’

            What services do you have in mind?

            ‘ was to select OPEL (doomed to fail) to action a mini-nbn (FTTN).’

            The current NBN Coalition policy is nothing like OPEL, in fact it is closer to the Labor NBN policy than it is to OPEL, and the longer the Coaltion take to make a decision the closer it gets. :)

  4. Once again, Mal shows off his cognitive dissonance. When construction goals were being missed by Labor, it was because of the ALP’s incompetence. Apparently only Turnbull is allowed to blame dodgy contractors for project failings.

  5. Don’t you guys know that FTTN is much faster than FTTP and FTTP is thus outdated already?

    Tony Abbott said so himself and our prime minister would never lie!

    > Because we’re going to put fibre to distribution points and then use, in most cases, existing technology, we can deliver much faster broadband, much more affordably and much sooner than under the former government’s plans.

  6. The observations (project delays) do not lead to your conclusion (Telstra should be brought in, or should have been responsible from the beginning).

    I’m not sure how today’s Telstra could be a magic bullet for the NBN. What makes you so certain that it would be?

    What has been clear from the beginning is that international experience is not closely analogous to the Australian experience, especially not to this NBN FTTP rollout (which is essentially an over-build project, not an upgrade project).

    Please explain in detail how Telstra’s increased involvement beyond its existing involvement in the NBN would contribute beneficially to this over-build project, and by how much. ‘Incumbents have successfully upgraded their networks elsewhere’ isn’t sufficient argument.

    Please note, though, that with the new (old) FTTN direction that the new Coalition Government is taking us in, I agree that Telstra’s greater involvement is necessary. That’s obvious. But in dealing with a hypothetical situation where FTTP is preserved, I don’t see how Telstra’s involvement could have made things any better.

    I think that the biggest lesson we’ve learnt from all of this is a renewal of an old lesson: that the previous Coalition Government made a tremendous mistake privatising Telstra without structural separation. Now a new Coalition Government is set to make its own tremendous mistake, and no one should be surprised.

  7. Most of the time when Telstra sub contracts work it goes to Vision Stream or Silcar, so I fail to see how Telstra will actually do this better.

    Though Telstra probably has more lawyers than technicians, so they would force the contractors to complete the work.

    There are probably some remnants of workers within Telstra with this experience, but the coalition should act shortly if they want to retain Telstras retrenched workers with this experience.

  8. hey everyone,

    apologies, I don’t have time to go into this debate about Telstra in depth — too busy writing other stories ;) However, I would encourage you to read this article:

    The problem, as is often the case, is very much around the governance of the contractors.

    “New documents obtained by The Australian Financial Review show that once work in an FSAM begins, NBN Co is budgeting about five months for physical design work (which includes drafting detailed design documents, field inspections and rodding and roping), and for “remediation” or repairs to Telstra’s infrastructure. Sources said that in Project 45, Telstra was able to complete this physical design work and remediations for about 15,000 homes in the five areas in just four weeks – leaving only the installation of fibre uncompleted.”

    Yes, it’s often going to be the same contractors. But Telstra has a vastly better understanding of its own network — and many millions of hours more in-house corporate knowledge in this area — than NBN Co.

    The NBN is not a heterogenuous network. It’s *all* about the details of how each cable is laid in each street. Telstra has that knowledge and is able to exploit it. NBN Co has not been able to do the same. And evidence globally suggests that only incumbents have this knowledge of their own network. NBN Co is working from a poor base.

    It’s not an easy argument to make ideologically. Everyone wants to believe in NBN Co and not Telstra. Me too. But once you get out there and look at how things are happening on the ground, and talk to people deploying the network, it becomes apparent where NBN Co’s weaknesses are. NBN Co is great at high-level planning. But in terms of low-level planning, it is extremely weak because it has not been enmeshed with this network for decades as Telstra has. The evidence of what is going on here has been slowly growing over the past several years, and it is now overwhelming. Every analyst I speak to agrees. It’s why I wrote this:

    NBN Co has data. But it does not have the deep understanding of this network upgrade that Telstra — and all incumbents — do.

    • You keep talking about Telstra’s network… What are you referring to? Are you talking about the pits and ducts?

      You keep saying upgrade when it’s more accurately an over-build of the existing copper network.

      • The physical infrastructure — whether that is ducts, pits and pipes, telephone exchanges (which, from memory, make up a lot of the points of interconnect) and so on.

        It is getting access to and putting cables through this infrastructure that is the main work of the NBN — as well as knowing how to connect each house up. It sounds trivial, but it’s not — it’s a very non-trivial exercise, principally because of the knowledge required in each area.

        • Okay, thanks for clarifying. You’re talking about the physical infrastructure that houses the network, not the network itself. I still wouldn’t call it a network upgrade, but it’s just semantics.

          Having said that, I’m still not certain how it is that Telstra’s greater involvement would have vastly improved the situation. You talk about the difference between data and understanding, but that’s all a little too vague. Telstra is not a person.

          Surely, NBN Co would have access to the relevant Telstra records. If they don’t have those in-depth records, then that is a massive failure of the Labor Government and NBN Co. Is that the case? Or is it simply the case that NBN Co should have paid a little more for Telstra’s co-operation?

          How much of the build and design time is spent figuring out what goes where and what should go where? How much more efficient than NBN Co are Telstra at this, and why?

          I mean it’s pretty clear that no one’s really been rolling out fixed-line network infrastructure for many years, so who’s to say anyone has that expertise and understanding for how best to approach it in every area?

          Or is it more about having access to those tasked with maintaining the network? But the difficulty that ISPs and end-users have trying to get faults fixed by Telstra seems to imply that Telstra doesn’t do a lot of quality maintenance work, so I would infer that not many would have that experience anyway.

          I’m just finding it hard to visualise what part of the process will be greatly improved by Telstra’s involvement. I’m not convinced any which way (e.g. that having Telstra as the top-level contractor would definitely NOT have been beneficial), but I certainly have doubts that Telstra’s involvement would have provided anything beneficial. It’s not like Telstra was ever locked out, was it? They just didn’t want to play ball. If anyone can answer my questions, please do.

          The best theory I’ve heard for how the rollout of NBN FTTP could have been improved had nothing to do with Telstra, and it was not to use contractors but to employ sub-contractors or workers directly, either by NBN Co or a dedicated arm that can be sold off separately.

          • Did you read the AFR article and the quote I posted from it? I’d like you to specifically discuss the evidence I presented from that article before going off into generalities. Delimiter is an evidence-based site.

          • Yes. As I said near the end (though it might have been after an edit): It’s not like Telstra was ever locked out, was it? They just didn’t want to play ball. What it seems to me to be is greater cost at a reduced time – for the initial period, anyway – I’m certain that the speed of in-house design work by NBN Co would have picked up as they got more areas under their belt. The article states the outcomes of their experiment, but doesn’t really discuss the whys, the hows, the circumstances and the variables, which is what I’m interested in, so I remain sceptical.

          • Renai
            I read that article some time ago, also an article where NBN has reduced the planning stage to less than 2 weeks.
            One swallow does not make spring.
            A selected site (they as you so clearly espoused have some knowledge of their network) does not relate to the National circumstance, nor their capability to devote the resources to that single instance relate to their ability to handle thousands of sites as demonstrated by the remediation and asbestos issues, not to mention they were contracted by NBN I believe to train splicers etc, yet we have a shortage of them.
            Contractors do not have a track record of training skilled workers, they depend on a skilled sub contractor pool and who trains them and where do they gain the necessary experience.?

            NBN’s Huge mistake was failing to build their own Construction arm and train skilled workers, even train local sparkies if necessary as they build around the Nation.
            That was part of PMG/Telecom’s Public Service obligation – training skilled workers in many areas including telecoms and sparkies and project managers. Areas Telstra discarded as a cost to the shareholder

          • Forgive me for having the audacity to rely on evidence and not conjecture. You’re clearly right: NBN Co *will* be able to deliver on its promises, by training its own workforce. I don’t know how I could have believed otherwise.

          • I think the issue was that (in this instance) you relied too heavily on one set of evidence that tells a certain story, without an investigation into the whys, the hows, the circumstances, and the variables of it.

            Telstra managed to dedicate resources to a few selected sites and was able to do physical design work on those sites in record time. That’s the truth. But consider if those resources were spread out, and if there were more difficult sites to work with. Consider also the price that Telstra wanted to charge (we don’t know – we just know it was more than NBN Co were willing to pay). And ask, why did they choose those sites, and how specifically were their methods and processes superior, and how did they leverage their network understanding, and does that depth of understanding apply more widely, and ultimately is it fair and accurate to extrapolate one small sample size of favourable outcomes to an entire national rollout? Probably Telstra and NBN Co have the answers.

            Excuse us for being doubtful about what Telstra (says they) can do and what they would actually (be able to) do.

            I’d sooner bring the military in to roll out the NBN than to deal with Telstra.

            All of this is moot anyway. We’re going down the path of FTTN now, so we need Telstra whether we like it or not.

          • We would need Telstra irrespective of a FTTN outcome or not, the best evidence you will ever see in black and white of the need for Telstra is the current $11b Telstra/NBN Co agreement.

          • Incorrect…

            Telstra are required for FttN as they own not only the pits and ducts, they also own the actual copper. Without the copper there isn’t FttN.

            Whereas with FttP, whilst leasing Telstra pits and ducts was preferential according to NBNCo, without them there can still be FttP…

            I’m guessing you actually know this, but simply aren’t allowed to admit it, are you?

          • Incorrect? so the Labor NBN rollout would have got along fine without the Telstra agreement and the use of powered Telstra exchange buildings with fall back power generators and battery systems to hold the Fibre Access Nodes and all that existing ducting laid to outside a residence and back to those exchanges and all the Telstra wholesale and retail customers that come with exchange area shutdowns?

            umm ok.

    • There is a difference to the two companies in-house knowledge and expertise. That is what allows them to operate more / less effectively in different fields.

      • You missed the point of the comment you are replying to.

        Telstra, use Visionstream as their contractors.

        And that contracting Telstra to build anything; is just contracting Telstra to middle-manage Visionstream.

        • No, actually PeterA, you missed the point. There is a difference between the governance skills that Telstra and NBN Co bring to managing contractors.

        • If you have ever worked as a contractor, you would understand the importance of good work orders/instructions.

          If you get your instructions from someone who knows what they are doing vs someone who doesnt it can save days of work even for small jobs meaning that you do not have to leave site to collect addition equipment or parts, rework plans on the fly (leading to possibly other issues later on), rquest additional assistance and be at the mercy of their timetables.

    • Telstra will pay its contractors market rates… instead of engaging in socialist PR bullsh-t about private sector trying to rip off a poor little 500lb government monopoly and send the contractors bankrupt instead.. as well as grossly mislead the public and taxpayers about the real cost of the NBN

      • Question to all…

        Are all node nerds, life-long Coalition voting, Telstra fanbois…?

        It seems so… and as such, paints a pretty obvious picture as to why they all hated the real NBN and progress!

      • The contractors put forward bids they knew were impossible to meet.

        Don’t blame NBNCo for accepting their low balled bids, they are trying to build a network and have the right to assume that bids for significant (multi million dollar) chunks of work, from companies capable of doing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work aren’t works of fiction. The contractors KNEW they were low balling; and pretty much “deserve” to go out of business as a result.

        Remember; the “500lb gorilla” you talk about was actually a small company. The gorilla was the contractors, who had much larger sums of money invested in their businesses, they were hoping they would be bailed out on their low-balled bids instead of let to go bankrupt. (Why else would you under-quote a government business entity if you WEREN’T planning to hit them up for the difference when you ran out of cash).

  9. Probably the chiefs in Visionstream aren’t getting enough “play money” so they can live it up like kings.

    Also, no doubt Telstra is paying them 20c per hour less and FINING them if they don’t do their work on time, whereas no penalties for not doing the NBN work.

    The NBN needs to employ these construction workers itself. Trying to “outsource” the work will only add cost, levels of management, infighting, finger pointing and delays. I’m sure Telstra’s copper network would never have been installed if they had outsourced the work back then.

    • All conjecture now…

      Got any input on what is actually happening now, relating to the dumb FttN plan, rather than procrastinating over the past?

    • haha yeah, but why is Turnbull still intending to use NBNco over Telstra?

      This is a Coalition government, fond of letting the market deal with everything. Even they aren’t interested thus far in engaging Telstra to build any new network.

      Hell, Turnbull just presumes they can acquire the CAN, under the existing deal. I’m not sure if that says more of Telstra, or the Coalition.

      Telstra is much of the reason we are, where we are. It’s sale without separation has meant we have had successive governments both left and right refuse to give regulatory holidays in return.

      People here have incredibly short term memories.

  10. If Turnbull is serious about his NBN promises in Tasmania he needs to start fining VisionStream $$$ for breech of contract, and continue to fine them for as long as it needs to be to get them back to work.

    Should Visionstream refuse to restart Tasmanian NBN works, then they should be excluded from any future NBN contract opportunities.

    Do your job Turnbull, get the work happening !

  11. Once again, the lowest construction tenderer wins the contract.
    Due diligence from the last government obviously was flawed.
    It is easy to blame the sub contractor. Subcontractor always gets screwed by the main contractor.
    Main contractor has under estimated the project. He and the last Government are to blame for slow role out.

    Remove Vision Stream due to the broken contract.
    Re issue the tender and appoint a tenderer that tenders the correct amount for the project, not the lowest tenderer.

    Come on Australia open your eyes that the lowest price is never the best.

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