Abandoning the “National” Broadband Network label



opinion It is no longer appropriate in 2014 for Australians to refer to the Coalition’s radically watered down version of Labor’s pet telecommunications initiative as the “National” Broadband Network project, given the fact that it will leave the long-term future of up to a third of Australians’ broadband services in doubt.

Many readers will be aware that for a long time, I have been uncomfortable with the definitions used by the Coalition in the long-running debate about the future of the National Broadband Network project kicked off by the then-Rudd Labor administration back in November 2007.

If you closely examine the various Labor NBN policies which the Rudd and Gillard administrations have spent the past half-decade attempting (and largely failing) to enact, it has always been apparent that they were, at least, correctly labelled. The two primary versions — the $4.3 billion Fibre to the Node initiative which Labor took to the 2007 Federal Election and the enhanced, $43 billion Fibre to the Premises version which Rudd unveiled in April 2009 — both featured a standardised national flavour.

In the words of then-Shadow Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, unveiling the 2007 policy in March that year, proposals to build the first $4.7 billion FTTN NBN would have to “ensure that their proposal delivers access to broadband speeds of a minimum of 12Mbps to 98 percent of Australian homes and businesses”. The 2009 model, of course, would have seen FTTP deployed to some 93 percent of Australian premises, with the remaining seven percent to receive decent upgrades via a combination of wireless and satellite options.

The key concept underlying both of these projects was the fact that both would have seen substantial upgrades and/or replacements made to the basic infrastructure which has over the past century served most of Australia’s telecommunications needs — the copper network operated by Telstra.

It’s true that competing infrastructure does exist. The HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus. The 3G and 4G networks operated by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The various satellites. The limited patches of FTTP and FTTN around the country owned by companies like Telstra, TransACT and Opticomm. And so on. All of these networks were built for a reason, and do do much to serve Australia’s telecommunications needs.

However, what Labor’s NBN policies reflected was the fact that all the available data continues to show that it always has been and still is the copper network — not these alternatives — which fulfills the vast majority of Australia’s telecommunications needs.

If you look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ figures over the past eight years, for example, what you’ll find is that HFC cable numbers have remained largely static over that period — hovering around 10 percent of the nation. As the broadband revolution has taken place, Australians have increasingly opted to connect to ADSL broadband over the copper network to replace dial-up connections over that same network. Mobile broadband use has grown astronomically — but predominantly as a complement to ADSL broadband, with only a small proportion of Australians seeing it as a complete replacement solution.

The reason for this trend is clear: Availability and price. Many Australians, even if they live within the HFC cable footprint, have been and still are unable to have the hybrid infrastructure connected, especially if they live in apartment buildings. Telstra and Optus just refuse to do it. The cost of HFC cable services have also been significantly higher than similar ADSL offerings. In comparison, ADSL is available virtually everywhere and is offered at affordable prices by many different players. It’s no surprise that it has emerged as Australia’s broadband winner.

This trend is also very much an expected one in global terms. Almost universally, globally, HFC cable networks have been deployed in certain, typically high-density geographical areas (think the baby Bells in the US or Virgin Media in the UK, for example) to compete with existing copper networks, rather than nationally. Because they do not represent legacy infrastructure, these networks have not been opened to wholesale access and their operators enjoy monopolistic control over them. Such providers have proven prone to taking profits from metropolitan regions and have avoided unprofitable rural areas.

As a consequence, globally and in Australia, the term ‘national broadband network’ has generally come to refer, not to upgrades of this limited strain of HFC networks, but to mass nation-wide upgrades of incumbent-owned copper infrastructure. We see precisely this situation to Australia’s north-west in Singapore; to our south-east in New Zealand; as well as in fellow Western first-world countries such as the UK, France, Germany and so on. The trend is clear: HFC cable networks will continue to exist and even grow; but it is the massed upgrades of incumbent copper networks where all the investment is going.

For all these reasons and others, including the ongoing fascination of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull with the HFC networks and the technical inferiority of Fibre to the Node options compared with FTTP, the Coalition’s ongoing statements over the past several years that it would “complete” the “National Broadband Network” project begun under Labor have rung increasingly false to many Australians.

On 12 December, as the Government released the Strategic Review which the National Broadband Network Company conducted into its operations and future, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had this to say: “The Government remains committed to completing the NBN as quickly and cost-effectively as possible and managing this taxpayer-funded project with complete transparency.” It’s a refrain we’ve heard many times.

However, if Tony Abbott’s Coalition administration proceeds, as it is expected to, with NBN Co’s recommended model for its future operations, it is very clear that the Government will not “complete” an NBN rollout as would be defined by either the common sense displayed by the average Australian or a more precise technical definition which many of us would prefer.

Despite fervent protestations from senior industry figures such as Simon Hackett, the model which NBN Co has recommended offers little in the way of a long-term solution to Australia’s broadband needs, with around 30 percent of the 93 percent of Australian fixed-line premises to be covered by an upgrade to existing technology in the form of the HFC cable networks.

Many Australians already using the HFC cable will see little benefit at all initially (already having access to 100Mbps speeds); and all in that footprint will ultimately miss out on the long-term gigabit download speeds which, consensus technology industry opinion strongly suggests, will be needed in the long-term. You know — the “long-term” which may only be a decade or two away. Faster upload speeds will also be lost along the way. Given that many argue that upload speed improvements will actually be more important than download speed improvements in the future, this is not a trivial issue.

The remaining 70 percent of the 93 percent of Australian fixed-line premises will be comforted to know that their copper cables will be upgraded along more standard international lines, even if the 44 percent who will only receive fibre to the node will feel significantly miffed that they missed out on the full FTTP upgrade they have been promised by Labor since April 2009; and will be fervently pushing, if not paying themselves, for that FTTN to be upgraded to FTTP as quickly as possible.

But the bigger picture here is still clear: A huge proportion of Australians will be offered a vastly different technology for their future broadband needs under the Coalition than under Labor; and a technology which does not offer them the long-term certainty of a copper network replacement. Furthermore, the Coalition will create a patchwork of heterogenuous broadband networks nationally; with service levels to differ suburb by suburb or even between different sides of the same street.

Even if you assume that the remaining 70 percent of Australian premises will eventually be upgraded to FTTP down the track, this still leaves up to a third of Australian premises in the lurch come 2030.

This is a fact acknowledged by none other than new NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski himself. “The NBN would not need to upgraded sooner than five years of construction of the first access technology,” Switkowski said at the NBN Strategic Review press conference in December. Great. Now that’s long-term thinking.

All of this also leaves out the sheer fact that it may not be possible to upgrade the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus along the lines that NBN Co and the Coalition are proposing. Very few HFC networks globally have been opened to to wholesale access; then too, NBN Co does not actually own those networks; Telstra and Optus do. Their technical state; their degree of entwinement with other networks and the issue of connected billing systems; ongoing, very real concerns around congestion; all of these are non-trivial issues that NBN Co will need to surmount in its HFC cable scenario. NBN Co is proposing an unproven, highly non-standard model here with its HFC proposal. And that’s enough to make any technologist very nervous. Major technology projects based on unproven models almost universally fail.

This situation leaves Australians, and especially technically minded Australians, with a very difficult choice. Clearly, the Coalition’s version of the NBN is vastly different to Labor’s, especially for those within the HFC cable footprint, who will be left with very little long-term certainty about the quality of their broadband infrastructure. I, and I believe most other informed technical commentators, continue to believe that virtually all of the nation’s copper cable will inevitably be upgraded to fibre at some point, as it is being in every other country. The Coalition’s preferred NBN model has the potential to set that upgrade back by something like a decade while the Coalition chases a red herring down a rabbit hole.

And even for many of those outside the HFC footprint, the future is unclear. FTTN looked like a very good option for a National Broadband Network back in 2007. Seven years later, the technology has improved, but so have bandwidth demands. Massively. 100Mbps isn’t what it used to be. And even early adopter FTTN countries such as the UK are already conducting FTTP upgrades in some areas, as well as FTTP on demand. The long-term future of FTTN is clear: It’s FTTP.

However, it’s also true that the term “National Broadband Network” has a great deal of traction in the general population.

Let’s face it: If you work in Australia’s IT or telco industries, you have already been fielding questions for at least several years from your less-technical family and friends about how the NBN has been going. Increasingly, as the situation has become more politically complex, it’s become hard to answer those questions.

I’ve explained the NBN situation recently to several friends of mine with deep business experience. Every time they end up flabberghasted at the sheer insanity of it all. The NBN is simultaneously Australia’s largest ever infrastructure project, its largest ever industry restructuring endeavour, and Australia’s largest ever attempt to deliver better fundamental service delivery to ordinary residents and businesses. Plus it’s a giant political football.

But from the outside, all most people see is that they’re eventually going to get amazing Internet at some stage as it’s being rolled out. Trying to explain that their new Internet is probably not going to be that amazing under the Coalition is tough enough as it is, without introducing using an entirely different term altogether.

None of this, however, is an excuse for not trying.

Delimiter’s audience, especially, is a technical one. It is highly aware of the differences between HFC, FTTN, FTTP and even FTTB. Everyone here ‘gets’ the fact that what the Coalition is promising under the NBN is vastly different from what Labor was promising (and, even different from what the Coalition was promising just a few months ago).

As I wrote in December: “We cannot call this a “National Broadband Network” any more. That term is fundamentally redundant, when around 28 percent of Australian premises will not receive the infrastructure, and most of the rest will receive a watered down version highly dependent on Telstra’s copper network, which, as NBN Co’s internal reports show, has a plethora of issues. To do so would be farcical, as this morning’s entire press conference was farcical.”

So today, on the first day of reporting in 2014 for Delimiter, and before the publication of any article referring to the NBN, I have decided to stay true to this comment. I hereby inform readers that Delimiter articles will no longer be refer to what the Coalition is implementing as the “National” Broadband Network. Instead, Delimiter will now refer to the Coalition’s version of the project as “the Coalition’s Broadband Network” (abbreviated where necessary to “CBN”).

To meet our definition of a “National” Broadband Network, any political party in Australia will need to support a policy which offers a solution for the long-term upgrade of the vast majority of Telstra’s copper network to a Fibre to the Premises solution. FTTN would be an acceptable middle step along the way, but it is still important for any policy to also recognise that all FTTN networks will need to be eventually upgraded to FTTP. Our definition recognises that it is not financially feasible to deploy FTTP to all locations in Australia in the medium-term, and regards it as acceptable that alternate technologies be used in the medium-term to serve the 5-7 percent of premises in very remote locations.

Furthermore, a “National” Broadband Network must offer the characteristics of open wholesale access and uniform national pricing, to support necessary industry development and restructuring. It must especially include, as its ultimate goal, the structural separation of the incumbent, Telstra.

As Minister Turnbull has not formally confirmed the Government will adopt NBN Co’s preferred “Multi-Technology Mix” NBN model, the potential still exists that the Coalition’s ‘CBN’ policy will shift to a full ‘NBN’ policy, either at the Minister’s next major policy announcement or at some stage over the next several years. However, your writer regards this as a very unlikely scenario — despite the fact that it’s what the vast majority of the Australian population wants. David Braue’s right — it’s time for Turnbull to swallow his pride and adopt FTTP as the right solution. Even NBN Co’s own Strategic Review makes this case clear (Delimiter 2.0 link). But it’s very unlikely that the Member for Wentworth will budge.

I also encourage all Delimiter readers, and indeed technical commentators more generally, to stop using the “NBN” term to refer to the Coalition’s evolving policy. Words have power; and definitions have power too. Through its appropriation of Labor’s “NBN” term onto a very different policy, the Coalition has been able to claim the high ground with respect to the NBN, despite the fact that its own version of the project is clearly a mishmash of inferior technologies pair with an inferior business model, compared with Labor’s own version. Labor failed to deliver its NBN policy, to be sure. But that reflects a problem with implementation — not the policy itself. More here and here on that issue particularly (Delimiter 2.0 links).

As a side note, it should be noted that a number of Australians, including Labor itself, have already tried to rebrand the Coalition’s Broadband Network, dubbing it “Fraudband”. The problem with this label, as many will acknowledge, is that it is just as much a misuse of common English as Turnbull describing his policy as the “National” Broadband Network. Both approaches try and spin the truth, just in different directions. The term “the Coalition’s Broadband Network” does not do this, being substantially more neutral, and consequently, factual. It acknowledges the Coalition is building a broadband network. But it’s just not a national one. And it’s not a “NBN” in the global sense.

In order to demonstrate the importance of the use of language with respect to the NBN, I leave you with a passage from George Orwell’s brief 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language. I highly recommend you read the full piece online. That master of political spin, Malcolm Turnbull, probably wouldn’t want you to, which is reason enough for you to give it a go. It’s an eye opener. Orwell wrote:

“In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

… one ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”

It should be obvious that Orwell’s comments on the abuse of language for political purposes apply very well to the current NBN situation. In December NBN Co’s Switkowski said the company’s preferred Multi-Technology Mix approach would deliver fast broadband to homes “more quickly and at less cost … by investing taxpayers’ money appropriately on the right technologies at the right time, by translating a long term milestone into a rolling series of realistic and actionable near term plans, and by being alert to upgrades in technology and shifts in consumer needs.”

What a bunch of old-fashioned Orwellian bullshit. What neither Switkowski nor Turnbull said was that this would be accomplished by cancelling a third of the existing NBN rollout, forcibly acquiring and upgrading high-risk HFC cable networks which don’t offer Australia a long-term broadband solution, and leaving much of the rest of Australia with a FTTN rollout that even Switkowski admits would need upgrading five years after it was completed. Orwell was right; it’s time to stop accepting the way our politicians talk in public. It is only when we stop using their words ourselves that we will see the reality of our tragic situation.


  1. what does a nuclear physicist know in how to run a telco every job he has had within the telecoms industry he has lost…

    his CREDIBILITY to date has been far from being stellar performance..

    from what I can tell the current NBNco view is tainted with Ziggy in power..

    to the point if you bother to READ the policy Turnbull and the LNP submitted you will find any review will co-inside with the LNP policy of do nothing for 3-4 years and then form a plan to deliver something assuming they win office again… also assuming TURNBULL and CO don’t fuck up more between now and whenever they process another election forecast…

  2. We see many examples of obfuscation coming out from this current government. They have excelled at using similar language when referring to refugees entering our borders by boat. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship becomes “The Department of Immigration and Border Protection”. The department is instructed to refer to refugees as ‘Illegals’ and their constant referral to offshore prison camps as ‘Detention Centres’.

    Why should we be surprised by their ability to spin the ‘NBN’ title to suit their convenience? I will be joining Renai in referring to this plan as the ‘CBN’ from now on.

    • crippled broadband network.

      as in someone came along and took a crowbar to knees…. thats about where i see it now.

  3. Fraudband was always a fairly good one.. As is Notional Broadband Not-work.

    Crapband Network?

    Crap Broadband Network for CBN seems reasonable, and accurate. Erm, I mean Coalition Broadband Network.

    How about we brand it TBN – Turnbulls Broken Network? So that we forever know which short sighted idiot killed our technology future.

    I really reckon we just need to down tools and then pick it up when the coalition is kicked out in a few years. Not worth the time and money doing what Turnbull/Abbott are proposing. Not that they have the slightest clue – despite all the loyal Liberal fanboys claiming Turnbull is an expert.

  4. Playing with names won’t make any difference whatsoever. Turnbull will either ignore it or laugh. Why not put your energy into something that might make a difference?

    Here’s an idea … get behind scenario 4.

    If (yes, if) HFC can deliver 100/40 as claimed by Simon Hackett then scenario 4, with 63% FTTP and only 5% FTTN, is a reasonable tactical step toward the FTTP network we want. The Coalition is clearly not going to switch to a 93% FTTP roll out. Let’s campaign for the least worst option in the strategic review. The one that does less damage and wastes less money than the MTM. We will eventually get another Labor government that can complete the FTTP roll out. Let’s get as close as we can now.

    Compare the numbers in the strategic review for scenario 4 with those for the MTM and tell me why scenario 4 is not the more cost-effective solution. It requires the same government funding as the MTM, it is cash flow positive at the same time as the MTM, it (allegedly) delivers just 0.6% lower return than the MTM and it matches the roll out speed of the MTM. Importantly, there is not 44% FTTN to upgrade later.

    Better still push Turnbull to explain how the MTM is more cost-effective than scenario 4. You in the media have the power to force him to address this question. I beg you to use that power.

    • Hear, hear! If we really must compromise on the NBN, then Scenario 4 is the least damaging in the long run as very little FTTN would be rolled out. A Labor government could then more easily complete the FTTP NBN rollout.

    • “If (yes, if) HFC can deliver 100/40 as claimed by Simon Hackett then scenario 4, with 63% FTTP and only 5% FTTN, is a reasonable tactical step toward the FTTP network we want”

      Except that I disagree that we should accept that premise. I would prefer Scenario 2 or better yet 1…
      Scenario 4 is a compromise where we shouldn’t BE compromising. At the end of the day, FTTP is the known endgame, and I don’t think we will have the political will or common sense to convert it down the track. This means that we will be eternally stuck at the back of the pack again, and just accept that this is our lot in life. I think we are better than that and deserve a world class system…JMHO.

      • I think everyone would prefer all FTTP. But, if for reasons political they simply won’t do it, scenario 4 does waste the least money until some future government finishes the job properly.

  5. 1st time poster; I just couldn’t resist :)

    Completely Buggered Network

    Crapily Built Network

    Completely Bloody Neutered. [CBN Network or CBNN]

    Later, RIPP.

    • Claytons Broadband Network – The broadband network you have when you’re not having a national broadband network.

  6. It’s Tony Abbott’s CDN: Completely Destroyed Network

    Renai: I don’t think many people believe most politicians anyway. I believe it’s up to journalists to do the research and take the politicians to task on what they say as they have a platform on which “should” keep the pollies honest. But with Mr Murdoch owning most of our news establishments, that’s just not going to happen anytime soon. Keep up the good work!

    • Senate enquiries start straight away when parliament resumes ,I think Abbott may come unstuck & motives made clear ,if that,s possible ! If Doug Cameron is part of the the enquiry ,He asks a question ,then questions the answer given !! Brilliant negotiator ,Amanda Vanstone is representing the audit panel He will bring her back to earth ,Pompous arrogant woman she is ! love to see her squirm under oath !!

  7. I prefer “Shit Sandwich”

    That’s, ultimately, what we will get – dressed up like a white elephant and quacking …

    (A few mixed metaphres there, sorry)

  8. 1 thing Simon has yet to say size of node how many homes will be served by HFC I think you can treat 100/40 as an upto connection speed much like it is now…

  9. It is still a National Broadband Network if the prices will be uniform for the same speeds and data quota.

    Just because now more will get less makes no difference.

    Hands up those horrified that under labor approx one million Australian’s were getting a vastly substandard (compared to fibre) internet connection.

    No one cared then, because the majority were getting fibre… Yet they still called it a “National Broadband Network” even though so many were getting much less.

    So like I say, if prices are still going to be uniform then it is still a National Broadband Network, otherwise you are all a mob of hypocrites. Complaining now because you are no longer getting fibre, but you were all too happy under the labor NBN for approx one million Australian’s not to get fibre, happy so long as you got your preciousssss fibre.

    • “It is still a National Broadband Network if the prices will be uniform for the same speeds and data quota.”

      Well, in answer to your question (that you were hoping had no answer) prices will not be uniform.

      I think it was established (in the recent senate grillings of Ziggy?) that the government will have no ability to dictate prices to Telstra or Optus on their HFC networks.

      They aren’t looking at replacing or wholesaling Telstra or Optus HFC networks. They will be left as their own partial duopoly/monopoly.

    • The same level of inequality in rural areas, or IMO worse than was proposed with the actual NBN, has always and will always remain. How many rural folk currently have 4G, cable or even ADSL2, let alone fibre?

      After years of neglect by private enterprise (remember pre-NBN rural folk were considered unprofitable inconveniences, so they simply missed out altogether – period) the actual NBN offered some light at the end of the tunnel for everyone…

      But some still keep applying separate irrational rules to the real NBN and subsequently whinge :/

      IMO, what you meant was, if I don’t get fibre/improvement, I’m happiest that everyone else misses out too… and then strangely imply others are selfish/hypocrites?

    • “It is still a National Broadband Network if the prices will be uniform for the same speeds and data quota.”

      Remember the LNP are proactive for private sector builds/cherry picking. TPG had planned 500,000 MDU customers in high value areas before they bought out AAPT’s very extensive CBD and Business/Industrial Park fibre networks, so expect that figure to approach 1Mill, then of course the other Telco’s will gave to do the same. So expect up to 2Mill high value customers lost to GIMPCo, plus HFC customers. These buildings will have no infrastructure competition and will be mini monopolies ( Massive issues with multiple service providers sharing the same cables and the noise degradation.). Forced regulated wholesaling and pricing is the main reason Telstra and all the other carriers in the world have not upgraded. They can be very profitable as no competition and cheap to provision as using existing fibre assets running past the buildings.
      GIMPCo – sorry the CBN will have the cheap and easy to provide with lower OPEX services cherry picked from them, so CBN left with high to very high CAPEX with very high OPEX services.
      Disastrous financials and the Taxpayer will truly be slugged.

      But then that matches their other half baked hot air bubbles and glib promises they never intended to keep

    • Personally, I prefer Malcolm Turnbull’s Mongrel (which, if I recall correctly, I saw being used on Whirlpool).

  10. Hi Renai,

    I have recently been pondering nomenclature and its importance in the public debate.

    I have had real issue with how to differentiate the two policies, I didn’t like referring to the majority FTTP build as “Labor’s NBN” die to the politics. Why further complicate the debate by adding party politics? Fraudband got a lot of use as a pejorative in relation to the CBN, but that isn’t really suitable for a serious discussion.

    I think CBN is a useful way to refer to the LNP broadband “policy” (it’s still at a stage that the quotes are required).

    PS: Did you consider “Coalition Optical Network”?

    • Coalition Copper Network ,There,s the difference ,Optical fibre to the home ,no updates, improvements Fit & forget ,Switkoski said himself as Telstra CEO ,the network has reached its working life ,@nd attempt ,it,s all good all of a sudden . It,s a con !!!

  11. Also CBN encapsulates all the possible tweaks and changes to their proposal. They haven’t even got a proper policy yet, so there are guaranteed to be changes.

  12. I’m hoping for a one term Coalition govt. Historically unlikely I know but this govt. has got off to a particularly inauspicious start. I offer the NBN, NDIS, Gonski, $6 on a doctor’s visit (rumour) and possibly Cory Bernardi.
    It’s going to take time to reorganise whatever the NBN is to become, if indeed it’s to become anything particularly at all beyond a slow rollout of improvements(?) higgledy piggledy here and there as suits whatever Turnbull’s aspirations are, political or otherwise.
    Part of this reorganisation will be another chat with Telstra which likes long chats.
    A one term govt might add up to a delay (still bad but not as bad) rather than a replacement.
    On February the 8th the by election for K.Rudd’s old seat of Grittith is being held, then there’s the possibility of a rerun of the WA Senate election later in the year.
    The results of these will be very interesting.

    • The Cory Bernardi thing is trivial. It’ll be forgotten tomorrow. He was demoted, not fired, for the bestiality comments, and his abortion stance is less controversial by a fair margin. Non-issue.

      The other stuff will hopefully be remembered at the polls next time though. Malcolm Turnbull’s first 100 days have been very much parallel to the Liberal Party’s overall.

    • I worry about the one term actually. I wonder if the only thing the Coalition want to achieve before the 2016 election is the commercials with Telstra and Optus (or though the later would be an unwelcome accident). Are there any planned deployments of the technologies in the MTM planned before 2016 (Additional HFC nodes, FTTN Cabinets popping up)? Serious attempts, not pilots or attempts of legitimacy by test deployments, HFC and FTTN technologies are proven tech so no ‘piloting’ required. If not and the Noalition are bundled out, then the next Labor government is going to spend the next term unraveling the Telstra/Optus agreements for HFC and the Copper.

      Is this entire NBN to CBN progression just an opportunity to put a lot of *extra* coin into Telstra’s pocket by the next election for no real technical change in the overall NBN deployment, albeit a lot slowed down?

      Prediction: I’m calling out early that within the next 12 months that the negotiations with Telstra will involve the ‘expiring/revoke’ of NBN Co’s access to Telstra’s pits, thereby closing down all fibre deployments until the issue is ‘renegotiated’.

      • Pretty much all I expect. By next election, a crap load more money and power to Telstra, nothing else done other than what is done on any remaining FTTP contracts left over from when Labor were in power.
        I am sure Turnbull will organise the contract with Telstra and regulatory changes to make FTTP require a lot of work to get started again. ie. wreck the joint on the way out.

  13. One of the most interesting articles I’ve read on Delimiter because of the George Orwell quote. Thanks Renai for bringing it to my attention. I think too few journalists are familiar with it because politicians don’t get called on their BS talk anywhere near often enough – if they did, then they’d use that language less.

    Renaming “asylum seekers” to “illegals” is another example of using language to paint a different picture in the listeners mind.

    It’s just unfortunate that such tricks seem to work. “dey took our jerbs!”

  14. And just to spite anyone who uses the idiotic and inaccurate “Australia doesn’t have the population density” argument, here’s what’s happening in Alaska, with a fifth the population density of Australia:


    But it’s OK, the CBN’s advantage is upgrading 5% of the population from available speeds of 24 Mbps to available speeds of 25 Mbps at a cost of billions and billions and throwing out all other DSLAMs.

    100 Mbps you say? Well, even KPN is having trouble getting 80/8 Mbps to people with VDSL2 and vectoring on 0.50mm copper, so there’s that.

    Meanwhile, Turnbull’s investment in Telefonica is still going FTTH: http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2013121431351/ftth-to-the-fore-as-spanish-broadband-surpasses-12mn-connections.html

    And in Latin America: http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2013121631362/azteca-ready-to-launch-tv-via-ftth.html

    And in Lithuania: http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2013/12/18/lithuania-maintains-ftth-lead/

    • > The ABC is very interested in the NBN issue but has apparently no interest whatsoever in the experience of any other country. Instead of talking to someone like Mike Galvin at BT who has actually built an enormous new generation broadband network in the UK, they would rather talk to a string of local “experts” who for the most part have neither built nor managed a telecom network of any kind.

      > […] Is it a case of bias – not wanting to report on inconvenient facts? Or is it laziness – couldn’t be fagged doing anything more than going around and round the same list of local talking heads? Or is it just a lack of curiosity?

      Looks like Malcolm Turnbull or the powers that be in general couldn’t be fagged and it’s just laziness, they don’t want to look at the inconvenient facts and have a lack of curiosity.

      But it’s OK. Dr. John Cioffi, profiting as he does from anything DSL told us FTTH costs $5000 per subscriber and his fibre connection slowed down to 2.5 Mbps that one day, so let’s build a node every five households (I wish I were kidding about all this, but here it is: http://www.slideshare.net/CommsDay/nbn-rebooted-assias-dr-john-cioffi )

      And of course, our media turns this into our copper being able to do 10,000 Megabytes per second over 300 metres, as Andrew Bolt published on his blog following Dr. Cioffi’s visit. The same Andrew Bolt who hasn’t posted anything on his blog for the past four days since this inane thing: “98 per cent of US reports don’t mention the ice-trapped passengers were global warmists” probably because it’s been warm lately here in Australia and we all know that weather is exactly the same thing as the climate and he’d rather lay low for a few days.


  15. The Labor Governments model was not truly National either given that the RSPs were required to arrange backhaul from each individual POI, I always thought of it as 127 Regional Broadband networks.

  16. I’ve got a few names for the CBN – some of which would get me banned.

    I call it the NNNBNN – The Non National Non Broadband Non Network.

    I wish they either continued with the real nbn or cancelled it altogether for a future government with vision to implement.

    Either way – there will be a lot of unhappy people out there who will start asking “where is my super fast internet?”

    Of course as we know, the answer will be “it’s labors fault!”

  17. I’ll stick to the non presumptious – Coalition Internet Policy

    You can hardly call it “broadband” or “national” anymore. Just a footnote to please the masses about their supposed improvement to the “internet”

  18. I don’t think it can be called the NBN either. My reasons are as follows.

    1) The goal was to replace the aging copper network with a new fibre one that would be the back bone of communications for decades to come. NOT a quick speed bandaid.

    2) For the Coalition plan to be the NBN it’s planning needs to include this eventual upgrade to a full fibre network. Turnbull pays lip service to this, even says it’s cheaper to do it as he is doing it, as a series of upgrades. However he will not cost in these upgrades, nor put realistic time periods on when they will be required.

    3) The Coalition NBN plan is “cheaper” because they aren’t actually building it. They need to cost in the end goal and then show their path to it is cheaper, using credible costing figures to show this. It is not “faster” because all it does it push out when it will be completed. More affordable? $300 a year cheaper? That claim seems to have just evaporated.

    I think the Coalition’s interpretation of the NBN is completely wrong. I just don’t think they, nor to a great degree, the general public, really get it. It’s not just faster internet, though that is what the majority see it as. It’s creating the infrastructure that enables quick, efficient upgrades to communications as requirements grow, and lower maintenace cost, over the next decades.

    The US is often held up as a beacon of success. Why not take the lesson they have learnt on infrastructure? That is that maintaining it is a bitch. The US can barely maintain what they have built in the past and with anything new these ongoing OPEX expenses a big point to consider, because of the decades they absolutely dwarf the initial expenditure. The Coalition’s plan does nothing to address this issue, if anything it makes ongoing costs even worse. That would be the “White Elephant” they as so fond of mentioning. The one they themselves are determined on creating.

  19. the irony is it will likely cost us $7,500 to install FTTN/C/B/dp with a min of $5,000 going towards copper upgrades, so it would be no surprise seeing $ a min of $5,000 on fibre install..

    though to be honest under VDSL2 profile you end up loosing money by the end of year 3 given the association costs of maintaining the copper

    with ADSL2+ you only reserve it for up to 5 years before mandatory replacement policy would have t be done…

    Based on a 300 home D/A the reality is it works out to be between 2.1-2.7 million per D/A for a 1km fttx option or a complete FTTdp at each pit…

    current estimations on fttp/h is $750,000-1,500,000 per D/A..

    just remember this fibre still has to be past the premises under either FTTN @ 1km or a complete pit deployment of FTTdp…

    also note: that FTTN 1km or FTTdp is not within budget parameters nor is it mentioned as an deployment option within the confines of the farce of the NBN policy delivered by Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP…

  20. 1.Prefer ‘Coalition Broadband Network’ (CBN) to Fraudband…
    Thanks Malcolm for deprecating ‘NBN’…
    Will use CBN to differentiate from: NBN’s open access, full sync, as future proof as poss, network.

    Better, faster, cheaper – pick any two…
    Do it once, do it right…


    2.I do have sympathy for this comment though:
    It is still a National Broadband Network if the prices will be uniform for the same speeds and data quota.

    -> I agree that Uniform pricing is a requirement of an NBN.

    3. +5 for Scenario 4 (+60% FTTP). Anything that maximises % of FTTP will make as future proof as possible…

  21. My dad actually raised an interesting point when i was discussing it with him a few weeks ago. He understood that it was called the National Broadband Network because it was a national undertaking, something being done all over Australia. It didn’t matter to him (regarding the definition of the name) that the coalition is now going to leave ~30% on HFC with essentially no upgrade, it can still be called the NBN because its still something being done all over Australia, in every state – Nationally.

    I think it really comes down to the definition of National. Is it defined by the locale (every state), or by the percentage of people receiving upgrades?

    I looked up the definition of National http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/National

    I think the 3rd definition fits best:
    3. peculiar or common to the whole people of a country

    Obviously if 30% aren’t receiving an upgrade it is not common to the whole people of the country. My concern is that there will be many people like my dad who understand National in a different sense.

    • I see what you’re saying, but I think what Renai is trying to say is national means more then just the word definition as described.
      “To meet our definition of a “National” Broadband Network, any political party in Australia will need to support a policy which offers a solution for the long-term upgrade ”
      “Furthermore, a “National” Broadband Network must offer the characteristics of open wholesale access and uniform national pricing, to support necessary industry development and restructuring….”

      and Welcome back Renai :)

    • It’s pretty much a semantics argument.

      But you have to look at the “aim” of the project to apply which definition to the situation.

      In our case it was a full infrastructure overhaul for the *whole* country. Which means your target isn’t “the nation” but the “national infrastructure”. The piecemeal redirection means this is no longer the case since the original aim is no longer the target.

    • You might also point out (as Renai did in the article) that the term ‘National Broadband Network’ has an established meaning in global technical circles; it is not a term Labor came up with.

      One of the underlying premises of Renai’s argument (which I personally agree with) is that the Coalition’s proposed network does not fit the accepted technical criteria for such a network.

    • Tend to agree, if only for the delicious irony.
      It was after all a term coined by the Nationals and taken up by the LNP as a term derogatory of the then Labor FTTN plan, when the Nationals were proposing an FTTP plan they had devoted much research and effort into FTTP.

      However I agree with Renai
      It is too obtuse for the public and can be perceived as childish abuse.
      CBN does clearly place the ownership where it belongs for the future evaluation.

      However I never agreed with the self limiting label of NBN as it is in fact The National Communications Platform.
      So instead of NCP (which imo NBN should have been called) i propose the CCP, yes the connotations do have a certain resonance

  22. If differing standards of service depending on where you live are all that’s delivered it’s not a National Broadband Network, it’s just another form of discrimination imposed on regional and rural Australia.
    The description of the coalition’s concoction is “The TFN” the Turnbull Fraudband Network.

  23. If one cannot have NBNCo, I prefer we have none.

    That way, down the track, we will not have to sort out the mess and chaos this government is in the process of putting in place.

    It needs to be national. It needs to be high speed. It needs to be fibre to the premises.

    Anything else is pure waste of time and money.

    It also needs to be a monopoly, with Telstra or any other ISP involved. Yes, it needs to provide a level playing field for all.

  24. I was initially thinking HHN – Haves and Have Nots Network.

    But in reality it’s NLN – Not Labor’s Network

    • Thats really what it is, it could be anything but as long as at the end of the day, it’s NLN.

  25. Lets face it the Coalition have taken a big dump on the NBN they may as well scrap the whole thing now and be done with it.

    Abbot & Co will go down in history as the Communication destroyers of our nation, yet they’ll retire on their million dollar pensions and laughing out loud of their victory over labor, yes this isn’t about the people or our future it’s all a big game to them.

    Demolition Complete.

    • For too long arsehole politicians have gotten away with dynamite; and if the scene got too hot they bailed out and became Agents General or lobyists, but still enjoying their pensions.

      About time for a bit of retribution, chop the shit off at ground level. Why should absolute cunts continue to walk?

  26. The DLPDTS Network?

    “Don’t Let Pollies Do Technical Stuff”

    Having watched the commentary for this over the last few years – what did anyone really expect? Why are you outraged?

    Libs had to have some policy that was different from Lab – this was the obvious thing, where 99.9% of the population won’t have a clue what any of it means… mums and dads are happy with what they have – they can look up kitten vids on FB, and send emails.

    Aus is the backwater of the arse end of the world (technology wise) – Aus has no backing for requiring faster broadband… We have no netflix, spotify/pandora are the realms of geeks – most aussies (mums and dads) have no clue about them. Foxtel is still in business – it really shouldn’t be.

    For the vast majority of aussies and aussie businesses, dial-up/idsn is good enough – I mean, how many mums actually know how to change youtube’s video settings?

    The whole thing was a farce from the start – Lab were always going to loose that next election, Lib were always going to scrap the nbn. Lab shouldn’t have wasted all of those $’s, knowing that Lib would scrap it.

    On the other hand – good time to buy in to foxtel?

  27. Can we change the name to the National Botched Network or the Noalition Bastardised Network?

  28. Despite all the Coalition (bullshit) promises, it is still going to be remembered as how the Coalition cretins made an absolute abortion of it and put us many years behind other countries at great cost.

    It will always be known as Fraudband to me.

  29. I used to be a National Broadband Network, like you.. until I took a hessian-sack to the knee.

    I still have friends and associates overseas who cannot comprehend the reasoning for reversing an active fibre network build, replacing it with (to date) zip, nada, zilch – zero.

    There’s still no sign of any agreements being struck with Telstra or Optus; or even opening of negotiations.

    I am very reminded of Clarkson’s “How hard can it be?” motto – Turnbull embraced that line of thinking and now we have a situation where even Mr Hackett has to spruke HFC, because it is pretty much the only potential option left for high-speed.

    When an experienced industry insider decides to not even discuss copper – you do have to ask why.

    It’s a weird world we live in.

  30. Malcolm Turnbull has COMPLETELY missed the point, and is building a network that is exactly what would have evolved out of the existing private ISP’s own rollouts had the NBN never been started in the first place (protected/managed through acc+fair trading). The point of the NBN was an outright investment in future infrastructure, the fact that it was commercially viable was a bonus, and it should NEVER have been talked about/marketed in relation to commercial viability in, and of, itself. As per a typical infrastructure investment, all the discussion should have been around the flow on benefits to the country, benefits to SME’s, R&D, Scientific Research, Universities, 4k TV Multicasting. The standalone viability of the project in terms of Cost-per-house, the fee to the RSP etc, they were all very small pieces of a much larger ideal that got totally lost in typical political incompetence. A potentially very bright future for Australia has been extinguished, and the people that have done so should hang their heads in shame – Tony Abbot & Malcolm Turnbull

  31. Crippled Broadband Network.
    It was always supposed to have been an infrastructure project. Now it is a government funded drip-feeding of incremental speed increases at an absolutely astronomical cost; complete with built in points of failure to deliver.
    Stop it now! Don’t spend a cent on “superfast broadband” until you do it for real.
    They have extrapolated the initial FTTP roll out rate to overstate the timeline.
    They have extrapolated the initial FTTP cost to overstate the cost.
    They have lied about “delivered by 2016”, “fully costed”, “will receive 25 Mbps” to con the public.
    Hey, MT, TA and LNP! We are sick of paying for one thing and receiving 10 % of what we pay for without there being a fault. You’re perpetuating this! We are not going to forget this attempt at deception!

  32. weI think we can keep NBN. In the same spirit of consensus we should focus on the similarities and note that it’s actually the Nationalised Broadband Network.

    I’m sure that’s a title the Liberals could wear with pride.

  33. I think we can keep NBN. In the same spirit of consensus we should focus on the similarities and note that it’s actually the Nationalised Broadband Network.

    I’m sure that’s a title the Liberals could wear with pride.

    • Unfortunately, the similarities are now fewer and farther between, Brett.

      But I admire your conciliatory approach…

  34. This sounds silly, I know. What chance would there be of saving NBNCo, if they reverted to fibre to the street.

    No nodes on each corner.

    Then the householder could pay to connect to the premises, as I believe they do now with copper.

    Just a thought.

    Just want to see the fibre network owned by the taxpayer, and consist of one technology, that if fine,.

    Do not wait to see Telstra or anyone else back in the picture.

    Yes, a national network, where all have equal access to quality and cost.

    Anything would have to be better, than what this government is suggesting.

    • Some good points there, given the extent of the threat to NBN that is becoming clearer by the day.

      If we consider fibre to the street address (FTTS?) and FTTB for MDUs, there would be large savings which, from this point in the NBN build, should mean that the national project could be completed for no more cost or delay than starting from scratch with the very inferior “MTM” concept.

      It will be interesting to see whether this kind of common sense, or sheer political bastardry, win out in the end when the result is determined.

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