Coalition NBN policy a “farce”, say Greens


news The Australian Greens have accused the Coalition of perpetrating a “farce” in the delivery of its rival National Broadband Network policy this morning, describing the alternative vision for Australia’s future telecommunications needs as “planned obsolescence” on a vast scale and as “a rehashed ALP broadband policy from 2009”.

This morning the Coalition published its long-awaited rival NBN policy. The policy promises Australians download speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps by the end of 2016 and 50Mbps to 100Mbps by the end of 2019, at a projected reduced total cost of $29.5 billion. Unlike Labor’s NBN project, it will make extensive use of fibre to the node technology (where fibre is rolled out to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ and much of the existing copper network is maintained), but will also utilise fibre to the premise, satellite and fixed wireless solutions in some areas.

The Greens have been broadly supportive of Labor’s NBN vision, although other aspects of Labor telecommunications policy — such as the project by the Attorney-General’s Department to substantially increase surveillance powers of government agencies and implement a comprehensive data retention system — has come in for heavy criticism from the party.

In a statement issued this morning responding to the Coalition’s launch, Greens Leader Christine Milne and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam heavily criticised the policy. “The Coalition’s alternative broadband policy is ‘planned obsolescence’ on a vast scale, and will deliver a rehashed ALP broadband policy from 2009,” the pair’s statement said.

Milne added: “The Coalition has finally come out with its first detailed policy, and it’s a farce. We need long-term vision, nation-building infrastructure that will meet Australia’s needs for future generations, not cheapskate measures that will cost us more later on.”
“The concept of installing tens of thousands of powered cabinets on street corners around the country will leave existing customers stranded on obsolete copper while new estates get glass fibre installed. The Coalition is continuously playing politics with policy, which is why we need Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate to keep a check on Abbott’s ridiculous plans and to stand up with a strong alternative voice.”
“This highlights why it is vital to keep Scott Ludlam in the Senate to protect the NBN – more Coalition seat-warmers in the Senate will demolish the progress on infrastructure reform, setting Australia back decades.”
Ludlam said that the Coalition’s “technically inferior proposal” was based on an out-dated and degraded copper network, which was enormously expensive to maintain and vulnerable to weather events. “This approach was explicitly rejected in 2009 prior to the Government’s announcement of the fibre-to-the home project, because it would be obsolete on the day it was built,” said Ludlam.
“With the Coalition generating headlines with imaginary cost figures for the NBN, attention should not be diverted from the very real problems in rolling out the NBN. The company should come clean on its revised targets, but the last thing we need is to revisit a concept that was rejected with good reason. The Coalition’s broadband policy is faster and cheaper for a reason: it provides a quick fix that we will regret.”

Image credit: David Howe, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence


  1. Agree with them on all points.

    Regarding the powered cabinets, when the eventual upgrade is done, are the powered units thrown out? Or is it a hybrid node that can do either FTTN or FTTP, so after upgrade they will still need to be powered?

    • I read somewhere (cant remember where, so take this with a grain of salt) that the idea was to allow anyone willing to pay for FTTP upgrade to do so before the whole area was upgraded between 2016 and 2019.

      So i would expect the cabinet would stay there as long as possible. I also expect that to save money when they fully upgrade to FTTP they would just remove all the unnecessary equipment and leave the rest intact, instead of spending money to replace it with a small cabinet.

      Nice big colossal cabinets in every street.. i wonder who will get stuck with one out the front of their house.

      • Almost, people can choose to pay for a fibre upgrade, if they have ~$4000 spare, but the whole are is never upgraded to FTTP.

        • From their own document (page 11) they say it will only be available if technically and commercially feasible.

      • Are you sure that the 2016-2019 period is when they will be doing a FTTP upgrade?

        I thought it was when they brought vectoring and as yet unspecified vapourware online so they could bump the minimum to from 25Mbps at 2016 to 50Mbps at 2019.

        • I swear I read somewhere that vectoring adds a considerable amount of latency, something like 80ms to 100ms, but I cannot remember where I read it. Will have to have a look again for it.

          • It wouldn’t surprise me if vectoring didn’t add significant latency as there is a bit of heavy calculation involved. It depends on how specialized the processing chips in the units get.

        • Ah, i just assumed that the 2016-2019 period where it was said that services would be upgraded to 50-100Mbps was talking about FTTP upgrade.

          Its even worse than i imagined. As everyone here is saying, the greens have it exactly right.

  2. I’m usually a coalition voter and I rarely agree with the Greens but in this case they’ve nailed it. We’re supposed to be building tomorrow’s network, not today’s, and this is so short sighted. NBN Co can be and should be better managed and that is what Abbot & co should be doing, rather than introducing something that will cost us more over the long term.

    • True. I’d have used another word starting with F, followed by shambles. That’s not a broadband policy, that is a policy to syphon off taxpayer funds to Telstra and Optus for little return.

  3. Will gladly vote for Ludlam in the senate purely for his stance on communications policy…. despite his anti-Uranium thing the other day. Although there’s quite a few minor parties to pick from in WA this time with WikiLeaks, The Pirate Party, Sex Party and those on the right like Katter and the Shooters.

    Could be an interesting race for that last seat…..

  4. LOL……The “Greens’ …. “Its all a bloody conspiracy, probably something to do with the chemtrails in the sky. It will never work anyway……. not enough solar panels and too much uranium involved.” If only the rich were poor and they gave their money to the poor, then the poor could spend the money on fast broadband and fuel conserving pushbikes”… You will all say that MT,s NBN plan will be obsolete before it even gets off the ground……what? like the Greens have become.
    R.I.P M.Thatcher, you would have sorted out these socialists.
    Simon. :)

    • I reckon copper might be a heavy metal (not Slayer)….there is way too much copper involved in this as well. Better off making the new network from renewable resources like trees and power it from windfarms..Oh sorry I forgot we hate windfarms as well.


      … and Simon is awarded the coveted ‘post most likely to expose the poster as a penis with ears’ trophy!

      Heartiest congrats Simon old son, a truly outstanding achievement… do tell all your friends about it… no, wait!!!

    • The Greens seem to attract a special kind of thoughtless vitriol.

      The simple fact is that Ludlam is saying all the right things. His grasp of this issue is better than either Turnbull or Conroy. What Ludlam says equates with reality.

      Whether you like the Greens, hate them, or are indifferent shouldn’t get in the way of the truth.

  5. Nothing about upload speed,Norway (just one of the countries rolling out FTTH) seems to already have a clue as they have FTTH running at 400mbit up and down.Typical liberal policy by our friend No No Sniff a Vote Abbott and his not so trusty sidekick,…..”The vast number of Australians can be happy with a second rate ad hock system” …..well thanks for that Tony…

  6. So I’d have to pay $300 to Telstra to get copper reconnected, IF they could provide it..(bad copper is why I gave up on landline years ago) = fat chance.
    I’ve already spent ~$600 for a long distance wireless solution to a working internet location, and given the drop in signal quality for FTTN, I doubt the 300m long driveway at that location would allow any improvement on the 4mbps it currently gets. Same applies to the 2km long street i live in which only has 10pair copper.
    I’d spend money for fibre, but they can keep this dismal solution, not worth tuppence.

    What’s the economics of their version going to be when many like myself dont bother connecting to it?
    75% of the cost, <10% of the performance….pfft!

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