Turnbull wants ‘user pays’ FTTH model


blog If you’re following telecommunications news today, you may be aware that Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given a major speech at a conference on the Gold Coast, which many of Australia’s technology journalists were flown to gratis (Delimiter’s not there as we try not to suck too hard at the corporate PR teat). Apart from his usual rumblings about the “uninformed bilious abuse” which he claims makes up most Australian tech journalism, Turnbull also made some interesting comments backing BT’s ‘user pays’ fibre to the premise model in the UK, which sees the telco’s fibre to the node rollout extended upon user demand, as Delimiter reported in June last year. iTWire reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“He also talked of “fibre on demand”, giving the example of BT in the UK asking subscribers to pay a $1000 premium to be connected direct to fibre.”

While Turnbull’s right — BT’s model is an interesting concept which could be applied to a FTTN rollout in Australia — we think there are fundamental questions which need to be answered regarding the Coalition’s broader rival NBN policy first before we get too far into this area; concepts such as whether or not the Coalition will guarantee a national FTTN network (including in areas where HFC cable already exists) before we start talking about FTTH extensions. You can’t extend what isn’t built in the first place, after all.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. Another “idea” from Turnbull with little to no details. This is how the whole LNP rival NBN policy will be run. Just sprout the words white elephant, $50B wasted, we can do it cheaper and faster blah blah blah. The typical bogan Australian public will lap it up, sprouting their Gillard hate, even though you are voting for a party, not a leader. End result we are stuck with the LNP and a horrible patchwork NBN for the future, that is worth very little and ends up costing nearly as much. We will be stuck with the same Telstra monopoly, but even further exaserpated by deals to access their HFC etc. screw you Turnbull. BTW I would personally be voting liberal if the LNP weren’t so retatrded regarding the NBN. I also can’t stand Tony Abbott but that no bearing on my vote.

  2. one of the issues with this idea is if you don’t distribute the cost of installing it in EVERY household, then the cost of “User Pay”s makes it completely unachievable for the average household.

    It’ll be a hell of a lot more than $1000.00

  3. Would there be an upgrade model available for people in a HFC area that want fibre connected to their home? I’m guessing no. Only thinking about the now, not the future requirements of our country.

  4. I’m sure telling everybody to individually ask to be upgraded to FTTP is the most economically efficient method. Good work, Mr Turnbull.

    • I guess he’ll tell us how much the ‘user pays’ when he tells us how much his model will cost.

  5. Its all about economies of scale.

    There can be no direct relation with the experience here

    Labour costs alone to run a fibre from the Node to the house, plus splicing etc would be well over 1000 and you haven’t even factored in the Telstra tax and capital costs (NTD upgrade, multiports, the actual fiber segments)

  6. So anti FttH Turnbull thinks it is a good idea to put DSL equipment and GPON in the same box increasing the cost of the rollout significatly. Increasing the size of the equipment needed at taxpayers expense then if one person wants fibre they will need to run it then if the guy next door wants it they need to repeat the process another day when they could have save a lot of time and money pulling cable for the whole street.

    It is a horribly convoluted scheme simply for the sake of being anti FttH.

    What happens when everyone is on fibre and the copper is not needed the Node is only being 20% filled as fibre equipment is so much smaller the batteries are no longer needed as the node only needs backup for DSL equipment as the fibre is passive the cooling on the dsl equipment is no longer needed.

    You basically have the very definition of White Elephant.

    • “What happens when everyone is on fibre and the copper is not needed the Node is only being 20% filled as fibre equipment is so much smaller the batteries are no longer needed”
      Nodes that have been converted from FttN to FttH still need to be powered and cooled.

      • I suppose you could use an AON instead of a PON but then the PoI Ideally should not be used or only one in every major city but then the ACCC said there must be 121 PoI so I dont see any advantage of using an Active network so why would you need to have power at the Node?

  7. At least under this proposal, people have some chance of getting a fibre to their home.

    • Yes people, perhaps like you and I who can afford it…

      What about the rest?

      A few weeks back, interestingly, one of the NBN naysayers Mathew, suggested by having speed tiers it would create inequality… I suggested to Mathew that it wasn’t the speed tiers, but the actual fibre costs that if not supplied by the government, would create inequality.

      That was before this was announced, so I’d be interested to see what Mathew has to say about my premonition now.

      I.e. which is more inequitable only the wealthy (or middle class) able to afford the fibre to their home or everyone in the current fibre footprint having fibre but with speed tiers?

      • I agree. If there’s one thing the LNP have made abundantly clear is that they don’t care about or understand broadband ubiquity and the benefits it will bring to Australia. In fact they seem dead against equality, with Turnbull’s so called “technology agnostic” band-aid approach.

        Once the majority of the population are on FTTH, its easy to envision health, education advancing rapidly, providing HD video conferencing to people in regional Australia with experts in capital cities (and the numerous other benefits of broadband synchronicity). If half the population remain on ADSL, HFC or overpriced commercial LTE, then there’s no hope of next generation high-bandwidth services taking off.

        Even TV stations may eventually move to HD multicasting over the net, when the majority of people end up on 25mbps+ fibre. Given DTV-B’s current 20Mhz 18mbps bandwidth limitation, doesn’t allow for any further channels or expansion into proper HD picture quality (not without scrapping our current MPEG2 system and implementing HVEC or H.265 anyway). This of course can never happen unless the majority of people have access to it.

        High speed broadband ubiquity and the services and applications that would naturally follow, is actually the most appealing factor of all to me about the NBN. Its not until the majority of the people are on the NBN at speeds of 25mbps and higher, that we will truly utilise its benefits. I therefore care just as much other people across Australia getting access to the NBN, as I do getting it myself.

        • I absolutely agree with the Simon’s sentiments here. It is the wide spread adoption of higher speeds that will ultimately benefit the Australian community as a whole.
          Turnbull’s alternative is a little like sealing major roads to the head of the street and continuing with gravel from there!

      • > A few weeks back, interestingly, one of the NBN naysayers Mathew, suggested by having speed tiers it would create inequality… I suggested to Mathew that it wasn’t the speed tiers, but the actual fibre costs that if not supplied by the government, would create inequality.

        Same problem. As other have said $1000 is very little for those of us who care (as is 100Mbps NBN connection) but for the vast majority it is a significant expense.

        The speed doesn’t cost – it is the data that costs. Ubiquity is not a valid argument for the NBN as that can be done with FTTN or wireless (and anyone on 25Mbps or less the end result is the same). However fibre comes into it’s own when you talk about faster than 100Mbps.

        • The speed doesn’t cost – it is the data that costs.


          Quota, or data, is NOT something an ISP ever has to deal with. They are charged by their backhaul providers in Mbit, that is speed. I do remember telling you this before. That is why the NBN has speed tiers and CVC rather than quota. Quotas are introduced at the retail level as a method of restriction.

  8. Run one fiber to a premise one day, another fibre to another premise in the same street 3 months later, all at inflated costs. Hah.
    FTTP ‘on demand’ makes a mockery of the core Liberal tenets of productivity and efficiency. It also demonstrates a couple of the other core tenets of the Liberals, private enterprise being able to make as many dollars as possible out of consumers and the rich being able to take full advantage of their wealth to further discriminate against those not so well off.
    National infrastructure for the good of the country as a whole? Forget it.

    • Think of the job creation figures!! Think of how many fibre installers will need to be paid for and kept on hand for the busy season.

  9. Nothing wrong with FTTHoD, what is wrong with it is making the user pay. Chorus in NZ is FTTHoD, except they can do this for three reasons:

    1) The fibre drops are preinstalled, they just need to install a NTU.

    2) They are the incumbent so they also profit from ADSL2 services.

    3) They are not doing FTTN. So to see a performance increase you MUST opt for FTTP.

    Think NBN, but only to 70%, without mandatory migration and mantaining the CAN, funded by a NZ$1.5b subsidy.

    • That is not FttHoD that is just FttH

      FttHoD means you only run fibre if someone pays for it one at a time if you rollout past everyone’s house and get them to pay to connect that is no different to HFC

      • Point. Although important to note NZ considered FTTPoD but decided against it because it wouldn’t meet the desired performance standards set by CFH.

      • Actually the NZ model sounds exactly like our NBN model; but without the automatic migration of customers the Telstra deal gave us.

        Being the incumbent they don’t need the automatic switchover clauses; because they can switch at their leisure.

  10. I wonder what the monthly ISP costs would be for those households that paid to get a fibre connection installed.

    One can only imagine that they would be significantly more expensive than ADSL2 plans.

    • Well they will give you a modem that costs them $100 if you sign up for 2 years so I guess you’ll need to sign up for a 30 year plan for them to cover the fibre.

      • I think you misunderstood the question I was asking.

        If I pay $1500 to get fibre connected from the Node to my premises, how much would I pay a month for my ISP plan? Do I get a rebate on my monthly broadband line rental fee to reimburse me for paying to expand Telstra’s (assuming the Coalition will be handing it back to them) fibre network?

        • Don’t be silly!

          Under the LNP model, you pay for the infrastructure, they sell it to a private enterprise and use the proceeds for pork barrelling, and then you pay for the infrastructure again through high access fees.

          Besides, the last thing the LNP want is *everyone* being connected. They don’t want any serious threat to the oligopoly that is Australia’s media interests…

        • If they follow the UK broadband model your bill will rise if you have fibre.

          What will be interesting is the AGVC price. Quarter the cost so quarter the price, right? So, say $7 AGVC, yer right. Who else sees Telstra getting $16 a month per connection?

        • Sounds like it will be business as usual so you get the chance to pay $3000 connection fee to pay $500-$1500/month on a 24month contract. Price based on quotes I’ve gotten in the last 12months at a business premises.

          ContInue the connection lotto so you might be lucky and avoid the extra fee if you live in the right spot relative to the node and don’t need the upload. However with the increase in video conferencing cloud services and content creation at home I can see upload bandwidth being needed more and more. Maybe one of our ISP posters can comment on upload trends.

  11. yep, just another random thought bubble from Turnbull.

    Like I’ve said before this confirms fibre is the future.

    However everyone in brownfields should feel a bit incensed at even the suggestion of this idiotic plan:

    1. People in greenfields get theirs for free.
    2. After paying all those line rental fees for so many years thinking that money was eventually going to be used to pay for upgrades to the network people are going to be expected to shell out even more money to access decent upload speeds.
    3. If I am paying $1000 for my fibre connection exactly how useful is this going to be with the rest of the network (most I assume) still stuck on the substandard copper?
    4. What a bunch of clowns.

    • This; sort of.

      Part of what makes the NBN so amazing; is that, 90%+ of homes in Australia will have guaranteed 12/1 *or more* to their homes.

      The “build it and they will come” philosophy sounds strange to some; but it really matters. In the same way that ADSL made YouTube and its clones a viable multi-billion dollar industry, the possibilities with the NBN FTTH are what I am really looking forward to.

      Your own personal fibre will be great; but imagine the options available to you when people make products at prices that take into account that more than ~30% of Australian homes have access to 100megabits+, and more than 10% have access to upload capacities equal to or higher than 1 megabit.

  12. Re 3.
    Yep. It references the argument that was first made for the introduction of the telephony network. The more people that have it, the greater the value and benefits.

    Re 4. Yep :)

    • another thing I forgot to mention is

      5. If I pay for fibre to my home in the event that I move and since I’ve paid does that connection follow me or do I have to pay yet again at my new location? Is there going to be some kind of reimbursement scheme since I own this length of fibre? (Telstra are getting money for their renting their ducts why shouldn’t I get money for ‘renting’ my light pipe?) Who pays? ISP? New homeowner? GimpCO? And if you think about it ISPs need to give discounts to customers since they are using our fibre to service us too.

  13. This is all borne out of Turnbull’s idiotic idea that the headline download speed is all that matters. I’m starting to think now that it’s not just political spin, he genuinely doesn’t understand what the NBN is all about. When you get down to the most basic level, the NBN is designed to fix the problems caused primarily by Telstra and the neglect since the 90s; yet every time Turnbull opens his mouth it seems to be to suggest something that would exacerbate the problem!

  14. Imagine if it had been Stephen Conroy who said that. Every news rag in the country would have the headline “Labor’s $1,000 Internet tax”

    • That’s 1000 GBP in the UK. With labour costs, lower population density and considering that in the UK it’s only trials, I’m betting about $3000 here.

      So, the headline would be “Conroy charging Australians $3000 for NBN!”

      But the double-standard is so completely astonishing that a headline like “Turnbull’s NBN costs households $3000” on the front of the Herald Sun – while truer than most Herald Sun headlines even with that wording – would be unthinkable.

  15. Well, that is a pretty silly idea…and would be incredibly expensive, and inefficient.

    Turnball is just throwing shit (Coalition BB ‘policy’) against the wall and seeing what will stick.

  16. Where is Turnbull’s CBA? This guys says he’s been ready to govern for 2 and half years at a moments notice. With fully costed policy (the policy that keeps changing daily, is he doing daily upgrades on costs?).
    When is this guy actually going to fully articulate his policy?
    Is Telstra gong to be given the job since they own the terminating cables?
    What are the deals that will have to be made with Telstra?
    Is the NBN structure and staff going to be maintained with new objectives?
    Is the Liberal NBN (if there is one) going to be cheaper to the consumer than the NBN if so what will be the costs for the plans?
    Are Turnbull’s hot air bubbles (they aren’t thought bubbles) going to be cheaper for the Australian population or just cheaper for the 3 year Liberal government?
    Is Turnbull suggesting that fibre to the home will never exist in Australia? It’s obvious the whole program is going to be more expensive if FTTH has to be refitted at a later date with the sunk cost of the cabinets having to be written off and another project started up.
    Explain to me Turnbull why a much poorer nation (New Zealand) can afford FTTH and we can’t?
    Explain to me why Japan and Korea with advanced high tech economies have installed FTTH if it can be done cheaper and faster with your hot air scheme?
    Are we going to let our economy go down the drain with Great Britain style DSL?
    Why are you Malcolm Turnbull investing in FTTH companies and not companies like BT or Pakistan Telecom?
    Is Australia a first world nation with first world telecommunications or are we a third world nation?
    A world leader or just mediocre?

    • I rather the term “Fart Bubble” than “Hot Air Bubble”.
      Both are quite similar but the former inherantly stinks.

  17. The number of negative comments is interesting.

    While not without its flaws, I’d say it’s unquestionably an improvement over yesterday’s LNP policy.

    So hopefully it stays in tomorrow’s LNP policy.

    • If they do have a fttn system running with an option to buy an upgrade sounds like a good idea, or a better idea than they already have, I wonder what the real cost would be.
      The idea of powered Node cabinets is being looked at by NBNco as a possible speed upgrade past their 1Gbps limit so it may make sense but only if the hardware first installed is compatable with not only VDSL but also with this higher speed fibre connection.
      Running 2 different systems next to one another is not ideal and would cost twice as much for the hardware both in the home and the node as well as maybe in the main cabinet.
      I oppose this idea because the amount of travel I have to do from my hometown to my city is exhausting but since I am disabled and on a pension I would not be able to afford it no matter what healthcare benefits arise for me even though the day I am connected to the NBN I will start to save from $25.00 to $75.00 a month from my telecommunicatios bill.

  18. At a conservative $20,000/km to lay a cable, I wonder who pays for the other $19,000 the connection costs?

    Ah, of course, BT does NOT have a FTTN network with 1-2km copper runs to the house, it is FTTC with 100m copper runs.

    Basically it is what NBNco is building but with the customer paying the cost of the lead in/
    Of course, had the lead in been run when the cable was dug, it would have cost 1/10 the price.

    • Thats $20k/km in rural area, for long runs, with big trench diggers. In urban areas, factoring in short runs and costs of restitution of footpaths and the like, its closer to $200k/km or more.
      Hate to think how congested the ducts will be, if a contractor has to pull a new fibre cable for each customer from a cabinet way down the street.

  19. A few months ago I was hoping that Malcolm was just anti FTTH for the sake of being anti Labor. That once he got “into power” he’d just go along with the existing plans for the NBN. With each day now this is looking less and less likely.

    • Or it could be that he is exploring these ideas to reduce the shock of his incredible backflip.
      Fingers crossed.

  20. I can only assume we are seeing the level of competence and intelligence that the new government will apply in all areas of managing and overseeing out Nation and it’s economy.
    And we consider MT one of the smarter ones.
    Hockeynomics anyone.

    Worth considering what BT, AT&T, and Verizon offer with the same product, Fibre from the FTTN/FTTB cabinet. Max 350Mb

    I suggest NBN switches on even in limited areas their 1Gb for Business users

  21. Apart from the fact that it was starting from 750 POUNDS in Britain (where labour is cheaper) which makes it minimum $1200 here…..is this not old news?

    He’s been pushing a BT style FTTHoD rollout for 9 months.

    I swear, if the media gave this much attention to everything NBNCo. thought about, we’d have a whole newspaper about the NBN. Turnbull opens his mouth and gets press coverage….regardless of what comes out….

  22. I have spoken to Openreach/BT in the UK about this plan, the best way to lower the costs for residents is to group together as street/suburb and submit a group demand – this will substantially lower the FTTH deployment costs for subscribers.

    BT actually published the costs of these plans over night and they range from free installation to costing UK3,500 per home, it runs in six categories….


    It will be very interesting to see the take-up of this in the UK.

    In Hong Kong PCCW offer a similar plan, if you take FTTB then its a free installation, but if you want FTTH run all the way to your apartment then you pay an installation charge, the size of which depends on how complex the install is.

  23. Turnbull could suggest Carrot to the Node, as the next idea and he’ll be seen to be walking on water, again.

    Meanwhile, NBNco will be grilled for their expenditure on sugar cubes. STOP THE WASTE. Well done MSM.

  24. Turnbull did NOT say he “WANTS” a user pays fibre rollout. He said it is technically possible and he sees no reason why it should not be offered. He added that “this is not a pledge”. He did not say it is coalition policy.

  25. NightKaos: I, like everyone else, have no idea what coalition NBN policy is, other than a desire to do it cheaper and faster.

    But I was at the event where Turnbull spoke and it was I who asked about BT’s plans.

    My recollection and my audio from the event both confirm he said nothing about wanting it or that it is policy, just that he knows pay-for-fibre can be done and is an idea he feels is worthwhile.

    • What is it with Newbies and the inability to use the Reply button?

      My point was until we have a policy from Mr Turnbull everything g
      he says is merely a suggestion. So arguing that he hasn’t committed to FTTPoD is irrelevant: he hasn’t committed to anything at all.

    • Simon, there are some serious issues with that in Aus, due to Telstra’s lack of maintenance and allowing the copper network infrastructure to run down. Telstra is remediating the pits and ducts, under FTTN no remediation for the Subs loop (possibly up to 1Km or more). What happens in the very likely possibility that the ducts and conduits are in to poor or congested a state to enable fibre to be run for an individual user. How , at what cost and who will pay for that service to be provided ?. Are we potentially looking at the choice between a new car or a fibre connection?

  26. http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1313781/cough-up-for-nbn-businesses-told/?cs=2452

    A rural business estate out of Armidale, over $200K to include that estate into the FTTH footprint.
    Actually I think the NBN should not be pedantic in such cases, a business estate that is built as such has capacity for growth and would be a future investment/efficiency as other businesses tend to locate close by then residences, so a seed for a growth area. FTTH would enable that.

    Why posted here.?

    User Pays Principle is being applied

  27. Turnbull NBN sounds like when the M5 was built in Sydney save now pay later with web traffic jams and more cost later to fix up the crappy system

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