Brisbane’s toilet jokes better than its fibre


blog From Brisvegas late yesterday came the news that the attempt by the city’s council to build its own damn City Broadband Network (let’s call it CBN, as opposed to NBN) was already on the rocks, just scant months after Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced it. The Brisbane Times writes:

The company charged with installing a controversial broadband network through Brisbane’s sewer system has been dumped. Lord Mayor Campbell Newman today said Brisbane City Council would no longer be dealing with i3 Asia Pacific, as he was unhappy with the progress of the scheme.

Frankly, I never really believed Brisbane was serious about the scheme — and still don’t. For a city council to fund its own CBN when the Federal Government is ploughing tens of billions of dollars into its own national initiative seems more than wasteful … it seems pathetic. I refuse to believe that the Brisbane City Council has either the technical ability or the actual operational sense to get its own fibre broadband network laid throughout its jurisdiction … frankly, most councils I have dealt with have a hard enough time organising the garbage to be collected.

What has proven more entertaining than Newman’s pontifications on the matter, however, has been the slew of toilet humour generated by the media and others in Australia’s technology sector in the wake of the decision to dump i3. Here’s a brief selection:

  1. Brisbane’s sewer fibre plan goes down the toilet (the Register)
  2. Brisbane’s Superfast Broadband Plan Gets Flushed Down The Pipe (Gizmodo)
  3. Brisbane sewer fibre plan canned – for now (iTWire)
  4. Brisbane flushes i3 sewer fibre network (ARN)
  5. Campbell cans i3’s Brisbane sewer fibre (ZDNet Australia)
  6. Brisbane Council cans i3 sewer fibre deal: reports (iTNews)
  7. Brisbane scraps sewer fibre stinker (Techworld)
  8. Sewer broadband deal sours (The Age)

Detecting a trend here? The wags on the mailing list of the Australian Network Operators group also got into the act. “It was a shit idea,” wrote one mailing list participant. “No need to crap all over them,” responded another. Responses like “All that work down the toilet” and “Just when they’d had the first flush of success, too!” followed.

Ignoring all of these poor attempts at humour: We’ve got just one thing to say to Campbell Newman about his proposed fibre rollout — and it’s probably the same thing NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley is thinking about the proposed Brisbane network.

Campbell … piss or get off the pot.

Image credit: sskies, royalty free


  1. One thing the residents of other cities need to appreciate is that Brisbane City Council has more people in it than all of Tasmania, and has budget expenditure of $2.8B for 2010/11 (compared to $4.6B for Tasmania). This is a council that can organise things, and actually has a wide spread fibre optic network for its own use. This is used for depot comms, traffic lights comms and for CCTV.

    Tin-pot councils in Sydney or Melbourne with 20,000 residents in total might be more like you describe.

    • hey Dave, I understand the difference between Brisbane City Council and a neighborhood council — but I still don’t think it’s a council’s role to do this — and I don’t believe the organisation has the internal technical capability to do it. This is a very specialised area. In addition, $2.8bn is actually not that much of a budget when you’re talking about a fibre network rollout — and that’s not even what Brisbane has — that’s it’s budget in total.

      Also, how would the proposed fibre rollout relate to the retail service providers in the telecommunications industry in practice? There are hundreds of issues here — all of which are being resolved by NBN Co — and most of which will be hard for Brisbane to resolve by itself.

      We saw the reality of this in the council’s relationship with i3 — where the council was essentially outsourcing the construction and operation of the network to another organisation. It’s funny that you mention Tasmania, because we saw a similar model down there with TasCOLT — and we know how that turned out.

      • I have to pick you up on something Renai. It wasn’t going to be outsourced per se. i3 approached BCC and asked if they could use the existing waste water system to build a wholesale only FTTH network. Campbell Newman just gave them permission to use existing infrastructure. BCC would have had no part in the construction.

  2. Yes, I am more than partial to the poo joke, but sewer pipe delivery makes logistical sense, especially if you can not get access to over utility pipes.

    Rememer the cost difference between NBN Tasmania and BCC is the fact a lot of the money would have been saved by the BCC project because they do not have to dig holes into the ground.

    • The idea has merits, certainly.

      I find it “astonishing” – (that’s sarcasm by the way) – that this project has “gone down the tubes” ever since they were told they would be required by law to build it as an open access network.

      A clear case of cherry picking.

    • Which I guess the NBN can do too/instead.

      There are lots of unfortunate examples that show lying fibre to everybody doesn’t necessarily mean anything good. The NBN addresses all the other crap so well, I can’t believe that any council, estate, anything would consider building their own shit system.


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