Turnbull’s NBN answers “make sense”, says Budde


news Veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde has praised the Coalition for publishing an extensive ‘frequently asked questions’ regarding its rival National Broadband Network policy unveiled last month, noting that the additional explanations of the policy “make sense” and that the Coalition is “moving forward” on the issue.

Last month, when it first formally published its rival NBN policy to stack up against Labor’s current NBN vision, the Coalition published a number of lengthy policy documents regarding the policy, including a background briefing paper which it hoped would answer the questions of many in the telecommunications industry.

However, in some quarters the Coalition has struggled to convince segments of the population and technology sector experts that its vision is comprehensive enough. “The Opposition’s NBN plan has as many, if not more, questions attached to it as they claim the government’s plan has,” wrote Budde after the plan was first published. “All the issues they have raised regarding cost blowouts and delays are equally present in their own plan. There are no guarantees that their plan is technically workable – nor, indeed, that it will deliver a cheaper and faster outcome. Far more detailed plans will be needed to make such judgements.”

In another example, technology media outlet The Register complained that the Coalition has not answered all the relevant NBN questions. It published an extensive list of questions about its policy which it said the Coalition had not answered. “We’re not asking these questions out of any desire to promote the Government’s NBN policy,” The Register wrote. “We at Vulture South feel instead feel answers to the above would go a long way to explaining the NBN installation experience the Coalition imagines.”

To address the complaints, over a week ago Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull published on his website a comprehensive article listing answers to several dozen frequently asked questions about the Coalition’s NBN policy. For example, in a section labelled ‘costs’, the document publishes an extensive amount of information relating to how much the Coalition’s policy will cost both the Government as well as individuals connecting to the Coalition’s version of the NBN infrastructure.

It also attempts to debunk, in another example, the claim by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy that individuals will pay up to $5,000 to have fibre extended all the way to their premises under the Coalition’s policy, as well as the claim that accessing the Coalition’s NBN will be more expensive in remote areas of Australia.

Writing in an updated post on his blog late last week, Budde said he didn’t expect that Turnbull would come up with further explanations so quickly, but that having read them, most of Turnbull’s answers “make sense”.

“The key points that I took away from the latest information is a much clearer view and explanation on how the Coalition is taking into account the planning towards FttH via the in-between step of fibre-to-the-node,” wrote Budde. “While I am not a financial expert the information given on what the financial advantages could be does make sense. Also a firm confirmation that the Coalition will continue the rollout of the current NBN, and only begin to make major changes once they have properly assessed the situation, is important.”

“Further ideas on how to incorporate HFC, and the background information they have gathered on the quality of the copper network – backed up by comments from Telstra’s CEO – are appreciated.”

Budde noted that there were still uncertainties about the Coalition’s rival NBN policy — and he questioned the point of opting for a fibre to the node-style rollout, when over a decade-long period, $14 billion wasn’t a significant amount more to spend on a national infrastructure project. However, he also pointed out that had the Coalition unveiled its current policy before the 2007 Federal Election, it would have been enthusiastically received by the public, as Labor’s updated NBN policy was in April 2009, and that such a policy might have helped the Coalition win the election.

The news comes as ongoing polling continues to show that Labor’s existing NBN project has maintained its overwhelming support with the population, with Australians overwhelmingly preferring the project over the Coalition’s alternative. However, analysis of polling data has also shown that the release of the Coalition’s rival policy somewhat polarised the electorate, with traditional Coalition voters now being more likely to support the Coalition’s plan, and Labor and Greens voters more likely to support the existing Labor policy.


  1. I think he’s nailed it. In the context of the Liberal plan, it makes sense, but when put along side the Labor plan, you must ask yourself whether $14b more is worth considering or not, and only the most biased or misinformed people would say it wasnt.

  2. “The key points that I took away from the latest information is a much clearer view and explanation on how the Coalition is taking into account the planning towards FttH via the in-between step of fibre-to-the-node”

    People need to understand that FTTN is *not* an in-between step between ADSL and FTTH. All that infrastructure that gets installed with FTTN will need to be decommissioned if we decide to install a FTTH NBN at a later date.

    It really grinds my gears when people paint FTTN as some sort of stepping stone to FTTH, and the media (not you specifically Renai) is doing nothing to dispel this myth. The average Australian who is not a tech-head needs to understand this, but most if not all don’t.

    • “People need to understand that FTTN is *not* an in-between step between ADSL and FTTH. All that infrastructure that gets installed with FTTN will need to be decommissioned if we decide to install a FTTH NBN at a later date.”

      hi there,

      this is factually inaccurate — current FTTN builds can support an in-place upgrade to FTTH at a later date. I’ve personally checked this with vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. Please don’t make this claim on Delimiter again, or your comment will be deleted. I refer to the comments policy:


      It prohibits “Comments which inject demonstrably false information into the debate (for example: “Fibre broadband only offers speeds up to 50Mbps”).”

      Kind regards,


      • Actually, that’s not entirely true, in UK, it’s not classed as full FTTH rollout.

        Also in addition to the wait time for FTTN rollout, at least 66 days to get Fibre on Demand:

        According to those reports also, Fibre on Demand will not be available for multi-tenant units (so businesses is not available for those areas).

        “The degree of confusion over how best to place a product like FoD, which doesn’t offer the same guarantees as a full business solution but which can still cost just as much to install, appears to be shared by most providers.”

        I think you need to read up on the Fibre on Demand product a bit more closely Renai before supporting that comment.

        And overall, it’s a bad design, it’s expansive product, which makes FTTN/FTTC useless.

        Unless Turnbull can make better use of Upload speeds, multi-dwelling units for businesses and home more user friendly, and the install fee less than $1500 dollars to upgrade to FTTH.

        I see it a waste of public resources.

        With the dumb network design that Turnbull is evisioning, Nodes with MORE NODES.

        • Um … quite a bit of what you’re referring to here are commercial decisions by BT, not technical aspects of the infrastructure. In addition, who says we will do things precisely the same as BT? They started their rollout a few years ago — as Turnbull has rightly pointed out, the technology has developed since then. FTTN infrastructure supports eventual FTTH deployment these days. As I’ve said, I’ve checked this stuff with the vendors.

          • Renai, there is a backplane bandwidth problem on many of the Alcatel multi-access Nodes. The particular cabinets which have been mooted for the coalition FTTN plans as being able to host Fibre line cards as an ‘in place upgrade’ simply will not be able to run the run too many fibre connections before the entire Node is overloaded.

            It will then need to either be replaced with something that can – again at a high cost – or ripped out entirely and we build the current FttP network.

            I am happy to provide links, just need to find them.

          • @Monsta

            You beat me to it.

            The Alcatel FTTN systems have a combined throughput of 5Gbps. For 400 (max) premises. That’s about 1/20th that of a GPON cabinet. Which is precisely why BT in the UK’s MAXIMUM FTTH product from the cabinet is 330Mbps. The backplane simply can’t handle higher.

            Oh and don’t forget the Vectoring Turnbull loves as well- That requires 5Gbps processing ability for 400 premises. I’m not saying it isn’t feasible- it is. But It is NOWHERE near as easy as Turnbull makes out. And it would require replacement of alomst ALL equipment in the node to go full GPON as NBNCo. are doing now. The Line card slots don’t have the bandwidth otherwise.

          • It’s a real shame the NBN process wasn’t more transparent from the beginning really.

            Watching Malcolms plan grow/change/morph over time to over come some of the issues he’s been hitting makes me wonder if he is following in the footsteps of the expert panel that recommended Labor go FTTP in the first place…

      • That is not entirely true Renai

        I believe what he was trying to say was that the VDSL gear and the power supplies and batteries and of little use when you move fully to FttH as those units are basically VDSL + GPON and only VDSL really requires power although you can have powered GPON passive makes more sense with 121 PoI.

        So are you saying that VDSL gear can deliver FttH Renai?

        • “are you saying that VDSL gear can deliver FttH Renai?”

          According to what I’ve been told, it’s a matter of swapping out cards in the ‘nodes’, once you actually lay the fibre to the premise. The same ‘nodes’ support the development of FTTH and FTTN these days.

          You can quibble about the details, but I can assure you that as a gross statement, vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent sell multi-function boxes which allow upgrades to FTTH in future. Actually it’s pretty much their standard line these days as that’s what a lot of telcos are doing internationally.

          • Do you know what happens with all the power requirements when a node is converted to full FTTH? Does the node get converted to a passive unit or does it still require the same power/battery requirements?

            If the former, seems like a lot of infrastructure which gets thrown away. If the latter, seems more inefficient than going straight to a passive device.

          • Yes so hundreds of thousands of cards would be junked in the process and we are forced to use powered nodes instead of passive.

          • Maybe people should say you can’t turn a FTTN network into a GPON network without binning a lot of equipment

          • That is all upto the design of the network.

            Depending if he’s really want more or less Fibre on the network.

            From my reading of the UK forums, and so forth, the “NGA Aggregation Node” isn’t always near the FTTC cabinet, and can be an further away.


            “There are two cabs offering FTTC in my area, but I am served by one that is a 1km away, when a closer one is available, will FoD be run from the nearer cabinet?
            To provide FoD we build the fibre network from the NGA Aggregation Node to the premise, not from a cabinet. We will build from the nearest Aggregation Node to the premise.”

            Unless Malcolm can determine the network design and the condition of Telstra’s network very early on.

            I wouldn’t give to much credence to whatever Coalition Party says, or some expert’s say on the matter of upgrading Fibre.

      • I believe its more accurate to say that FTTN is an optional step towards FTTH, at some expense.

        This would probably increase ongoing costs for when FTTH does get rolled out, i mean im sure these up to 20,000 nodes can’t be cheap to maintain.

        • hey guys,

          I don’t want to get into the details here. You can quibble over how precisely this will work as much as you like, and as I’ve previously said many times, yes, Labor’s NBN policy is the better policy on every front, especially technically. The point I am trying to get across here is that it is possible to upgrade a FTTN network to a FTTH network — that’s indisputable. Sure, it may not be as good a FTTH network as if you’d gone FTTH from the start, but I think we all realise by now that the Coalition’s vision represents a compromise situation. The technical compaints people are listing here do not invalidate the Coalition’s vision as a whole, and as many people have pointed out, many other countries are getting their copper networks upgraded to FTTN right now.


          • @Renai

            Of course it’s possible. Anyone who says otherwise is simply lying.

            The point is whether or not the compromise is too compromising for the country. I believe it is from the evidence I’ve been shown. Compromise is made to save time/money. I’ve seen no significant amount of time saving possible (unless you believe it is likely the NBN WILL take 5 years longer and the Coalition’s WILL take 2 years less than now). And the money saving is approx. $900 million to the government IF the NBNCo. used its’ contingency.

            Sorry, but that isn’t compromise to me. That’s wasted opportunity.

          • Exactly,

            It’s not that’s not impossible, but practical? and cost wise?

            That is what we should be looking at.

          • Agreed. Being physically possible is not enough; it’s physically possible to punch yourself in the face, but it’s certainly not a good idea.

          • Sorry Renai but you basically threatened to ban someone for saying something that for the most part was accurate a lot of VDSL equipment will be scrapped in an upgrade.

            As others have added it may be very difficult to upgrade as well given the limitations.

          • “Sorry Renai but you basically threatened to ban someone for saying something that for the most part was accurate a lot of VDSL equipment will be scrapped in an upgrade.”

            That’s not what was said. What was said was:

            “People need to understand that FTTN is *not* an in-between step between ADSL and FTTH. All that infrastructure that gets installed with FTTN will need to be decommissioned if we decide to install a FTTH NBN at a later date.”


            All is not true.

          • I think you’re missing the point here. You threatened to ban someone for the terrible crime of being mistaken.

          • Renai, you’re beginning to sound like a barrack room lawyer.

            Perhaps you should take a step back and remember that part of being ‘evidence based’ is remembering to admit when your own position doesn’t support the facts. Increasingly pedantic micro-arguments are often a sign of this.

            Please take this as the friendly advice it is intended as.

          • At the end of the day there are plenty of sites out there which are Anti NBN, and enough which are Pro NBN. Delimiter seems to be pro-information, minus the BS spin. Deleting comments which give false information and murky the waters of any debate would be preferred than to let loose with comments like FTTN will send us back decades or that the NBN is only for faster porn.

            Banning users who repeatedly lower the tone of the debate through deliberate falsehoods or their demeanour also adds to the value of the site. After all, this site is not Whirlpool.

          • On that point you are right.

            But I don’t think we can just paint everyone with a brush and say if you say all instead of a lot or most of then you should be banned.

            My background is in science and technology and in writing a thesis you learn very quickly that to use careful words like this may prove or it is possible that as in general experimentation is not normally black and white.
            This is the case on this topic as well but I don’t think that every person writing on this topic has the same level of carefulness so giving someone the benefit of the doubt and checking that what they wrote is actually what they meant maybe he meant all VDSL gear or maybe he just meant most of the equipment.

            In any case the discussion that followed has been enough that if he reads it he will know how much will be junked and how much will be kept and the limitations of this solution and learn from it.

          • Um, I didn’t threaten to ban anyone, I said I would delete specific comments which promoted inaccurate information. As is my standard practice on Delimiter. Has been for years.

          • “All is not true”

            You’re technically correct insofar that some of the equipment has been designed as dual use in order to ease transition from FTTN to FTTP. However, how much of that equipment would have been installed with a straight FTTH build? How much more efficient and cost effective is the hybrid equipment? The answers are (respectively) none and they’re both less efficient and more expensive. So no, they may not be obsolete and replaced out of hand, but they will continue to sit there drawing large amounts of power from the grid completely unnecessarily, when being an especially fragile point of (likely) failure. FTTN increased costs and complexity while reducing reliability.

            So while your point that the upgrade is possible, Anonymous’s point that FTTN is not an intermediate step on the way towards FTTH is very much correct. Sure, it can be crowbared in, but for what purpose? It doesn’t make any rational budgetary sense, it’s less efficient, costs more to operate, it will be less reliable and more prone to failure and once you include time frames for Telstra negotiations, technical retraining and deployment delays as a result of similar scenarios that have plagued the current NBN deployment (such as the state of pits and ducts, but also the state of existing copper) you won’t end up saving any time either.

          • “I think we all realise by now that the Coalition’s vision represents a compromise situation”

            Um, a compromise between what? Between FTTH and nothing? That’s not a compromise, that’s the LNP facing up to the reality that people actually want decent comms infrastructure, a bit more competition and a bit less Telstra monopoly… Ok, so they’ve got the first bit :-\

            FTTN is only a compromise in as far as it is ‘compromised’ thinking. The rationale behind it only makes sense if the LNP fundamental assumptions hold true, but as they fail to account for both the full costs of their additional OPEX and their much lower revenue (and thus profitability) resulting from dramatically reduced subscription numbers, their underlying assumptions are demonstrably false and thus is the whole justification for the FTTN national broadband nightmare.

          • Right.

            So the Coalition’s whole policy is pointless. Is that what you’re saying?

            Because I think it’s pretty clear that it represents a compromise between the Liberal ideal of small government and not interfering in private sector markets, and the fact that the NBN rollout has already begun and that a Coalition Government can’t just stop the whole thing now.

            Or maybe I’m just a Coalition shill with no idea what I am talking about.

          • FWIW, I agree with you Renai. Malcolm has worked his arse off to get the Coalition to even this position, and it’s worlds away better than their previous position.

            I still think he’s way out on his costing though (from several issues), and depending on his negotiations with Telstra for their copper and HFC, he may not even be able to get started in 2014, which will put his timings off.

      • > this is factually inaccurate — current FTTN builds can support an in-place upgrade to FTTH at a later date.

        There’s good news. ADSL can support an in-place upgrade to FTTH too. Quite a few Telstra exchanges are already being leased by NBN Co to support the rollout and equipment. In all honesty, two cans and a string support an in-place upgrade to, and lower the capital expenditure of, FTTH too. Sure with FTTN you’re a lot further along, but in Malcolm Turnbull’s own words:

        > understanding that FTTN or FTTC costs only a third to a half as much as FTTP, but up to half of this outlay will have to be written off if there is a later switch to FTTP

        Is it still an in-place upgrade when you need to throw away half, HALF, the investment (with the usefulness of this remaining half wearing down over years as even the backplane speeds don’t prove sufficient)? You know that Simon Hackett has recently cited Reg Coutts and is quite in support of his statement here, so much so he used it in a slide at Commsday?

        > Essentially to go down the FTTN road would (…) become an obstacle to the final solution… fibre-to-the-premise. Fibre-to-the-node was not a stepping stone to fibre-to-the-premise. In fact, if anything it would put it backwards.

        I’m sorry, but I trust Simon Hackett.

        There’s three parts in the FTTN investment. There’s the fibre to the MSANs and the wholesale infrastructure and the corporate stuff. Most of the value in that remains. Then there’s the MSANs, and their usefulness diminishes with every passing year. And then there’s the remediation of copper which, in the long term, but not in the short to medium term, is money down the hole.

        I’m sorry, but if you want to ban people who make a point that looks at the long term of things instead of at short to medium-term realities then that’s… short-sighted.

        While MSANs do support an in-place upgrade, there’s also limited reason to even do it. Instead, why not just put a splitter on the fibre just before it gets to the MSAN? Saves thousands of dollars and it means it’s far more future proof and reliable. The only disadvantage is a 3 dB loss in the signal to the MSAN, no big deal. If you split the MSAN out first and then put the FTTH connections on the non-MSAN end, you can even do it with only one single service interruption on a scale of minutes. And then put the interfaces at the premise and whatever is directly upstream from the MSAN. If its easier to bypass them in the first place, is it really still a stepping stone?

        But no, you’ve talked to Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei and gotten information. But all you’ve really found out is, instead of alternatives, that they’re for profit businesses who want to sell line cards.

        • “if you want to ban people who make a point that looks at the long term of things instead of at short to medium-term realities then that’s… short-sighted”

          Read the comment. I didn’t threaten to ban anyone. I said I would delete specifically factually inaccurate comments.

          • With the threshold for this particular comment not being entirely an untruth (although that depends very much on the interpretation), and the banning of users happening with only two to three such comments, it’s getting pretty close to a ban threat.

            But for making that presumption implicitly and reading too much into it, I apologise. Sorry. It remains that it was factually, and technically an inaccurate comment at a strict reading into it.

        • But the claim of:

          > All that infrastructure that gets installed with FTTN will need to be decommissioned if we decide to install a FTTH NBN at a later date.

          Is factually incorrect, because of the “All” in there. If, however, by infrastructure said commenter meant the MSANs then it is correct, but to very varying degrees, but the exact details depend on what the coalition means to do. Presumably they will want to squeeze every drop out of the DSLAMs even if it means a worse result in the long term. But, like I said, the same is true for ADSL -> FTTH. In no such instance would all of the infrastructure be decommissioned.

      • “current FTTN builds can support an in-place upgrade to FTTH at a later date”

        What is technically possible and what makes economic and practical sense are two different things.

        It IS possible to upgrade a node to connect a fibre to the customer option, the question would have to be WHY you would do this.

        By putting a fibre splitter BESIDE the node you could shut down the node and save all the ongoing costs of the electronics which is a significant ongoing expense. You also remove a point of failure, the fibre only solution is inherently much more reliable.
        This is of course assuming that there are sufficient fibres spare going back to the exchange to deal with the increased traffic with respectable contention ratios.

        If there is a slow and steady increase in demand for FTTP allowing one by one replacements of the copper last mile with fibre then it might be worth upgrading.

        If however, as I suspect, the FTTN proves inadequate fairly quickly then of course, the topology is all wrong and it will still mean much more equipment and a much more expensive upgrade all round than would have been possible had the network been laid out to suit FTTP from the beginning. Personally I suspect it may be cheaper all round to just bypass much of the FTTN fibre with a new FTTP configuration. Regardless, you would want to get rid of expensive and unreliable nodes from the network as soon as you could.

    • Copper! COPPER!
      (^read that like the ‘Mushroom! MUSHROOM!’ from that badger song)

  3. If a node has a request for a single premise to be upgraded will all the base GPON infrastructure be put in place for the other premises in the same service area at that time?

    By that I mean the current NBN is rolling out a whole street in 1 pass. Coming back repeatedly over a period of years and repeating earthworks etc as individual premises request fibre (not that many will but let’s hope) seems enormously wasteful. Rolling out all the cable in one sweep then just connecting it up later seems much more efficient.

    Also how long is it expected that we’ll need to wait to get that individual fibre installed? Days? Weeks? Months? (God forbid years?)

    If I’m in a small community and eligble for fibre but without local fibre installation resources will I need to pay the total cost of relocating to my town all the plant, personnel, and machinery required to install fibre? That’s a lot of work and cost for a single strand and a single customer. If I’m paying the whole amount it could come to 10’s of thousands easily.

  4. I have no issue with the fact that Turnbull’s plan “makes sense” as Budde says.

    It simply isn’t the best, nor the least risky, nor the cheapest, nor the quickest. NONE of those are demostrable. They are PREDICTIONS like alot of Labor’s numbers.

    This is nothing more than a political word game from Turnbull, which is really what he’s supposed to do- give a credible alternative.

    I choose to vote for the project that is ongoing, proven, been and being worked through over the last 5 years and has the most industry support. Yes, it is slow and has been delayed. I’ve seen no indication that it will continue to be so to the same extent. And if it is? What does that say about the likelihood of the Coalition’s plan coming in on time and budget, seeing as 2/3 of the same labour will be used that is apparently causing the issue?

    I’ll stick with the devil I know. Especially as I’m now confirmed in the fibre footprint in the 3 year rollout. I have no reason to vote for FTTN- my entire region will not get better broadband any quicker and CERTAINLY not any faster in the next 3 years under the Coalition.

    • This.

      Why would anyone in the three year rollout areas think the coalition plan was going to be better in any way? It’s not going to arrive any faster, and it’ll certainly be slower and, if Telstra get their fingers further into the pie, more expensive than the NBNco FttH offerings.

    • +1

      Construction started in my area about 6 months ago and I’m not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. While I think the coalitions plan isn’t bad on it’s own I think it’s ridiculously silly when stacked up against the current plan in place and even more so given how far into the plan we are. I hope when they get into power they go ‘things have progressed too far, we might as well continue’.

  5. Given that they are both borrowing to build their FTTN I don’t see how you can justify saying we can save money by building later. The 8 billion difference (assumign you accept the coalitions wish figure) is less then $300 million a year in savings. (3% bond rate X 8 billion is $240 million)

    Add in the higher cost of maintainence, and you STILL have to build FTTH in the future…

    It’s just crazy dressed up as eccentric.

  6. FTTN makes both sense on a commercial and “ability to execute” selection basis. My concern is that the cabinets must be built upon open standards – in particular the internal backplane. By opening up the architecture, local engineers and organisation’s can build additional “intelligence” into the network. If we look to the systems as a dynamic and evolving “organic” entity, we can add value and functionality to the infrastructure. If we look to what we have learned from the “open source” revolution, our “Aussie” NBN could set the global standard and earn export business in high-tech design and manufacturing. Pleas Australian politicians, don’t squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a cutting edge new industry. Mike Ryan

  7. The FTTH versus FTTN debate is a diversion. Rupert Murdoch stands to lose the most with the deployment of Labor’s NBN.

    It is common knowledge that Rupert Murdoch issues edicts to his editors not by command or demand, but by stating his preferences – that which he likes or does not like. His editors understand that if they wish to retain their position, they will not publish articles favourable to that which he does not ‘like’.

    Rupert Murdoch has had similar relationships with politicians, such as Margaret Thatcher. In return for coverage favourable to those politicians, policies and actions that benefited Murdoch were enacted.

    Rupert Murdoch met with Abbott one Sunday morning in 2010. Following that meeting, coverage of Labor’s NBN the News Corporation owned newspaper, The Australian, became overwhelmingly negative with articles frequently containing factually incorrect information. This ultra-negative bias extended to most of News Corporation’s publications and was not limited to the NBN, but Labor more broadly.

    The NBN is such a starkly superior policy that it begs the question, why is there even a debate? The answer is that the debate is a diversion and a clue to the real issue – the power wielded by Rupert Murdoch to decide the outcome of a democratic election.

    • Yep. I saw “Murdoch” on SBS 1 on Sunday night and will watch the second part on Sunday. How factual it is though I wouln’t know. Newscorp papers have certainly supported the Coalition since the times of Frazer and have continued to do so to this date. If Abbott and Murdoch did meet in 2010 you wouldn’t know what it was about. If you believe the movie it would be Murdoch telling Abbott what to do not the other way around.

      It is all lovely conjecture but there are no solid evidence that the Newscorp coverage of the NBN is any more biased than its coverage of other Labor policies. eg home insulation and school buildings program.

    • Thanks for the revelation of this “conspiracy” John (assuming that’s not your real name).
      Can we keep this discussion grounded in fact please?

  8. ‘Turnbull’s NBN answers “make sense”, says Budde’

    or another version of ”factually correct’ headline (and, as we know, that’s how far many people read):

    ‘”No gurantees” Coalition BB plans “technically workable” nor “cheaper and faster”, says Buddie’.

    Of course, it’d be prudent to inlude ‘make sense’ somewhere in the text as well – as to the actual technical ‘details’ to see how ‘factual’ the various claims/statements are, let others ‘quibble’ about them…

    • “‘”No gurantees” Coalition BB plans “technically workable” nor “cheaper and faster”, says Buddie’.”

      Sure. You’re right. But this wasn’t the main thrust of Budde’s post — he was making the point that the same caveats apply about the Coalition’s plan, but that he thought it had improved. So that’s what I reported. Pretty basic!

      • “But this wasn’t the main thrust of Budde’s post”

        Matter of opinion – I guess *Budde’s* own healine reflects what his intent is:

        ‘The Opposition’s NBN plan needs some further work’

        with: ‘…the question is whether it is possible to come up with a workable plan that satisfies the politics and at the same time can stand up as a robust policy plan, in both a financial and a technical sense.’

        As per my understanding (although I might be wrong on this) this is a technical (rather than political/gossip) blog hence it’d very much make sense to look in a closer detail at the technical (if not necessarly financial) issues of the Turnbull’s BB plan Budde singled out…

  9. The 3 biggest killers of any fibre network is dirt, Dirt, DIRT. You get my drift. Every time you splice/connect fibre increases the risk of contamination. The less, the better!

  10. Yet again, another straightforward news article discussing the Coalition’s plan, yet again, the Delimiter comments fill up with one-eyed NBN fanbois. I’m getting tired of this. The view of most people here appears to be “FTTH or nothing” — I feel that very few of you are able to admit that the Coalition NBN policy has any merit at all.

    In fact, let’s debate that. I’ll propose a question to the Delimiter audience. The question is this:

    “If Labor’s NBN policy didn’t exist and Labor had no policy in this area, what would your opinion be of the Coalition’s NBN policy, as an independent policy standing on its own?”

    • @Renai

      I’m not sure if you count myself in that, but regardless of the NBN I find the Coalition policy reasonable. As a PROJECT however, it is a joke, not because it isn’t possible, but because its cutting the nose off to spite the face.

      That’s the point I have always made. The Coalition HAVE changed their view. But only cause they were forced. Sure, its great they have. Hats off to the people who did the work to put it together. It doesn’t stop it being not a good PROJECT compared with the NBN

      And I think that’s the point too- in isolation, the Coalition’s policy is solid. But it ISN’T in isolation….so why are we talking about it as if it is?

    • Hi Renai, great question!

      “If Labor’s NBN policy didn’t exist and Labor had no policy in this area, what would your opinion be of the Coalition’s NBN policy, as an independent policy standing on its own?”

      Standing on it’s own I would be broadly supportive of their policy but disappointed it wasnt more forward looking.

      However I’d still not return to voting Liberal because im quite concerned about the impact their policies will have on ordinary Aussies as I posted in the other topic:


    • I think that personally I’ve been pretty fair in my arguments for both sides. Its pretty clear I support FttH, but I will also respect the Liberal plan where it deserves it, and question the Labor plan where that deserves it. I will also argue with those I consider trolls, who bring nothing to the debate but biased politicised comments.

      Having said that, if there was no Labor FttH plan, I’d broadly support the Liberal plan. It IS a step forward, no matter how big or small. I would still ask questions where I thought they warranted them, such as what the cost would be for them to roll out FttH instead of FttN, and query their capability to get the job done – a lot of people forget that the only track record the LNP has with IT rollout is OPEL, hardly a lesson in success…

      I’d question where the value is, when a similar plan in 2007 could have been done for 1/6th the cost.

      I’d question what the motives were for the LNP, knowing that there were more future proof options available – were they doing this for the greater good, or for corporate interests.

      As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m not against the LNP plan as it is. I argue against it because its not the best option, financially, economically, socially, or politically.

  11. The coalition plan does make sense …. if you’re simply thinking “with the box”. If you’re thinking about actually using the technology to move forward and revolutionise the way we work, the coalition’s plan is nothing but a whole lot of wasted potential.

    All I hear from people who are opposed to FTTP, is that they think it’s about downloading, downloading and downloading. They don’t think about uploading … simply because they are stuck in the past. They are not thinking about the cloud. They are not thinking about telecommuting. They are not thinking about fully collaborative work for ANY location.

    If you’re going to revolutionise the way you work, you need to think about upload as well as download. When companies FULLY embrace a remote telecommuting culture, we will be able to all but eliminate the lost productivity of the daily commute, we will see a cut in emissions from massive office “parks” (be it from CBD’s or specially office parks), and we will see a rise in demand of service industries in remote locations. Fully embracing telecommuting will mean that office workers could work from ANYWHERE … live ANYWHERE. If they don’t want to live in the city, but work there, then they have that opportunity. So much white collar work can be done remotely .. and all you need is an infrastructure that will have a network capable of handling the same kinds of speeds as we do in the office.

    The future SHOULD be decentalised work arrangments. With fibre, the only change then is a cultural one within the companies themselves. I’m sure there would be a few who would appreciate the cut in rental cost.

    That future does NOT include copper.

  12. To be honest, I didn’t hear anyone screaming in 2007 when Labor came out with its initial FTTN technology that investing in copper was a waste of time. At the time, everyone was praising the policy as though it was perfect. The hypocrisy evident from people damning the Coalition’s FTTN policy in 2013 to hell, six years after praising Labor’s own FTTN policy to heaven, is simply amazing to me.

    • That’s because people hadn’t yet grasped the full potential of what could be. 2007 is six years ago. That’s a long time in this industry. We’ve moved on. The Coalition hasn’t.

      • I have to agree with Torvin Renai.

        2007 was 2007. It’s 2013. If FTTN was going to work then, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We’d be arguing about how well the last 1/4 of the FTN rollout was going and how soon Labor/The Coalition could upgrade it for faster speeds and whether private enterprise had delivered the money’s worth. We’re not.

        I don’t really understand that argument.

        • “If FTTN was going to work then”

          Telstra proposed it back then. Are you saying Telstra could not have been successful at deploying it?

          • @Renai

            No, that’s not what I said or meant. Poor explanation on my part.

            Telstra wanted money for the copper. So FTTN was considered not worth it, considering it would’ve been anywhere from $10-20 billion for it at the time and Telstra had no obligation to not overbuild and waste all that investment. But, had those issues been solvable easily, there’s no question in my mind Telstra could’ve done what they said- 12Mbps to about 98% of the population.

            However, we’re now talking 25Mbps minimum. Assuming Telstra could’ve done it in 4 years as they hoped (is that right?? I can’t remember), we’d be looking at a newly finished network capable of 12Mbps by the end of this year (assuming they started in 2009). Not bad. BUT, that didn’t happen. Telstra were too hostile, so the FTTH was dreamed up to force the copper away from them under duress. NOW FTTN DOESN’T have the problem of getting the copper (supposedly) and it is feasible….but at what cost and how long?? The 12Mbps was a combination of around 20 000 nodes and exchange equipment and ADSL2 almost exclusively. We’re now talking TWICE that minimum, with 3 times that number of nodes and in the SAME period of time??? Not too mention VDSL is higher frequency and more prone to problems with bad lines. Sure, we’ve got NBNCo. to organise it. But Telstra would likely be contracted for a lot of it. It simply isn’t feasible. Not in that timeframe and cost. And if it isn’t, then FTTH is the answer. Not FURTHER spending and time on FTTN.

            FTTN could have worked in 2007 if Telstra hadn’t been so hostile. It didn’t, they were. End of story. The environment has moved on and an FTTN network now is a regression. Not for the sake of compromise, for the sake of political face saving. The Coalition don’t WANT to rollout FTTN. They HAVE to. They’d be crucified by business and voters if they didn’t now.

          • Didn’t Telstra want a mozza to develop the FTTN to areas that it thought would be financially advantageous and want a monopoly?

            Wasn’t it Telstra that provided a two page expression of interest to the Government for a FTTN network and IIRC was considered to be pretty contemptuous and subsequently was excluded?

    • Renai if you were to go back thru the WP discussions and have a look at the pre-expert panel report being completed and you’ll find a large number of us pushing the FTTP barrow for a multitude of reasons that are still valid today.

      My alias is the same on WP just in case you get really bored and do go looking.


    • Many people have been looking forward to eventually recieving FTTH for roughly 4-5 years now. Many have taken ownership of this and take pride with the fact that Australia was taking steps to compete in the technology sector on the world stage.

      With the looming landslide to the LNP, many feel that instead of delivering what had been promised to them, they are receiving the distinctly poorer cousin. The debate is not in terms of what they have relative to the now, but what they will have relative to what would have been.

      When looking at the reasoning for this change, there is little proof that there are any reasons other the the strictly political or idealogical. Is the NBN unlikely to make a return on its investment? Are the communications needs of future generations going to deminish? Are the cost of the plans likely to be above those available today?

      People don’t feel like they are receiving an alternative upgrade plan. They feel that the FTTH is being ripped out of their walls for no other than political interests.

  13. “If Labor’s NBN policy didn’t exist and Labor had no policy in this area, what would your opinion be of the Coalition’s NBN policy, as an independent policy standing on its own?”

    Labor did present the similar plan FTTN a few years ago, and I remember the panel of experts recommended against it. I think I am getting this is what you want to discuss right?

      • Dont put words in my mouth.

        Now that we understood what you wanted to discuss, my question is what is the point? You already have the answer to your question.

        With regard to the current FTTN plan, I cannot support it because I agreed with the panel of experts, FTTH is the way to go. Dont get me wrong I am all for alternatives but as it stands it does not meet my requirements both at the personal level and as an Australian’s.

        At the moment I am converting all my storage to Cloud based, the FTTN solution as far as I see at this stage will not give me the upload speeds that I will need. And taking into account all the unknowns, I can see the FTTN solution will not be cheaper, it could be more expensive even before the upgrade stages, as a Tax payer I am not comfortable with the solution, there are just too many variables with the LNP’s plan.

  14. “If Labor’s NBN policy didn’t exist and Labor had no policy in this area, what would your opinion be of the Coalition’s NBN policy, as an independent policy standing on its own?”

    Totally hypothetical, Renai, and solves nothing. Whether you like it or not – and you clearly don’t – the current NBN is on the table, and rightly or wrongly, a poor imitation that is (possibly?) being proposed by the Coalition is savaged. Sorry, it’s no good spitting the dummy because you can’t get any positive feedback about the alternative solution. Unless one is totally one-eyed and biased, it is seen as a dog – and the vast bulk of the thinking population know it, and – not surprisingly – are prepared to say it.

      • Yes I did – albeit, I accept, in a round-about way. The real problem is, as I said, the question is totally hypothetical. We might as well ask “if Mr Hitler senior hadn’t married Mrs Hitler, would we have fought WWII?’ He did – and we did. S**t happens……

        So asking us to ignore 6 years of progress, and somehow teleport ourselves back to 2005 or so is insignificant. The technology future is fibre and not copper. You know it. I know it. Turnbull knows it. And – dare I suggest – most of the thinking Australian public know it.

        Leave the hypothetical questions to Geoffrey Robinson!

  15. Before i go into my post I want to say that I like the Turnbulls FAQ. I like the economic analysis. The idea that you save more building cheaper now with interest at 8% makes sense if you were private company. All of the other points especially the Contention ratio is a refreshing breath of fresh air in a debate stifled by politicans and absence of facts.

    However the liberals miss a really big point with their plan and why I won’t for them. The NBN is a public concern design to build the best possible network for the betterment of Australia – its not about just a ROI for a second class network that will need upgrading one way or the other.

    Regarding the plan itself there are two major issues that basically scuttle it in my view.

    tldr: Telstra records are terrible. Do not believe or rely on them for financial reporting that the countries budget will depend on. Most people live outside of the range envelope of the VDSL nodes and the quality of cable runs are terrible.


    1. The claim that with nodes within 800 metres will sustain VDSL 25/25 plus speeds is wrong. This is based on the following

    – iiNet’s ADSL maps – publicly available, shows this to be false. My own experience with thousands of faults and disputes confirms this to be the case. Most customers, like myself, who live within 1km of their exchange barely get 12mbps.

    – A large number of people live well over 800m from the nearest cabinet/pit. I’ve thousands of line run reports. VDSL only works well within 500m on a clean piece of cable. Anything over 1km and ADSL beats it (which is a joke)

    – one big reason for the lower then expected spends is the fact that the last mile of the run uses the thinnest guage of copper.

    – The quality of ULL and incidences of fault, as noted by Turnbull and based on claims from Telstra is patently wrong. Telstra ULL faults is the worse Fault Desk in Australia. They purposely close faults within 24 hours with or without fixes. I wouldn’t trust Telstra fault reporting data if the budget of he nation depended on it.

    – There is so much rubbish on ULL’s – bridgetaps, batteries, broken runs and other issue that cause attenuation on the line are never fixed/resolved. I dealt with thousands of customers affected by this. The claim that only 1.25% of ULL’s suffer faults is just rubbish. The idea that Service Providers/NBN are going to have a army of cable sharks, running TDRs on these ULL is just hilarious. The Copper is crap people.

    Look at Telstra. If it was viable to upgrade its urban area’s with VDSL it would have done it in the first place. Telstra doesn’t care about its copper. For the past twenty years Telstra has been actively working to move away from copper.

    2. ULL address & Cable run information is atrocious – this is one of the biggest reason why NBN is struggling to hit its targets.

    I have seen countless faults and problems caused by bad Telstra records. The pits/labeling is a nightmare. The idea that we’re going to have 5-10 million ULL’s terminate into custom built cabinets and it all work on budget and time is a joke.

  16. “If Labor’s NBN policy didn’t exist and Labor had no policy in this area, what would your opinion be of the Coalition’s NBN policy, as an independent policy standing on its own?”

    Renai, What relevance has that totally hypothetical question to what we are discussing here. Labor had a FTTN policy a few years ago, and took the advise from a panel of experts that recommended against it.



    In early 2009, a seven member panel of experts – including University of Adelaide Professor Emeritus of Communications, Reg Coutts – knocked back all bids in a tender process for the original NBN plan of FTTN because none were viable. Coutts explained some of the reasoning.

    “Essentially to go down the FTTN road would mean something in the order of, greater than 50 per cent of the capital being put into digital cabinets in the suburbs,” he said. “They then become an obstacle to the final solution… fibre-to-the-premise. Fibre-to-the-node was not a stepping stone to fibre-to-the-premise. In fact, if anything it would put it backwards. The second reason, of course, is in no other market have people proceeded with fibre-to-the-node other than an incumbent. It is a solution that is the right solution for an incumbent that has a copper infrastructure.” – Reg Coutts

    So I ask again what relevance has that totally hypothetical question to what we are discussing here.

    • “what relevance has that totally hypothetical question to what we are discussing here”

      The relevance is that this is my site and I am asking it, to gauge the open-mindedness of the audience here. Whether you intended it or not, you just helped to answer my question.

  17. All right, that’s it. I’m closing this thread down. I’ve had enough of FTTP versus FTTN for now. I’ll explain my thinking on this, and perhaps how I can frame this debate a bit better, in an article tomorrow. For now, you can either post your pro-FTTP/anti-FTTN rants in the forums if you need to.

    Lots of you will probably think this is unfair and that I’m chucking a tanty. Well, that’s OK too. As Delimiter’s comments policy states: “Delimiter is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship run by one person (myself)”.


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