Policy reversal: Turnbull now ‘thoroughly’ open to FTTP



news Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull appears to have drastically modified the Coalition’s policy stance on the National Broadband Network just weeks after the Federal Election, declaring the Coalition was not wedded to its fibre to the node model and was “thoroughly open-minded” about the technology to be used in the network.

The Coalition’s NBN policy document — available online in PDF format — was released in April and clearly states that the Coalition envisaged using so-called fibre to the node technology to upgrade Telstra’s existing copper network, instead of the more ambitious and technically superior fibre to the premises model being used under the previous Labor administration.

“… the bulk of established (‘brownfields’) premises are served by FTTN which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total rollout, and around 90 percent of extension of the fixed-line NBN to stand-alone dwellings between 2014 and 2019,” the document states. The document also clearly criticises Labor’s focus on FTTP technology as used in the NBN, stating that “there is no clear economic case or mainstream consumer demand for FTTP in most areas today”.

In addition, in Opposition as Shadow Communications Minister, Turnbull has consistently been critical of the Government’s focus on FTTP, claiming that it was too expensive and slow a rollout style to feasibly be used in Australia to address current broadband blackspots and slow speeds and that the FTTN model used in countries such as the UK represented a much more preferable option to upgrade Telstra’s copper network.

As recently as 2 September, for example, Turnbull claimed that the fibre to the premises technology used in Labor’s version of the NBN had been “largely superceded” by the Coalition’s preferred fibre to the node model, and that there wasn’t significant evidence to show that the higher capacity of FTTP was “necessary” or “valuable”.

However, asked about the future of the NBN yesterday during a press conference to release the new Coalition Government’s first formal Statement of Expectations document setting out the near-term future of the company (PDF), Turnbull appeared to completely reverse the Coalition’s hard-line stance on the use of FTTN in the future NBN rollout. The full video of the press conference is available online.

Turnbull pointed out that, once the Government had appointed a new interim board for NBN Co, the company was to deliver a strategic review into its operations within 60 days. The review is detailed in the Coalition’s NBN policy document, and is to set to estimate the cost and time to complete the NBN under its current model, as well as evaluating how other models could potentially reduce that cost and time to complete the rollout.

Turnbull said he had made it clear to NBN Co’s staff that he was “not interested in being given information that people may think will conform to my particular political agenda, whatever they may imagine that to be”.

“The goal of the strategic review, as you know, is to ascertain what it will really cost in dollars, what it will really take in years and months, to complete the project on the current specifications. And then, to assess, what options there are to reduce that cost and time, by using different techniques, different technologies,” the Minister added.

“As you know, as everyone knows, we’ve canvassed an example of that in our policy document, but let me say again, as I said to NBN staff today, I am, and the Government is, thoroughly open-minded, we are not dogmatic about technology; technology is not an ideological issue. We are completely agnostic about it. What we want to do is get the best result for taxpayers as soon as possible.”

This ‘technology-agnostic’ approach is also found in the Coalition’s Statement of Expectations document, issued by Turnbull and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

In the Coalition’s NBN policy document, it clearly states that a Coalition Government would issue a revised statement of expectations to NBN Co directing the company to provide broadband services with a minimum download data rate of 25Mbps by the end of 2016 in all areas of Australia, and 50Mbps by the end of 2019 in 90 percent of the fixed-line footprint.

While the policy document also states that the new statement of expectations would grant NBN Co’s board and management “flexibility and discretion in technology and network design decisions”, it is believed that the only way these targets can be met is through the use of a FTTN rollout style, which is significantly faster to deploy than Labor’s FTTP rollout style.

However, the new interim Statement of Expectations document issued by the two ministers to NBN Co yesterday does not contain specific speed goals as listed in the policy. Instead, it broadly informs NBN Co that it is to continue deploying the NBN under Labor’s existing model (FTTP, satellite and wireless), with the proviso that no new build orders for FTTP construction be issued without consultation with the new Government.

Additionally, it states: “Our policy provides NBN Co with flexibility and discretion in technology and network design decisions within the constraint of limited available public capital.”

In another statement yesterday associated with the launch of its revised interim statement of expectations, Turnbull and Cormann gave an example of how the Coalition’s new, more flexible approach, which differs markedly from its previously stated policy, could impact the NBN’s real-world rollout.

“The interim Statement provides NBN Co with the flexibility to use a wider range of technologies to connect businesses and homes to the network,” the pair said. “For example, this will allow NBN Co to trial the latest VDSL technology to deliver superfast broadband to homes and businesses in multi dwelling units such as apartment blocks.”

“A key priority will be to reduce the backlog of 66,000 premises passed by the NBN fibre network which cannot currently obtain service. This includes the majority of apartments, schools and businesses in areas where the fibre network has been rolled out.”

This approach could result in a so-called ‘patchwork’ effect with respect to the NBN, rather than a uniform rollout style. For example, in the case that the two ministers mention — apartment blocks already covered by, but not connected to, the NBN — it could result in a situation where houses on a street covered by the NBN’s fibre could receive NBN speeds up to 1Gbps through the NBN’s fibre, whereas apartment-dwellers on that same street would only receive NBN speeds up to 100Mbps, as in-building copper is re-used and fibre is run only to the building’s basement.

Yesterday, the two minister said in their statement that under their interim Statement of Expectations, FTTP construction will be completed in areas containing 300,000 premises where construction contracts have been signed. They added: “Detailed network design work is underway in areas containing a further 645,000 premises. In geographic areas where NBN Co is in a position to hand over final designs to construction partners, some of these sites may see construction work begin shortly.”

It is not yet clear how many of the current 900,000 premises listed on NBN Co’s website as receiving the NBN’s fibre in the next year will actually receive the infrastructure, with Turnbull stating yesterday that details about actual construction in those areas would be taken after the reviews into NBN Co’s model were completed.

Telecommunications analysts such as Paul Budde have immediately interpreted Turnbull’s policy backdown as the Minister having given NBN Co “the opportunity to save the current NBN”.

“For me the key issue was that the review that he has announced is, in his own words, ‘not dogmatic’. He has first of all asked NBN Co to review its operations with the aim of coming up with changes that will see lower costs and a faster rollout within the current parameters of the project, this being mainly an FttH rollout,” wrote Budde in a blog post.

“It is now up to NBN Co to make changes to its plan that would allow it to continue the project, under the existing specifications but in a much more effective and efficient way. And, according to the experts I talk to, this is possible. NBN Co should therefore be able to come up with a better plan, based on the new situation that has presented itself to them under the new government … It is now up to NBN Co to show that it is indeed able to build as much as possible of the original NBN, cheaper and faster.”

Image credit: Screenshots of ABC broadcast of Turnbull press conference


  1. There is literally no way an unbiased review won’t demonstrate FTTP to be the superior solution in terms of both overall cost and speed. After all the network is already being rolled out, the contracts set. All Turnbull has to do is just let things proceed. Changing everything up, renegotiating contracts, and putting Telstrack into a position of ultimate power would not only be insanely expensive but take a massive amount of time.

    • “There is literally no way an unbiased review won’t demonstrate FTTP to be the superior solution in terms of both overall cost and speed.”

      I doubt many people would argue with that statement, and it’s a statement I agree with completey.

      We need to apply the ‘eighth layer’ of the OSI network model here though. That layer being “politics”, which often gets in the road of the “correct” solution.

      And by ‘politics’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘federal politics’; this happens in ‘corporate politics’ also, and the bigger the organisation, the more rampant it gets.

      Don’t rely on simple common sense playing a significant role in these things.

      • I’m starting to wonder if he realises that even with all the various politics and mutual interests involved, Turnbull realises the review is now more likely to come down on the side of FttH so is hedging his bets a little.

        Annoying thing for me is that if this had been his line in February, the ridiculous debates where people seemed to believe FttN was ever comparable to FttH would have been non-existant. All he needed to say was that “We will review the FttH rollout to see where savings and efficiencies can be gained and, if appropriate, introduce other technologies like FttN to realise those savings and efficiencies” and people would have been happy.

        Imply that FttH was still a prefered tech, rather than imply it was useless.

          • So when he states “there is no clear economic case or mainstream consumer demand for FTTP in most areas today” what exactly is he getting at?

          • He’s saying he believes that FTTN can still provide those outcomes, not that FTTP is ‘useless’.

            Whether he is right or wrong about that goes to the core of the entire FTTP v FTTN debate.

            Lets not forget, while the majority of us here reading this article believe that the FTTP is the ‘best’ solution for the long term, FTTN is still a significant step-forward over what we have now. It is still an elegant solution towards ‘fixing’ the cesspool of what we have now.

            Is it the right solution? I don’t personally believe so.

            Is it a solution? Absolutely it is.

            Whether it can be implemented to the 71% coverage levels as specified in the LNP policy – (at least, how it stood in April) – with respect to the condition of the copper remains to be seen. My experience suggests he’ll struggle to get there.

            Because he’s probably starting to realise it’s going to be more difficult to achieve than he once thought.

            Malcolm sometimes appears not to be listening to all the anti-FTTN debate – but you’ll find he absolutely is, which is why I think he’s taking this each way bet.

            He can’t afford to screw it up.

          • Please dont microanalyse my words here, it frustrates me. FYI, I didnt claim he called it useless, but implied that it was by pushing the FttN barrel so strongly.

            If you want to corner me, I’ll argue that his statement about being no consumer or economic benefits ARE claims its not worth it, and hence a waste of time. But as it wasnt the point I was trying to make, I dont really care.

            Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but there’s no need to go to such lengths to overanalyse what I wrote. My point was that he could have saved a LOT of anguish and debate if he’d said this in February, not that he said FttH was useless.

            And if you look around my posts, you should know that I quite clearly have no problems with FttN, in the proper circumstances. I dont think its bad technology, just that its a weaker plan. It is a step forward, but is the cost worth it?

            Even in a FttH build, there are places where a FttN rollout is still beneficial. Country communities or MDU’s for example.

            I can see that FttH is better in so many ways its not funny, and can also see areas where FttN has a role to play. It frustrates me that tools like fibroid try to bring the argument down to petty splitting of words, and disappoints me that you’re starting to fall for the same traps Michael.

          • Fair enough. It eas meant for fibroid though, to see what his response was. Fibroids response seems to think that Turnbull hasnt been negative about FttH in any way at all, when the reality has been quite the opposite until now.

            The statement I quoted is just one of many where he has attacked the Labor plan, and put as much negativity on it as he can, which to me says he doesnt agree with it on a number of grounds, and if its from a consumer and economic point of view, then his political opinion is that it has no added value, in which case he politically considered it a useless venture.

            But I didnt say he called it useless, only that by taking his particular stance he implied it. Difference, and one that I’m sick of debating with people, so if I seem a little testy, sorry. I’m just sick of smug little trolls who seem to think they are justified in destroying the only real opportunity to get this right.

          • I get the feeling MT might be getting a bit of feet shuffling and looking the other way from Telstra about national copper use for FTTN.

            Telstra love the current NBN Co $11b deal (who wouldn’t), I don’t think they are particularly interested in getting back into the fixed line infrastructure game where they spend a vast amount of their time at ACCC hearings, they are looking at wireless as their revenue cash cow.

            It’s not necessarily a technical argument that their copper can support FTTN it’s more about are they interested in the evaluation process of finding out? – ‘just give us the no hassle $11b as agreed so we can spend it ASAP on wireless’.

          • Not at all.

            Telstra are giving Turnbull two options. They’d perhaps prefer to move on, but the public announcement of a VDSL trial is a clear signal that they’re readying to go build NBN 2.0.

            Telstra is in a very strong position; this isn’t, or shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Including Turnbull.

            Irregardless (i need to work that into a sentence today) of whatever gentlemen’s agreement or memorandum that may or may not exist, Telstra is first and foremost interested in returns to shareholders.

            So that means either “moving on” or regaining market control (via cherry picking legislation changes) in return to get certainty for any investment.

            It just depends on whether the new Minister for Internets wants to snuggle up to Telstra, or continue the current policy, with a few changes, albeit under ‘new management’.

          • You need a VDSL trial in 2013? – what’s that mean, you upgrade a few Top Hat cabinets (takes a few hours each) and surprise surprise yeah it works.

            I still say Telstra want no change to the current NBN agreement, especially to the timeline of how they receive progressive payments up to their $11b, I don’t think they would too happy about any stalling of payments because it’s a different ball game re the conditions to be met on receiving a progressive payment.

          • I’m simply presenting an observation.

            The Telco has only looked at the VDSL deployment test, post election. It would be atypical of them to not to have ensured they can leverage their considerable position.

            It’s an insurance policy. And based on the rather bile-laden rhetoric from the Wizard of Wentworth towards NBNco, a pretty sensible approach.

            Look I think it’s about time all the arguments died down from both parties and they all just get on with the job of sorting out a sensible plan going forward; that’s really FTTH, with perhaps FTTB for MDUs, as that provides some flexibility for future scale. Figure out what the impediments are to speed the rollout and just git ‘er done.

            All this pompous grandstanding doesn’t really achieve anything; Malcolm needs to talk less and do more. I hope this is a sign he’s going to get on with the job he seems to think he has a mandate for.

          • I don’t think they are particularly interested in getting back into the fixed line infrastructure game where they spend a vast amount of their time at ACCC hearings, they are looking at wireless as their revenue cash cow.

            Exactly. They don’t want that kind of national infrastructure any more (http://www.zdnet.com/au/nbn-deal-transfers-network-ownership-telstra-7000021074/).

            Which may help to explain why Malcolm is “coming over” to a more sensible approach for the NBN.

          • A long way to go tinman to get to a FTTP figure of 93% of residences by 2021, but I admire your blind optimism.


          • With FTTP it isn’t a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”, no optimism required ;o)

            If Malcolm wants to be seen as yet another Communications Minister that held back Australia, then that’s his call, but sooner or later, Australia will be mostly fibre…

          • Well if can reign in the ever increasing extravagant cost of the NBN rollout, provide some clarity on rollout figures that have some basis in reality instead of the guessing with ‘near enough will do’ and then dropping them downward with every business plan, with the associated requirement for increased borrowing for peak funding he will be doing well don’t you think?

          • Cost really the latest updated plan has REDUCED the cost needed for FttH down to $1500 per premise There is no cost blow out a time delay but no increase on cost.

          • @ Fibroid

            “Well if can reign in the ever increasing extravagant cost of the NBN rollout, provide some clarity on rollout figures that have some basis in reality instead of the guessing with ‘near enough will do’ and then dropping them downward with every business plan, with the associated requirement for increased borrowing for peak funding he will be doing well don’t you think?”

            Yes, I for one certainly do think that would be impressive indeed and I sincerely hope Mal tries.

            But you of course wouldn’t think so, would you?

            Well after all, we ‘do not’ need FttP/Ferrari like speeds and certainly we don’t need a FttP/Ferrari in every home in Australia because it’s wasteful, iFttN is the ‘cheaper, faster and better solution- “period”…

            Isn’t that what you’ve been telling us for years – apart from telling us, before roads there were no roads (for our FttP Ferraris) of course.


          • As AJ pointed out, costs on the NBN are actually down, not up.

            Try again, using facts this time perhaps?

          • The Analogy game is fun isn’t it, I particularly like the use of Ferrari vs Volvo. This would suggest that each person in the country is paying for their own Ferrari, however since this is about mass communications and not just for the individuals, ie NBN as opposed to a Private Broadband Network, the debate is more like mass transport.

            I can choose to catch a bus to travel from Brisbane to Perth, however catching a plane would be faster and cheaper. This is the case despite the difference in upfront capital between a plane and bus, the plane just makes more sense.

            Though even those in favour of the FTTN realise that eventually FTTP will be installed, does that mean under your own analogy everyone will have a Ferrari in their garage?

          • Hehehe, can’t help but think of your analogy as better describing FTTN. I certainly don’t arrive to the airport by plane ;)

          • Hehehe, can’t help but think of your analogy as better describing FTTN. I certainly don’t arrive to the airport by plane *wink*

          • Telstra doesn’t want the copper network, I used to work for them for a very long time as a linesman. The cost involved in maintaining the copper network is crippling, so who is going to pay for it, us! As for VDSL, I have installed and tested this technology and it only works to a max of 1.2km, at that point you would be lucky to get any real speed. If for instance a DSLAM is installed in a block of units, THIS might work. VDSL is a good technology but not for Wide Area Networking, the distances are far to big. As for Wireless, hmmmm, have you never had a phone call drop out or your 3g iPad freeze up when the wireless drops out. Wireless is inherently unreliable, it affected by atmospheric problems like sun spots and storms to name a few, then there is the usage, like ADSL, it will be affected by so many users on at any one time. If you know anything about Networking, the term Bottle Neck should ring alarm bells. Fibre To The Premises is the ONLY way to go, it CAN’T be out dated and is not affected by rain, lightening strikes or atmospheric problems. Upgrading would be done as it is now, the equipment on the end would change. FTTN will net us big problems and an unreliable network which we spent Billions to put in…. do it right the first time. It took well over 40 years to roll out the copper network, let the NBN take the necessary time to be completed.

          • Agree with the thrust of your argument.. but… wireless at the frequencies used is NOT affected by “atmospherics”… bottlenecks.. for sure, unless there is a base station on every corner (fed by a fibre link).

          • Your statement is factually inaccurate. All electronics everywhere on the planet are affected by solar radiation, in particular solar flares. It’s one of the primary reasons for ECC memory in critical computing systems like servers and scientific workstations. Fibre networks are only susceptible where there are electronic components, less than 1% of 1% of the total network footprint for the NBN.

            Atmospherics such as moisture directly affect 2,400mhz spectrum, which is the most common wireless standard. Sure, NBN wireless is a different matter, but other frequencies can still be affected by atmospheric conditions to a variable extent, but a thorough discussion is a ridiculously offbeat tangent to the actual topic here.

            Point being your simplistic dismissal is inaccurate.

      • The thing is though, I suspect that corporate politics is exactly whats behind this back down. Theres a lot of signed contracts out there and a lot of people who will be suing for astronomical sums if the govt decides to just go cancelling stuff companies have spent ridiculous amounts of money re-tooling for. Not to mention the fact I’ve already seen investors get cold feet about investing here if we’re going to be so short sighted as to whack fibre

        Plus I suspect telstra have told him to go f** himself regarding the hare brained free copper scheme.

        I’ve been saying this to anyone who’ll listen, that as an engineer with a telco background my guess is that the copper nonsense would end up a “non core promise” once reality sets in and the reality of what a bloody terrible idea FTTN really is

        Whatever the case , if we get fibre, then however we get there, it’s fine by me.

    • “Never hold an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be.”

      Russ Hinze. Appropriately a Coalition politician.

    • At last Turnbull is making some sense (humble pie maybe).never the less,lets not be overly critical, else he will change his stance again. As long as the decision is in a right direction and make up for the lost time, its still good.

  2. It’s important that the up-coming Strategic Review not be permitted to ignore the concept of the Use-By Date when factoring in the cost and value of the NBN.

    Nielsen’s Law gives us a guideline as to when a particular max speed network will be overrun by demand, and shortly thereafter pressure will increase for upgrades.

    When does FTTN hit that ceiling?

    It’s critical that we don’t allow a technology-agnostic plan to provide an effectiveness-agnostic solution.

    Just my two cents.

    • Re-reading my thoughts just gave me another thought. I really should do that more often.

      If you accept my conjecture about a hard use-by date for the FTTN solution, I wonder how many political terms will go by before the demand overrun becomes a political issue? I doubt it’ll be too many. Maybe even soon enough to be appearing on the forecasts of political strategists?

      If so, we should try to make them afraid of that event. Apparently fear is a plausible and valid strategy in skewing the outcome of elections. Western Sydney will be in an uproar because they can’t watch multicast ultra-def footy on their wallscreens without making their kids virtual clothing get all glitchy!

      It’ll be a human rights issue.

      • Small catch. If rolled out, FttN has no hard use-by date. Reason being that there will always be some group that sees no need for more, and wont upgrade their speeds beyond the small speeds they use.

        There is still a small but stubborn group of people that still use dialup as a comparable example. Basically, with a FttN build we’re stuck with those nodes being on our corners for the next 50 years.

        That was one of the main features of FttH – it reset everything back to an even playing field, so there wouldnt be a patchwork of technologies in play. That patchwork is one of the fundamental differences between the plans – one gets rid of it, one reinforces it.

        • It is interesting you discuss use by dates relating to fixed line infrastructure, as BT has found uptake of both their FTTP and FTTN is poor that’s because they left ADSL2+ running and many residences are reluctant to move.

          The ‘use by date’ is directly linked to making sure the so called ‘use by date’ infrastructure is switched off.

          • Yep (hey, we CAN agree on something!), and this is one of the biggest issues I see with FttN. It does nothing to prevent that happening for far too long. In the end, you need to maintain something that simply shouldnt be there any more.

            Again, there are still people (and businesses) who use dialup, so that era of technology still needs to be maintained. Because of the speeds FttN can deliver, a FttN rollout commits us to the same errors for the next 20 years. While its there, people will stubbornly stick to it.

            Its one of the lessons BT learned that we should really listen to, because the fact we’re considering FttN late in its shelf life means there is a much shorter time frame before the bulk of the population put it past what should be its end, and commit the technology to become an eyesore for no benefit.

            If we’d gone to FttN a decade ago, the irony is that the cycle would continue into FttH and beyond, but we have a unique opportunity to break that cycle now, and remove the redundant need to maintain what will be more and more useless as time goes on.

            This is part of why pro-FttH people are so passionate about getting it done right – be break that cycle and ultimately end up saving a considerable amount of money for all parties involved.

          • Alright, I’m not even going to bother with this one. You somehow think that a cycle of playing catchup is justification for not rolling out anything better, and when its pointed out we have a unique opportunity to break that cycle, at least for a number of decades, you go back to “but that puppy has a fluffy tail!”

            Good luck with that.

          • You ignored completely that uptake is poor on both FTTP and FTTN, not just FTTN.

            ‘Poor’ by international standards, or yours?

      • I can tell you right now. The use-by date is now. 4K is rapidly becoming a thing that exists, with all the 4K ready tv sets, and the various big name set top box’s coming out (PS4, XBbone, Apple TV) that are set up for 4K streaming services, If people realise that the best looking TV they’ll ever see is going to miss them because of short sightedness and the temper tantrums of a certain media mogul, then yes, there will be hell to pay, because increasingly TV and interwebs are the #1 past time of australians, and we’re a country that doesnt like our past times messed with.

    • The problem with your argument is that the government should be concerned with the basic level of service required. Labor clearly determined that the basic level of service is 12Mbps, as evidenced by the speed tier take-up predictions in the NBNCo Corporate Plan. The leaked 2013 Plan has this to say:

      “As at 30 April 2013, 26% of NBN Co’s FTTP End-Users were on the highest available wholesale speed tier (100/40 Mbps), whilst 47% were on the entry-level wholesale speed tier (12/1 Mbps). These compare with 18% and 49% respectively forecast for FY2013 in the 2012-15 Corporate Plan.”

      The coalition are making fibre on demand available at cheaper prices than 1Gbps Labor NBN connections. Therefore if you want mount a valid case for FTTP you need to either:
      1. Argue against the current speed tier take up (Corporate Plan predicts 50% at 12Mbps will be fairly constant)
      2. Abandon speed tiers completely to provide everyone on fibre with access to game changing performance

      Labor started building a FTTP network where 50% of connections are slower than HFC, FTTN, 4G and approaching half of ADSL2+ connections.

      • Abandon speed tiers completely

        Good luck getting anyone to abandon speed tiers, even Malcolm’s original FTTN plan had them…

      • The problem with your argument is that the government should be concerned with the basic level of service required. Labor clearly determined that the basic level of service is 12Mbps, as evidenced by the speed tier take-up predictions in the NBNCo Corporate Plan. The leaked 2013 Plan has this to say:

        There you go again. “Determined”. Implying motive, intention, or authority. When in reality, the reason they have suggested 12Mbps is the minimum is because that is what most people require. That is what most people will find more than sufficient.

        You further seem to forget that the Coalition agree with this. To the point that they have even been quoted as to saying “12Mbps ought to be enough for anyone”. Labor on the other hand, while accepting this, acknowledge the demand for greater services, and provide means for them to be provided.

        The coalition are making fibre on demand available at cheaper prices than 1Gbps Labor NBN connections. Therefore if you want mount a valid case for FTTP you need to either:

        Bullshit. This has been pointed out to you many times: you are not taking into account TCO. You are further not taking into account that not everyone who demands FoD does so because they demand a 1Gbps connection. There are other tiers, starting at 100/40, which isn’t available to the majority of users, and going up from there, before we even reach 1Gbps. You’re not only presenting comparing apples with oranges, you are also presenting a false dichotomy between 1Gbps and speed attainable by FTTN (i.e around 50Mbps) speeds.

        Stop doing this. Now. And respond to our replies to you in other threads before engaging someone else, on an entirely different thread, repeating the same points you made to us and then claiming, indirectly, and sometimes directly, that we have done nothing to argue against you. When in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth.

      • Mathew,

        Speed tiers are a functional component of LNP policy. You are arguing against the very thing both parties have as part of their broadband solution(s).

        NBNco must make a return, and they cannot cherry pick in order to inflate RoR thus reducing input costs.

        RSPs must accommodate the costs of burstable traffic when there are no speed constraints, combined with the ridiculously high POI count pushing costs; simply ignoring input costs against consumer spend is not reflective of real-world outcomes.

        Simply removing the brakes, doesn’t solve anything. It would have to occur in relation to other pricing changes.

      • Is this the new one, which we will see at every post for the next two years like the 50% on 12?

        “As at 30 April 2013, 26% of NBN Co’s FTTP End-Users were on the highest available wholesale speed tier (100/40 Mbps), whilst 47% were on the entry-level wholesale speed tier (12/1 Mbps). These compare with 18% and 49% respectively forecast for FY2013 in the 2012-15 Corporate Plan.”

        I guess so, as there is little positiveness about FttN…

      • Matthew please just stop. This is getting out of hand. The claims you’re making now become more and more outrageous.

        You’re a Turnbull fanboi. We get it. No amount of sensible discussion will get you to consider an alternative. The more you post nonsense like this, the less people pay attention to you if you actually write something of any significance.

        • You’re a Turnbull fanboi.

          I don’t think he is, he just has a (mistaken) belief that Malcolm’s NBN doesn’t have speed tiers.

      • Mathew

        I was hoping you would have sought counselling for your”problem”. You know, you’re obsession with fixed ideas which you keep repeating ad nauseum.

        Lighten up brother. The world is not going to end even if Malcolm changes his mind.

  3. Hopefully FttH mostly but things like FttB in apartment building will be considered to lower cost and do away with problems dealing with building management and redtape etc. Common sense wins out? My fingers are crossed but not holding my breath, as before the election my town was due to have construction completed by easter 2014.

    • Spot on Richard. Common sense has to apply in apartment blocks and the like, where FTTN in the form of FTTB makes sense as a stop-gap. This stop-gap solution is cheap and massively boosts the number of people with 50-70Mb connections on VDSL or VDSL2. And it can be replaced later.

      In the end FTTP is the right answer for everyone, but a flexible approach will deliver better value in the short-medium term.

  4. I’m not going to start with the politics. Turnbull himself said that, unlikely as so many of us are likely to believe it at this point in time, that he’s only interested in facts.

    One fun thing that’s likely to be released in the middle of the review period is the latest data on this, around October 9th: http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/8153.0~December+2012~Chapter~Volume+of+data+downloaded?OpenDocument

    Second, is that Australia seems to have moved up, based on upload speeds, on netindex.com: http://www.netindex.com/upload/allcountries/ by something like 8 places. If I narrow this down by ISP and look at the time periods, it seems pretty likely that it can only be the NBN that’s accounting for that. Despite the shortfall in premises passed, it’s so superior that it’s already starting to show up!?

    Third is that the case for FTTN in an NBN Co form has yet to be made. I’m honestly at a loss, living 300 metres from a top hat, what a speed increase of 20% or 30% or even 50% or something like that is going to do for me. Rather than rolling out VDSL2, how about getting the whole country on ADSL2+ with DSLAMs by TPG and iiNet having government loans or subsidies behind them? How about getting the ACCC to redo its pricing decision for Telstra Wholesale ADSL? If the delays of NBN Co are so that it’s really going to take 20 years to complete, then spending $2 or $3 billion to build some FTTP in some brownfields areas with bad copper, limited repairs on existing copper and ensuring availability for ADSL2+ country-wide so that people don’t have to rely on 3G wireless is a much more sensible alternative than VDSL2 to 71% of the population. I can live with 1 Mbps uploads for the next few years, but I can’t live with 4 Mbps for the next 20 years or however long VDSL2 will stay around for. I’ll be happy with 40 Mbps in let’s say five years’ time and an easy upgrade to 400 Mbps a decade and a half down the line. http://nbnmyths.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/fttn-speed-graph.gif

    Yes, this keyboard warrior zealot is calling for less investment than the government is likely to provide than were it to roll out VDSL2 to much of the population. I hate to say it, but I’d rather the government not spend money on VDSL2. It doesn’t really move us any closer to FTTP either. Fibre-on-demand is a very sub-optimal outcome in the long run at least.

    Fourth is that at some point maintenance on FTTN is going to eat up the difference between the capital expenditures. I’m hoping that this will be part of the review, but I’m not going to hold my breath. And it’s more than just the difference in electricity usage, which is frankly minute.

    And lastly, moving away from the numbers and apart from FTTP vs. FTTN, about fixing the mess that’s the Australian telecommunications sector that the government created in about 1995-2000. And it takes government interference to do that, for better or for worse, and this NBN Co model under strong ACCC control is better than the alternatives. Much more damaging to the choice between FTTP and FTTN is, as Alan Kohler has pointed out, the destruction of its business model: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/9/23/information-technology/nbn-board-has-run-away-why

    More info on the history: http://reckoner.com.au/2013/09/australias-broadband-history/

    I think I’ve managed to avoid politics here and, while giving a subjective opinion, have managed to avoid, what were the adjectives, ill-informed, politically shaped misinformation.

    • That said, making NBN Co the provider of last resort in housing estates that have 100 premises or more approved starting from 1st of January 2011 was an absolutely disastrous decision and is, next to probably the delay in negotiating with Telstra, the worst decision the government made.

      If we start apportioning blame, and at this point (and although I may have done so in the past) why the hell not, let’s blame this single one decision as having an insane number of bad consequences down the line and probably the single most contributing factor as to where we are today.

      That and the Telstra negotiation delay, which I frankly blame the coalition just as much as anyone else for, for not privatising Telstra without either its HFC or POTS network and without proper wholesale separation in 1997.

      • That said, making NBN Co the provider of last resort in housing estates that have 100 premises or more approved starting from 1st of January 2011 was an absolutely disastrous decision and is, next to probably the delay in negotiating with Telstra, the worst decision the government made.

        can you please explain why.

        • Because NBN Co now had to go out into brand-new developments in exurbs that may not have more than 2 houses built before let’s say 2015.

          Go to the map and check out any of the purple As. http://nbnco.com.au/when-do-i-get-it/rollout-map.html

          Odds are that it will be a newly developed tiny area far away from established infrastructure. And then as well, it means that the service areas will be spread out starting from these places, which are generally surrounded by developments that may only be a few years older and in least need of having their infrastructure overhauled.

          And all this at the cost of brownfields. One weird purple shape on the map would have cost kilometres of trenching and usually an interim ISAM, and all this for maybe a single connection or two. There’s hardly any revenue for it unless you then use the fibre that’s been laid to keep growing the network. For the same capex, once you subtract revenue for a few very short years, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could fibre up twenty or fifty premises in brownfields.

  5. Hmm… few more Turnbull Truths popping up now. Remember the CBA the Lib’s were demanding for so long? Well apparently now its more and more likely its not going to happen.

    Something about the chariman being the former head of DBCDE and hence part of designing the FttH model…

    So, review 60 days after a new board is appointed, and now probably no CBA. Great start Malcolm, great start.

    • I don’t get a discount on my ADSL2+ because I am further away from the exchange than others in my suburb, I am sure residences that don’t have HFC passing them get a discount on their ADSL2+ either.

  6. It’s always easier to criticise a thing, than to manage it. Perhaps now that the shoe is on the other hand..

    Turnbull really has two choices:
    – continue with the current policy, amended to allow for FTTB and FTTN where that may actually make sense (as in, the latter may allow some areas marked for wireless to have faster options) to assist in reducing costs and speed rollout.. or,
    – throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    Telstra is (as usual) schizophrenic on the topic and is covering all bases by simultaneously saying it wants to move on, and hedge its bets by staging a VDSL trial.

    TPG has assumed the latter – which to be honest isn’t perhaps surprising given the sorts of vernacular Turnbull has used to describe FTTH, the board (and anyone else caught in the crosshair) and that they’d relax the cherry-picking legislation.

    There won’t be a CBA. It’s not really going to tell anyone anything more than we already know. It’ll be a review, and the Minister(s) will direct based on that.

    • covering all bases by simultaneously saying it wants to move on, and hedge its bets by staging a VDSL trial.

      They aren’t mutually exclusive. The VDSL trials may well be to sweeten the deal so they can move on sooner.

      • Yes and no; VDSL trials may lead to FTTB type outcomes for MDUs; which could lead to a bit of a land grab.

        It’s not so much that they are mutually exclusive, as in that it pulls the company in two different directions.

  7. “What we want to do is get the best result for taxpayers as soon as possible.”

    Which would be the proper NBN plan.

    Funny though for the last 3 years Turnbull and his zoo crew chums have been saying that FttN is adequate and that running fibre is too expensive and somehow he’s going to do a backflip on this? Well I certainly would welcome it if that turns out to be the case and we end up with a majority FttP network (includes FttB btw). Which is what I have endorsed all along. It would also prove what I’ve said in the past that eventually the coalition clowns would have to modify their plan until they came to the correct FttP solution too.

    • +1
      I’ve always said he’ll go down this route. FTTB or FTTN for units is by far the most pragmatic way for him to remove the political risk in a widespread FTTN rollout. It’s like he’s been arguing that we can’t afford a Porsche and should stick with the souped up bomb but now someone has handed him the keys…

  8. Given the vagaries and variability of the Turnbull’s statements I wouldn’t place too much stock in anything he says at this point in time. Turnbull is a politician, and a good one at that, well versed in ambiguous statements. And his whole press conference yesterday was full of the same. Placatory, vaguely encouraging, and non-committal, but suggesting enough, just enough, to perhaps give hope to those who want to hear something positive.

    As I said, a good politician. In fact he would probably make a better diplomat than a Comms minister.

    • Yes, he sounds like he might make a journo, or a lawyer, or a merchant banker, or politician.

      Oh, wait on, he is or has been all of those…

      Maybe we should add used car salesperson to that list?

  9. There’s no reversal. The key words here are “…within the constraint of limited available public capital.” He’s tried to claim all along that he’s technology agnostic, he’s just going to direct any inquiry or review to only consider options that cost $30billion or less. Coincidentally, we know how much FttP costs and it’s $45.6 billion. Madness. Who starts a business and looks only at start-up costs and not revenue and ongoing costs, including depreciation?

    • .’ Coincidentally, we know how much FttP costs and it’s $45.6 billion.’

      We don’t know how much FTTP will cost, that is a prediction of what it will cost based on the 2012 Business plan, we will never how much it actually costs because the Labor NBN plan will not be implemented intact through to 2021.

      • That should say from the 2013-2016 plan (as your figure indicated), they increased required funding by about $1billion from the 2012 plan.

        • Wow how compelling…

          A number of posters went AWOL and all reappeared when this new copy of the corp plan started circulation…and then they started to bag the previous NBN ‘again’… *sigh*

          Old habits, eh…?

          Got nothing positive to say about FttN?

          Thought not.

        • Fibroid

          I dream of the day Malcolm changes his mind and goes all the way with FTTP and then to see you metamorphose into a FTTP champion who will suddenly agree with everything we say. Can’t wait.

          • You did indeed put it much more eloquently and elegantly than I ever could.

            Also,it will be fascinating to watch how Malcolm, echoed by Fibroid, could plausibly transform a white elephant into the goose that laid the golden eggs.

          • I’d suggest the claim will be, “I was always in favour of FttP” however just not the Labor, pink batts version.

            FttP managed more fiscally responsibly is all I ever asked and is the obvious preference…

            This would be where we would either shake our heads in disbelief (which is usual anyway IMO) or we literally piss our pants laughing at the complete (but not iunexpected) always politically motivated back-flip.

          • This is similar to what is happening with refugees.

            Before the LNP would clamour about every single boat arriving.
            Now, they are keeping it quiet because it may jeopardise operations and life.
            Of course, that was never the case before.

            The things you have to do to win an election.

          • Now, they are keeping it quiet because it may jeopardise operations and life.

            it’s almost like they didn’t care about ‘operations’ and ‘lives’ before the election, isn’t it…

          • Fibroid

            I dream of the day Malcolm changes his mind and goes all the way with FTTP and then to see you metamorphose into a FTTP champion who will suddenly agree with everything we say. Can’t wait.

            It will be a sight to see :o)

  10. All I see here is an illusion being presented by a serial deciever. There is no intention of FTTP being continued.

    You can read all the wishful thinking into it that you want to – that is exactly what Turnbull wants. Then he will turn around, deliver a botched FTTN and claim that he really did consider all options.

    Austalia voted in the Coalition. It is what it is. There are pros and cons about this decision – but let’s not kid ourselves about what those pros and cons are.

    • Yup. This is smoke and mirrors at it’s best.

      We are getting FTTN. That was decided a couple of Saturdays ago. Don’t buy into yet more bullcrap from Turnbull.

      “There is no intention of FTTP being continued.” This +1000

  11. The Abbott government will quickly demonstrate better management efficiency. The new cabinet is NOT stupid. It will try to remove all ‘wedges” that ALP will try to put out.
    We already have seen brilliant decisions made.
    1. Macfarlane: Local car industry – Holden will be saved.
    2. Turnbull: NBN rolled out quicker and cheaper – FTTP will be rolled out to shut-up ALP.
    3. Environment minister: Emissions targets will be kept but Carbon Tax to be repealed.
    4. Education & health funding preserved.
    5. Morrison: Weekly news only on boat arrivals. No PR for boat people.
    6. Care for the disadvantaged.
    By the time either Albanese or Shorten is elected leader, the ALP will be nothing but a spent force.
    I predict the ALP will be in opposition for decades.

    • Hmm let me have a look at these decisions…

      1. They are pumping money into Holden to save jobs, not to save Holden. With the current plans and the previous ones, history tells us that it’s a matter of time again before Holden need more money or move jobs off-shore. Who wants to buy an over priced Holden they’ve already purchased with their tax money? The money should be put into the sales for Holden. Cheaper cars = more sales.

      2. As far as we can tell, it’s actually going slower and the price is a big question mark.

      3. From a government that doesn’t believe in carbon pollution and sacking Tim Flannery.

      4. Coalitions will honour the funding setup by the previous government, however only for 4 years not 6 as Labor was doing.

      5. Yes because we all know that the smugglers are sitting in front of their televisions waiting for some PR. Weekly news that they decide what to hand out to the media, which could be nothing for all we know. Smugglers make money off boat people with or without it making the media.

      6. Honouring all previous government funding and renaming it back to NDIS.

    • Apart from the three policies they ripped off from Labor (health, education and NDIS), the rest is pretty damned dodgy….

      ‘Stop the boats’? Yeah, right…’stopping information about the boats’ is not stopping the boats…

  12. I am trying to remain optimistic with these sorts of comments, but I ultimately feel they’re throwaway lines designed to keep the likes of us off his case. If he really is technology agnostic, why is he already beginning talks with Telstra? Surely, if he was technology agnostic and pending the results of the review, such talks would be premature? I don’t know, maybe they’re just going to thrash out options so they know what cards they have to play following the review, but I’m struggling to stay too up beat if I’m honest.

  13. Telstra will slash 1100 Australian jobs from its Operations business unit by June 2014

    The cuts will come from its Operations division, which is largely made up of field technicians, engineers, construction workers and IT staff. In May Telstra said it would overhaul the Operations division, which houses around 15,000 staff.

    It doesn’t sound like Telstra is gearing up to roll out FTTN, they appear to be to gearing down.

  14. hey, if MT backflips on any policy, then im glad its on the NBN policy and not on anything else….:)

  15. You know what?

    Telstra has malcolm by the balls. They may be fine with rolling out FTTN for Malc, but they’re still going to cut jobs and nothing is going to change that. Malcolm has no choice but to roll out FTTP because the workforce to roll out FTTN will not exist for much longer – at least, not in the numbers needed to roll it out realistically within the time-frame they have stipulated.

    At least, that’s my educated guess given the recent headlines. It’s got nothing to do with bending to our wishes and everything to do with Telstra literally holding ALL the cards for him…

  16. For once a brief comment.

    No doubt the request for a “strategic review” did not mention once the phrases.

    “future proof”

    or even something like “lowest cost in the medium to long term”

  17. My crystal ball says in 60 days the regular brownfield deployment will still be FTTP. Inner city apartments will drag the fibre that’s been sitting outside the complex for years into the basement and literally overnight thousands of inner city dwellings will have a rather healthy VDSL connection probably all of which could get 100Mbps+. The copper should not be rotting there.

    • Pretty much everyone I have seen comment on this issue agrees that FTTB is a sensible solution and should be included as part of the NBN.

      I would like to see how much it would cost to deploy a FTTP/FTTB solution to 93% of the population. As a compromise between FTTN and FTTP it makes a great deal of sense.

  18. Good to see they are open minded and prepared to get the best for the community, I just hope this continues into matters such as Coal and CSG licenses.

  19. I remember discussing this about a year ago on delimiter as a distinct post election possibility.

    It was always a clear possibility and it would always give the coalition a scapegoat if things didn’t work out perfectly, i.e. Labor and NBN Co’s management under Labor.

  20. Many people seem to be hung-up on the speed of connectivity. What about reliability? More to the point, the lack of reliability from the consumer perspective when their 21st Century Internet experience is delivered over a copper network that still includes paper covered wires and leaky lead sheathing that was installed more than 50 years ago? The few people who are left who know how to repair this stuff are the ones Telstra will let go. Regardless of the rhetoric, the level of service you get will be a lottery.

  21. Our government/country lacks the necessary skills and expertise to even implement a system like this. Unlike myki, we should have tendered the entire NBN project offshore to have a qualified company devise a plan that would see a successful un-government influenced project rolled out!

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