“Green splotches”: Turnbull mocks NBN rollout speed


news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has issued a statement poking fun at what he sees as the slow rollout speeds of Labor’s flagship National Broadband Network project, joking that the Government was more active in publishing future rollout maps for the network than actually rolling out the network itself.

In a Senate Estimates session this week, NBN Co executives noted that some 6,400 premises were now connected to NBN Co’s fibre network, and 24,000 to all three NBN networks – including the separate satellite and wireless networks. About 17,000 of those were using NBN Co’s interim satellite service, with about 9,000 transferred from the previous Coalition Government’s Australian Broadband Guarantee program. However, simultaneously, the Government and NBN Co have recently released new construction maps which give Australians an idea of which areas the NBN will reach over the next several years.

“Living or working in a premise situated within one of Labor’s NBN construction maps is a privilege for any Australian,” said Turnbull, in what appeared to be a tongue in cheek statement. “As long as people don’t mistakenly assume this means they are likely to receive improved broadband any time soon, they should savour what it means to be included on an NBN construction map.”

Coalition Senator Simon Birmingham – a long-time adversary of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in the NBN Senate Estimates hearings – said that it was “fair to say” that Conroy had impressed senators attending the hearings with “his commitment to construction map inclusiveness”. “In particular I expect Australians in marginal seats can look forward to finding themselves on a construction map soon, if they are not already,” Birmingham added.

Turnbull and Birmingham said that Australians who learnt that their home or business was on an NBN Co construction map could be assured of many benefits, such as being able to go to the NBN Co website and “verify that they live in an area covered by a green splotch”, being able to repeatedly enjoy “high-quality television and print media advertising commissioned by NBN Co’s marketing department and paid for by taxpayers” and receiving “the finest personal service”, given that, according to the Coalition, NBN Co currently had one employee for every 15 paying customers.

In addition, the two Liberal parliamentarians said, those Australians within construction zones could look forward to Conroy publicising the name of their town and suburb “on every media outlet that will have him on”.

“Labor’s NBN has clearly achieved world’s best practice in the presentation and promotion of rollout construction maps,” said Turnbull. “But let’s not overlook NBN Co’s many other marketing achievements.”
“Australians who live in areas covered by a construction map can be confident NBN Co has painted (or soon will paint) a line on a road somewhere in their town or suburb – or at very least, that NBN Co’s engineers have created a virtual 3D computer design of a line on a road,” the pair’s statement read. “Unfortunately, they will not be able to access the internet faster. Nor will they see the NBN for at least a year (and judging by the pace of the rollout so far it will be longer, in most cases).”

“For the millions of Australians who want faster and more reliable broadband at affordable prices, inclusion on a Labor NBN construction map will not be sufficient. They will have to wait until a change of government.”

NBN Co is currently ramping up its fibre network rollout, and plans to have rolled its fibre past some 286,000 premises by mid-2013, with an estimated 44,000 customers actively using the fibre network, and additional totals for the satellite, wireless and fibre greenfields zones. However, the company has come under constant criticism from the Coalition and some elements of the media with respect to its rollout speeds. It has acknowledged it is six months behind schedule, due to a variety of factors, including lengthy negotiations with Telstra over access to the company’s infrastructure. The Coalition believes it can roll out a national fibre to the node-style network much faster than the current fibre to the home deployment.

Turnbull is correct that Conroy and other senior Labor figures have regularly used the launch of new construction maps or early stage rollouts around Australia to heavily promote the NBN to local residents and businesses. Often such occasions will entail Conroy visiting an area and launching the NBN in that region, accompanied by a local Labor politician.

Look, I’m as cynical as the next man about the Coalition’s rival fibre to the node-based NBN policy, but Turnbull and Birmingham have a point here (and very amusingly made). Usually I get a media release or five per week at the moment from Conroy’s office about some new NBN rollout activity somewhere in Australia, and while it is true that such activity is ongoing, that doesn’t mean that actual Australians have actually been connected to the NBN’s fibre network. It’s not information: It’s propaganda.

The NBN is right now entering its rapid deployment phase; we should start to see a really fast ramp-up of the network rollout over the next few months, which will continue in a sustained fashion for several years. But right now, most of that activity is hard to quantify; until the number of actual connections NBN Co can boast also starts to rise, the Coalition has a window to continue to criticise the company for poor performance, based on its own measurements.

There’s not much that NBN Co and Conroy can really do about this, apart from to buckle down and get on with the job, which I very much hope they are doing. Because every little delay from here will continue to play into the Coalition’s hands.

Image credit: Screenshot of NBN Co rollout zone


    • Trolling hard. And it’s pissing me off.

      It isn’t reasonable or decent to be making fun of a multi-billion dollar business for political gain. The fact that the maps come out before the rollout takes place is common sense.

      I have no time for this sort of ridiculous behaviour. Turnbull and Birmingham can go stick it where the sun don’t shine. Sorry if that’s harsh, but I’m sick of this “all-seeing benevolence” with ABSOLUTELY nothing to oppose it in the mainstream media.

      • Turnbull should release his own rollout schedule to show us how it’s done.

        Still, it wouldn’t hurt if NBN Co published an indicative 10 year plan for the number of FSAM’s being completed each quarter… put the ramp up in a pretty graph FFS so people can see what is going on.

          • I have my doubts about these numbers…

            when a company builds a road, bridge, ship, tower … you can always see people actually “doing stuff” and your surroundings change.

            I’m not surprised about the 6,400 number, given the activity going on, it doesnt look like much is happening or very fast.

            This is probably the run-rate… I dont see how they can magically ramp that up 10x … there wouldnt be the capacity in workforce and resources todo it, so the target is already way short of ever being met.

          • @brutally handsome

            You can doubt the numbers all you like. But the simple fact is, in September of 2012, NBNCo. were 27 FSAM’s behind, after a string of bad luck in the previous months that saw them drop back 3 or 4 FSAM’s a month. In October they are now 22 FSAM’s ahead. Those are FACTS. Not predicted, not forecast, ACTUAL numbers.

            NBNCo. are currently at around 400 premises a week. By June next year, they will be at 2000 premises a DAY and almost 6000 by 2016. How can they do this? Contracts. They have around 9 contracts to do FTTH around the country. Compare this to Telstra/Optus in the 90’s for HFC who did approximately 2000 premises a day and ONLY in Sydney and Melbourne, before Telstra added Brisbane- they also only worked, I believe, with 2 contractors. It is ridiculous to say there isn’t the workforce- NBNCo. have contracted for that workforce. Do you think the contractors are going to sign hundred million dollar deals if they can’t even provide the PEOPLE??

            NBNCo. can do this because they have the scale to do so. They are still well below many Asian fibre rollout numbers, namely because of density.

            You can sit there and believe they won’t do it. You can sit there and say they’re stupid for trying. Please do. Because when you have a lovely fast 50Mbps (minimum) FTTH connection in 10 years time thanks to NBNCo. I’ll be trying not to burst from laughing at you.

          • 400 per day may seem reasonable, but from 400 to 6000 per day … how do they intend to do it? Its not rocket science,

            you can apply this to building homes or cars, anyone can make a projected claim….or look at juilas deal with india, even if we are to start selling uranium, it will take 3yrs before anything major happens

          • @brutally handsome

            I already TOLD you how- they have 9 contracts with various fibre installers. From Visionstream and Silcar, Transfield, Fujitsu, ETSA, Aurora (TAS) and several others. There’s a total labour force in excess of something like 30 000 people scheduled to work on it by 2016. Why can you not accept this? Think about it:

            1- A team of contractors, around 50 strong, does one street, 1km long, in a day- 10 to rollout the actual fibre itself (through conduit or on poles) and 40 to connect it to homes. That street might have (dependent on location of course)50 houses on it. That’s 50 houses a day.

            2- There would be at LEAST 4 to 5 dozen contractor teams working on the actual FTTH rollout, which only totals some 3 to 4 thousand people. And that’s nearly 2500 houses a day.

            3- They will move into areas with more and less than 50 houses in a street. In regional areas, it might be 30 houses. In cities it might be 150.

            4- Their PEAK rollout pace is just over 6000 per day for several months. That is not their AVERAGE rollout. Their average rollout is 1500 per day over the construction period, which, if you divide that up over the dozens of areas they would be working just 30 houses a day in each location. Build drop means they don’t even have to do many door knocks and explanations to waste time either- that’ll all be sorted out before hand for about 75% of cases, meaning they just rock up, knock on the door and let people know they’re hooking it up to the outside of their house, taking preferences for locations if they can for the PCD.

            I don’t see what you think the big deal is? They’ve got THOUSANDS of labourers working on the FTTH section as well as thousands more working on the wireless and transit networks. I think you’re looking at this in a VERY narrow minded way. EVERYTHING about this rollout is scaled- the numbers, the labour, the people. If you manage it well, taking delays in your stride and speeding up where you can, there is absolutely no reason they cannot meet or even exceed their forecasts.

            What evidence or opinion can you state otherwise that would contradict this? Do you have some numbers that say it isn’t possible?

          • You realise visionstream and silcar are quite small companies with only a few thousand staff that resulted in Telstra outsourcing its maintenance work… Most of them are ex Telstra.

            They are niche arms of Leighton and thesis Siemens. The fact is that qualified field staff have been shrinking proportional to telstras downsizing and many of the technicians left are the cut down workforce of Telstra.

            Telstra has cut its work force dramatically and because it is by far the biggest employer of telecoms professionals … This number has fallen.. this is proof by the neglect of the network and every year there are less workers.

            Now nbns rollout rate seems about right… If it thinks it can in reality up its rate by 10x its dreaming. How do I know this? I’ve worked for said contractors and a few other telcos and can tell you this is the reality. If you don’t believe me speak to some frontline techs.

            Now the govt has not trained any new staff…it has to compete with the staff Telstra and Optus etc needs… Unless it goes offshore it won’t even come close to those numbers.

            Btw the current run rate and cost doesn’t surprise me either

          • @brutally handsome

            And do YOU realize:

            1- Contractors are flying in some experienced foremen from NZ, hence talk about competing labour for the 2 rollouts? And that the line about no training is rubbish? NBNCo. have an extensive training program for contractors who can hire new labour and have them accredited though NBNCo. You’d know that if you read their site instead of just believing whatever you’ve been told without question. And Silver and Visoinstream are only 2 of nearly a dozen contractors NBNCo. have.

            If you worked with Telstra techs then it doesn’t surprise me you think the rollout will be a flop. Telstra techs instill an attitude of apathy in themselves and others the likes of which can only be matched by your average lazy council worker. Telstra are FAR from the only source of labour and I have no doubt several hundred if not thousand technicians who work as contractors will no doubt apply for training. After all, how hard is it to do the same thing, to each house, with the same equipment, over and over? You don’t need a telecommunications degree for that. Just a certification from NBNCo. and a licensed contract.

            Your talk of labour shortage smacks of jealousy that Telstra or similar was never able to instill a decent attitude in its workers to commit to a build like this. The current run rate is because NBNCo. have been dealing with heavy design phases in the past 6 months. This shows in their FSAMs rollout monthly report which has gone from single digits per month to 40 or 50 per month in the last 2 months. The have JUST started the ramp up and you are willing to come down on them, with no evidence, just because you believe you know better than dozens of engineers and project managers. You didn’t happen by any chance to work FOR Telstra for any extended period is our?….

          • Hi dude, you need to work on your logic.

            “Telstra has cut its work force dramatically and because it is by far the biggest employer of telecoms professionals …”

            “Now the govt has not trained any new staff…it has to compete with the staff Telstra and Optus etc needs… “

            Perhaps all of the former Telstra staff that Telstra let go of can get new jobs building the NBN?

            Or perhaps you need to pay more attention to what you are typing so it makes sense (because I doubt you meant what I just quoted,).. I have seriously re-read your entire post, and it sounds like … There is a bunch of people that have been downsized … now .. out of work? Doing something else? perhaps available for building the NBN when NBNCo need to go flat out?

          • Hate to break it to you but there aren’t that many fibre specialised people in the nation.

            There are more copper techs.

            Visionstream and silcar have a small team .. their construction is actually mostly outsourced to smaller contractors.

            If I had to put a number is say nationally there’s around 3000-4000 field staff who can work with fibre. That would inc. Telstra workforce as well.

            If you want some validation look at the number of jobs relating you optical fibre… It’s never many. Most recent has been from nbn which is basically squeezing into the market and paying higher wages to get the existing pool.

            Only way they can reach these numbers realistically is to import foreign workers…and thath its own problems.

          • Telecoms had become a very much everyone knows everyone else community. Probably only 1_2 degree of separation.

            While in the past telecom had a 100 000 strong workforce its something like 40-50k today including contractors.

            As I said to do a big national build like this you would need 5 yr lead up time and put in some mega expense for training… After that you need at least 2 yrs experience to be able to solve problems understand work orders and follow procedures…. That in itself is a massive spend on labour and training that’s not even factored into the cost of the project after which there would be excess labour when completed.

            This is because the time and budget is pretty much bogus…and why it did not surprise me the current run rate….and I don’t expect it to change much.

          • @brutally handsome

            And I hate to break it to you, but getting training as a fibre technician is not difficult….I guess you didn’t actually look at the links I gave you.

            If I had to put a number is say nationally there’s around 3000-4000 field staff who can work with fibre.

            Fine. I have no issue with that. They’re not the people who will be doing much of the rollout. They’ll be the ones going into homes to finalise the NTD connection. That comes AFTER the rollout. And again, if they need more, it isn’t difficult to train unskilled workers to do basic fibre splicing.

            Only way they can reach these numbers realistically is to import foreign workers…and thath its own problems.

            And once again, they ARE doing this for SKILLED workers. For unskilled workers, the ones that rollout the fibre down the streets, they don’t need many skilled workers, just basic labourers who the contractors can train via NBNCo.

          • @brutally handsome

            As I said to do a big national build like this you would need 5 yr lead up time and put in some mega expense for training… After that you need at least 2 yrs experience to be able to solve problems understand work orders and follow procedures….

            1- So you’re suggesting the multi-BILLION dollar contracts that Silcar, Transfield etc. have entered into they have no HOPE of delivering under contracted timetables? I would certainly like to hear that if that is what you are suggesting, as that would appear to be both a MASSIVE failing of NBNCo. and a HUGE corruption by these companies. Do you have any evidence for this?

            2- I’ve been in a particular maintenance job now for 18 months. We have work orders and preventative maintenance orders we have to do all the time. It took me 3 months to figure out most of the PM’s and maybe an extra month beyond that to figure out 90% of the CM’s. And that was working BY MYSELF. With a foreman/team leader, I could’ve done it in half that time. You appear to believe training people is a difficult and unknown quantity….

            This is because the time and budget is pretty much bogus…and why it did not surprise me the current run rate….and I don’t expect it to change much.

            You are suggesting that by this time next year that NBNCo. will have only connected some 55 000 premises in total on fibre? That’s approximately 20 000 more than now, at a rate of 400 a week for 50 weeks. Is that what you are suggesting?

          • “I have my doubts about these numbers…”

            lol, armchair engineers ftw…

            “when a company builds a road, bridge, ship, tower … you can always see people actually “doing stuff” and your surroundings change.”

            Great. Perhaps you could explain how this applies in any way shape or form to the NBN. Which is very different…

            “I’m not surprised about the 6,400 number, given the activity going on, it doesnt look like much is happening or very fast.”

            yeah, more people connected to fibre sooner is ideal. The NBN build really should have started in 2002 so it would’ve been completed this year, that way more people would be able to take up the services they want and need TODAY. Do you agree or disagree?

          • The nbn would need to compete for existing telecoms resources eg. Labour.

            As I stated earlier the labour force in telecoms has shrunk steadily over the last 10-15yrs due to a lot of restructuring read… Redundancies.

            The industry as a corollary of said restructure has not trained enough new staff to meet the exiting. This is in line with the aim of running telecoms very lean which is followed by all major Telco players in au.

            The boom wasn’t in telecoms … Where there is growth in labour would be in mining , construction and banking etc.

            Now nbns current run rate looks about right… But if it had thought it could up this 10x it would have needed to put in training about 2 yrs ago. Even if it did it would take a long time to get numbers up. Don’t forget that telecoms is one of the highest skilled trade…and the last thing like this was a stuff up when all was required was to lay pink bat insulation.

          • @brutally handsome

            The nbn would need to compete for existing telecoms resources eg. Labour.

            Why? Do existing telecoms lay new cable to hundreds of homes everyday? No. They maintain the existing networks, which is almost an entirely separate job, namely looking for faults, checking equipment and connecting lines to different ports. They are only competing against companies such as Opticomm and Telstra, who rollout fibre in new estates. And new estates make up a FRACTION of the premises in our country, hence the labour used is quite small.

            As I stated earlier the labour force in telecoms has shrunk steadily over the last 10-15yrs due to a lot of restructuring read… Redundancies.

            And AGAIN, these redundancies were of telecom TECHNICIANS, not labourers for rolling out cabling. Cable laying is MUCH simpler than telecom technician. I know, I’m going to be one in about 6 months (starting training in Feb next year) and I’ve no prior training. And why wouldn’t you when there’s work available?

            The boom wasn’t in telecoms … Where there is growth in labour would be in mining , construction and banking etc.

            You’re talking about 2 entirely separate labour markets. Mining, Telecom, construction all have requirements for SKILLED labourers. They ALSO have requirements for UNSKILLED labourers, such as drivers in mining and bricklaying/pavers etc in construction and CABLE LAYING in telecoms.

            Now nbns current run rate looks about right… But if it had thought it could up this 10x it would have needed to put in training about 2 yrs ago. Even if it did it would take a long time to get numbers up. Don’t forget that telecoms is one of the highest skilled trade…

            What? Telecoms is FAR from highly skilled on a day-to-day basis. Network engineers, maintenance technicians and managers are highly skilled. You average cable layer is a pleb, like the rest of us, with a few weeks training. 3 months at the most And NBNCo. had training setup 12 months ago. Seriously, how hard is it to take a cable, run it through a conduit, take the ends (that are PRE-CONSTRUCTED with quick connectors) plug them in according to a preset pattern and then string the cable from a pole to a house and drill a box onto the side?? What do you think these guys are doing?? Rewiring copper pairs for cross-talk management?? Troubleshooting DSLAM’s for faulty ports?? NBNCo. have made this rollout absolutely piss easy for labourers to do- it is LITERALLY plug and play, except at the FAN, which is all connected together by several skilled technicians each day. The rest of the hundreds of people just need a couple of weeks training and they’re off- it’s ALL Rodding and Roping. I’ve told you this already, seriously, look at NBNCo’s site links to contractors:


            Note: Labourers as one of the opportunities. Also Fibre Technicians


            Rodding and Roping: They look for these pre-requisites- White Card (6 hour course), Confined Space Entry (8 hour course), First Aid Level 1 (1 day course), Road/Traffic Management (2 day course), Telstra Accreditation (now also done by NBNCo.), Current Valid Drivers Licence.

            2/3 of the people I work with have 3 or more of these qualifications and they’ve gotten them out of convenience for having them, not any specific requirement. These are STANDARD in today’s construction, tradie, entertainment or maintenance industries. There are tens of THOUSANDS of labourers in these industries.

            We’re not talking rocket-science here. Hell, for over half the jobs, we’re not even talking a Certificate IV:


            I truly think you fail to realise just how simple they’ve made the rollout for the end-contractors- ALL the end-work is, is rolling out the fibre (either via conduits in 75% of cases (hence the confined space ticket) or on power poles in 25% (likely in conjunction with the power companies)), plugging it in to pre-done connectors, drilling walls to hold boxes and communicating with the customer. The ONLY complex part is the fibre splicing inside the premises and that’s why these companies are looking for fibre technicians. And becoming a fibre technician is about a 6 week course and is mainly about how to use the tool correctly, how to attach bracing correctly and how to use the automated testing equipment, plus OH&S induction requirements as they’re working in the public sphere.

            Can you honestly believe there aren’t several tens of thousands out there who wouldn’t ALREADY be qualified, giving those listings above, or if not, could be with less than 2 months training?? This isn’t engineering. It’s trade based telecommunications.

          • You seem to think like the brochure style labor promotion that building nbn is just about hauling fibre and a network is done.

            Even hauling cable isn’t as you say. You first have to understand the network that you are working on… Much like any trade…otherwise you’re just a monkey doing second rate work

          • @brutally handsome

            Why on earth would you need to “understand” the fibre you’re hauling? You’re taught how to handle it and what angles it can bend at. You then go out and roll it out. It’s really not difficult. Labourers do not need to know how many channels a WDDM module has or what wavelengths upstream as compared to downstream works on, or what capacity backhaul is required for a contention ratio of 1:25. They just know the cable, where it needs to go and haul it there.

            The network is designed by those above the labourers and the Foreman of the team has a plan of where the ends of the fibre need to go, how fast it needs to be there, how long it should be and how fast they’re going to finish this section in the right time. The design has nothing to do with the labourers. It is done BEFORE the labourers even set foot on the street.

          • If you have worked with experienced personel vs non-experienced personel in any field you will be able to tell the difference. Even within a narrow field there will be small tips and tricks which you learn mainly through experience.

            Labour for the NBN might not be constrained now but when it gets into full scale rollout it will hit more bottle necks at the raw number of technicians required and across such a broad field.

          • @Michael

            I know what you’re talking about. EXPERIENCE is one thing, SKILLS is another. The people working for contractors on the NBN now, will becomes the future trainers of the required labourers in the coming years. You don’t need SKILLS to do so, you need time on the job.

            Again, are you suggesting that NBNCo. has entered into contracts that their contractors cannot even REMOTELY hope to keep?

          • @Harimau

            Precisely. Bricklayers, nor carpenters (tradie carpenters) nor pavers nor plumbers etc require degrees of any kind. The same as fibre layers and splicers do not.

            This isn’t rocket science….It’s telecommunications ;D

          • Nope bricklayers (and other tradies in general) do not have an engineering degree. But having worked as an engineer they have a similar but different skill set. It is much more practical. I would also ask you how long is an apprenticeship for one of these trades? How long is an engineering degree?

            It is not an easy comparison.

            It is not just specialist labour for fibre optics either. There will be demand for all sorts of ancillary trades. Although many of those will probably be more relaxed due to economic conditions.

            As far as tight resources in the labour side of the sector; if you want a model for what happens when labour hits an acute shortage please view the mining sector over the past decade. There was a strong demand for skilled engineers but not enough available. There were plenty of graduates, however, graduates still require 2+ years training. This lead to a backlog and fierce competition for existing workers which drove the wages cycle.

          • Look, i think you have been misled by Labor as the capacity of resources at hand, not to mention a whole lot of other things.

            If I was a project manager or contract manager, I’d be looking at how I can benefit from an ‘exit’ clause to be paid out as conpensation to me, for a contract that I would never have been able to deliver in the first place.

            It could be someone of a white elephant in the room you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours scenario for political gain and commerical gain, mutual benefit, but lets not tell anyone and put a commerical in confidence seal around it.

            I know silcar, visionstream and a few other type builders, their primary business in the telco side of things is mainly to maintain and do medium capital builds for the existing telcos, mainly telstra, and a do a bit of work for other utilities – but they are large scale infrastructure builders in the telecoms branch of their respective parent companies ie. Leighton, Siemens etc.

            I you last read, Leighton was considering offloading some of its telco assets namely nextgen, as their main business is construction. Silcar is in fact even smaller an operation that Visionstream VPL, but I believe today they are own by Theiss which are owned by Leighton holdings.

            While Leighton do have to muscle to pull off a project like Nbn, it has to contend with mainly whether the existing workforce is there, and has to work within NBNCo’s deadline and deliverables – which in reality or lack of reality , could be anything….given nbn has to answer to Gillard/conroy who has to answer to voters, and engineering may get in the way here of a positive policy result.

            So, Im guessing, that these multibillion dollar agreements, including that big one with telstra and optus, have incentives of compensation written into it, such that its a win win for both political and commerical expediency, but fundamentally, if we look at the engineering and project plan, then examine the business case, what is offered may not if ever work out, but they will never tell you this even if nbn is cancelled. this is not new, this happened with the original nbn v1 RFP, the government knew that its RFP and requirements does not work in reality, but it never stopped them from seeing it through to the bitter end.

          • @brutally handsome

            1- I’ve not mentioned Labor once. Labor aren’t building the NBN. They’re funding it. The fact that you jumped to saying I’ve read something dodgy from Labor says volumes. I haven’t been talking about, bor read, anything to do with Labor on training or numbers for the NBN. It has all been from NBNCo.

            2- The rest of your post ignores my points entirely. Visionstream Etc. may be small as a company, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the capability of hiring SPECIALISED labour for the NBN that they train. Exactly as NBNCo. planned and contracted for.

            The fact that you believe NBNCo. has been setup simply to fail appears to show that, rather than having no faith in.Labor, although that is self-evident, you have no faith in most of Australia’s telecom, IT, business and financial sectors…..who all believe the NBN is eminently doable.

          • “If I was a project manager or contract manager…”

            In other words, “I’m not, so everything I’m about to say is finest garbage…”

          • You sseem to think that hauling fibre is unskilled work… It isn’t like I said its a trade like any other and if you research the job youd realise there’s different specialties in fibre builders.

            The politicians tend to water it down for public consumption but its not referred to as hauling fibre… Rather its referee to as civils or outside plant.

            Hauling the cable is just one part of the entire trade which would include different specializations and also use of equipment and practicies. In addition to different levels of skills in fibre also.

            But even to haul fibre as in putting cable in you would need to be experienced in how networks are built and various scenarios and problems… Also other standard practices and knowledge of equipment and infrastructure.

            The other part is also safety and risk of damaging the network and also the quality of your work…

            You get a certificate and a lot follows where you learn how to do the job. If you to remember its not just digging a ditch because you are working in public land and on a national infrastructure that is live and also hosts things like water power and other utilities… It requires knowledge from doing the job

          • @brutally handsome

            That’s because laying of ordinary fibre IS an unskilled job. If it wasn’t, there would be a Diploma in Fibre Management as a minimum.

            There IS no digging of ditches- the fibre is being hauled through existing conduit or strung on power poles. BOTH of which do not require high amounts of skill- the ribbon cable NBNCo. use is flexible and forgiving compared with normal bundled fibre. Fibre splicing is done all at once, by a single machine. All that is required is a few weeks of training to learn and practice its’ operation. Several more weeks on the job would see a person an expert at it.

            WHY oh WHY would you need to know about the network to haul fibre???? The team leader and NBNCo network managers on the ground with the crew know about the network, the crew simply do what they are told. Once the Local Fibre cable is laid, it is connected to the OLT at the FAN by specialist Fibre Technicians- 2 or 3 could easily do the job at a single FAN, while the other 40 or 50 men were out on the streets.

            At the other end, you have fibre installers and splicers. The first are only needed to ACTUALLY connect an NTD, which won’t happen during rollout- they come back once the customer has ordered a service a few weeks later, so there is generally no issue with labour shortage. The second, the splicers, are needed at the FDH, to splice in the distribution fibre to the splitter and then splice the connection points to the local fibre. This is all done at a central location (the FDH) and can be done, again, by 2 or 3 specialists. The physical work of hauling fibre can then be done to each house and then a splicer comes along and terminates the fibre core in the PCD, while the haulers install the box on an outside wall (having done Certificate II, they have the “skills” to use power tools and work in a Safe and Effective way to public guidelines required of them).

            It’s really not complex stuff. NBNCo. use the ribbon fibre, so ALL 12 cores of the local fibre can be cut and spliced together and the “Build Drop” mechanism they have means that most is pre-fab anyway. The tools used are industry standard and NBNCo. accredits each splicer to use them through their training program which has been online for WELL over a year.

            Oh and by the way “Live infrastructure”….? Telstra’s conduits are separated predominantly from power, water and gas, as is required under AS/NZS 3000. Otherwise, Telstra technicians would have to have Electrical trade certificates to work on Telstra lines….Sure there will be cross-over in some places, but that is why there will be a foreman and network manager on each crew, to deal with those situations.

            I honestly don’t understand where you think the problem is? Can you give me a SPECIFIC issue that these labourers, after 6-8 weeks of training and 4 weeks on the job, WOULDN’T be able to perform, especially overseen by a crew foreman and NBNCo. network manager??

          • “when a company builds a road, bridge, ship, tower … you can always see people actually “doing stuff” and your surroundings change.”

            I had flashes of “carbon dioxide is an invisible, odourless and weightless gas” when I read this comment…

            Or to put it another way, a tunnel is being built near me. Yet I can’t see people “doing stuff”, nor are my surroundings changing. Ergo, by your argument, nothing is happening.


      • Quote: “Turnbull and Birmingham can go stick it where the sun don’t shine. Sorry if that’s harsh”

        Not at all. I’ve lost all respect I used to have for Turnbull, especially as he tries to portray himself as an well reasoned and insightful intellectual. Continuing to make anti-intellectual claims against the NBN is inconsistent with this projection.

  1. “There’s not much that NBN Co and Conroy can really do about this, apart from to buckle down and get on with the job”

    Well, they can keep issuing a lot of press releases to make it look like stuff is happening. If everything was fine and dandy in the polls for Labor then they might not be as eager to flood your inbox.

    There was quite a good post by arcc on Whirlpool in regards to the ramping up (http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1819894&p=29):
    really getting gung hoe like I thought it would by now…

    The latest rollout plan has the following figures for FSAMs (~2.5k premises per FSAM) in which construction started in that month:
    Jun-2011 1
    Jul-2011 2
    Aug-2011 5
    Sep-2011 7
    Oct-2011 7
    Nov-2011 8
    Dec-2011 7
    Jan-2012 6
    Feb-2012 11
    Mar-2012 24
    Apr-2012 23
    May-2012 17
    Jun-2012 14
    Jul-2012 7
    Aug-2012 15
    Sep-2012 66

    If the Sep-2012 figure is anything to go by, then by Oct next year we’re be looking at ~165k new premises ready for service in that month. A 10y rollout to 12m premises = 100k/m ~= 40 FSAMs/m.
    Dunno what happened in July, but lets hope the next few months look equally aggressive so that a decent number of people are actually getting a service by election day.

    • Right on Gav. They ARE doing the work. It’s simply hard to see it being done.

      I actually partly hope Turnbull continues doing this sort of cheap shot stuff…..cause if NBNCo. get ahead of schedule….he’ll look like a RIGHT trollop bagging them…..

    • Hi Gav,

      I’ve checked the hansard transcript and it’s 45 FAM/month rollout rate at full speed.
      You missed the one year construction time resulting in a 9 years of planning, not 10 years of rollout.
      And based on the last two months average, they are up to 90% of full speed right now.

  2. Can’t believe that many Australians are dumb enough to actually want Malcolm Turnbull as PM.

    • With Abbott out of the way, I actually believe Turnbull would make a decent PM. Of course, the Coalition may have to jettison a few other poor sods before it really achieved the level of a quality party. Barnaby, for one.

      • Ugh, Barnaby. If we want to have a laugh, let’s go back over what he’s said on the NBN….actually, just what he’s said in general.

        The man is a walking sideshow most of the time.

      • Oh dear, Renai, where do I start?

        The Liberal Party does have its moderates, but with few exceptions (like Mal Washer) they’ve stood behind Abbott. Integrity? Not. How about Turnbull? How about his involvement over the fake email scandal? Honesty? Not. And if Turnbull had any goodwill left with me, it evaporated when he set out to commit fraud on good people (such as yourself) constructing a narrative full of nice phrases like “suitable alternate technologies”, getting lots of people to debate the merits of FTTN and generally barking up the wrong tree.

        Turnbull, if you think about it, has no intention of doing anything of the sort. The atomic banana (love that term) is a prop invented to distract. If you think it through carefully the reason why he has no intention to implement FTTN is that he knows that it has disaster written all over it.

        If you were to seriously believe that Turnbull has the intention of firing up his atomic banana then consider not what he says he will do, not what he wants to do, but what he can do.

        Now consider the legal, regulatory, commercial, technical and procedural details.

        In order to actually build a FTTN network, one needs a builder. And again, Turnbull hasn’t actually said what builder he will use. He can use NBNco, He can create a new GBE. Or he can directly contract Telstra and just spend tax money. Lets consider the most likely case first – NBNco.

        Possibly his first step would be to sack Quigley. That might only take a day. But what takes months is going through proper process selecting a new CEO for NBNco. On top of that consider the very real possibility of having to reappoint many of the senior management (some of whom will probably resign).

        Step two is to issue a new statement of expectations, which has to be tabled in Parliament. At about this time the industry will sit up, take notice, and probably howl. Shame they’re not doing that now.

        Step three is NBNco goes away and does a redesign. Some might think this is easy, but in reality the detail involved means a delay of some months – even under duress. Don’t discount also the disruption to the internal culture of NBNco and staff turnover at this point.

        Step four is where NBNco issues a new technical design and business case. As you will have noticed with NBNco previously, these things are laborious and usually suffer last minute delays, for various reasons, some of which are out of Turnbull’s control. Not only that, expect that there will be behind the scenes wrangling over the business case as the new management of NBNco struggle to find a business case given the disruptions, partial compensations, and to be short, this is where things may well go horribly tits up – trying to construct a viable business case while poking holes in the networks future revenue, including the CVC which is based on people using fibre. But, I’ll keep this brief (hey don’t laugh :))

        Step four is negotiation with Telstra. Even ignoring the cost and the fact that Telstra has the whip handle at this point, the reality is this process could last up to a year – yes including more referral to shareholders. Included in this phase is all the negotiations with a very unhappy Optus and seriously pissed off industry. But hey, this is the Liberal Party. Trust us. We know best. Newman thinks so anyhow.

        Step five is anyone’s guess. At this point if Turnbull avoids having to issue legislative instruments, he’s doing really well. If not, they’ll be disallowed in the Senate. I mention that only as the icing on the cake. As you can guess its gone past 2 years and we’re into late 2015 now.

        Did I leave anything out? Probably. Oh yes. We left out that small practical detail of actually getting someone contracted. But nah.. that’s mere detail eh?

        But there you have it, by early 2016 we’re up to the point where the now culturally crippled NBNco starts to build its trial FTTN sites, now having done the work needed to fit that around the crazy paving of a third-completed FTTH roll out.

        By this stage there will be between 1.5 million and 3 million people with either fibre availability or an active connection. Many, many people will be in the position of not having fibre but having a close friend or family member in the next suburb who does. Not only this, but people will be made acutely aware (assuming the fibre roll out was halted in early 2014) of the fact that had the fibre roll out continued, there would be another 3 million or so more homes on the 3 year roll out.

        What’s more politically crazy, Renai? Halting the fibre roll out early, and leaving millions of people wondering why FTTN is taking so long, or continuing with the FTTH build whilst the “redesign” is happening, and then reaching the point where about half the country has fibre as the FTTN is starting to ramp up. Political insanity? Yep. Sir Humphrey had a term for this – courageous!

        And I could point out a host of other things that could go horribly wrong.

        The facts are, Renai, that no self respecting politician wants to own such a huge endeavor that carries so much risk when the people are going to say “why can’t we have fibre instead?”.

        The simple answer for the Liberals is to disown the infrastructure, and as quickly as possible. To get broadband out of sight and avoid losing political capital because the long term game is to win again in 2016 and then capture the Senate and then get on with what the hard right of the Liberal Party really want – to implement their ideology (such as WorkChoices MkII) with full control of the Senate. That’s why they will do whatever it takes to avoid political risk in their first term. And that’s why they certainly won’t want to play with the atomic banana and have it blow up in their face.

        Ok, my point is Renai. If you think about it carefully, and consider the fact that Turnbull is an intelligent man too. He’s probably thought this through too. Then you might come to the conclusion that Turnbull knows he cannot implement this. And thus, you have to draw breath and contemplate the sheer audacity of the stunt he’s pulling.

        Renai, there’s a future article for you. Consider how the atomic banana would be implemented, in exacting details. Legal, technical, procedural and so on. That’s where the conversation now needs to turn.

        Oh and btw, back to the original remarks. Turnbull isn’t going to be leader. There is a key group of people in the Liberal Party who aren’t just opposing the Carbon Pricing Scheme for opportunistic reasons but because some of these people genuinely believe in climate denial. This includes probably all of the National Party. These are the people who installed Abbott (along with the former Howard Ministers who still long for “industrial relations reform”). And these people are very angry with Turnbull for actually taking a principled stand in his comments about carbon pricing.

        And please, don’t prompt me to comment on the other Tea Party wannabes, jilted born to rules, airheads and outright dropkicks that make the Liberal front bench. The only plausible one is Julie Bishop, and don’t expect lots of warm and fuzzy progressive policy from her. Now, would you expect progressive policy from the party that opposed the Snowy Hyrdo Scheme, opposed reticulated sewage for our cities, opposed supported places in University, opposed Medicare, opposed superannuation.. and.. now oppose the NBN.

        • I will respond to your propagation of groupthink. Climate change denial is a term thought up by advocates to shutdown debate and denigrate opponents. It is deliberately used with connotations of holocaust denial to imply illegitimacy.

          The reality of climate change is staggeringly complex. After 3 years of statistics at university I would not even know where to begin to form models to analyse climate change. The models involve both time series and cross sectional data as well as multiple equations just to form one system.

          Broadly speaking the best analysis I have seen said that there were four key systems built on top of each other in climate change.

          1. Models predicting economic growth
          2. Models predicting climate altering emissions from economic growth(It is not limited to CO2)
          3. Models predicting Temperature changes from increased emissions (Remember the earth works as an equilibrating system as well)
          4. Models predicting weather outcomes based upon changes in temperature.

          To have data come through 4 different models is possible. The main caveat is that there is a massive amount of uncertainty which has been exploited by both sides of the debate. See climategate emails.


          Avoid group-think even on issues you think are safe.

          • @Michael

            There’s this thing called ‘informed opinion’. Apparently, if enough people have it, It’s called group think…..

            I’ll tell you what, let’s remove the complexity here-

            NBN- $50 billion (including overruns and $10 billion interest) over 30 years- speed: 1-10Gbps

            FTTN- $25 billion over 10 years- speed: 50-100Mbps

            If you did statistics, I’m certain you can work out which one is cheaper and which one is faster.

            /end informed opinion

            PS: I did engineering. It took a single year for me to understand that even if human kind isn’t responsible for global warming, our current polluting and consumer lifestyle is killing US faster than It’s killing the planet. The planet will continue. We won’t. Bit thanks for trying to complicate things….

          • No, some people flat out deny that climate change CAN exist, or CAN be caused by man. They’re not making a sophisticated argument about high levels of uncertainty in the data. They’re saying that it won’t happen.

            Why? Usually because the bible doesn’t warn them about it OR because the implications are financially inconvenient for them.

            (You appear to be lumping people who *may* be trying to make a sophisticated argument into the same category, in order to invalidate the category itself. Nice try. Still, not as bad as the guy who said that Tony Abbott being married means he can’t be a misogynist. Lol.)

            If anyone wants to make a serious argument against climate change, then they can publish a paper in a related journal. The simple fact is that these papers are not being published. (Oh no! Conspiracy!)

            The term “climate change denial” isn’t to “shut down debate”. There is no debate.

          • “No, some people flat out deny that climate change CAN exist, or CAN be caused by man. ”

            If it wasnt clear I am not in that camp either. The massive reserves of fossil fuels that have been consumed have had some effect. I just do not know what it is.

            “The term “climate change denial” isn’t to “shut down debate”. There is no debate.”

            By claiming there is no debate you contradict any claims about any uncertainty. And yes the term “climate change denier” is deliberately used to lump people in the same category as holocaust deniers. It is intimidation and group think.

            Re “Informed Opinion” vs “Group Think”

            Informed Opinion is where you consider all the facts from Both sides and reach a conclusion. This may or may not be the same as the next person.

            Group think is where a group of people have formed a certain view point. From that point onwards they re-inforce each others views and do not accept contrary views that do not fit into the accepted paradigm.

            I bring that up when I see everyone agreeing with abusive posts about Malcolm when he has said something that you should be interested in. So what if he is advocating a different approach if the NBN is slow and Conroy builds it, it will affect you. People seem to be ignoring it based upon the source and not the content.

            P.S. Seven_Tech we have had some good debates and I appreciate the time you have put into them. I can tell you are definately knowledgable in the IT field.

          • @Michael

            I have no issue with Turnbull putting forward an alternate possibility…except so far, he hasn’t. An alternate possibility, to compete with the NBN, must have a detailed design, cost and timeframe, or at least a basic estimate of what is likely and required. Otherwise, what can you compare? Is it fair that voters should have to compare, the NBN, in which they know what speed they’re up for, what it’ll cost and how long it will take, against FTTN, where they know none of that?

            I don’t insult Turnbull. If I can help it and I don’t like people doing so. Politics is dirty enough as it is without public name calling and “Juliar and Rabbity Abbott” (Although they’re both rather amusing). THAT is groupthink right there- the coined “Juliar”. It suggests it doesn’t matter what Gillard does, she’ll always be a liar and that’s all that matters….and yet the same people ignore the lies that come out of Abbott’s mouth too. But I DO expect Turnbull to treat the public with respect and this sort of rough and pointless, vague satire of a project that has BARELY started is not respect. It’s just plain cheap shots for politics sake. It panders to the “Juliars” and the “Rabbity Abbotts’ and THAT is anything but helpful.

            If Turnbull has a decent and thought out alternative, let’s hear it. Why aren’t we? Because this is nothing more than an evolved form of the knee-jerk reactions of “Wireless is the future” followed by “12Mbps is enough for anyone” and now “50-80Mbps is more than enough via FTTN”. He has no details because they don’t feel it necessary to give details now, seeing as it won’t actually help them and will in fact, likely, lead to showing up the gaping hole in the policy.

            I don’t want, nor do I, ignore Turnbull and I take his “threat” (if you want to call it that) of FTTN VERY seriously and I don’t like people who don’t- come over to WP on the “Coalition FTTN Alternative” thread and you’ll see I argue with people who think it’s nothing but smoke and mirrors, when, if it WAS detailed (which it hasn’t been and is half the problem) it IS actually feasible. But when he does things like this “Green Splotches”, it makes me lose respect for him that little bit more.

          • I can see where you are comming from but unfortunately in my view Turnbull is being very civil for what passes as discourse in this parliament. In this release he has not directly attacked Quigly (I know he has in other ones but not this one) but he has made political satire out of the ALP’s fondness for excessive spin and press releases.

            Other examples of recent political discourse:
            The ALP (PM and ministers) criticising Tony Abott for not picking a fight publically with Indonesia over turning back the boats. Given that none of the people criticisng him were present at those meetings how do they know what was discussed? Why should the Opposition leader antagonize the leader of a foreign nation for political gain instead of a friendly briefing on what his plans are if he comes into office?

            The Gender Wars courtesy of John McTernon. I can see sexism from both sides of politics, but I cannot see misogyny. Alan Jones / CFMEU comments are included in this and both are despicable.

            Nicola Roxon attempting to intimidate a sexual harrasment claimant by stating his claim was vexatious even after settling the case.

      • Barnaby Joyce understands debt, and what it does to people, which puts him strides ahead of the typical ALP advocate.

        The Commonwealth is bleeding $50 billion per year, and Wayne Swan’s so called balanced budget is a pipe dream — ain’t gonna happen because their revenue estimates were never realistic and the economy is flat, the mining boom is past its peak. We will soon rename it the Commondebt of Australia.

  3. As I keep on saying, the NBN is rolling out infinitely faster than the Coalition’s plan.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • @NPSF3000: Now thats a bit of an unfair comparison. You can’t compare reality w/ fiction! For all we know this spectacular FTTN plan can be done w/in a few months!

      Yes i’m being facetious and sarcastic =P

      Fact of the matter is that you can’t compare w/ whats not there =/

      • I agree Rock_M.

        But in a sense, what you describe is exactly what Turnbull is doing. Honing in on take-up rates etc, for a ten year project which has essentially only just out of trial phase.

    • Logically, a huge egg should appear on Turnbull’s face if NBNCo actually does hit their rollout goal for mid 2013, then 2014 etc.

      However, history tells us that he would deflect even this, and claim that an atomic banana could have been rolled out to most of the country by then.

      Or, if they miss the goal by (say) 1%, he will blow it out to sound much worse (THOUSANDS of homes haven’t been connected!)

  4. “Usually I get a media release or five per week at the moment from Conroy’s office about some new NBN rollout activity somewhere in Australia, and while it is true that such activity is ongoing, that doesn’t mean that actual Australians have actually been connected to the NBN’s fibre network. ”

    Renai, So you would much rather have Labor keep quiet while Malcolm keep spreading FUD?

    • An alternate view is that the ALP should not try to spin nothing into something just to maintain a positive news cycle. Especially when there is a valid line of criticism (being behind on NBN Co’s estimates).

      • I don’t think that the criticism is valid. Observe:

        “For the millions of Australians who want faster and more reliable broadband at affordable prices, inclusion on a Labor NBN construction map will not be sufficient. They will have to wait until a change of government.”

        Turnbull’s argument seems to be that, since the rollout rate is low now, they will not keep up with their rollout plan, and that somehow a change of government, a complete change of policy, changes in legislation (herp derp Senate control), a complete restructure of NBNCo, a complete renegotiation of the Telstra and Optus deals, and a dramatic change in network design, AND THEN the actual construction of the atomic banana will somehow take place faster – and this is for people on the 3 year plan.

        Cool story bro.

        • Another way to see it is:

          Going by current rollout speeds, if you are only just included in a “green” zone now, then it will take over 9 months to be connected. In this time period an election will have occured.

  5. I just wish Malcolm and Simon put as much effort into their the own NBN policy as they have done with their comedy routine.

  6. “Coalition has a window to continue to criticise the company for poor performance, based on its own measurements.”

    Except they’ll criticise it regardless. It’s easier to just move the goal posts every time it does stack up to their “measurements” rather than admit they were wrong.

    • “Except they’ll criticise it regardless.”

      This. In a nutshell. We know, and it is on record, that there is precisely zero the NBNco and the Labor policy can achieve that will be acceptable to The Member for Wenworth, and by extension the broader L/NP.

      We also know, that at a state level, the policy to “destroy the NBN” has fallen by the wayside as local members all clamour for their state to receive a bigger deployment footprint. Cost is less relevant.

      Turnbull and Abbott may play up the costs; but apart from The Australian’s relentless march back to the 1950’s, no one else really buys the NBN being a white-elephant or even a bad idea at this point; NBNco are doing.

      And whilst they keep doing, it makes a mockery of the L/NP’s entire FUD campaign.

    • Move the goal posts? Just like how the key metric in press releases was changed from premises connected to premises connected or where work has started.

      • That’s it? That’s the only example you can provide? There was quite some debate about just what the original metric referred to… but there’s no point going into that here.

        The problem is that the Coalition will criticise it for taking too long if they miss a goal by 1%, and they’ll criticise it for taking longer and costing more than a hypothetical alternative even if they reach the goal (they won’t provide details for this alternative though).

        It baffles me that some people think that the role of the opposition is simply to blabber on about missed targets and sit there waiting to be elected.

        • 1. So you feel that changing the main metric reported to the public so that it is no longer possible to tell how many new premises were connected is not important?

          2. Why do you feel that it is correct to criticise the opposition for calling out where the NBN has not met its own targets? If no one did that all we would have is Conroy’s office telling us that everything is OK and that they would take care of us.

          As long as they are accurately reporting figures it is their duty to highlight short commings in the build.

          As far as alternatives go, I agree with many of the posters who have stated that the longer before the next election the harder it will be to alter the NBN due to contracts signed and it may well leave them with no option but to proceed. (See Myki in Melbourne for an example of where this happened).

          • @Michael

            1- The changing of the metric for NBNCo. was as much politically motivated as it was practically motivated. Neither was in isolation. Premises passed was not an entirely accurate measurement, underestimating the work that had been done, as each FSAM could be begun and be basically finished in fact, before it could be reported as premises passed. When NBNCo. get to doing 80-90 FSAMs a month, as they will late next year, this could mean some 40 or 50 thousand premises of under reporting PER MONTH. Obviously, changing the metric for a positive note on numbers for political purposes must have played SOME role- I’m not naive enough tot think it didn’t’. However I also believe passed or begun is a valid metric- it gives an indication of where construction has ACTUALLY begun on the the ground. Contrary to poplar belief, NBNCo. don’t count the design phase as ‘begun’. You can disagree. You are entitled to your opinion.

            2- The Opposition is not calling out NBNCo. on ‘missing’ their targets. If the Coalition were fair and reasonable, they would know AND accept that the CONSTRUCTION START DATE was pushed back. That does NOT mean that ipso facto ALL construction from then on will continue to get further behind by that metric. A once off delay of 9 months for the start of full commercial rollout meant NBNCo. had to alter their timeline, NOT their schedule for construction time.

            It is the same principle as if a competing construction company was to ‘analyse’ a competitors work for an ‘independent’ review, when building a skyscraper. They are given a timetable which shows they should be at the 15th floor out of 100, but in fact they are at the bottom of the 2nd floor. The analysis reports then that the construction is woefully behind except they aren’t given any context. It turned out a legal delay, caused by a challenge to ownership of the land, was made and delayed the initial concrete basement pour by 9 months. The analysis ignores this and the competing company recommends it be scrapped, or at least they be given custody, to try and bring it back on schedule by using wood instead of concrete because at this rate, it will take twice as long to compete.

            And here is my point- it is PRECISE (correct or exact) to say that NBNCo. are approximately 120 000 premises behind where they should be. It is, however, not ACCURATE (correct in all details) to say that. It is all about context and the Opposition play with context like a girl plays with Robert Pattinson in her dreams.

  7. I presently live in the North Lakes(Qld) area and supposed to get the NBN in the next twelve months. My internet connection is supposedly DSL 2+ but the problem is that I am connected to a sub-exchange and get speeds equivalent to 50% of that achieved by ADSL1. This sort of connection is the fibre to the node connection that Turnbell advocates and is a serious waste of time and money compared to the FTTH connection of the NBN.

    • Honestly? not entirely right.

      An FTTN would easily upgrade your connection to an amount better than what you have now. The problem is we don’t know what level, and your upload capacity will be lower, your latency will be higher and it will still ultimately be relying on the increasingly expensive to maintain copper network.

      You will end up better off under both plans, except you will definitely pay for the network under a coalition (due to a subsidy all tax payers pay for the network), instead of the user-pays system that Labour is trying to roll out.

      • It’s hard to say for sure. It all depends on where they place the nodes.

        They could declare all premises within 1km of an exchange or sub exchange as not needing nodes, shove some VDSL ports into the exchange and call it a day. We don’t even know who will be operating this new network, or how many networks there will be, or if Telstra will actually be obligated to fix things like congested backhaul.

        This is all assuming that FTTN is a real policy, of course, which it might not be.

  8. “Living or working in a premise situated within one of Labor’s NBN construction maps is a privilege for any Australian,” said Turnbull, in what appeared to be a tongue in cheek statement. “As long as people don’t mistakenly assume this means they are likely to receive improved broadband any time soon, they should savour what it means to be included on an NBN construction map.”

    In ten years time, Labor’s NBN (if not mangled by the Coalition) will be a sea of green in all urban areas. If the Coalition has its way, in ten years time, under the Coalition’s broadband plan, what you get is a lottery of either fibre, twisted pair or HFC, with no guarantee of download speeds and slower upload speeds, ie splotches of greenfield fibre in a sea of brownfield copper. I think this statement will be coming back to haunt him later.

    In fact, let me tweek Turnbull’s statement if his plan is implemented
    “Living or working in a premise situated within one of the Coalition’s NBN construction maps is a privilege for any Australian,” said Turnbull, in what appeared to be a tongue in cheek statement. “As long as people don’t mistakenly assume this means they are likely to receive improved broadband any time forever while we are in government, they should savour what it means to be included on an NBN construction map.”

  9. Article summary:
    Joining “factual” and “forthright”, “funny or clever” has been added to the list of things the Coalition NBN smear campaign is not.

  10. NBN Co seriously cant win. They get criticised for not putting out enough information, and when they put out the information, they criticised for putting out too much.
    Cant have it both ways.

  11. Dear Malcolm put up or shut up. At this stage I simply give up on listening to anything he says until he grows a backbone and puts a Broadband plan where his mouth is.
    I believe the coalition plan is code named Unicorn because it is a mythical creature that doesn’t really exist.

  12. Malcolms at his best when he’s funny really (like the dig he had at Tony about “What a loss for the nation it would have been if he had connected!” in his Robert Hughes tribute http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/malcolm-turnbulls-tribute-to-robert-hughes-hits-the-mark/story-e6frerc6-1226450383170).

    And frankly, MT has a point about the NBN rollout feeling/going slow. The only reason he has a point though, is due to Conroy making a rod for his own back with weekly updates about which house has been connected today. Theres a saying that goes “A watched pot never boils”, and Mr Conroy is basically making Australia watch his pot with blow-by-blow commentary.

    If he’d back off from the constant promotion of it, people would, more than likely, turn around after 2-3 months and go “wow, look how far the NBN has come” now that they are getting a head of steam up. He would also take some wind out of MT’s sail by not giving him anywhere near the ammunition he currently gives him.

    • Agree with this. Conroy needs to just let things go and publish press releases when there’s ACTUALLY something to brag about.

      The NBN is proceeding well, but this is a project that is ultimately going to connect NINETY THREE PERCENT of the nation to FTTP. That is a huge undertaking, and publishing a press release every time they turn on a switch somewhere is such a tiny thing in comparison that it makes the project look embarrassing, and like they’re trying too hard to save face (which, essentially, they are).

  13. I was having dinner recently at a restaurant that was without a landline for 2 months at that point … just a straight old phone line (not even adsl issues). Due to issues with Telstra and the copper lines in their area.

    If that’s the future path our internet is going to take – it makes me shudder…

    The Libs seem to be stuck on this NBN bashing path … reminds me a bit of how they were slamming the Carbon Tax.

    I think this has proven to be a flawed tactic …. you can’t keep crying wolf all the time , be interesting to see how well it’s going to work for them next year if they persist.

    …also , if Malcolm can state that Quigley isn’t qualified to run the NBN – he should nominate a suitable replacement now. I’d like to know who he thinks would do a better job

  14. “For the millions of Australians who want faster and more reliable broadband at affordable prices, inclusion on a Labor NBN construction map will not be sufficient. They will have to wait until a change of government.”

    see, this is precisely the point at which the Liberals’ argument breaks down.

    Change of government to the Liberal Party will make the broadband upgrade worse, not better.

    • Not to mention add in additional delays for the CBA, and planning. (because they haven’t got a policy yet; they are going to have to spend the next term in government coming up with it all over again).

  15. Delimiter blindly refuses to accept a simple fact. The NBN is a long way behind schedule. It has not met its own targets. Fact.

    As the recent AFR article notes “NBN Co will need to increase the rate it connects homes and businesses to fibre on the $37.4 billion national broadband network by more than 1800 per cent if it wants to hit its own rollout targets.” http://www.afr.com/p/national/nbn_needs_boost_to_hit_targets_NZsXPUZIZfHr16LirTTEcL

    Good luck hitting 1800%. It has been unable to met much lower target to date.

    There is a few more inconvenient truths in that article as well.

    • The NBN is 6 months behind schedule. The coalition can shine a blinding light on all the targets the NBN Co has supposedley missed without taking into account all the factors all they like but the fact is the NBN is broadly on schedule. At some point in the next few years the NBN will reach the peak of its rollout and the rate at which homes are connected will go up pretty dramatically. so go peddle your FUD elsewhere. try a news ltd website, all the people that read NBN related articles there are ignorant too, you will have better luck convincing them.

      • Grey Wind, you should know he posts on Andrew Bolts blog so you can safely disregard everything he says when it comes to the NBN… or any other political issue for that matter.

      • Gee whiz, its not fun to be made a turkey of is it?

        In this case you swallowed the 1800% figure and didn’t even read the rest of the article..

        “The Coalition pointed out that a “monthly ready for service rollout plan” released by NBN Co on October 12 only confirmed a total of 263,000 premises would be passed by June 30, 2013 – a shortfall of almost 23,000 just two months after the corporate plan was released.”

        So what’s a shortfall of 23,000 on a target of 263,000? About 10%.

        Oh and it gets worse (for you, and the intellectually dishonest people you choose to believe)

        “NBN Co head of product development Jim Hassell confirmed the figures and said the ready for service plan was based on deals finalised with contractors.

        But he said partially completed locations not included in the plan would bring premises passed to the full 286,000 by the deadline.”

        Beat up? Yep. Just like they fooled you into thinking the home insulation program was a failure. Its part of the reason why we’re now using less energy (not just electricity, but also gas btw).

    • Given the paper’s known biases, the AFR is not the best place to look for a pro-NBN story. Its owners, along with Rupert and the rest of the established media, would happily have the NBN shut down tomorrow so it doesn’t interfere with their business interests.

    • To paraphrase someone elses comment.

      Jun-2011 1

      Sep-2012 66

      (wow I can pull random completely – or nearly – unrelated statistics out of MY arse too!)

    • “Good luck hitting 1800%. It has been unable to met much lower target to date.”

      Why? I mean, they started with 0 and are doing more than 0, which means they’ve already been able to accelerate their rollout by a factor of infinity? What’s 1800% more?

      Poor comparisons FTW.

    • >Good luck hitting 1800%

      Ah, a typical fin review article, well-researched I’m sure.

      For example, read the section where he got an expert’s opinion on what the rollout rate means and how they can ramp it up.

      That’s odd, I can’t find it.

      Okay, read the section where he critically analyses the Coalition’s comments, with particular reference to what this “track record” is and how it can influence the future rollout rate.

      Hmm, that’s missing too.

      Alright, let’s at least look at where he analyses Conroy’s comments.


      Huh, missing.

      Honestly, I get the impression that people who write these articles are unaware of their own biases, are unable to grasp simple mathematics, are unaware of the complexity of national-scale projects, and are unwilling to investigate things themselves and write more than “he said she said” articles. And yet, the fin review hires them anyway.

  16. Anyone with a mortgage knows that the early years are like pushing a boulder uphill, and the battle seems nigh on impossible until the final stages.

    Silliness like this has to be ignored like water off a duck’s back. The proof of the coalition pudding will be whether they present a credible alternative to the electorate in November 2013.

    On present showing, they will be shooting themselves in the foot again with both barrels.

    If the coalition wants to regain and retain regional seats in 2013, it has no alternative but to support the all-fibre NBN for all towns and cities, along with parliamentary oversight of the critical natural monopoly infrastructure. But for the next twelve months, we will surely see much more of this taxpayer funded levity from Malcolm Turnbull and the other clowns. It does them no credit.

  17. Lets have a look at what happened the last time the coalition was in power (ie:nothing!)

    They really should focus on something their good at (like selling infrastructure off and bribing voters!) and let the nbn get built!

    Once it’s built and people are on it, we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about as we have better telecommunications.

  18. MT is a comedian without a proper plan of his own.

    Look how bad they are. I can do better.
    Can you? How? I can’t tell you. You will have to trust me. I really can!
    Don’t be confused by my party past record.
    Don’t let my investments distract you.
    Somehow, I will deliver. Somehow, it will be built quicker, cheaper and more affordable.
    Can you give us more details?
    Yes, after you elect me.
    Do you have the figures to prove it?
    I don’t but that should not bother you. After all, I am charismatic, charming, eloquent and more reasonable than Tony.

  19. 8th July 2010 Modbury, South Australia was announced as one of the next sites to get the NBN

    According to the NBNCo’s latest estimates, it won’t be ready until July 2013


    At 100/40Mbps, the NBN will be fast and greatly appreciated. However, the NBN is rollout is running at 1200bps!

    • The alternative is that you vote the Coalition in, but then you’ll have to change your name to “Not Getting It At All”.

    • “8th July 2010 Modbury, South Australia was announced as one of the next sites to get the NBN

      According to the NBNCo’s latest estimates, it won’t be ready until July 2013”

      Awww, poor petal :-( That’s… that’s just… just terrible! July 2013!!?!?! You can’t be serios!?! You ARE Serios!!? omfg that’s ALMOST A YEAR AWAY! Oh the huge manatee!

      Meanwhile the rest of Australia was announced to get the same thing but no specific dates were given. Just that we’ll get it sometime between now and 2021… So I can totally understand your frustration about getting it next year.

      “However, the NBN is rollout is running at 1200bps!”

      Is funny because bps is bytes per second. Is slow, yes? What a master of broadband comedies! yay!

      • I feel Jo’s pain HC. According to the rollout map, I have a light brown C on my roof, with no way of knowing which month in the next 12 or so I can connect.


        These delays are simply unacceptable in this modern world.

        • Booboo – feel Still Waiting’s pain, not Jo’s…

          I blame it on the NBN, of course.

    • Some of these responses have been slack. At least address the concerns.

      Firstly, who said you won’t be getting it until July 2013? Also, where did this news that you would be one of the next sites to get it come from? One of the first, sure but for them to say one of the next doesn’t make sense unless construction had started a year prior which you would have already been aware of.

      According to the NBNco rollout map, construction started in Modbury in October and November 2011. On that basis, it should be finished by the end of this year. I highly doubt there’s a 6+ month delay. If there is can you ask them why and report back to us.

      What I know they did say on 8th July 2010 was there were 14 second release sites with construction starting in August 2011 which it did (in fact it started earlier). Modbury was one of those 14. Also, there seems to be some issue with these 2nd release sites. I’m not sure if its because the map hasn’t been updated or what but by now a fair few of them should have been online.

      Also, be glad because people in the surrounding suburbs won’t get it until much later. Some of them aren’t even in the “green splotches” so at the earliest they’ll be getting it in 2016/2017.

      Last thing, this supposed 3 year delay you claim is complete bullshit. Construction started at the end of 2011 as it was meant to. It is supposed to finish at the end of this year however we don’t know whats happening because there are sites which started construction in July 2011 which haven’t been switched on. Assuming the date of July 2013 is correct, that means there is at most a 9 month delay. (Coincidently, thats how much longer it took them to finalise the Telstra deal than anticipated….)

  20. I wrote a pretty well read piece on the topic of the NBN back in August 2010 and Renai ran it here on Delimiter. For it’s time from memory it was the most commented on piece he’d published to that point. I pretty much got slammed by most commenters for merely pointing out that government projects almost always run late and overbudget. Not only that, but the country had gone from a $22B “Future Fund” to staring down the barrel of $100B in debt.

    Well, it’s two years later and frankly, as Turnbull says, the only thing world class about the NBN are the prodigious volumes of GIS information their consultants produce and the undeserved bonuses their executives are receiving. Let’s face it, they are WAY behind their own schedule, what are the bonuses for?

    Putting all that aside, two years later we still haven’t heard any concrete plan from the Opposition on what they’d “REALLY” do if elected – you can’t turn back the clock, so their plan has to be forward looking.

    I think the NBN is something that now needs some commercial reality heaped on it instead of political deal making. In fairness to Quigley and his staff, the biggest problem they have had is that Gillard’s deals with regional independents and the Tasmanian MP have resulted in difficult conditions to run a business. The only thing that saves them is their attachment to the government teet.

    Our national financial situation has changed, China is slowing down and the two speed economy is going to become a one speed economy pretty soon – unfortunately, it’s going to be running at the wrong speed. That said, you can’t just rip up all that glass and call for a “do over”.

    The government now needs to task Mr Quigley with building a sustainable business more quickly. NBN needs to refocus on getting fibre laid into higher density urban areas where the return on investment is positive and then use the increased revenue flow to backfill the rural areas.

    Crazy ideas of ripping out fibre or “selling it” ad hoc to the commercial sector is stupid. Forget it. The key now is to stop ignoring the numbers we’re seeing and fix the business.

    • “undeserved bonuses their executives are receiving”

      Seen their personal contracts have you? Isn’t it unreasonable to expect that the bonuses in all executive contracts are tied to the actual rollout? What about a HR executive who ensures the efficient running of staff matters? Should their bonuses be tied to rollout stats? Obviously not. This line of reasoning by the Coalition is spurious.

      “the only thing world class about the NBN are the prodigious volumes of GIS information their consultants produce”

      This is a decade-long infrastructure project which is only six months late at this point. I don’t know what people find so hard to understand about that. My rationale on this:


      To my mind, there just hasn’t been any credible evidence presented yet that NBN Co is doing a bad job on this. The company, for fuck’s sake, is just about to enter it’s rapid rollout phase. In a year or so it will have hundreds of thousands of premises, in several more it will have millions. This is how major infrastructure projects work — they take a while to get off the ground.

      • By your logic of having not seen their personal contracts, I could ask you, “How many major infrastructure projects have you worked on?”

        I personally know MULTIPLE civil engineers who built both the NextGen and Optus networks who would disagree with you about where the NBN is at.

        But of course, you’d just curse more and shout them down as well.

        The bottom line is, even by your admission a two year project is six months behind. I’ve been on projects, major multibillion dollar projects where hardened engineers will tell you that job lost at the front is never made up in the back – it’s a management myth. The cost and budget of a project is over time, to increase the velocity of a project costs incrementally more money, it is not a linear relationship.

        You don’t need to look too far in Sydney to see civil engineering projects that lost time at the front and then proceeded to lose tons of money and come up very late.

        Like I said two years ago, it was dubious if the country could afford it, yesterday the government papered over a $20B budget blowout by reclaiming unclaimed super and moving large companies to monthly GST payments, so that makes throwing more capital at the NBN an even more difficult proposition.

        We’re building a massive piece of infrastructure to “gain a competitive advantage” globally and then the government cuts the Export Development Grants – so companies developing products and services that MIGHT take advantage of something like the NBN just had business development money taken away from them.

        Or the other one Labor trumpeted – telemedicine. That one just took a massive funding whack as well yesterday – what was it, $134.5m over four years.

        The Sustainable Research Excellence programme for University’s… Gonzo. $500m of research money. That’s atop the $60m being cut from the National Research Infrastructure programme.

        So… Businesses trying to create innovative products and services for the export market got their funding whacked, telemedicine got clipped, university research took a hit and there infrastructure copped it too…

        Weren’t these other programs and initiatives all part of the justification and rationale for building this network in the first place? Weren’t these programs supposed to deliver huge spin off benefits from the NBN?

        I just wonder where we’re going to get the money to put in our new Ferrari when it turns up a couple years late.

        • It more than evident that you do not take into account why the project is behind.
          The reasons a project is behind has a bearing on the points you trying to make. In this instance, most of the reasons for the delay were external to the project. The delay was not caused by shortcomings in the actual performance of the project as it was planned.

          The point that you seem unable or unwilling to accept is that it is an investment which is cannot go bad because users will pay for it. Furthermore, this will be only fixed network available. Even under you doomsday scenario, the worst that could occur is that it will take a bit longer to pay for itself.

          I don’t remember people complaining about the cost of Sydney Harbour bridge even though it has taken for ever to pay for itself. The difference between the bridge and the NBN is that you can go another route. It won’t be the case for most people with the NBN.

        • @Sean Kaye

          I’m not really going to say much, cause Renai and Observer have really said what needs to be and you’re unlikely to agree with me if you didn’t with them. However:

          I personally know MULTIPLE civil engineers who built both the NextGen and Optus networks who would disagree with you about where the NBN is at.

          You know, I swear that sounds familiar….

          Most industry experts expect the eventual cost to be significantly higher, and some estimates exceed $60 billion.

          Malcolm Turnbull, Feb 2012

          Turnbull also claimed that sources in the civil construction and engineering industries had estimated that the NBN would take 20 years – not the current 10

          Malcolm Turnbull, ABC Late line, Sept 2012 (via our own Renai)

          Isn’t it amazing that there are ALL these experts coming and telling yourself and Mr Turnbull and anyone else who is against the NBN, that yes, what they say is correct, the NBN will take 20 years and cost twice as much as planned. And yet none at prepared to put their name to it?….

          Plenty of experts have said the NBN is a great idea, is feasible and will generate massive returns. And we have direct quotes from them. You’d think, surely, if they thought it were going to fail and fall in a heap catastrophically, producing $10 Billion of debt on budget, they wouldn’t want to risk putting their names on it…..yet they are.

          Does anyone else find this odd? I’m actually being genuine here, does anyone know of an expert who has come out and said it will fail and be a monstrous disaster?

          • I constantly wonder why people push the cost angle. Even if it IS $60b, spread over 10 years that only averages 1.5% of Govt revenue anyway. Surely such a restructure program is worth that small a portion.

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