Pro-NBN fanbois have fallen into bad habits


Young Girl Smoking

opinion Like mindless junkies scrabbling for their latest fix, the virulent community of pro-NBN extremists in Australia’s technology sector will do or say almost anything to prove the Coalition’s NBN policy to be completely worthless, despite the fact that it shares most of its fundamental principles with Labor’s own superior broadband vision.

Let me say this right up-front in this article, so that nobody can possibly get it wrong. Despite ongoing quibbles I have about Labor’s National Broadband Network policy (such as its anti-competitive shutdown of the HFC cable networks operated by Telstra and Optus), I have been a long-term supporter of the policy, and I believe it to be the best telecommunications policy which Australia has ever seen. It will deliver real benefits to every Australian, and I strongly prefer it over the Coalition’s policy. As I wrote shortly after the Coalition released its policy:

“Fundamentally, it’s a worse policy than Labor’s. Its critics are right; it betrays a tragic loss of long-term vision for Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure. Fibre to the node is a dead-end technology which will, in several decades, be already fading into memory. By investing in fibre to the node, the Coalition isn’t skating to where the puck is going to be, nor even where it is now. It is looking backwards, not forwards, and by doing so it is throwing away the opportunity for Australia’s economy to transition from digging things up out of the ground to a more sustainable knowledge-based export economy — you know, the kind of economy which countries such as Germany and Japan already have.

On almost any measure, Labor’s policy is a better one than the Coalition’s. It has technical, economic, financial and industry structure advantages, to say nothing of the end benefit to Australian residents and businesses. It’s a winner and I prefer it vastly over the Coalition’s much more modest vision.”

Over the past several years, I have written countless articles defending the NBN from its critics. I have defended the NBN against the right-wing dribblings of uninformed ranters such as Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley. I have written dozens of articles informing some of the nation’s most senior politicians that their statements about the NBN have been factually wrong. I have spent a great deal of time pointing out that even many of the NBN’s rollout delays are very much normal for an infrastructure project of this size. And I have done this in a media climate which has so often seemed determined to tear down the NBN at every cost. At times, it has seemed like only a handful of journalists, such as myself and ABC Technology + Games Editor Nick Ross, have even been willing to give NBN Co the time of day, with almost every other commentator raising their hand to righteously strike the NBN down.

At times the situation has verged on the farcical. It has seemed like no matter what NBN Co or the Government did or said about the project, there has been no way for it to make any headway in the minds of some of its critics, despite the fact that polls have consistently demonstrated a wave of overwhelming support for the project amongst the populace, and despite the fact that technical experts and other governments have almost universally praised the project as being visionary in global terms.

This is why I find it so ironic that, having been through that process for the past several years, I now find myself suddenly somewhat on the other side of the argument.

If you followed the launch of the Coalition’s NBN policy in early April to the extent that you actually read the associated policy documents, you will be aware that there are a large amount of similarities between the Coalition’s policy and Labor’s own — enough so that there have been murmurs from Liberal Party backbenchers that the position of Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had come too close to Labor’s own; an issue which has dogged Turnbull in the past. The following table illustrates the situation perfectly:


In short, the Coalition has chosen a very similar mix of technologies to deploy its version of the NBN as Labor has. The most remote communities will still be served by NBN Co’s satellite access, regional communities will be served by fixed wireless infrastructure, and fibre will be deployed throughout Australia’s larger population areas. As with Labor’s policy, the mix has been chosen based on cost factors. It is simply not economical to reach many rural areas of Australia with fibre-based broadband; a fact universally acknowledged by both sides of politics.

Although there are minor differences here and there (such as the Coalition’s wish to maintain Telstra’s HFC cable network as an alternative to the NBN), there is only one real difference between the two policies, if you take them over the long term; that is, time frames of a decade or more. This is that the Coalition is proposing a different mix of fibre to be used for most of Australia. It is proposing that only 22 percent of Australian premises be covered by fibre all the way to the premises, with the remaining 71 percent to be covered by fibre to neighbourhood nodes, and Telstra’s copper cable to continue its duties for the remaining distance to premises. Labor’s NBN proposes a much higher percentage — 93 percent — of Australia to be covered by fibre all the way to the premises.

To many commentators and analysts with a long-term perspective on Australia’s telecommunications market, including myself, the release of the Coalition’s NBN policy in April represented a watershed moment. Finally — finally! — after a decade of bickering, both sides of politics had formally come to consensus on the major elements of national telecommunications policy. Labor already had a globally ambitious vision, and the Coalition had finally gotten on board with the major elements of that vision — using NBN Co as a vehicle, a mix of satellite, wireless and fibre to service Australia’s future needs, massive government investment to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in the space, and the continued focus on a competitive broadband market.

You can argue the specifics until the cows come home, but it remains true that there are substantial international precedents for both fibre models being proposed in Australia. Labor can take heart from the fact that Asian countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea have already deployed fibre to the premises nationally. And the Coalition has been able to successfully argue that fibre to the node infrastructure is common throughout Europe and the Americas.

However, unfortunately there remains a segment of the population which remains completely unwilling to accept that the Coalition’s proposal has any merit whatsoever.

You can see this trend starkly demonstrated in the discussion precipitated yesterday on Delimiter when veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde — a long-time supporter of Labor’s NBN policy — had the audacity to proclaim that Turnbull’s recent answers to key questions about the specifics of the Coalition’s NBN policy “make sense”.

Despite the high-level nature of Budde’s comments, the discussion immediately sank to the level which almost every NBN debate online gets into — the precise technical differences between the rival FTTN and FTTP technologies. Commenters became doggedly fixated on the specific detail of how possible it is to upgrade a FTTN network to a FTTP network down the track. Questioning the combatants in this fraught conversation only led to every more detailed discussions along these lines, and the dialogue eventually spun out of control into the realm of conspiracy theories about News Limited Rupert Murdoch having issued a wholesale edict to his newspapers to oppose the NBN.

Becoming somewhat frustrated with the one-sided nature of comments, I asked readers to respond to the following 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?”

Some readers initially noted that in the absence of a Labor NBN policy, they would support the Coalition’s policy, but again, almost immediately the same micro-complaints started to kick in. Some readers claimed the Coalition’s policy was a waste of time because it wouldn’t support the same upload speeds as Labor’s, which would in turn block a full societal shift to telecommuting. Others said the Coalition’s policy was invalid because a panel of experts had rejected a similar Labor policy in early 2009. Some said FTTN could have worked back then, but Telstra was too hostile to such a policy. Still others said there was no point considering the merits of the Coalition’s policy, because Labor’s policy did indeed exist. And others claimed that the Coalition’s policy was impractical because Telstra’s records with respect to its own network infrastructure, and the quality of its copper network was so “terrible” that a FTTN rollout would be impossible.

Another example of this trend was demonstrated this week in an extensive post by local IT pro Kieran Cummings (known online as Sortius), who runs his own popular blog as well as acting as a commentator on sites such as Independent Australia and Australians for Honest Politics. In an article entitled Engineering Your Way Out Of A Ditch, Cummings proceeded to tear apart Turnbull’s performance in an online NBN policy debate hosted on Monday by technology media outlet ZDNet between the Liberal MP and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

The issue I have with Cummings’ article is that it is completely one-sided. I listened to the debate (you can read a transcript here), as I have hundreds of other speeches and debates involving the two NBN spokesmen over the past several years. And I found it quite evenly balanced. Both Conroy and Turnbull were able to score points in it, reflecting the relative advantages of their parties’ differing policies. Conroy was obviously at home on the technical advantages of the Labor NBN, but Turnbull is also correct in that Labor hasn’t been as good as its promises on delivering the NBN infrastructure, leaving a space for the Coalition’s argument that its FTTN solution could be rolled out more quickly. And by the way, this isn’t a controversial claim: Even NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley has acknowledged that FTTN infrastructure is significantly faster to deploy.

In short, there was nothing new from either side. We’ve heard all of this before; and in great detail indeed.

But if you read Cumming’s article, you don’t get a sense of the complexity and well-established nature of the debate. What you get is a series of nitpicks with respect to Turnbull’s specific claims about the technical capabilities of FTTN with respect to Telstra’s existing copper network, coupled with praise for Conroy’s “great restraint”, to the extent that the Communications Minister didn’t go completely over the top in damning Turnbull, who Cummings labelled as “a total arse” building a NBN policy on “lies”. The irony that it was only last week that Cummings was ranting about the shortcomings of Australia’s technology journalists in covering issues such as the NBN appears to have been lost on the commentator. You don’t achieve quality journalism by unashamedly backing one side.

The common theme between these two examples I’ve listed here (as well as virtually every other article at the moment discussing the NBN and the #fraudband discussion on social media) is very clear: Almost every discussion of the NBN in technical circles in Australia at the moment rapidly descends into an extremely detailed nitpick of the Coalition’s policy, leading to the conclusion that it isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and should be flatly rejected as a viable option for Australia’s telecommunications future.

It’s what I have started to call the “FTTP or nothing” premise. The fundamental point being pushed here is that not only is the Coalition’s policy inferior to Labor’s NBN, but that it’s so bad that it’s not worth proceeding with. Only Labor’s NBN vision, according to many commentators, will be able to deliver Australia any benefit, when it comes to the upgrade of Australia’s national broadband infrastructure, and only Labor’s vision will be able to provide for Australia’s digital future.

The truth, of course, is that the Coalition’s rival NBN policy is indeed inferior to Labor’s — as I mentioned early, on almost every count. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good policy. So many NBN commentators right now appear to believe to be casting the NBN debate as a black versus white dichotomy — Labor’s NBN is the Son of Heaven in Glory, while the Coalition’s NBN is the Great Satan Destroyer. Of course, the situation is much more complex than this. The truth is that both policies sit on a sliding scale of worthiness far above “bad”, and that both will deliver very worthwhile outcomes to Australia. Labor’s NBN policy is the best policy, but the Coalition’s policy is still pretty damn good: A fact which even the most rabid pro-NBN commentators will find it hard to deny when their premises are connected to broadband speeds of at least 25Mbps, and very likely 50Mbps, in half a decade’s time.

The irony in the current debate is a fact acknowledged by the venerable Budde last week, when he wrote:

“In all reality, if the Coalition were to have launched its $30 billion plan back in 2007 everybody would have been most enthusiastic, and the plan as it stands now would have received the same positive welcome that the government’s NBN plan received in 2009. There would also have been a good chance that if this plan had been presented at that time they actually could have won that election. So the will of the people – who at least partly voted for Labor because of their NBN plan – was clearly ahead of the political will of the Coalition.

Of course, just like there is today, there would have been strong political opposition from the other side, but, as is the case with the current NBN plan, the majority of people (some 70%) supports this type of investment, so at that time – looked at it in isolation – that plan would have received a similar level of support.”

The irony which brings me to my knees and burns my eyes when I consider the current NBN debate and the extent to which many pro-NBN commentators have closed their eyes to the Coalition’s policy, is that those doing so have appropriated wholesale the historical tactics of the anti-NBN camp, in trying to prove the Coalition’s policy worthless.

Long-term Delimiter readers will recall that back in February 2011, I wrote an article entitled Anti-NBN junkies need to go to rehab, in which I damned the ridiculous antics of the anti-NBN lobby in going to extreme lengths to show that Labor’s NBN project was a waste of time. As I wrote at the time:

” … like the junkies who can’t quite quit their self-harming addiction, the haters of the NBN project just refuse to give up the object of their fevered opposition, fumbling around in the dark continuously for their next fix; the perfect argument that might just prove once and for all that the project is a dud. After every fruitless shot fired, they reel back in ecstasy for 5 minutes, before lapsing into self-loathing.”

If this doesn’t describe the current critics of the Coalition’s NBN policy, I don’t know what does. So many commentators in this camp will never admit that there is anything remotely good about what the Coalition is proposing, no matter what evidence is presented to them, and no matter that much of the Coalition’s policy was copied straight from Labor’s own. They will use every argument, every skerrick of evidence, to prove the Coalition’s policy worthless; and if one of their arguments is proven wrong, they will fall back on other arguments, ad infinitum. They will never, ever, give up.

As for myself, I’ll continue, as always, to keep an open mind with regard to either side. The Government hasn’t yet successfully delivered any kind of broadband upgrade to my residence, and neither has the Coalition. I’ve been fumbling along for the past decade on my own (with the help of iiNet and the ACCC and the obstruction of Telstra). If and when someone upgrades the pipe leading to my door, I’ll consider that a win. Extrapolate that open-minded, rather practical principle to the entirety of the Australian population, and you can see where my views come from. It’s faster broadband for everyone that actually matters — not ideological nitpicking about who’s technically right and wrong.

Like most people, I prefer NBN’s policy to the Coalition’s. But unlike many pro-NBN commentators at the moment, I am not prepared to close my mind to views from one side of the argument, in a misguided attempt to prove one side conclusively right. We lessen the quality of the debate if we do not set rationality and intelligent thinking as the prime bedrock of all our discussions in this, and indeed every area, in life.


  1. As I said in another thread, there isn’t anything per se wrong with the FTTN plan. Both plans are a step up from what we have now.

    FTTN is short-sighted. FTTP is long-sighted.

    Both are better than doing nothing, but it would be a terrible waste of time and effort to build the NBN twice, which is the crux of the problem, and deep-down what Turnbull’s plan commits us to doing.

    • MW your comments sum up my views quite nicely.

      Btw I had a nice chat with Renai via email yesterday and provided him with evidence he asked for yesterday of my pro-FTTP stance from as far back as Jan 2009 (just prior to the release of the expert report binning the FTTN concept) in a series of very long WP discussions – I would have provided evidence of the many pro FTTP discussions prior, but WP seems to have archived most stuff from 2008 and earlier to offline storage.

      I think we might get an interesting article on the history of the “NBN” debate as a result. :-)

      • I have always stated (perhaps not as often online?) that I believe FTTN to be a waste of time and money. Keep the FTTP parts of the Coalitions policy; keep the satellite and wireless parts for that last 7-8%;

        I can’t live with the fantasy that long-term infrastructure competition is a good thing. Perhaps the HFC footprint should inform decisions based on rollout priority (that makes sense!), but in no way should it be encouraged to live on after the FTTP network overbuilds it. (Nor should the HFC’s existence preclude the building of an FTTP network).

        And; while I don’t think FTTN is going backwards (I have never said that) I personally (and this is the way I have always said it when asked) FTTN is not worth the cost.

        That isn’t to say I disagree with the deployment of VDSL technologies… but obviously that only targets a relatively small proportion of the population near to an existing ADSL exchange.

        I don’t flipflop on these positions. And if 22% of the population is getting FTTP under the coalition it is better than nothing, but spending billions on the FTTN network for the other 8 million homes is just creating 2 tiers of people in the country. Those that can afford a house in the FTTP footprint; and those that can’t.

        Live (generally central?) with-in a major city? Yay for you! The government has subsidised your lifestyle with fibre! Live anywhere where density isn’t quite high enough? “Up-to” 100 megabits for you (but we only guarantee 25).

        I know my position is “fibre or nothing”, but we all pay the same tax rates, and except where it is beyond reasonable (14 billion dollars over 10 years is reasonable IMO) why don’t we subsidise? I just don’t see the value in the short-term savings.

        That is my position. That has always been my position.

        I would just like to add; I am probably getting FTTP. I can afford to move to an FTTP suburb regardless of what government is in power come the next election. I am not clamouring for this for myself; I have been promised it by both sides already. I am asking for this for everyone else because that is why I pay taxes, the benefit of everyone – not just myself.

        • Yes we all pay the same tax rates, but we of the metropolitan areas pay far higher property prices than those in rural areas. For this we get better amenities due to the higher population concentration, since it costs less per person to provision services per head. Therefore, in the same economic rational, we should expect a faster broadband service than those who sacrifice amenities but enjoy lower prices and more peace and quiet in the rural areas.

          • A well reasoned argument that doesn’t actually disagree with the rational implementation presented via NBNCo.

            NBNCo is given regional people sacrificed amenities via LTE fixed wireless and sat.

            The Coalition proposal, unfortunately, is essentially random, when compared to economic factors, within the top 93%. And herein lies the problem with the economic argument.

            Sticking purely to the economic argument you could argue FTTH in top 70%, FTTN in next 23%, etc, or whatever, you feel appropriate, but there are technical reasons that outweigh that, up until around 93% that is.

        • Before we get into a slanging match – Labors NBN looks the better on paper IMP.

        • PS, if I’d abused someone Renai would have given me a ban for it, the only recent ban I’ve had was for posting assertions without an adequate rationale to back them up in Renai’s “great fan-boi purge of 2013”!

          • I think he means this

          • Wow, I didn’t know abuse now included taking apart someone’s argument and showing their reasoning to be flawed!
            My previous comments stands, if it was abuse Renai would not have allowed the comments to stand, in fact my comments at that time were being pre-moderated before appearing!

          • By going off topic and jumping to conclusions? And recommending 2mb ISDN! When he was commenting on fanbois who even though they disliked Labors running of the country they will solely vote for the NBN.
            When he offered a simple analogy – instead of a decent rebuttal all you could do was tell him he was incompetent techie! Well done bravo.

          • Keep digging, you are just proving you either didn’t read what I write or are simply incapable of comprehending it.

          • Ok then – repeat it here
            Do you agree in the statement below?
            “I really don’t think that the Labor government under Gillard has been very good but despite that I will vote for them solely because of the NBN”
            Simple answer yes or no please sir?

          • The answer to that is easy.


            (I disagree with the entire sentence)
            I am not voting for the incumbent in spite of the incumbents performance.
            I am not voting for the incumbent entirely due to one issue.

            You actually had 2 statements in your one sentence; so a single “yes or no” was insufficient to answer your question accurately.

            Notice how you still don’t know how I am voting having answered your question? – also isn’t it illegal to ask someone how they are going to/have vote/d?

          • ..yes – and he was happy with your opinion (even agreed with you on the minority government stance) He even commended you on your belief in Labor and stated that his comments weren’t about people who believed in the party they they are voting for.

            But that wasn’t the “crux” of the “sub thread” as he stated.

            Obviously you are not going to answer – that’s fine and we can leave it there.

            Have a great day – and I hope the party that you believe in wins the next election.

      • What speed do you get now? Divide it by 24 if you are on ADSL2. Now multiply by 50 and welcome to the Coalition solution*

        * Accuracy as defined by LNP statements on NBN in past 12 months

      • What speed do you get now? Divide it by 24 if you are on ADSL2+. Now multiply by 50 and welcome to the Coalition solution*

        * Accuracy as defined by LNP statements on NBN in past 12 months

    • +1 Says it all really. And if accepting that the Coalition’s plan is a step up from what we had 6 yrs ago, (which it is) while still arguing hammer and tong for the current FTTP NBN makes me a ‘Pro-NBN Fanbois’ then so be it. I’ll wear that label.


      But (he says adding a bit more) …. to make the statement that “…. you will be aware that there are a large amount of similarities between the Coalition’s policy and Labor’s own ….” and then accuse advocates of one policy of “nitpicking’ is farcical. If there are many similarities then ‘nitpicking’ is required to distinguish subtle pro’s and con’s of those same policies.

      As for describing arguments as ‘all or nothing’ then that’s a fallacy as well simply because if FTTP isn’t rolled out we will get FTTN.
      You do realize that what you are actually asking advocates to do is weaken their argument. For them to say “Yes, yes, yes, the Coalition policy has merit, so if we don’t get FTTP then it wont be so bad I suppose.” Sorry but not this little black duck. I will continue to argue with the utmost energy and vigor for the current policy because I strongly believe it is the best one. Simple as that.

      • I think he means this

        • Wow, I didn’t know abuse now included taking apart someone’s argument and showing their reasoning to be flawed!

          My previous comments stands, if it was abuse Renai would not have allowed the comments to stand, in fact my comments at that time were being pre-moderated before appearing!

    • “it would be a terrible waste of time and effort to build the NBN twice, which is the crux of the problem, and deep-down what Turnbull’s plan commits us to doing.”


      Not technically correct. Turnbull’s plan kinda lays fibre half-way to premises. If it was eventually upgraded to FTTP, the fibre is then laid from the nodes to the premises. The fibre does not need to be re-laid, which is what your comment implies, it just needs to be extended, with some additional network equipment modified and replaced etc. It’s worth noting that repalcing the network equipment (nodes and so on) isn’t the major part of the exercise — it’s laying the fibre.

      • Except estimates suggest that 50% of the cost is in the network equipment, so you either end up with substantial costs of replacing nodes with passive signalling gear, or you leave the nodes there, running, to convert optical signals to electrical and back to optical with not insignificant drain on power grids…

        And then there’s the cost of running last-mile fibre and replacing routers.

        • BTW this isn’t a comment reflecting on the article as a whole, merely the comment above in isolation.

      • It’s still going to cost a bung load for people to come back and lay fibre at a later date.

        Going by Quigley’s figures at the recent joint committee, they are currently running around $1200 per premise.

        12,000,000 premises @ $1,200 – (or there abouts) – is $14b…

        Not insigificant… :)

      • Um, Renai: ever heard of globalisation? FTTN is bad feng shui, …just like the Fremantle Dockers eventually had to admit their signature boat anchor was! We are supposed to be the clever country and you have consistently banished me from making such spiritually engrossing statements- but I will have you know even Mike Tyson was taught by the best(and I mean the best as he trained those who fought Ali!!) that it is all about the Spiritual Warrior. TRANSLATION- THE HAPPY FIGHTER.
        If Australians are not happy with FTTN in a globalised world then they are not happy with FTTN in a globalised world. No baby boomer ever had to deal with an economically empowered China and there is no technical counter-agument you can possibly make to paper over that fact. The arrow of time means concerned Australians have the right to be concerned so please stop with the fascism!!
        Thanking you in advance for letting one fair dinkum aussie(not saying your aren’t!), “Captain Australia”, speak vicariously!!
        PS- need anyone go into why business types read and/or assimilate the lessons contained in that most famous of books, “The Art of War”,???? Suffice to say, not that it hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam-perhaps even by yourself, that the NBN debate is more than technical. All human relations is politics. Just because you’re a boffin doesn’t mean you actually know how the world works.

      • Renai,

        The only real question is this. If we start with a FTTN network, and then upgrade it to FTTH, how much extra money will have been spent over and above simply building a FTTH in the first case?

        There may well be physical assets such as fibre cables that are part of a FTTN that defray the cost of the subsequent FTTH build. But even then there is a limit. An optimal FTTN network and an optimal FTTH network are physically two different things. Their layout only overlaps to some extent.

        And there are also costs associated with FTTN that will always represent additional expenditure and ultimately wasted money. Notable the purchase/lease of the copper itself. And the billions of dollars in maintenance and remediation of the copper. Not to mention the billions of dollars spent on Nodes.

        So, Renai, for your next article, how about an estimate of the additional cost to the nation of of building the network twice.

        How much? A few billions of dollars? Twenty billion dollars? It all depends of course on how long a FTTN network is allowed to run and how the operational expenditure, maintenance, remediation stacks up.

        One thing is clear, Renai. FTTN is actually more expensive than FTTH.

        So who would support a scheme that actually costs more, in return for delivering a third class network and delaying the inevitable implementation of fibre? Daft, isn’t it?

        Another bad habit, Renai, is clinging to a political ideolgoy to the point of not noticing when your favorite team is proposing to do something utterly stupid and wasteful, and still wanting to believe in them.

      • I have to agrrr with Renai that FTTN is better than nothing. However if a policy is willing to do it right the first time rather than half a job to roll it out to the masses faster and ‘cheaper’, then I back that policy 110 percent. But yes regardless of what government is in power next I think we should all agree that we are getting a net gain (no pun intended).

      • “Turnbull’s plan kinda lays fibre half-way to premises.”

        But it does it in a way that that is sub-optimal for FTTP.

        “If it was eventually upgraded to FTTP, the fibre is then laid from the nodes to the premises.”

        Assuming this was done, it still means that you have wasted all the money spent on the nodes and copper, which is by far the largest cost in FTTN.

        The nodes serve no purpose at all in a FTTP roll-out. While you can plug in a couple of fibre cards you would not be able to do this effectively for all the customers on a node. Contention would be too high.
        All the electronics would need to be replaced to provide more back-haul as demand increased.
        Nothing needs to be changed between the end points for FTTP speeds up into the Tbps.
        To do it properly, you need to replace the electronics with a fibre splitter. But now the splitters are all in the wrong places. The nodes themselves would probably just be scrapped.

        “The fibre does not need to be re-laid, which is what your comment implies”
        Due to the different topographies of the networks, in a lot of areas it would be cheaper and easier simply to lay new cable.

        “with some additional network equipment modified and replaced etc”
        There is NO network equipment between the end points in FTTP. It is all passive.

        “It’s worth noting that repalcing the network equipment (nodes and so on) isn’t the major part of the exercise — it’s laying the fibre.”

        Which is why it makes no sense at all to lay the fibre in a FTTN topography rather than in one go, with economies of scale, in the FTTP topography that ensures the most efficient spend.

  2. The Coalition fail to point out however that the 22% FTTP number is not because of any work they are doing, but due to NBNCo’s roll out.

    Without NBNCo the FTTP number would be less than 5% if not closer to 1%.

    • “not because of any work they are doing”

      Um … not quite right. Turnbull has said the Coalition will roll out fibre where it makes sense, new estates, areas of degraded copper etc.

      • Actually areas of degraded copper will still get new copper from what was said recently unless this has changed again? will look for a link but if you ask sortius he had one and could find it faster than I


          Renai is 100% incorrect.

          “If that’s the case, your area would be a candidate for either having that copper remediated at the time of the build, and we’ve taken account of that in our policy, or if you’ve got areas that have got endemic problems in terms of maintenance and water penetration then you may replace them with fibre and do so now.”

          So you may, if the Liberal party chooses to (read: reside in a marginal seat), have fibre installed, but there is a greater chance of the shit copper being replaced with copper. So nothing is fixed, just patched up for another year or two.

          • “Renai is 100% incorrect.”

            It’s comments like this that the whole article is addressing. The very transcript you quoted below says “if you’ve got areas that have got endemic problems in terms of maintenance and water penetration then you may replace them with fibre and do so now”

            While you then state an opinion that this is unlikely to happen unless you’re in a marginal seat and you’re more likely to get copper repaired, it is a personal opinion and does not make the statement “Renai is 100% incorrect.” true. We don’t need more hyperbole in these discussions.

          • “If that’s the case, your area would be a candidate for either having that copper remediated at the time of the build, and we’ve taken account of that in our policy, or if you’ve got areas that have got endemic problems in terms of maintenance and water penetration then you may replace them with fibre and do so now.”

            How do you do this on a piecemeal basis?
            You cannot connect say 50 premises to a copper cable for back-haul.
            If you are going to run fibre 15km out from the exchange to connect 50 houses with bad copper, then you are going to end up spending many times more than if you simply did everyone in a proper roll-out.
            The reality is that the only cost effective way is to simply replace the offending copper with more copper.

      • “roll out fibre where it makes sense […] areas of degraded copper etc.” That sounds like exactly what Labor is doing ;)

      • Renai,

        Actually Turnbull has changed that to adding more and smaller nodes, closer to the homes where it is needed, not replacing with fibre. As the suggested Alcatal node supports up to 4 of these mini nodes (in place of internal expansion), it may even make it viable in low density areas.

        In new estates, NBN Co is not putting in fibre, other companies such as Opticom and Telstra are. They are subsidised to install it, retain ownership and are required to provide only 12/1 (broadband only) and one other speed (broadband+telephony bundle) to NBN Co.

        It will be interesting to see if Telstra concider this subsidised monopoly (on all other speeds) and the copper maintainence payments reasonable in exchange for their CAN.

        • That small node idea sounds daft once you realise that it is basically FttC anyway the cost of running the fibre and power and setting up the mini node would be basically the same as running FttH.

      • Renai, the biggest problem I have with the Coalition is their lack of credibility.

        The devil’s in the detail here and with Turnbull making vague promises about minimum speeds, remediation of copper and fibre where it “makes sense to do so” concerns me greatly.

        Who determines:

        1. If the copper requires remediation. Telstra? NBNCo/Atomic Banana Co?/ISPs?
        2. If the copper is of poor quality, is it replaced with new copper (idiotic really) or fibre?
        3. How long would any remediation take?
        4. Like BT, will people need a PSTN line?

        So many unanswered questions.

        The idea of just trusting Turnbull to do this is a joke.

        Yeah, the Labor NBN is taking a long time, but this is the future of communication infrastructure.

        I have zero trust in Turnbull and the Coalition.

        I have some trust in the NBN as it stands now.

        • Turnbull’s going to great lengths right now to provide answers to all of the questions being asked of the Coalition — and he’s certainly providing a lot more detail about his policy than Labor ever did in Opposition.

          In terms of credibility, you’re not wrong, but Labor also suffers from the same problem, with many experts currently doubting NBN Co’s rollout schedule as well.

          Both sides lack credibility in some respects at the moment, IMHO.

          • “Turnbull’s going to great lengths right now to provide answers to all of the questions being asked of the Coalition”

            I first want to declare that I don’t think it’s fibre or nothing. I can’t however agree with that statement. My perception is that he is going to great length not to provide answers to vital questions. As most politicians/lawyers do, many of his answers are vague. For example, he does say how many nodes there will be. Instead, he tells us that other plans have estimated the figure to be around 50.000. We still don’t know how far the nodes will. Knowing what BT does, doesn’t tell us what he will do.

            But for me, the biggest question is the state and suitability of the copper. After all, much of the assumptions and costings rest on a copper network in a reasonable condition. I don’t think Turnbull. Thodey or anyone else knows the extent to which the network is suitable for adequate FTTN or Vectoring. What if a massive part of it is unsuitable or the cost of remedial is simply too great what will Turnbull do?

            This raises another point, will Turnbull buy the network sight unseen?

          • “I don’t think Turnbull. Thodey or anyone else knows the extent to which the network is suitable for adequate FTTN or Vectoring”

            I would think Telstra has a good idea. And Turnbull has spoken extensively to Telstra about this.


          • “I would think Telstra has a good idea.”

            You would hope so but having worked at Telstra, albeit many years ago, I wouldn’t be so sure.

          • Malcolm has also said he’ll either add more nodes if he needs to, and/or fix/replace the copper where required. Personally, i don’t have a problem with “if” the copepr will be good enough….with Malcolms promise that it will be good enough, it’s more a question then of “How much?”.

          • Hi Renai, here’s one question MT hasn’t answered at all regarding OPEX, how much will it cost to run an FTTN Network …. so I had a go at running the Numbers using publicly available info and some assumptions of my own:

            Industry figures indicate around 15w per user at the Node for VDSL2 (may be more w/vectoring) – 15w isnt much by itself but add it all up and it get’s BIG fast! If we assume as MT has done that Nodes may cater for aprox 200 users each, that gives us 3kW of power draw per Node or about the same as a small family home running their ducted AC system!

            It’s all the overheads that put FTTN power use so high, there’s large AC to DC rectifiers (Telco comms gear is all DC), battery charger for the large truck-like UPS Batteries, active Fibre switches to supply the VDSL cards with data and power for the VDSL cards/modules themselves which also power each line, remote management modules (add in processor modules to crunch the vectoring calculations for Libs term 2 50mbps promise) and cooling fans for all the electronics on top of all that.

            So say we have 50,000 nodes (MT’s number) at an average of 3kW each, that’s 72kWh’s consumption per Node, per day @ 16c p/kWh (typical corp rate) = $11.52 per day. Which gives us $4,204.80 per Node per year, times that by 50,000 = $210,240,000 (210 MILLION DOLLARS) per year just in additional electricity costs!!!!!

            To bring home how wasteful this is, that is 26.280MWh’s of power per Node, per year – to put that in perspective my house only used 10.497MWh’s of power in 2012 and I have IT gear and AV gear running 24×7 with a baseload of 550watts when not home.

            To take this one step further, this is 150MW’s of power load just from the Nodes and more than the entire output for the Swanbank Power Station in Queensland!!! (125MW)

            Even if you halve this number it’s still $105Million per year in extra OPEX costs that need to be passed on to the customer clearly invalidating MT’s claim that the LBN plans will be “more affordable” imo!

          • If the overall build is forecast to be profitable (commercial IRR) why does the OPEX matter?

          • It’s very Simple, going FTTN already means a 900 Million dollar per year Copper maintenance Bill, now add to that a 210 Million dollar Electricity Bill for the Nodes and you have 1.1 Billion dollars in additional YEARLY OPEX that you dont have if you build an FTTP network.

            Considering the difference in funding levels from the Gov is a mere 2 Billion dollars in Total (29 Billion from LNP vs 31 Billion from ALP), this means we the Broadband users will have to foot the bill – thus rendering Malcolm’s promise of “more affordable” Internet to be an outright fabrication!

            Just look at it over 10 years – that’s an extra 11 Billion Dollars needing being sucked out of Broadband customers to pay for the higher OPEX costs! If we assume 6 Million Fixed BB connections, that’s an extra $15 per month or $183 per year (assuming no profit margin is added on top) we all have to find, or $1,833 over 10 years – all for an inferior Network offering us lower speeds and less choice!

          • As I keep trying to point out, it’s worse than that – when comparing uptake of FTTN vs FTTH subscriptions the LNP don’t account for lower demand and thus revenue. Lower demand is a consequence of FTTN being an inferior product for a higher price – the most basic economic theory dictates this. There will also be competition for customers which won’t be present under FTTH.

            So LNP FTTN NBN will have unavoidably higher OPEX and lower revenue. Not only will it not produce a ROI, it will be a significant drain on the public purse indefinitely.

          • @Michael

            Can you please pont me to the business case that shows the Coalition’s build will be profitable and if so, by what % return?

    • I’m not sure NBNCo will have 22% of Australia done by the time the LNP takes it over, so I’m pretty sure Malcolm has made some provision to do a fair bit of FTTP himself…well….not “himself, but you know what I mean ;)

  3. I am no tech head, (funny I have heard that before).
    But the way that I see the difference between Labor’s and Conservatives broadband plans is.
    I thought I was marrying Ellie Mae Clampett but ended up with Granny.

    • On a “plan V plan” basis, I see FTTN as a job half done (“full fibre to local wireless hubs…i.e. home, business” is the future), but on it’s own, Malcoms plan is actually a pretty good attempt at addressing a bunch of issues, especially issues conservatives have with a NBN.

      • It is a job half done. And it will cost so much more in the end, because FTTN is a short term solution. If you want cost efficiency, do it right so the solution doesn’t need to need to be reworked at a later stage. Surely that’s not a hard concept to grasp.

        But then people who look at it from that angle are called fanbois and junkies. Go figure.

        • I think the problem Renai has run into here is that a lot of folks here look at each NBN (we really should come up with a different name for Malcolms one LBN maybe?) as a technical argument when they are actually based on, or a reflection of, different ideologies/values.

          This blog shows what I mean:

          On a technical basis, the plans are black and white, but on a value/ideology basis, there are a lot of shades of grey with both plans.

          • On WP we came up with NoBN which I quite like: (National obsolete Broadband Network)


            NoPON – National obsolete Patchwork Of Networks


          • I’d prefer to stick with something a bit more positive/neutral like LBN (Liberal Broadband Network).

            Otherwise your starting of with an eroded credibility base looking like your a rabid fanboi, when there is truly no need. FTTN/FTTP can (and will) stand or fall on their own merits without “clever” brand names clouding rational debate (no matter how funny they seem :)).

            This isn’t an attack on you mate, I too know what it’s like to get caught up in the moment/movement, it’s more a “call for reason” :o)

          • Here is a problem most of the people here are Technical people we are 1 and 0 it either works or it does not. Most of the people here couldn’t give a crap about the politics we want the best policy for now and for 20 years time to succeed.

            Basically I see it as an equation to be solved and every time I run the numbers FttH wins the only place it does not is on capex spend.

            $44 billion v $30 billion
            More RoI v Less RoI (Due to competition)
            1Gbps v 25-100mbps (Depending on line)
            Supports in place upgrade v Requires Fibre to be ran from node
            Optimal layout for GPON v Non optimal meaning extra fibre and more work
            FttH for everyone v FttHoD (High cost for piecemeal fibre rollout inefficient)

            Feel free to add points where the Coalition plan is better Renai

            from everything I have read it seems the Coalition plan is inferior in every way except upfront costs yet even that is partly cancelled out due to increased Opex in the Coalitions policy papers and the decrease in revenue from allowing competition/overbuilding.

          • and the OPEX admitted to by the LNP isn’t nearly as high as reality dictates it will be, due to incorrect fundamental assumptions. Revenue will also be lower because their products are inferior and cost more, again something they fail to acknowledge or account for.

            (again, this comment isn’t an all-inclusive response to the topic, merely a response to the previous comment in isolation)

          • The only other real gain for the FTTN coaltition plan is rollout pace.

            FTTP rollout is currently scheduled to finish in June 2021, 8 years away, and this is the prime remaining problem with the NBN plan currently.
            Getting some improvement in a couple of years via FTTN might be prefered for those tail end charlies rather than waiting 5 more years for anything.
            My personal question is what price is the imediate benefit worth, and would it be worth the cost in the long term?

          • Isn’t it a saving of only 2 years?

            And it isn’t like these people don’t (generally) have access to ADSL2 now.

            Sure; it isn’t 25 megabits, but 2 years longer for a network that doesn’t have to be touched (in a big; digging every street up kind of way) for another 50-100 years is a pretty big saving…

          • Renai has time and again said he prefers the NBN, so it’s more likely he agrees with you, BUT, that doesn’t mean the LBN plan doesn’t have some good bits (personally, I like what they do with HFC, but I think it wont be as easy as Malcolm thinks to pull off).

            “Optimal layout for GPON v Non optimal meaning extra fibre and more work”

            This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. A GPON fibre can run 20Klms, but the FTTN ones will be under 1 Klm. Seems to me that the actual “fibre” to the FTTN part of it will be overbuilt for a later FTTP network? Not necessarily a bad thing I guess, but overkill if they switch to a GPON.

  4. I also think the Coalition plan is not too shabby but I do think by the time the current plan is changed and Senate inquiries and the usual you know whats go on, then the whole thing will be delayed further than the current NBN plan. i.e. I do not see everyone getting min 25 Mb/sec by 2016.
    As someone who is in a current under-served area where there is no HFC available I do like the re-priotisation but currently I am in a rollout area that says construction starts within 2 years so maybe the re-priotisation will make no difference to me anyway, but I do not believe the current NBN will start construction here within 2 years as the delays seem to be piling up.
    I am also concerned we will have a “have” and “have not” scenario in different suburbs affecting real estate and where to put your business type issues.
    I do know that my Gen Y kids have registered to vote in this election just because they can vote on the NBN issue, unfortunately they do not seem to realise they are voting in a virtually unassailable Liberal held seat.

    • unfortunately they do not seem to realise they are voting in a virtually unassailable Liberal held seat

      So they should compromise their ideals in the face of insurmountable adversary? Interesting role model you’re setting for your kids.

      • No , I have not said anything to them indicating their vote could be a waste of time re the NBN, they should vote how they want to,
        I have given then some advice about tactical voting and also for the Senate where their vote may well have more influence.
        But I have not tried to influence their views in anyway except to correct “facts” on occasion.

    • I too live in a safe Liberal seat for the House of Reps, but that has no bearing at all on the senate where they are elected on a state-wide basis.

      But just because it’s a safe Liberal seat doesn’t make me feel like my vote is wasted if I don’t vote Liberal, even in the safe seats the parties watch, and notice, what numbers they get.

  5. I find it amusing that my previous article was completely lost on you Renai, especially since you were one of the few IT bloggers that I respected. This unashamed attack on me shows that you’re attempting to create false balance where there is none.

    The debate was a farce, and the reason why was 100% Turnbull’s fault. He lied, treated Conroy with contempt, & didn’t answer any of the questions. If you could get off your high horse for 15 minutes & read my article without your false balance blinkers on, you’d realise it was about the lies Turnbull told during the debate, not the complexities (that I have written repeatedly about) of building an NBN.

    “You don’t achieve quality journalism by unashamedly backing one side.” Yeh, you don’t by creating false balance either. I have no shame in calling Turnbull on his bullshit. At one time you were more than happy to call his bullshit, what’s happened? Have you lost your desire for truth in the NBN debate?

    • I’m not trying to create false balance. I couldn’t give a shit about balance. What I want is truth, context and insight into our national telecommunications policy.

      • You want the truth but don’t appreciate the liar being called to account? Confusing.

        I too have noticed the change in tone of your NBN related articles Renai, were you asked to tone down the Labor NBN positives? Or are you more interested in ‘theoretical academic journalistic balance’ rather than scrutinizing what is actually being said by the players?

        As for the NBN under the coalition, it will be a flop.
        50 shades of Cyprus awaits us in austerity measures should the coalition win.

        • To tell you the truth, Turnbull offered me a $100,000 cash incentive to write positive articles about the Coalition’s policy. Because I’m a shill for hire to whoever pays me the most, I said I would take it. My plan from now on is to constantly spruik the Coalition’s NBN policy in order to secure my cash flow and plans to move to Las Vegas to start a casino named “FTTN Fantasy-land”. After that I plan to become a venture capitalist and only invest in copper-based solutions, using the profits to snort expensive cocaine.

          That’s just how I roll.

      • Creating false balance does none of this. Call a spade & spade, rather than going after people who actually want to fact check Turnbull’s bullshit.

        The fact you haven’t been able to point out a single thing in my article that is factually incorrect, nor are you able to show where I went against my article on IT journalism, is quite telling. Maybe if you analysed the debate, rather than attempting to smear people who have, you’d see that there was nothing redeeming about Turnbull’s performance, nor the lies he repeated during the debate.

      • Ooh an embedded gif. And Ace Ventura no less. Do us mere mortals have the ability to add embedded images via HTML, or is that privilege reserved for thy Delimiter master only?

        • Just answered my own question as my IMG html code was deleted. Probably a good thing or comments would descend into animated chaos rather quickly :)

        • I just use standard img embedding code — not sure if you guys can do it. Maybe email me the code you’re having trouble with and I’ll check it out?

          • It doesn’t work for us mere mortals. I’ve tried before.
            I’d say it is limited to the owner/moderators of the blog.

    • @Kieran: Hmmm, just finished reading your article Kieran and I have to say I agree with your analysis (I too watched the debate) although using a more neutral tone might have reduced the scope for criticism.

      @Renai: I know you dont like the term “fraudband” but I suspect you may be missing the point of it, it isnt imo a criticism of FTTN’s capabilities but rather a criticism of the web of lies and misinformation on which the LNP argument for FTTN is built. eg FTTP will cost 94Billion and take 20 years to complete etc etc.

      • Fraudband is what the Howard government dubbed the then opposition’s FttN policy, in 2007.

  6. Good article Renai.

    I tried posting a response to your question Renai, but for some reason the forum lost it, I’ll repost it here as I think it still applies.

    “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?”

    On it’s own, I think it’s a pretty good policy. If it had been brought in before Telstra was sold and the government was the incumbent, I’d have even called it visionary and a masterstroke. But even as a stand-alone-no-Labor-NBN policy in the “here and now” there are a couple of issues with it.

    Ownership of the copper is a big one. While Malcolm may have heroic negotiating skills, I suspect Telstras are even better, especially when they hold the ace in this situation. He can’t argue that “they were going to sell it for $X for Labor to decommission” and then say “So that’s what they’ll sell it to me for”. Under the Labor plan, the copper only had scrap value, under Malcolms plan…well…his entire plan revolves around it, it’s critically important for him. Telstra know this and have proved time and again that they are very hard bargainers.

    His plan will also require negotiation for access to the HFC networks, for use/access of third parties. That was never something in the original negotiations with NBNCo (which was basically just a non-competition clause), and I expect those negotiations to be just as tough, or tougher, than the copper (we all know what fans Telstra are of allowing access to their back-end systems/equipment). He’ll basically be trying to arrange a kind of USO for HFC, and Telstra will get pretty hard-arsed about both the access and the ongoing fee for access.

    I also question his numbers. One example is the number of nodes he’ll need. To his credit, he’s come forward and said he’ll add as many as he needs to make sure folks get the minimum he is aiming for (25 Mbps, and presumably the later 50 Mbps if vectoring can actually be used on it – Steve Jenkin has his doubts – ).

    My concern is this – if NBNCo are using 60,000 GPON’s to make the FTTN NBN, and a GPON fibre cable can cover 20 Kms, then how many FTTN nodes is it actually going to take when VDSL2+, at the speeds he’s talking about (50 Mbps), only cover up to around 300 meters (depending on vectoring).

    It’s good that he’ll add more nodes, because I think he’s going to need a lot of them (but he’ll need to update his costs).

    If between Telstra and the nodes, the cost of his system goes up by only $9B (the ACCC put it at $17.5B), and Telstra hold out in their negotiations, then “faster and cheaper” are out the window.

    If Malcolm can openly and honestly answer those questions without a “but Telstra will…” answer (even if he addresses it as a “worst case” scenario) and show he has also given thought to maintenance and upgrades of his plan, then I think his plan is an acceptable alternative.

    I am not saying “the Turnbull plan is a pile of crud and should be trashed” (there are a few ideas in it I think even Labor could learn from).

    I am saying his plan has merit on it’s own, but needs some loose ends tidied up.

  7. Compared to leaving the internet as it is, with Telstra as a monopoly, the coalitions FTTN is a good plan, if perhaps a bit optimistic.

    Stopping a funded Fiber rollout that has legislation in place, ACCC agreement and an agreement with Telstra, to begin again with FTTN as a goal is not a good plan. It’s close to the worst possible plan.

  8. I think we are asking the wrong questions. The questions should be:

    Can we afford to do it? If No, then don’t do it at all. Installing a high maintenance and short sighted solution, with a bigger potential for cost blowouts is not a viable alternative. Unknown copper quality, cost of power (powering a node, let alone getting power to it isn’t free), maintenance of the copper etc.

    Can we afford not to do it? There are sound arguments suggesting it’s time we addressed the infrastructure of the future. I’m sure there were many arguments in years before paved roads about the value of having them.

    I made similar arguments when Conroy toured the country in 2007 and first touted ‘VDSL’. It’s just not worth doing if it’s not done properly. It’s 2013, lets stop fluffing about and do things properly or don’t do them at all.

    This site also does a lot to really display the difference in the technology:

    • I really like that demo but to make it fairer it should have been max FTTP speed vs 50/10 for FTTN just to use what will likely be an average max speed for FTTN users.

      • This is one of the areas I’ll defend FttN. Average speed WONT be 5-10 Mbps, or at least it shouldnt. The 25- 50 Mbps claims of the Liberals really do add up, given fibre for most of the line and copper for the last mile.

        Because the last mile copper is only a limited length, you can reasonably predict how fast data can be pushed, and 50 Mbps isnt an unfair claim.

        If its less than either of the guarantees then its due to the degradation of the line, and one of the situations either Telstra has to repair/maintain the line, or its so bad it gets replaced with FttH.

        FttN isnt as bad as people think. Its just not future proof to the same extent FttH is. Upper limit to FttN is around the 80 Mbps mark by the way, which I expect is why The Turnbull stops making claims at 50 Mbps.

        • Agreed, that’s why I think that demo site should use 50/10mbps as 25/5mbps is imo not representative of what most ppl would get on FTTN.

          • You are possibly correct, however the 25/5 is what they are guaranteeing as a baseline. It’s like we can get up to 24/1.4, but only if you are close enough to the exchange. FttP can guarantee to achieve 1000/400 no matter what distance from the exchange you are.

            You could bump it up to 50/10, it won’t significantly impact the time, 1000/400 is just that much faster.

          • Im pro FTTP but i think a little latitude being giving isnt going to make the demo less valid, in fact the opposite is true because the FTTN fan-boi’s cant nitpick if you use 50mbps as an average attainable speed.

          • I agree, I may just get in touch with the site owner and suggest they offer an “Up to” comparison. Because realistically the difference will be massive either way. 10 is still just 2.5% of 400. You could double that to 20 and difference would still be very obvious.

          • Leon, I’m not an expert (sibling is though) but the 25/5 can be guaranteed. With copper, the shorter the length, the faster you can push data through it, and for the lengths in play for FttN (ie 500m max), 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps has been proven to be very realistic targets – 80 Mbps has been pushed along those lengths.

            The issue (for me at least) is for speeds beyond that – where do you go when our basic needs pass 100 Mbps? Doubling every 2 years means we’ll be hitting that point around 2019. Or just when the FttN rollout is done. At that point, if you want more you’re going to be paying thousands for public infrastructure.

          • @GongGav

            They can be guaranteed on a good line. There are tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lines that AREN’T good. We know this because there are millions of people who cannot get ADSL. Many are on non-ADSL exchanges, but many are on ADSL exchanges and have either:

            1- Too long a line length (fixed with FTTN to an extent, depending on exact plan)
            2- Lines that are poor for any number of reasons including water damage, poor joints, flooded pits etc.

            I have no issue at all believing FTTN can achieve 50Mbps in a majority of cases…..but why should it ONLY be that majority???? It’s a NATIONAL broadband network. I don’t even agree with leaving the wireless people on wireless- ASAP they need to have fibre run to them as part of incoming revenue gains (sat will unfortunately always be necessary in a very small minority of cases) Why should 10 or 20% of Australia get left with “Oh, well, your line isn’t good enough so you only get 25Mbps while people are getting 50 or 70 elsewhere….oh, now you can get 50Mbps in 2019, but others are getting 100Mbps for similar price”

            I don’t get or agree with that. I don’t understand the mentality that says depending on your exact circumstances, YOU won’t get the same exact service as someone paying exactly the same as you down the road. In all but the smallest number of cases, FTTH technology removes that caveat. And in a century that will be driven by data, I don’t get why you would want to do otherwise??

          • +1, I’m paying for 24/1 and receiving 4/.5. For the most part I’m a lot better off than a lot of people, however it does limit what I can do from home.

          • I should point out that I’m pretty much the same. 24 Mbps connection, around 6 Mbps in reality. I live 1 corner from the nearest exchange, and can see it from my front gate, but thanks to degraded copper I’m effectively 2.4 kms from the exchange instead of around 800m.

            But dont mistake DSL era technology with fibre era technology. Thats the key difference here – crucial bits of the game are changing, and that copper portion isnt the neutered player it is in a DSL based world.

          • Fair points 7T. I mostly defend this part of FttN because its a false assumption that the service can only deliver 50 Mbps if you’re next to the node. Thats simply not true. It can deliver at least 25 Mbps for the entire 500m length, and I believe at least 50 Mbps for that same distance. I have seen proof of 25 Mbps, but cant remember 50 Mbps tests. I’ve actually seen 100 Mbps over 100 kms.

            If it doesnt deliver those speeds, its not the FttN technology at fault, its the quality of the line. Two different things. Like people assuming that FttH WILL cost $60b, or $94b, or (you’ve seen it too) $200b because “every govt project has been 2-4 times more expensive than predicted”, this is one area that people believe simply because thats what they read.

            Copper is actually capable of a lot faster than what people seem to want to believe, I’m just defending that. If things happen that result in it being slower, thats either a case for the copper to be replaced either by copper or fibre, as per the Liberal plan.

            I’ve said it elsewhere, but this is one of the sneaky parts of the Liberal plan that might actually result in a better than expected result – will the copper expecting to be so bad mean that most of it is actually replaced by fibre?

            As for the unluck 7%er’s, I expect they will become a niche market all to themselves. Its realistic to expect that no plan will help everyone, but also realistic to expect that where there’s profit, someone will make it.

            These small communities will represent one of the few areas telco’s can compete with infrastructure, and I fully expect some of them to try it. If FtTN/H isnt rolled out under either plan, there’s nothing stopping Bigpond from doing it from where the line stops. And no community is that far from a main road that its only a short jaunt down the road.

            They’ve been left off the fibre plans for now, but that doesnt mean they will stay that way. Who’s to say there wont be a side project that funds councils to take it on themselves, and once the entire network is rolled out there are going to be plenty of experts looking for work…

          • “100 Mbps over 100 kms.”

            I think you meant 100 meters Gav?

            It can actually get 200 Mbps at that (theoretically, 250 Mbps, but real world never quite works the way it does in a lab :))

          • No, I meant what I wrote. I’m not going to make any bets on it, as it was a while ago that I saw the story, but I know there was some crazy long stretch of copper line that was used for a very impressive speed.

            Short story is that it was somewhere like Norway, where an IT research group pushed speeds to one of their parents place 100 kms away. I’ve probably got details wrong, but my memory says 100 Mbps over 100 kms so thats what I wrote :) I know the 100 kms part is right, I’m not sure on the 100 Mbps…

            The reality of the test was that it was never going to make it into real world use anyway. It was an impressive feat, but still a stepping stone to fibre.

            For this whole sub-debate all I’m saying is that copper CAN deliver the speeds the Liberals state. Nothing more. The 100 Mbps over 100 kms is a throwaway example that really has little to do with the debate we’re having. Just using it as part of the debate that copper isnt something thats limited to 24 Mbps if you live in the shadow of the exchange. It isnt. The limit is closer to 100 Mbps for practical purposes and any issues arent FttN’s fault.

          • Well, yes and no. My original point is that copper CAN and DOES deliver 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps in the real world. People seem to think that it only happens when next the the exchange or node, when the reality is that its along quite a lengthy bit of copper. Whether its 500m or 800m its still shown to be likely.

            Thats reality. Fantasy is about what copper MIGHT do, and while in a research environment, it has been shown to deliver considerable speed over an extreme distance. Using real world infrastructure, it showed that if we stuck with copper there were options that could be explored.

            Still a stepping stone to when copper cant possibly give any more, and as a different technology life prohibitively expensive for the shelf life, but still a possible option. Happily fibre came along first.

            Again, all I’m saying is that copper can deliver on expectations, and isnt necessarily the dead horse people think it is. That doesnt mean it should stay as the main option, far from it, but the worst case scenario isnt as bad as people think.

          • @GongGav

            Of course FTTN isn’t going to be useless. I simply don’t think it will be feasible to get those speeds out of ALL the footprint in only 6 years.

            It’s not the technology I doubt. It’s the state of the copper and what delays/cost it will add.

          • I’m understanding why Renai got so shirty the other day more and more… To repeat, thats not what I’m talking about. If that IS an issue, its not with FttN, which is what I’m trying to correct.

            People come here and say “I only have 5/1 on copper now” before pretty much saying that because they get that now, they believe they will get nothing more with FttN. Thats wrong, and what I’m trying to correct.

            Copper has been proven to deliver on the promises made, its now a case of whether whats in the ground can do it. Not whether the technology can, but the infrastructure. If it cant do it, then it can still be replaced by fresh copper, which will do it.

            The problem wont be FttN’s fault, it will be Telstra’s.

            Why do people have to overanalyse everything thats said on this site? Take the comment as its intended – copper can give 25 Mbps over 800m. End of story. As I havent seen anything one way or another re: 50 Mbps over that distance, I’ll leave it at 25 Mbps.

          • @S7

            They can be guaranteed on a good line.

            Malcolm has already said they will make sure the lines are good, or he will replace them. He has also stated he will add more nodes if it is required. Both of these things add cost to the figures he has quoted for his plan.

            So the the point has moved from “If the lines are good enough” to a question of “How much extra will it cost to make sure the lines are good enough?” and “How much will the extra nodes cost?”. Working that out isn’t something NBNCo have worked on, and isn’t included in Malcolms figures that I’ve seen, so hopefully someone more knowledgeable like SteveJ works it out for me.

            We need to progress the debate, not get bogged down with things that, while relevant (or at least were relevant), don’t actually have a bearing on the current situation ;o)

          • I don’t disagree with you entirely, but are the cable runs going to be that short everywhere? If so it means a lot more nodes and nodes aren’t free. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert, but I am an IT Professional.

            The biggest thing the NBN gives us is upload speeds. The problem with all the DSL technologies is that upload speeds tend to degrade as you push for higher download speeds due to interference. You just aren’t going to see much more than 10 – 15Mb/s with the technology as it stands. Anything beyond that is speculation, they may get improvements over time, they may not. That’s a heck of an expensive bet.

          • Pretty sure The Turnbull has said that the length of line from node to home will be around 500m max. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong :)

            All I’m saying is that if you get less than what they have gone on record as guaranteeing, the fault wont be with the FttN network, it will be because of something else.

            Which yes, does include the copper degradation in the ground, possibly pair gain setups (no clue on that actually, but wont surprise me) and any number of other reasons that already contribute to poor line service.

            But thats the fault of Telstra and their practices, not the FttN plan.

            If you dont know by the way, I’m 100% behind the FttH rollout, so dont think I’m a FttN fanboi blowing smoke. I’m not. That doesnt mean I think the FttN plan is BAD (it isnt) or that misinformation is helpful(again, it isnt).

          • Having a look at The Turnbulls website, I found this ( – it shows 750-800m, I must have picked 500m from somewhere though. But 750m is further, so the point isnt any different. The point is that copper CAN handle 50 Mbps. Its not FttN that will prevent it.

            So what happens if you DONT have 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps (depending on when we’re talking about)? They either replace the copper with new copper, or give you fibre. New copper should get around whatever was slowing your connection down, getting back to the copper giving a speed equal to or higher than the guaranteed minimum.

            Again, I far prefer FttH over FttN, and thats never going to change, but that doesnt mean FttN is the worst thing that could happen to us.

            Oh, and 43,000 nodes is pretty close to expectations. It was originally feared there would be 90,000 needed (please dont ask for a link), but current expectations are around 50,000 – see same link.

          • ” for the lengths in play for FttN (ie 500m max), 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps has been proven to be very realistic targets”

            Sorry, where did Turnbull say it would be 500m max?

            For that short a length he would need about 150,000 nodes.

        • That’s entirely true mate but in order to deliver a minimum of 25mbps to everyone on a node the average speed will actually be something like 50mbps.

          • I was just pointing out that the 25 Mbps scenario is actually more realistic/relevant in the near term than 50 Mbps. Though relevant, issues like contention and line quality are peripheral to the point :o)

          • “That’s entirely true mate but in order to deliver a minimum of 25mbps to everyone on a node the average speed will actually be something like 50mbps.”

            By average are we talking mean or median?

            If we are talking median then all you require is that half the users get 25.1Mbps even if all the rest get 1Mbps.
            If we are talking mean, then a couple of customers getting high speeds next door to the node will skew the rates. Lets say 10 get 250Mbs next to the node, 20 get 50Mbps, 30 get 25Mb/s and the other 140 get 10Mbs.
            Mean speed is 28Mbps but 70% of customers get less than half that speed.

    • This is generally my attitude too. Adding 60,000 points of instability to the network has it’s own costs associated with it. Perhaps that $30 billion would be better spend elsewhere rather than creating a half measure.

      If there were no labor policy for an NBN, would there be anything on the table from the Liberals? I sincerely doubt it. Liberal policy in this area has long been to let business make decisions about where improvement is needed. Call me cynical but this policy from the Liberals is only intended to reduce the impact of the pro NBN vote at the next election. It doesn’t provide a significant benefit for the cost and it doesn’t seem to fit with the Liberal ideals of market first.

  9. So basically Labor’s policy is Better than the Liberals and the Liberals is better than nothing.

    I would be quite happy for a bottom up debate as it seems even NBNCo do this in regards to MDU’s but the problem is that while I do agree with some of the Coalition policy I agree with the Labor policy much more and the parts I disagree with are minor like Apartments. Even in that case there is good reason to still do FttH instead of FttB so while I don’t agree it is not a big deal compared to the limitations of FttN.

    • Realistically, FTTB to MDU’s gives people in apartments access to all the speed tiers up to possibly 200 Mbps (thanks to the copper there being on a short run).

      FTTP to individual apartments in MDU’s isn’t up to NBNCo as the whole MDU would need to be rewired, which is where the current problem is for them (NBNCo) if the strata/body corp doesn’t want to do it. FTTB is a simple, even elegant, solution to the problem.

      • That is the interesting thing I think FttB is good but then again apartments are more than likely to be the cheapest to roll-out Fibre to on a per home basis and in general an inner city apartment is more likely to be home to a business professional who needs a good internet connection and is willing to pay for it. If they have access to the highest speed tier they may buy it meaning by installing FttB you rob yourself of extra revenue.

        At the end of the day this debate can not be had in a vacuum.

      • Just to clarify/expand on my point, I think the current NBN should use FTTB as a fallback for those buildings, that for whatever reason, fall into a “difficult to do” category, just to make sure NBNCo doesn’t get held up on them. MDU’s have the potential for a lot of time being spent on them to resolve individual issues (building design, body corp, etc).

        Once they are finished with the whole NBN, they can go back and retro them to FTTP. If the body corp is willing to help out and/or fibre the MDU themselves, then it wouldn’t be in the “difficult to do” category.

  10. Good on you for trying to see things from the other side, but im not buying in on it.

    The fact that the ALP’s plan will give fast uploads to 93%, and Coalitions 22% is an extremely significant difference.

    If there is a pervasive ability to upload fast then third parties can tailor their services to take advantage of it, but if fast upload is only available to a minority then its harder to justify developing new types of services. The 22% that have fast upload wont be able to realise its full benefits because network services will be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

    Imagine a highway with 22% of traffic (cars) driving at 400 km/h (ALP NBN is 400 Mbps up) and 71% of traffic (people) walking at 5km/h (Coal. NBN is 5Mbps up),

    Such a highway would be a disaster, the 22% of people capable of 400Km/h would have to live with a 5km/h speed limit. the 22% having wasted money on a resources they cant use.

    Coalition NBN plan is a waste of resources, there is no hope for it.

  11. Is this why every NBN thread was locked for comment Renai?

    Yesterday, when you asked, I said I would be happy with the Liberal plan, if there was no Labor plan to compare it to. Then listed several key issues I would have still had with their plan, and that I expect I would have questioned them on.

    On reflection, perhaps I wouldnt have asked those questions. Its hard to know for sure, because we have 6 years of debate that has happened, and that has filled my mind with preconceptions and opinions. Its very hard to just ignore all of that when answering an immediate question.

    There’s no need to go off on a tanty, as you yourself called it yesterday, just reflect that its hard to ignore all of that when debating a topic that all of us on this site are passionate about. Its only natural for us to use our own experience when answering such a question, and thats inevitably going to invoke comparisons, even though you asked for us not to.

    For me personally, because of my relatives experience, I really dont know if I would have happily accepted FttN as the best option in a 1 horse field. In 2007, perhaps, but in 2013, quite possibly not, now that I understand the limitations of copper, and the interference that causes signal degradation.

    I expect that knowing why copper has its problems, my stance would be that if they are getting rid of copper for 90% of the line, why not just replace 100%? Its logical to me that if we need to do that 90% now, its inevitable that we’re going to do 100% at some point so just do 100%. If its not inevitable, why are they replacing that 90%?

    So would I be happy if the Liberal plan was the only option? Yes. No. Perhaps. Maybe. I just dont know, because thats not how its worked out.

  12. Turnbull’s #Fraudband is a lie, a faux policy, designed to get the Libs over the line 14/9 when it will be discarded, the Libs intent on implementing austerity which will cause a recession.

    Big spending on an NBN and austerity do NOT go together!

  13. In some ways I think you are correct Renai, and on it’s own the FTTN policy is definitely an improvement over our current system, despite me having some doubts.

    But I can also see why knowledgable internet users are incensed by Turnbull and his plan. The long-suffering internet enthusiasts of this country have had the NBN as a light at the end of the tunnel, one day in the future Labor will provide internet nirvana, in the form of a fat fibre pipe. The build make be taking longer than hoped, but the policy has been consistent in that time and the design and implementation has been carefully planned and considered.

    By comparison, Turnbull has changed policies a great number of times as he finds out his previous one won’t work. He went to the election promising a hugely undercosted wireless design. Then he wanted to use HFC, then FTTN, and a number of other modifications to planned policy in between, getting closer and closer to Labor’s plan. But still, all that time, having an arrogant and dismissive demeanor that he knows best.

    Now, that nirvana looks to be becoming a mirage, where the fibre goes out the window (except for the chosen few) and you get stuck on your same shitty copper connection which may or may not be guaranteed to maybe or maybe not provide the advertised speed, only saving around 1/3 of the money. A fact hidden behind Turnbull arbitrarily tripling the cost of Labor’s plan and then spruiking that figure to the media like it is a given.

    People are right to be mad.

  14. It is certainly not unexpected that interested parties will point out the flaws in the inferior policy – this is a fundamental part of negotiation towards common ground. If no one objected to anything you wouldn’t see further concessions in the right direction.

    No doubt the Coalition policy will never match the Labor policy, but negotiating towards a compromise must achieve a better outcome than saying nothing at all.

  15. I wanted to reply to the question yesterday, but the thread was closed shortly after the question was asked, which made it kind of hard ;)

    “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?”
    To answer that question do we then also have to forget all else that has gone before as well? The expert panel ruling out FTTN as a cost effective option? A business case demonstrating that an FTTP NBN is do-able for not a lot more than the Liberals policy? The Nationals previous support of FTTP across Australia – they thought of it first according to Barnaby? When you take these things into account, its still hard not to argue the current NBN is a much better option.

    I guess the thing that is missing in all this debate, which would largely negate the many of the extra things to forget mentioned above, is a full CBA. Had a full CBA been done before either policy was released many of the points being argued now would disappear. Most of the argument I see is more around providing the best option for the future. FTTP is undisputedly the best option for the future, and its hard to argue against its value for money, given a busienss plan that stacks up, and the reduction in OPEX to run it. FTTN on the other hand will require expensive future upgrades, and is very likely to cause a digital divide in the regions in the next decades. Its also concerning that Malcolm is happy just to keep tacking bits on the end, a node on another node to bring it closer to the home. What happens when the necessary FTTP upgrade is due? Does that only happen from the last tacked on node, leaving many points of failure back to the FSAMI that straight FTTP would not have?
    The bottom line is a proper full CBA could have compared the options, and provided an independent recommendation on the best option for the future. Much of this debate would then disappear. Labor were wrong for not doing one from the outset, though the process they went through, and the expert panel provided some insight. The Liberal Party, have apparently looked overseas and chosen a winner, completely ignoring its own rhetoric about the importance of a CBA and Labor being seriously remiiss for not doing one.

    I dont think the question of “if this were the only policy would you go for it” thereore is the rifght one. People are desperate for improvement of their connections – especially out here in regional areas. We are also just as eager for freedom from Telstras monopoly strangehold. The Liberals plan really doesnt instill confidence that Telstras strangehold and crippling of options out here will change – and that is regardless of whether it is now or 2007.

  16. So, the question I have: the original Labor proposal was for FttN. They got a bunch of experts in to review the commercial bids for it, who basically came back and said, “It’ll cost so much to do FttN, you may as well spend a little more to do FttH, and get substantial benefits”

    Why does that not apply to the Coalition’s current proposal?

    • Which was my point too. It seems to depend on how much we are supposed to forget.

  17. It’s great to see a balanced view on this. I agree it’s great to see both sides at least agreeing that we need improve on current broadband offerings unlike the situation we had at the last election.

    As for which side of the fence you fall on, I feel that has a lot to do with your location. Under Labor’s plan, 93% of the population will get FTTN (aka close enough to everyone), but more specifically a dramatic majority of Australians.

    Under the Coalition’s plan, what we will see is a dramatic difference, an internet divide if you like, between the haves and have nots. This means if you live in the city, great, you’ll be on Fibre, if your somewhere regional like me, Albury/Wodonga, you’re likely to be left behind on copper. While the speeds will increase either way, what that configuration sets up is a stark difference in the capabilities of someone in the city to those in the country.

    If current polls are any indication, it looks like we’ll unfortunately be ending up with the later. The NBN policy will have the single biggest impact on my life of any political issue. Once just once, I wish Australian’s went for the best solution, not the cheapest, but the best.

  18. I have no issue with the idea that the current Coalition policy represents better policy than they’ve ever had on Telecommunications before. And even better than Labor’s original FTTN NBN. It is a thought out and decent alternative to simply allowing the private sector to continue milking this country.

    My problem stems, like yours does Renai with the NBN, with the implementation. The NBN has been delayed. Badly. And it hasn’t had the best track record of being open about numbers (though I think you’ll agree they’re getting better). However, the Coalition policy assumes SO much about SO many things that they really have no data on, that I CANNOT see how they can achieve what they want in that timeframe. Given 10 years to do the whole lot? Yep, no problems. But that ISN’T what they’re promising.

    And if it is going to take 10 years….what’s the point? The NBN, really, worst case, would be done by 2023. And we’d have a system that could give 1 Gbps to a fair portion of the population overnight.

    I just don’t see how saying the Coalition’s policy is a decent, thought out policy translates into it being ANY more likely as being realistic in its assumptions and therefore implementation??

    • This for me is the issue as well.

      Time and Cost.

      Its difficult to trust the Coalition numbers when they wrap them in FUD numbers regarding the Labor policy.
      And whilst the Labor plan is behind and seemingly struggling to catch up. At least we are aware of the issues there. What unforeseen issues will arise with the Coalition plan.
      I don’t think ANY government will project manage efficiently. Let alone in a situation where they are changing horse midstride.

      If the Coalition numbers are any worse than they are predicting, then it makes little sense to me to change to a plan that may in the long run cost more or take a similar time period.

      Also in amongst all the technical conversations, I noted someone mentioning concerns with changing the FTTN to FTTP later. To the extent that it may not be viable for large numbers due to technology issues or some such. Is this a valid issue?

      • That said, I don’t think the policy is bad, only where compared to what is already in place.

        I do think it is short sighted however.

  19. @Renai: “You don’t achieve quality journalism by unashamedly backing one side.”

    Not unless one side is overwhelmingly more correct/true/beneficial than the other. The most stark example of this is the false equivalence offered in stories covering the vaccination ‘debate’ or the climate change ‘debate’. While I certainly wouldn’t suggest that the disparity between the two competing NBN visions is as stark as either of those issues, there is definitely a significant difference between their inherent capabilities—but more importantly a vast difference between their abilities to enable revolutionary changes in how we innovate, work, and (less importantly but not unimportantly) play.

    I believe that the LNP is trying to sell the idea that their FTTN option is ‘almost’ as good as an FTTP solution at a significantly reduced cost. My assessment is contrary to that: FTTN is a very significantly-less-capable option, with a not-very-significant cost saving at best (if you believe that the costs as given by the LNP are accurate), or in fact costing the same or more than an FTTP solution over the life of the rollout (as I believe will prove to be the case).

    In an alternate reality where there was no FTTP option on the table, or where there was strong evidence that an FTTN rollout could be done at a cost proportionate to its capability relative to an FTTP rollout (let’s say 1/5 to 1/10 the cost of the current FTTP), I would back it enthusiastically. But in our current world, at a time when we are prosperous (but whiny!), I see the LNP plan as an obstacle on the path to the endpoint I believe we need (not want) to achieve.

    It ~is~ good to see that this post has taken some of the heat and ad hominem attacks out of the comments though (for now). I tend to stop reading once the ‘discussion’ gets to the level of “I know you are, but what am I?” :-)

    • All true.

      But there is also a significant difference between their inherent value over time as well.

      The fibre laid for the FTTP today will still be in use in 60+ years time. For the next ten years or so, it will require minimal maintenance.

      Even if you accept the position that copper still has some life left in it, the copper used by the FTTN is already requiring a lot of maintenance (between $750M and $1B depending on where you look), and was even being replaced/superseded by FTTP with Telstra in Velocity estates. It’s obvious that while we can reuse it, it may not be the “cheaper” option with it being so obviously close to EOL.

      With $9B being the difference between the plans, I think the cost of FTTN is being shifted from an upfront one, to a longer term one, and the FTTN plan isn’t actually a significant enough saving over, say, 5-10 years even.

      In a nutshell, in 20 years time, a FTTP network will be worth a lot more than an FTTN one.

    • Renai – you really should hire itgrrl to write some balancing articles, her arguments and logic are succinct and unassailable.

      This is what quality analysis looks like.

    • +1 also. This nails it, to my mind.

      Malcolm Turnbull has made a decision based on what he perceives to be Australia’s need for broadband services which is sufficient to satisfy current usage, but which gives little opportunity for business owners to develop services that benefit from (or require) high upload speeds.

      We need a domestic marketplace to enable SMBs to realistically splash out on R&D to accomplish this. If we can’t rely on our customer base having the infrastructure, we can’t invest in developing it. It’s not enough to have fast broadband at the server end – we need to be able to depend on the client end having it as well.

      Such services are going to be developed somewhere in the world. If we have Malcolm’s network, Australia won’t be on the list of countries that host the companies that make the services that dominate the Internet of the next fifty years. With the NBN, we can.

      That’s a pretty hefty opportunity cost for the somewhat dubious savings on offer. IMHO, of course.

      • Spot on. The issue of the opportunity cost of going down the FTTN route as an acknowledged precursor to an eventual switch to FTTP isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

  20. Sure Mal’s FTTN policy was a great policy for 2007 it ain’t 2007 anymore nobody’s playing Quake and dialup isn’t king.

    The coalition “COST” argument just doesn’t wash at all, Tony’s splurging on a Parental leave program that will cost in excess of 60 billion dollars over 10 years, it’s a “ROLLED GOLD RORT” in the “PORK BARREL EXTREMEUS CLASS” forking out $75,000 to persons that earn$150,000 PA to have 6 months off work, it makes Labor’s PINK BATTS and BER schemes look like pocket change. It’s never been in my experience anything like a Liberal Policy,it’s even more extreme than baby bonuses and home buyers schemes hopefully their caucus will tell Tony it’s gone and if he doesn’t like it he’s gone.

    It’s a lot better to spend the money on bringing Australia’s communications networks into the 21st century rather than attempting to patch up a system that wasn’t designed for broadband, FTTN is just going to be a futile money wasting effort that’s going to politically destroy it’s promoters.

    It’s clear that Labor’s program has been slow in advancing, the education system wasn’t up to producing, the required tradesman and the contractor subcontractor system was not properly organised, however I can’t see that any vast amounts of public money has been wasted. The ramp up having been slow will pickup.

    The issue is now just a political “I don’t want labor to have a legacy” argument and conudaling around in yoga positions and contorted arguments to prove our legacy’s better than yours.

    It’s a technical argument, not a political argument and should be argued by the engineers and the politicians should heed the engineers advice.

  21. During the debate Conroy suggested that

    “They’re going to borrow $29 billion dollars, compared to the Labor government’s $31 billion that’s the net borrowing for governments but they’re going to deliver a second rate network.”

    Was he comparing the cost of both networks as of when the LNP would potentially beginning implementing their plan?

    If it is so, given the cost of variables not included in the costing of the LNP policy, the cost saving issue is no longer valid and we are left with the notion of building it faster (maybe, given the many hurdles) but worse and paying a higher price down the line for our impatience.

    Also, in relation to the question you asked yesterday. It is more like asking people living in a dilapidated house whether they would like temporary modern accommodation. It would be fantastic but would it still be so after 20 years of waiting for the proper accommodation.

    • @Observer

      Was he comparing the cost of both networks as of when the LNP would potentially beginning implementing their plan?

      No, he was comparing the actual cost of each policy to the government of the day. The NBN will supposedly top out at $30.4 billion to the government now. The Coalition policy will supposedly top out at $29.5 billion. So the difference between the 2 TO THE GOVERNMENT is likely to be less than $1 billion. Which is why Turnbull isn’t pushing his cheaper moniker anymore. He knows the $94 billion they pulled out of their policy tophat is completely bogus.

      But he doesn’t want people seeing that because HIS network is far less attractive (and actually unlikely to attract it at all) to private debt, it can have a lower total funding requirement and a worse technical futureproofing….but still cost the government basically the same amount…

      That would not go down well with the fiscally conservative….

      • You know, I don’t think in any of the articles comparing the 2 plans has this figure been emphasized correctly.

        This is the difference between the plans; if they go to plan; the coalition plan costs the government the same amount of money*.

        * Where cost is they have less money in their pocket at any one time to spend on alternative projects. If they have the same maximum commitment (30 billion dollars) then they have the same cost. The only question remains is the coalition plan more or less likely to make the expected ROI. (Oh my god; I am making an ROI based argument!! I feel like an NBN Naysayer). The coalition which (in rhetoric atleast, I admit I haven’t looked in depth at their releases) supports infrastructure based competition from the preexisting HFC networks, and the NBN explicitly precludes infrastructure based competition.

        From an ROI perspective, it is obvious which one is going to earn more, (take careful note; I did not say meet projected ROI, I said which one will earn more – which includes negative ROIs, it is obvious which one will be closer to projected ROIs).
        By the same token, it is obvious which one has a higher on-sell value (as compared to its cost to construct).

        I was wondering why the ROI arguments from the coalition had subsided. Their plan is *worse off* in every single way. Well; except I guess if you think the internet is a fad, is going to die, and every dollar spent is going to be a wasted dollar…

  22. So, the Coalitions plan is better than nothing.


    And when that’s the comparison the coalition’s plan will get support. However, we currently live in a world where that is *not* the case.

    That’s without going into the ‘technical quibbles’ – I mean, how pathetic of me to have concerns that we’d be spending tens of billions of dollars on technology that can’t support todays needs, let alone the future. I mean, surely this is just an insignificant detail?

  23. Some fair points Renai, but I think I’d be more inclined to support or even promote the Coalition’s NBN policy as having merit, if the Coalition and right-wing newspapers hadn’t been so damning of Labor’s NBN plans at every single point over the last few years. Maybe its a genuine sense of injustice, or maybe its just immature “revenge anger”, but it riles me that we’re now supposed to show some respect for the Lib’s alternative NBN, when the Member for Wentworth has treated Labor’s NBN supporters with nothing but contempt with his defamatory comments and outright lies since he was made shadow comms minister.

    You talk about nitpicking Renai, but that’s what we’ve been getting with every single anti-NBN argument, up until Turnbull revealed the Coalitions’s policy. Now I’m supposed to forget all the deliberately misleading bullshit from Turnbull and ill-informed LNP MPs and their supporters, and just politely accept that Turnbull has a good enough network to see us through? I guess when taking emotions out of the equation, that I agree on some level that that’s the decent thing to do, and come September should Labor be wiped off the map (as it appears they will) then I’ll try to get a little more positive, given that’s what we’ll be stuck with.

    The thing is we’ve been waiting for our FTTP since the NBN was first announced with great excitement and since the rollout began the excitement has been growing. Seeing it potentially replaced by an inferior model is naturally upsetting. Its like getting a second hand girl’s bike with a flowery basket for Christmas, instead of that shiny red BMX you’ve been promised for years. Yes it’s a bit childish to chuck a tantrum over it, but while there’s still even a remote chance that the BMX is available I’ll keep fighting for it.

  24. Two quick observations:-

    A lot of the press, the non-technical press in particular, treat this “debate” as if it is conducted under Cambridge debating society rules. It’s not. In a debate over technical merit, it’s over before it starts. Acclamation by the audience counts for naught. But beyond the merely technical, the coalition plan rests mainly on practicality and the outcome that offers of faster roll-out. Like all politicians, instant gratification is best and the longest term horizon is no further away than one extra election after they get in.

    But my biggest objection is simply that the coalition is (proposing) spending a lot of money for not a lot of result. Most city dwellers, the majority of those who currently have broadband, already get north of 15Mbps service. Maximally 22Mbps or so(?) but cruddy phone lines wind that back for most. So now let’s spend 3/4 of the Labour money to get to a place where the upper boundary is pushed up to 25Mbps, maybe 50Mbps in time, and the same cruddy local loops deliver the last mile. Odds are most of us will see $30b+ of our taxes blown away for no real gain at all. Hence my big objection to their plan.

    It’s not technical merit. It’s not lies by either side. It’s just really bad value for money.

    I am though well aware that some of that overspend is in enlarging the footprint that broadband reaches. I’m not just OK with that, I think it is also (an overlooked) societal good. Social contract and all that. I’d be happy to see the coalition come clean and say that the fibre buildout in cities is mostly about playing to electorate, that the enlarged footprint is about bringing service to more voters on the outskirts of our cities, the country and remote areas. If we were to split out the costs, I’d happily see a $10b spend to get the broadband dispossessed online and leave it at that. My suburban connection will sadly not see any improvement under the likely incoming government anyway and that’s an opportunity lost, but then again given the incumbent’s recent record that might be a good thing too.

  25. My issue is this,

    I was recently driving down a brand new freeway, it probably took years to plan and then build. Its already under heavy load and I can’t see how it will cope with future growth. Its going to be more expensive 10 years down the track to build the extra lanes they will need ( instead of building them at the very start).

    it’s also going to be painful trying to use it down the track whilst it is being upgraded.

    this is how I see the nbn debate, one side isn’t really planning well for the future and their product (whilst being better than nothing).. Is really just short sighted

    • The freeway analogy is really bad.

      If you want to use it though; why not build competing infrastructure like buses & trams & trains which have a much higher passenger density per land used. This is how European cities function.

      If you want more road space I would encourage you to look to China where they have build all the necessary road space but then they got some unintended consequences…

      • “The freeway analogy is really bad.”

        Considering up until only a few weeks ago, building more freeways was the alternative policy to the NBN ;)

        • On transport, I agree with the greens; (One of the few items)

          If we truly want a first class city, we need to improve our train system. Additional lanes on freeways or more raods all have diminishing marginal returns. Not to mention having massive choke points at entry / exits / intersections and “traffic accidents”. Trains have a large up-front cost but if the network is designed to cope with European city densities, then it is significantly more cost efective than roads and less polution.

          As an added bonus, you will reduce congestion on roads through a subsitution effect as more people swap across to public transport.

  26. Forget about which plan is technically better. Worry instead about which party can roll out the NBN on time.

      • “I’m gonna go out on a limb and say neither.”

        This is what I worry about. I have no idea whether problems with the rollout are fundmental long term problems or how either party can fix this. But all that I read suggests to me that “mobilisation issues” will still be there if the Coalition get into power.

        • I think there is a tendency to give governments more credit or blame than they deserve. External factors often play a bigger part that they are given credit for. However, in an adversarial political debate blame and credit are often the first option chosen, when point scoring is the name of the game.

          If, for instance, there is, as some claim, a qualified labor shortage, that is not going to magically disappear whoever is in government.

    • “Worry instead about which party can roll out the NBN on time.”


      What’s the point in rolling out the NBN faster if it doesn’t work?

  27. “What’s the point in rolling out the NBN faster if it doesn’t work?”

    Let’s just make sure the government (whoever they may be in September) gets to step one; build the thing in the first place.

    You’ve got to remember that – as someone who opposes large scale government intervention in telecommunications – any failure by either party just proves me right.

    • Dearest Kingforce, how do you define “large scale Government intervention”? Let us not be year pre-year 11 economics students and forget that “free-markets” are an idea that exists in ones head and ones head only.

  28. I would like to point out that it’s the coalition’s fault that this us vs them mentality has developed, they have spent years lying about the NBN and still do. They made the bed.

    As to the crux of this article, I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally I argue strongly against FttN for one simple reason: to highlight the differences between the 2 policies. While FttN is not bad, the coalition’s policy is; you can’t look at the policy in a vacuum. The coalition’s policy is to interrupt a current government initiative, to provide an inferior service for the same cost. They have been able to give no solid evidence-based reasoning for this, because as we know their reasoning is purely political. At the most basic level their policy is to put their own interests above Australia’s. And this is why I’m strongly anti-LBN.

    • Couldn’t agree more The Liars have spent the last 6 years lying about everything and being truthful about nothing at all and particularly Fraudband.

      It’s a con job from start to finish delivered by that con artist Turnbull. Frankly, he’s no better than Liealot, worse in fact, because he’s actually clever and Liealot is a fool.

      Turnbull’s Fraudband is like someone trying to palm off a 20yo car as brand new.

  29. With Renai’s question yesterday, I came to realise that we are only having this debate due to the choices of the Howard government and its sale of Telstra a decade ago.

    We should not be arguing about which is better FTTH/FTTN, we should be arguing about which proposal corrects the legislative errors the best, and provides the best level of retail competition in our market.

    These are the reasons why I see that the government of the day took it upon themselves to overbuild the network of a private company, creating a government monopoly when it has been shown that governments of all persuasions nave been trying to foster competition in the Australian markets.

  30. Renai, O.K. here is my problem with the NBN proposed by Coalition.

    1. It uses the existing Telstra Copper Distribution Cables which I know are in very poor shape. I know this from many years working within Telstra Engineering. There are also people who have posted information here on your site which detail how bad the copper network is, yet you don’t seems to appreciate this information in regard to the affect that will have on a FTTN. Don’t you believe what these people are saying? Do you think they are just telling stories and don’t have first hand experience because they are working in Telecommunications? Please say so because I’m interested to know.

    You did a article some time ago with pictures showing the condition of the Telstra copper network. In my experience this is typical of the existing copper network. I’ll give details later. Also did you really expect Telstra to say anything except their network is in good shape. David Thodey is there to protect shareholder valve! What would happen to the share price if he said something negative about the network?

    2. I can’t see how you can guarantee 25Mbps with 50,000 nodes (as quotes on the Coalition FTTN FAQ) and with Local loops of 750 to 800 metres. It simply doesn’t add up. Now they are talking about mini-nodes.

    3. VDSL2 (with and without Vectoring etc.) tests conducted in a Lab have no relevance or bearing on the real world condition. Have a look at the disclaimer on the speeds between lab and field tests. If you a very poor copper the results will be even worse.

    4. I don’t see the need for 100Mbps or 1 Gig at the present time, but I don’t have a crystal ball and neither do you. Do I think we need anymore than 25-50Mbps currently? No I don’t!

    5. The estimated difference in cost between the FTTP & FTTN is so small in relative terms why would you bother with FTTN given the waste, risks and unknown condition of the existing copper network. Also add to that the maintenance costs of the copper network over the coming years. Water will still enter the copper network and faults will still happen. It’s just physics!

    The time difference between the two plans is relatively small. Having said that, this is not a race and an infrastructure project of this size is a huge undertaking. Speed should not be the overriding factor in determining the success or failure of a project of this size regardless of the technology used.

    I worked in Telecom/Telstra Engineering for many years. We developed standards for the CAN.
    There was also the quality assurance group that checked that these engineering standard were being adhered to in the field. We also had a group that analysed Telephone Service faults that were categorised as being caused by faults within the CAN and not an exchange fault. This fault data was determined by the fault clearance codes used to close each fault. Distribution Areas that appeared to have large numbers of faults with repeating frequency were flagged for investigation to determine causes and trends etc.

    Part of these investigations involved running robotic tests at night to test the electrical properties of each cable pair used to provide a telephone service. The tests were done at night because generally that is when the temperature drops and water condenses within the joints and cables within the CAN. A cable pair can have less than optimal electrical properties but still provide a telephone service that works and which the end user doesn’t know that the cable pair providing their telephone service has a fault condition. You would be very surprised just how bad the electrical properties of a cable pair have to be (in some cases) before a customer logs a fault. Bear in mind that the type of fault will largely determine if the fault causes a noticeable noise that the customer hears and then reports a fault. Some faults cause the telephone service to stop working completely, but others faults just cause a noise or some other audible indicator such as crosstalk, crossed lines or ringing. Regardless the vast majority of these faults are caused by moisture ingress into the cable joints and/or cables in the Distribution Area cables. The reasons for this moisture ingress are many. Poor workmanship, Engineering Standards not being adhere to, Engineering Standards that actually caused problems over a period of time that were not foreseen at concept, design and testing. Damage to cables during and after installation, age etc. The list goes no. I’m not going to apportion blame here except to say that in my experience poor workmanship and failure to adhere to Engineering standards and are the main reasons.

    Distribution Areas with high fault numbers were physically visited and the condition of cables and joints inspected and tested iwith test equipment. Even areas with joints and cabling adhering to Engineering standards suffered from high faults because the sheath of the Distribution Cable was damaged by rats, ants or mechanical damage which allowed water and moisture to enter the cables.

    Management decisions within PMG/Telecom/Telstra over the years have also contributed to the faults within Telstra’s CAN. Management has actively circumvented Engineering Standards to reduce costs such as removing gas from gas pressured Mains & Branch Cables. This is just one example. They have also contributed to faults in the CAN by stopping preventative maintenance. Again to reduce costs. The cost cutting over the last 25-30 years has had a big impact on the life expectancy of the existing Telstra copper network. The copper network really is in a bad way. Not because the copper network is an outdated technology to deliver todays telephone and ADSL services, but because the asset has been allowed to fail into disrepair. Telstra knew that they were going to have to spend a lot of money to retire/replace this asset at some point.

    I was very surprised in 2003 when Telstra’s Bill Scales and Tony Warren told a Senate committee that the Telstra copper network would need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Of course this was down played by other Telstra management saying that the asset wouldn’t need to be replaced for another 10 or 15 years. This was when Ziggy Switkowsk was the CEO. Well before Sol Trujillo became Telstra CEO in July 2005.

    David Thodey announced recently that Telstra’s copper network in a FTTN network could get 25Mbps. Again David is about protecting shareholder value full stop! These comments relate largely to lab tests where the copper is in pristine electrical condition. The majority of the Distribution Cables aren’t in pristine condition and their electrical properties are degraded by existing faults. So unless we are talking about cables that are in pristine condition it means nothing in reality. Also bear in mind that some pairs used are split pairs. That is one wire within a pair has a fault in-line. That is between say two cable joints, or in the joint itself. So to fix a fault, they use a “spare” wire from another pair that hasn’t got a fault on it. The other wire of this pair might have a fault on it so they can’t just use the whole pair between these two joints. So there is either going to be an awful amount of the copper network that needs to be replaced and/or “repaired”.

    The articles published about NBN are largely from non technical people who don’t know or understand these issues and they tend to gloss over these major problems with the existing copper network and therein lies the problem. Yes just about anyone can read a whitepaper on VDSL2 and Vectoring and think they understand it and the issues involved. Alcatel-Lucent have lots of interesting articles about the virtues of VDSL2 and Vectoring.

    Anyway enough said.

    • If what you are saying reflects the true state of the network (and I have no reason to doubt your sincerity), Turnbull could be negotiating to buy a very expensive lemon.

      It is fine to suggest that FTTP will be used if the copper is beyond repair but what would happen if most of it was useless. Would Turnbull ask for a refund? If he is aware of such possibility, how long would it take to seal a deal which gives him some guarantee that he is not buying a lemon?

      • I highly doubt Malcolm has any idea about the real condition of the Telstra copper network. Who would tell him exactly? Certainly not Telstra! Why would they do that? It would undermine any future deal they might do with the with him, and it would also certainly damage their share price.

        Malcolm FTTN plan is a work in progress. We have seen that this week with the sudden use of the term mini-nodes in regard to the 750 to 800metre local loop and the 25Mbps minimum sync.

        I think Malcolm has researched FTTN extensively and read many documents about VDSL2 & Vectoring etc. and had many discussion with vendors about it’s merits etc. and talked to people and companies overseas who have rolled out a FTTN using VDSL2 etc. But the problem is the quality of the copper network here in Australia. Lab results mean nothing in the real world, and field results done overseas also mean nothing because those results are not based on using our existing Telstra copper network. It is based on their copper network. You can’t compare those results and then extrapolate those results and say the same is true here.

        I don’t think Malcolm would proceed with a FTTN if he was aware of the condition of the Telstra copper network. My guess is this will only come to light once the work begins and the test results show major issues. I have no idea what will happen then. Telstra might well have negotiated to provide the maintenance for the copper portion of the FTTN, and that would be a nice money spinner for them.

        Telstra is a very aggressive company. They don’t give anything up or away unless it’s in their interests and their shareholders interests. Have a read of this article. See:

        Of particular note this:

        “…Turnbull is repeatedly painted as the shrewd business man, but if he is indeed that shrewd, he needs to consider one simple fact: The only time it would make sense for Telstra to give that business away would be if the costs of maintaining the CAN outweigh the benefits Telstra is getting from holding on to its copper monopoly. Until then, the government will be fighting an uphill battle — and I suspect an incoming Coalition government would soon discover this all too painfully.

        His blind optimism begs the question of what Turnbull knows that the rest of us simply do not. And this begs a simple, further question: Has Turnbull already been negotiating with Telstra to ensure its support for its FttN network?

        The thing is, Telstra is watching this debate, and it knows how desperately Turnbull wants it to be flexible. This puts the power squarely into Telstra’s hands — and opens the way for Turnbull to be significantly embarrassed.

        When I asked Turnbull what the Coalition would do if Telstra simply dug in and refused to gift the Coalition its network, Turnbull was short and succinct: “David, they won’t.” ”

        I’m not going to speculate any further. The point of my post was to explain why I have a problem with a FTTN plan using Telstra’s existing copper network and nothing more.

        One final comment. I would love for someone to take Renai on a field trip and show him a sample of the existing Telstra copper network. A random sample that Renai could decide which areas to inspect so it was truly random. Of course this would have to be done in secret.

    • One thing rarely appreciated (I’m an Electrical and Computer Engineer by training) is that not only do higher frequencies suffer higher losses over a typical twisted pair telephone wire, but that loss increases non-linearly as the copper corrodes.

      Which means if you take a pristine copper wire, it will function to spec transmitting VDSL. However, add a tiny amount of corrosion and losses increase quickly.

      Add more corrosion and DSL (which requires lower frequencies then starts to suffer.

      It takes a lot of degradation before voice starts to suffer.

      For reference, at 30MHz (about the upper limit of VDSL), Skin effect (the tendency of current in a conductor to crowd itself to the surface) limits the effective thickness of a copper wire to about 21 microns. In other words the very outermost surface. What corrosion and oxygen infiltration does to the copper is to make this layer more lossy and to make it effectively rougher – which interferes with wave propagation.

      Its no wonder then that the practical lifetime of copper when used for VDSL is something less than 20 years. Even in well kept conduit.

      At current the maintenance bill for the copper network is about a billion dollars per year. And that’s merely to maintain a level of performance adequate for voice. Many DSL connections are already suffering increasingly lower speeds and drop outs as the copper degrades and signal to noise falls.

      Were the same network to be pressed into service running VDSL what would happen is that suddenly a lot of copper that worked perfectly well for voice, and reasonably well for ADSL, would be found to be completely non functional, or else seriously under perform.

      That’s the sleeping monster lurking behind FTTN.

      Of course it can be fixed, but that’s billions of dollars.

      And even from the start, the cost of the Liberal scheme is slightly under $30 Billion dollars, Whereas the funding cost to the government of Labor’s NBN is slightly over $30 Billion dollars. Estimates of $43 Billion as Renai uses ignores the fact that as the network starts to generate revenue that then pays for continued construction cost.

      So the true cost comparison (if such a comparison were valid in any case) – that is in terms of how much money the government (public) has to fork out, is at most a few billion dollars.

      Its a sham, a farce, a fraud.

      And worse. And again Renai just doesn’t want to know this. Such comparisons ignore the fact that FTTN will be replaced with FTTH in a few years time. And we will have spent more money overall for nothing. Nothing but wasted time and wasted opportunity and wasted wealth generation opportunity.

      To all the people who go oh ok the Libs have a sorta half ok plan, no its not. It simply does not add up. It does not save money. It costs money. It simply delays the inevitable. The only justification for it at all is political and ultimately it is a fraud. Not the kind of fraud you get when they promise you a second class network and deliver a third class network. Its the kind of fraud you get when a political party with no moral compass delivers the grand lie of a policy that’s designed to fail, that they know full well will fail, and that they have no intention of carrying out.

  31. Renai,

    When I built my first 300 baud modem about 30 years ago it was obvious that eventually a national digital network would be needed to replace the analog system. Later in became obvious that ADSL (and its variants) were at best a stop-gap measure along the path to a national digital network.

    It’s unfashionable to discuss using the NBN for “merely” watching TV, but to me this is the key point. The radio spectrum is chock full, and the biggest single user is broadcast TV. This is an appalling waste of precious mobile spectrum. By moving broadcast TV to a NBN we would free up huge chunks of spectrum for mobile use.

    Optical fiber can offer a brand new, unshared spectrum to every user, and only fiber can do this. The developments which will flow from this will be astounding.

    But there is a a catch. Switching off broadcast TV requires two things: Firstly the replacement network must have a huge bandwidth, and equally important, the network must be universally available.

    As we know, the existing media proprietors (and their tame politicians) are in a tail-spin at the promise of a NBN because it threatens to break down their carefully erected “walled gardens” and allow competition and change to occur in all forms of media.

    So big business is desperately trying to nobble the NBN by either limiting the bandwidth, or limiting its availability (or both).
    By killing off FTTH and substituting FTTN, they will lock Australia out of the amazing future developments which would flow from a universal fiber network.

    And this is why informed people get so angry when they see the criminal self interest and dishonesty from the Opposition and the MSM.

    I believe the above explains why the Opposition is pushing a network design which fails on the single biggest test: Will it support universal TV distribution?

    • Couldn’t agree more. Not only is freeview TV going to become a waste of valuable radio spectrum, but the roughly 18mbps of useable bandwidth they do have per network, is now divided up into several low bit-rate SD channels to capitalise on multi-channeling, but that due to low resolution + heavy compression look awful on today’s large HD flat panels. The very little HD material they do provide, isn’t even worth keep tracking off, and not one of them have bothered adopting regular 5.1 Dolby sound for movies or shows.

      There is no room left for networks to provide either better picture quality or more content with their current limited broadcast spectrum and multi-channeling arrangements (while they continue to use the dated MPEG2 compression format anyway) so it makes sense for them to switch to a multicast delivery system over fibre in the future once the majority of Australia is connected. Not only will this allow networks to easily grow into higher resolution picture and sound formats, but they can create as many extra channels as they are allowed to without having to worry about spectrum space. And of course the existing DTV-B spectrum could be used to further mobile broadband. It makes too much sense not to happen at some point in the future.

  32. Re my above post: I should have added that carrying TV on a FTTH NBN should not be seen as its sole justification. In fact the truth is quite the opposite.

    My point is that further developments in IT (WebTV, Video conferencing, Cloud computing, etc) are being stifled at present due to our existing technology having reached its bandwidth limits.

    However broadcast TV is a useful bench-mark for analysing any proposed NBN technology. If it can’t support broadcast TV, then it should not be seen as a serious contender. It could only be a stop-gap measure.

    And if the above analysis makes me a FTTH Fan Boy, then so be it.

  33. @Mark
    “Renai, O.K. here is my problem with the NBN proposed by Coalition. ”

    Thanks for that first-hand account on the state of today’s copper – quite an eye openner and as suscpected by most (mine has ‘given up’ 8 years ago so it’s mobile ‘brodaband’ for me…) – I’m sure Renai, with his often-repeated commitment for evidence-based discussion and the persuit of truth, will appreciate your post as much as most of us here…

  34. The whole issue with FTTN it relies on the technologies such as Vectoring and G.Fast to make it work, but for that to work in the first place, it needs to take more of the copper spectrum, if we having issues with that already, even with Vectoring will not solve that issue.

    The newer technologies such as G.Fast require shorter copper runs.

    This makes no sense in large countries such as us, with low density.

    G.Fast – works for upto 100m
    Vectoring – works upto 400m
    Bonding – upto 800m (2x lines) – but loose speed.

    VDSL like Wireless, takes more spectrum, the more bandwidth it requires.

    The magic number of 100 Mbps downstream bit rates are achievable over copper wire in the 400m to 500m range when vectoring is used, according to an Alcatel-Lucent (News – Alert) TechZine article, “VDSL2 Vectoring Delivers on its Promise.”

    As noted in the article, Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) ran 17 VDSL2 vectoring trials with various SPs around the world, most in the 300m to 600m loop length range and with the typical fiber to the node (FTTN) topologies that SPs are considering for vectoring. ALU says the results were very positive in that it was able to get up to 130 Mbps.

    Further DSL acceleration can be added with VDSL2 bonding. Alcatel-Lucent reports up to 200Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream if bonding is used for speed. Bonding also can be used to extend reach instead, and Alcatel-Lucent found that VDSL2 bonding can deliver 75Mbps downstream and 17Mbps upstream at 800m if distance is more important than speed.


    Also my point also, that the Coalition Party are willing to spend a whole bunch of money, on an existing network, not a new network, including building a whole bunch of mini-nodes.

    Both the main big box nodes and mini-nodes will require power and infrastructure.

    In my view, having read more than enough research that to say that Fibre is the way to go.

    Sorry if that doesn’t reach your point of view Renai, but I’ve been reading up on different technologies so far, and the copper technologies haven’t extended that much to warranting to spend the amount of money the Coalition Party are wanting to spend.

    I use to believe FTTN was the way to go, but I noticed a few issues with getting passed the “agreeing” part of any deals and I knew it was a dead deal.

    You can try and wiggle out of this, I think it’s you that fallen into bad habit.

  35. The more you read about the Coalitions plan from the experts, the more their plan looks very shaky.
    This could end up costing more than Labor’s NBN. With talk of mini nodes and replacing the defunct copper with fibre, I think we have a massive white elephant on our hands.
    It’s looking more like Ellie mae is out and I am stuck with Granny.

    • The biggest problem with Malcolms plan isn’t even technical, it’s this:

      Telstra will continue to retain and operate its Next G®
      wireless network, Next IP™ core fibre network, backhaul
      fibre network and HFC Cable Network (for delivery of
      Pay TV Services). Telstra will also retain and operate its
      Copper Network and will continue to provide broadband
      services over its HFC Cable Network as relevant outside
      areas where the NBN Fibre Network has been deployed.

      Telstra will also retain ownership of the infrastructure
      accessed by NBN Co (except for Lead‑in Conduits).

      From: Page 8 –

      Emphasis mine.

      If there is no “NBN Fibre Network”, Telstra retain full ownership and operation of their Copper Services, which will also then retain their full value.

  36. hey everyone,

    hope you’re well.

    I’ll probably dive back into this thread in a little bit to answer some specific comments. But for now I will say this: Most of the comments here have confirmed my view on this situation.

    I’m sorry, but compiling a thousand small reasons why the Coalition’s NBN policy is the wrong policy for Australia isn’t going to invalidate the policy as a whole. Sure, Labor’s policy is a better policy and there are issues with the Coalition’s policy. But on a gross level, a gross, country-wide level, the Coalition’s policy isn’t dissimilar from what we see happening in a number of other countries, particularly in the US and in Europe, where this kind of policy is not regarded as controversial.

    This one isn’t going to die from a thousand cuts, people. Turnbull has done his research and has come up with a coherent policy, representing a sensible option from the conservative and small government side of the fence.

    Like you, I personally prefer Labor’s policy. But that doesn’t mean the Coalition’s policy is impossible, and it doesn’t mean the Coalition’s policy won’t deliver Australia significant benefits. As I wrote in the article, the FTTP or nothing attitude being taken by many of the commenters here is not productive.

    We’re not looking at a bad/good dichotomy here, people. We’re looking at a good/better dichotomy.

    Kind regards,


    • “But on a gross level, a gross, country-wide level, the Coalition’s policy isn’t dissimilar from what we see happening in a number of other countries, particularly in the US and in Europe, where this kind of policy is not regarded as controversial.”

      Please show me these other countries where they are:

      A) As rich and wealthy as we are. [E.g. no huge deficits, not second/third world].
      B) Are considering *starting* FTTN in the near future.
      C) Are discarding FTTH because FTTN is better.
      D) Doing this on a large scale, not cherry picking small area’s.

      “This one isn’t going to die from a thousand cuts, people.”

      Thousand cuts? How about 1? The coalitions plan is unable to meet projected demands. How can you ignore this?

      • That’s an awful lot of conditions, mate — I don’t think the question needs those conditions artificially put on it. FTTN is being rolled out in the UK, the US and France. I think it’s pretty clear those countries are considered similar to Australia.

        • ‘FTTN is being rolled out in the UK, the US and France. I think it’s pretty clear those countries are considered similar to Australia.”

          Is not the case that in these countries, it is rolled out by owners of the network who can cherry pick the more suitable and profitable areas? This, surely, is different to Australia.

          Furthermore, the population density per square Km of these countries are much larger than Australia:

          UK 255
          France 114
          US 83
          Australia 8

          • Isn’t FTTN preferable in areas with lower population density when you have existing copper infrastructure?

          • No because you have less customers to spread the ROI over as the smaller Nodes arent significantly cheaper than the big ones (Smaller nodes dont get cheaper to make on a linear scale vs the larger ones).

          • @Michael

            If you’re a telco looking for profit, yes. If you’re a government utility looking to balance the long term provision of high speed broadband for the economic & social benefits and the short term time constraints of building, then no.

          • The copper network in France has been much better maintained than in Australia and, therefore, is in a much better condition than in Australia.

      • AT&T is moving to fibre to the curb: fibre to a small node on the curb in front of an apartment block, just the last yard is well–maintained copper.

        FTTN here is ridiculous, so degraded is the copper. FTTN just is a non–starter.

        The Libs if elected, will use one of the three reports Turnbull will commission to knock any kind of FTTx out so they can impose the austerity they want to impose. Crash goes the economy!

    • Renai, I think it’s overstating the situation to indicate FTTN is better than “nothing”.

      Turnbull’s policy isn’t bad, if you ignore the NBN Fibre build and just focus on the current internet connectivity options. It looks sexy by comparison.

      It makes my ADSL2 service look like internet over sponge cake. So, sure, I agree. It’s much better than the current options open to me. Much better.

      And indeed there are a few things to really like about the policy. Turnbull has actually clearly put some effort in.

      But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to simply ignore the concerns it raises, the costs versus a currently in-build fibre-based network and what the future path will be.

      This is a once in a decade, or more build. There’s absolutely no reason to not question both solutions, to ensure we get the best outcome we can, with the funding available.

    • @ Renai…

      Lets take the Devils advocate approach and remove the political slant from this discussion by facing it head on.

      IF the Malcolm Turnbull was the current Communications minister rolling out an FTTH communications network and had hit the same roll out snags as current. Do you believe that a FTTN network proposed by opposition communications spokesman Conroy would be a viable policy?

      It’s time to stop the bullshit and clear the air so that we can discuss this proposal on it’s merits.

      Is it sound government policy to
      a) Remove barriers to competitive communications through the minimisation of compensation payments to the incumbent monopoly carrier.
      b) Provide infrastructure that the private sector will not provide based upon the ability of the incumbent monopoly carrier to undercut the market within the area of construction.
      c) Provide the circumstances for business and individuals for sustainable growth whilst minimising negative effects on inflation.
      d) Assist private enterprise opening up new markets through targeted spending within the economy on infrastructure, training etc

      With the above, which is the best policy to achieve sound government policy over the long term?

  37. Why not FttP or nothing? Either policy is a heck of a lot of money, so why spend 60% of the (not exact, but close) money to get a solution that is barely 10% of the alternative at best. This ignores issues with the current infrastructure and future promises betting on technology improvements.

    The “we have to do something, this is something” mantra is a bad line of thinking. Either the country can afford to address the nations digital infrastructure or it can’t. Do it once, do it right.

          • Because they lost the election in 2010 due to not having a decent broadband policy. So they cooked up a semi–plausible policy, #Fraudband, but left themselves three outs: three reports before they do anything. Costello will likely do at least one and the Libs, if elected, will say, oh so sorrowfully, that the economy is so bad nothing can be done re broadband for a while (i.e. never!)

            #Fraudband is barely semi–plausible anyway with lack of answers on maintenance and power and glossing over the problems with the copper.

          • I’m sorry, but you can’t just claim that the Coalition isn’t going to deploy any NBN infrastructure at all. That’s not a reasonable or rational assumption at this point.

      • My current ADSL is pretty horrible to, whilst I can see the exchange from the end of my street, my cable run is over 4 kilometers.

        You are right, in that it is great the Coalition are finally getting with the times. However I don’t believe it is fiscally responsible to spend that amount of money on FttN technology. I make the same assessments when purchasing in my personal life and in my working life.

        For me personally, I’ll get Fiber either way as I’ll either pay for the connection or I’ll move somewhere that does have it.

          • Attitude? Not particularly, I’m removing emotion from the equation. And it’s not FttP or Nothing, it’s can we afford to do it _now_. If we can’t, lets wait until we can and do it properly. It’s completely illogical to spend that sort of money on a 10% solution.

          • Curious question. If FttH is too expensive at $40b (work with me here), why is $30b affordable?

          • Or to flip that frame around, is it worth $10B dollars more to “Do it once, do it right”? :o)

          • Yup, the reverse question is just as valid.

            If $30b is affordable for FttN, why isnt $40b considered affordable for FttH, when it provides for future needs beyond FttN?

            Its a question I’d like to see Labor ask for the next 6 months to be honest. Its a simple one, and one that could get through a lot of the FUD out there.

          • Another (economic) way to look at it (estimate from Allen Consulting):

            Is it worth spending an extra 0.0064% of GDP to increase GDP by 0.44%?

          • “So your attitude is FTTP or nothing?”

            Current average speed – say 6Mbps.
            Hypothetical FTTN speed – say 50Mbps.
            FTTH speed – say 1000Mbps to 10,000Mbps. [2020~2030]

            Using FTTH as the baseline, let’s look at the alternatives:

            Nothing = 0.6% to 0.06%
            FTTN = 5% to 0.5%

            FTTN is is just a rounding error of nothing.

          • “FTTN is is just a rounding error of nothing.”

            Maybe to you. I’m currently on 16Mbps. If I can get between 50Mbps to 100Mbps, how can you say that won’t have an impact on my life?

          • I feel for you Renai, it’d make a big difference with uploading video to the site especially.

            But switching the NBN to FTTN doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’ll be a faster rollout, no matter what Tony and Malcolm say. If it was Telstra saying “Yeah, Labor have screwed the pooch, were going to switch the CAN to FTTN”, then yeah, I’d agree it would be much quicker, quite possibly even 2 years ahead of Malcolms time frame.

            But when it’s a politician that wants to do 3 studies/reports and then negotiate a deal with Telstra before they can get started? They’ll be lucky to even get it going in 2015 :(

          • “Maybe to you. I’m currently on 16Mbps. If I can get between 50Mbps to 100Mbps, how can you say that won’t have an impact on my life?”

            Because of inflation.

            50Mbps in 5 years is worth ~7.6Mbps today [50% annual growth].

            Inflation is one of the most important aspects of tech – something that even the general consumer understands at a basic level – yet for some reason gets consistently forgotten in this debate. Care to explain why?

          • At the end of the day, we’ll get what we’re given, and what we are given will be based on who gets power.

            The issues with the NBN aren’t insurmountable, though Labor needs to look at it’s attitude to 457’s if it really wants to address the issue quickly, and indeed the issues with the LBN aren’t insurmountable either (though it still has a few more than the NBN, as it’s still going through the birthing process).

            Seems to me that all our bitching about Malcolms plan has actually helped him to make it much better than it was although, like Renai, I’d like to see people get away from the more nitpick arguments with the finer details of the LBN, it’s still too new to have “real” fine details, lets get the bedrock down first ;o)

  38. I think the question we should ask is “What will a privatise FTTN NBN be like?”. The problem with the libs plan is that they’ll finish the FTTN network, privatise it….then it will be up to the private company to provide the upkeep / upgrades. I’m not convinced that, should we get FTTN, we will ever get FTTP in the future without the government stepping in again to do it.

    Yes, the FTTN will be better for me than what I have now (ASSUMING it delivers on its’ promises)…. but, in 5 yeas time, when it develops a fault and the company has been privatised, are we going to end up back where we started? Would a privatised NBNCo *EVER* spend the money to upgrade the FTTN to FTTP where it isn’t financially viable (read : not profitable) to do so?

    My guess is it won’t. Anyone who gets FTTN under turnbull will be stuck on it until Labor get back in and upgrade it. And, if NBNCo has been privatised in the meantime, we’ll be in even worse shape.

    • And guess whose hands a privatised FTTN would be in? Rupert Murdoch’s grasping hands. It’s another reason I would NEVER vote for the Liars. They are quite prepared to sell this country down the river to park their lazy corrupt @rses on the government benches.

      They have no vision for the future because they only ever look to the past and frankly I don’t want to relive the 50s.

  39. The thing is, it’s not a case of FTTH or nothing; at least, now that we at have a policy from Turnbull. It was always an open-ended question prior.

    We have Copper, 3G, WiMax, HFC, Fibre and an assortment of other options. We already have a network that reaches quite a few people.

    But, the simple situation is, that Turnbull has elected to option a platform that was last tendered to the government as the prefered solution the best part of a decade ago.

    As Budde quite rightly, at the time it was a good option. Unless you were a competitor to Telstra.

    The problem here, is that Turnbull wants to effectively halt FTTH as the prefered option and return to a primary copper network for the last mile. No-one else, that I can find ongoing news articles for, is doing this reversal of network build.

    Sure, there’s some FTTN builds going on; but in almost every instance it’s being performed by the existing network owner. Anyone else building a new network is basically using fibre.

    I think turning this into a Pro/ Anti debate simply feeds the current political machine and doesn’t really address the actual concerns at play. Which is simply that Turnbull’s policy is roughly a decade late.

    We’re already building a network; had we not actually started, then there’s a lot to like. But we have started. So it’s quite sensible and reasonable to compare the two policies and how they impact both in the short and long term.

    And it’s the longer-term impacts and differences that we will be affected by. How many cabinets, the copper last-mile length; deployment scale, who maintains the copper, who will own it, what is the leasing/ buy-out costs… All of these factors will dictate how we, as a nation, both help fund (now, and in the future) and actually use the thing going forward.

    • Again, you’re comparing the two policies, but you haven’t really answered the question — are you in the camp of people who would rather see either FTTP deployed, or no upgrades at all?

      Because I would personally choose FTTN over no upgrades. I’m on 16Mbps ADSL right now. If I can get between 50Mbps to 100Mbps under FTTN, then that’s a significant difference in my life.

      • “Again, you’re comparing the two policies, but you haven’t really answered the question — are you in the camp of people who would rather see either FTTP deployed, or no upgrades at all?”

        I don’t understand this question you pose, perhaps?

        Either we will continue to see FTTH build, or we’ll see it switch to FTTN, with FTTH as a ‘last choice’ option. You can pay to make it go much faster if you wish. How the FTTN will be built, what the final costs will be and what the cabinet count will be is “to be advised”.

        Those are the two options (in my case). Copper or Fibre.

        My preference is FTTH. Doubly so given the costs to roll out FTTN are now the same ball-park figures as FTTH. There are a range of offerings and a range of speeds, and it’s potential is pretty much endless.

        Either option will happen, though. Tunrbull has a policy which, unless revoked by Abbott, is what they’ll go into the election with. So it’s entirely dependant on the election outcome.

        Why would I claim it has to be FTTH or nothing? It’s illogical.

      • The problem is that that is a very big if. Until the Liberals are in power and actually deploying FTTN, there’s always the chance as well that they will backflip and decide to do nothing. It may be a small chance, but it’s still there…

        There’s also the chance that the FTTN build won’t do much for your speeds as well. We just don’t know unitl it starts being deployed. Until then nothing is certain.

        In the meantime, we know that with FTTH we will eventually have access to maximum speeds of 100mbit/sec or more. It may take a while to get to us, but we will get it.

        As for the question of would I choose FTTN over no upgrade : ONLY if it could be proven that the benefits were big enough to justify the cost. Otherwise the liberals will just be putting good money after bad.

      • I think you might have updated that comment.

        Sure. I could use faster internet. Much faster. Youtube uploads are very sad-making. I know NBN will certainly “FTFY”, Turnbull’s internet would likely make it a more reasonable process, though upstream speeds over copper don’t compare to fibre options.

        But there’s going to be one option, or the other. Unless you’re earmarked by the exclusions (HFC, reduced footprint, < insert policy statements here > as defined in Turnbulls policy) there are two fixed line options.

        So, again, I struggle to understand the question. Sorry, Renai, I don’t mean to sound difficult, rather I am attempting to understand the context of your questions.

      • You know there aren’t 3 choices here, only 2 between FTTP and FTTN – it’s pretty cut and dried really so I’m just wondering why we are being asked if we’d choose nothing over FTTN when nothing is not actually an option on the table?

      • If I couldn’t get FTTP, then I’m in the nothing camp (but only because I could already get 100Mbps if I wanted, but not wanting to get locked in to a 2 year Telstra deal, I’m sticking with 50).

        If I didn’t have cable though, I’d definitely be in the “anything but the current crap system we have” camp :o)

        • Huh? Unless your very regional, and covered by wireless or sat, you’d either get FTTH or FTTN depending on which party is in power. If you have HFC on your street, then the Coalition options narrow a bit (short term, at any rate).

          This “nothing” argument should really go die in a fire, IMHO. There are two policies on the table, not one. And not “none”.

          • The answer should be taken in Renai’s “What if” context ;o)

            In that “roll-out FTTN or nothing” context, I already have something better available to me, why would I want to downgrade?

            Outside of that context, I’d prefer to see everyone be able to get 100Mbps (or more) as I truly do believe it’ll be a game changer for a large percentage of the population in the near future (10-20 years time). Us “nerds”, and business users, are just the leading (bleeding?) edge of what everyone else will want soon, same as it was with things like laptops, satnav, smartphones and even the humble PC.

      • @renai hi mate, I must say I’m surprised you haven’t pointed your howitzer in the direction of the how fast is the nbn site? Despite being a massive FTTP fan boi, even I didn’t think it was a fair comparison.

  40. Why do the LNP need to introduce another plan? why? I think this is what people are discussing.

    Keep the current NBN plan for chrissake, it does not cost more than the new plan if not cheaper. As a tax payer I dont understand!

  41. Since Renai mentioned FTTN in France, this may be of interest.

    The situation in France is not one of FTTH vs FTTN. In fact, according to Ariase, a French ISP, Optic fibre is sold as:

    FTTH (Fiber To The Home)
    FTTB (Fiber To The Building)
    FTTLA (Fiber To The Last Amplifier)
    FTTO (Fiber To The Office)
    FTTC (Fiber To The Cabinet)

    Furthermore, FTTH can either be dedicated or shared. Dedicated is more expensive. The Orange network is shared FTTH.

    FTTB uses in the building VDSL2 . The ISP notes that “Optic fibre and a copper pair are use to facilitate the deployment but at the detriment of speed of the bandwith which will be limited to 50 or 100MBit/s for the luckiest ones”.

    FTTLA deployed by cable operator Numericable uses coax cable in the last metres and replaces the old cable network.

    So, as you can see it is not a case of FTTP or FTTN in France. There is, however, the problem of different approaches ran by different network operators. This is probably why the French government is planning a massive investment in FTTP.

  42. “In all reality, if the Coalition were to have launched its $30 billion plan back in 2007 everybody would have been most enthusiastic”

    I keep seeing “You were happy enough about FTTN in 2007 when Labor proposed it, why are you now picking on the Coalition proposal? What an NBN Fanboi!” comments, even from the author, though minus the fanboi, though several other names were used to describe those who rejected the Coalitions new policy.

    So as not a appear a hypocrtie I hope the author, who seems to think 2007 and 2014 (when a FTTN rollout would begin) should choose his next IT purchases from the following list of 2007 items.

    A sparkling new P4 (Core 2 dual cores have just become available but were very expensive high end stuff at the time, sort of like FTTH in 2007)

    A nokia mobile, IPhone 1st gen is just out, but boy those Apple products are expensive, you’d be a posser to get one of those smart phones, what a waste of money!

    Want a netbook? Sorry, you are out of luck, even the Intel Atom isn’t availabe yet.

    2007 sounds close, but in the IT world it is the time of dinosaurs.

    • It’s not useful to compare < $1,000 consumer gadgets with a ~ $30bn to $40bn broadband network ... this false metaphor has been debunked many times. The NBN is more akin to transport or utility infrastructure.

      • “It’s not useful to compare < $1,000 consumer gadgets with a ~ $30bn to $40bn broadband network … this false metaphor has been debunked many times"

        Sorry, I was unaware there was previous discussion on this, could you link me to this?

        "The NBN is more akin to transport or utility infrastructure"

        I thought it'd be more appropriate to compare IT with IT, as every aspect, consumer or otherwise is still in rapidly advancing. I agree that the NBN is a utility, but the means of delivery isn't something like water gas and electricity that has remained stagnant, it is still a rapidly evolving area.

        • “I thought it’d be more appropriate to compare IT with IT, as every aspect, consumer or otherwise is still in rapidly advancing. I agree that the NBN is a utility, but the means of delivery isn’t something like water gas and electricity that has remained stagnant, it is still a rapidly evolving area.”

          Well actual transmission medium’s Fibre and Copper have remained largely stagnant, what has evolved is the transmission technologies – Fibre for example has been around since the 60’s with minimal changes.

          eg Telstra recently got their Sydney-Melbourne Fibre Link to run at 1Tbps just by replacing the line cards – iirc this fibre link is close to 30 years old!

          • “Well actual transmission medium’s Fibre and Copper have remained largely stagnant, what has evolved is the transmission technologies – Fibre for example has been around since the 60′s with minimal changes.”

            Yes, very true. The technology to use both has improved by orders of magnitude. It’s just I do not agree with the argument that if FTTN was a good solution in 2007 it should be a good solution now. IT evolves rapidly. What was expensive in 2007 is cheaper now, what would have had a full and useful life in 2007 is now end of life.

            “eg Telstra recently got their Sydney-Melbourne Fibre Link to run at 1Tbps just by replacing the line cards – iirc this fibre link is close to 30 years old!”

            Yes, fibre has room for great and simple future speed increases with only changes at the end points.
            In 2007 so did copper, it could have done for about a decade before it’s inherent physical limitations were hit. With a 2016 til stage one of the FTTN rollout will be complete those limits will be years away if that.

          • “Well actual transmission medium’s Fibre and Copper have remained largely stagnant, what has evolved is the transmission technologies – Fibre for example has been around since the 60′s with minimal changes.”

            The problem for copper though, is that the transmission tech is butting up against the laws of physics with it as a medium, even in lab/perfect environments.

  43. I look at it like this the NBN as it stands is like 93% getting a brand new Aston Martin DB9 a very very good car. And the 7% or so that don’t get that will get a mix of top end hire cars until they get to the depot where their DB9 is waiting.

    The LNP alternative is like 22% getting the DB9 because they’ve already been delivered and 70%(ish) getting a 3 year old Ford Mondeo – still a good car but a bad service history and it will only be upgraded once you can’t drive it anymore and even then it will only be replaced with a new Mondeo or if they feel like it you might get a DB9.

    So sure in the absence of the Labor policy being given a 3 year old Mondeo to replace your 15 year old Corolla would be great. But if you’re being promised a brand new DB9 if you can wait just a couple years longer why would you want the alternative?

    (I readily recognise it’s not a perfect metaphor)

  44. I am sorry, but I simply do not see how 22% fiber coverage could in any possible way equate to “and fibre will be deployed throughout Australia’s larger population areas”.

    By this accounting method, there is no need for any NBN rollout at all since HFC already covers around 30% of the population so must ALREADY “be deployed throughout Australia’s larger population areas”.

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