“The NBN is dead,” says Jason Clare



news Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare yesterday said he believed Labor’s National Broadband Network project was “dead” and that all that was left was “a bunch of different technologies rolling out in different parts of the country”, despite the fact that most Australians still want the project to go ahead.

Labor’s previous NBN project focused on rolling out Fibre broadband to 93 percent of Australian premises. In its rival broadband policy released in April 2013, the Coalition had promised to replace much of that model with a Fibre to the Node-based structure, where fibre would be rolled out to neighbourhood nodes, with Telstra’s copper network to be reused for the remainder of the distance to premises.

However, in early December last year, the National Broadband Network Company released its Strategic Review report into the current status of its network rollout and options for modifying the rollout to better meet the Coalition’s policy aims of delivering download speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps to most Australians by the end of 2016 and 50Mbps to 100Mbps by the end of 2019.

The report found that it will not be possible to deliver the Coalition’s stated policy goal of delivering broadband speeds of 25Mbps to all Australians by the end of 2016 or at the projected cost, and has recommended that NBN Co cancel any new network rollout to up to a third of Australian premises already covered by existing HFC cable networks.

It also recommended that a sizable proportion of the remaining premises would be covered by a Fibre to the Node rollout, with about a quarter of premises to received the original Fibre to the Premises model preferred by the previous Labor administration. This model is known as the ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ option.

Asked about the future of the project yesterday on Sky News by host and senior Labor figure Graham Richardson, Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare said: “I think the NBN is dead. We don’t really have a National Broadband Network anymore. An IT journalist wrote today that all we’ve really got is a bunch of different technologies rolling out in different parts of the country … It’s not even an NBN anymore Graham, it’s a whole bunch of different broadband networks and it’s pot luck, depending on where you live, you’ll either get the first rate system, the second rate system or the third rate system.

Clare pointed out that the Coalition’s vision relied on the technically inferior FTTN model for a large proportion of Australia.

He added: “That’s a lot slower than the fibre that we were going to deliver. Then for some people they won’t even get that. They will get broadband through the COAX cable that runs down the street, that runs the Pay TV system, Foxtel. Then other people will get satellite. Other people will get fixed wireless. So it’s really a hotchpotch of different technologies. It’s why people like the head of Microsoft in Australia have said the Government’s made the wrong decision and they should reverse it and go back to the model that we created, the National Broadband Network.”

The Shadow Minister acknowledged there had been problems with the construction of the NBN, however, he stated that the FTTP model was still “the right project”, which would set Australia up for the future to compete with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Richardson pointed out that the NBN remained “stubbornly popular”. Polls have consistently shown that around two thirds of Australians support the project. “We didn’t lose the election because of this issue. People get it, they understand how important the NBN is. In fact I’d argue that people voted for the Coalition in spite of their policy on this,” Clare said.

The news comes as other senior figures have increasingly expressed their concerns about the Coalition’s rival approach to the project over the past several weeks.

In mid-January, respected telecommunications analyst Paul Budde heavily criticised the Coalition’s new preferred broadband deployment model, describing its “Multi-Technology Mix” approach as “a dog’s breakfast” of different technologies, which could turn out to be a “logistical nightmare” to deliver in practice.

And several weeks later, Australia’s third-largest broadband player iiNet opened a broadside on the nation’s political class over the “policy vacuum” the ISP says exists in telecommunications policy, agreeing with veteran analyst Paul Budde that further discussion is needed around the actual uses of upgraded broadband infrastructure and less discussion of entry level broadband speeds that the Coalition has been focusing on.

It won’t come as a surprise to many that I agree with Clare that the “NBN” concept is current defunct under the Coalition. In early January I wrote that the “National” Broadband Network label needed to be abandoned, and since then Delimiter has been referring to the Coalition’s approach as “the Coalition’s Broadband Network”.

And in December, when NBN Co released its Strategic Review, I wrote:

“I sat in a press conference at NBN Co headquarters this morning and listened for two hours while Turnbull and a series of his NBN appointees explained how they would construct less of the NBN even than the Coalition promised in April. Those areas currently “served” (as laughable as that term is to many who live there) by the HFC cable footprint, it now appears, will get no upgrade at all. Many will doubtless still be on ADSL2+ when the Coalition’s “NBN” is completed.

Turnbull’s cost projection promises, his rollout speed promises, his technology choice promises; even his promises that the NBN Co Strategic Review would not be run by consultants; virtually all of his promises about the NBN were this morning flagrantly broken, and there were no answers to so many of the questions which the non-subservient elements of the media (those of us that are left) have about the NBN.

We cannot call this a “National Broadband Network” any more. That term is fundamentally redundant, when around 28 percent of Australian premises will not receive the infrastructure, and most of the rest will receive a watered down version highly dependent on Telstra’s copper network, which, as NBN Co’s internal reports show, has a plethora of issues. To do so would be farcical, as this morning’s entire press conference was farcical.”


    • What NBN?

      Unless were talking about the Coalition’s reincarnated Dr Frankenstein’s monster network of new and old parts =P

    • its true, NBN is dead, there will be pockets of FTTH, pockets of cable, and pockets of Satellite or 3G, but there is no longer a coherent NATIONAL Broadband network.

  1. Thanks for giving this coverage Renai. It’s blindingly obvious to regular onlookers, but it doesn’t get coverage in the newspapers.

    I think you should call the CBN the EBN (Existing Broadband Network) as nothing’s going to change. I think CBN was back in the day that you thought they’d still be delivering something. My guess (based on the history of FTTP) is that FTTN won’t be delivered in the next 5 years.

    I think too that focussing on the feasibility of the multi-mix technologies will also get in the way of holding the government accountable of getting better broadband sooner. Let’s face it, negotiations with Telstra “haven’t” started – and that needs to be finalised with shareholders too.


  2. Is that a huge grin on the horizon coming from that mansion that belongs to Murdoch?
    Nice write up once again Renai.

  3. The LNP’s mantra before the election was called when they were being honest as they are talking about cutting all reforms to push education, communications, etc into the 21st Century. The LNP only changed the sound of their rhetoric when the election was on as that is when voters listen.

    So am I surprised? No, but the Australian electorate is commonly stupid anyway.

    • “So am I surprised? No, but the Australian electorate is commonly stupid anyway”

      You could say also that its the rich minority manipulating the poorly educated (via Murdoch press) majority!

  4. Excellent!! “Coalition’s stated policy goal of delivering broadband speeds of 25Mbps”

    That means they have 2 years to figure out how to deliver 25Mbs because the TOWER they built in the bush has no direct line of site to anyone’s roof.

    That happens, in the bush. Trees. Easily seen from 22 satellite images I sent the Ericsson design team.

    Lots of trees, seen from 12 angles – VERY TALL TREES.

    Those very clever people at Ericsson NBN Co knew better… fancy city folk must be right cause they all earn over $200k.

    So why doesn’t it work and should the taxpayer pay them for it?

    • So people like me in urban areas who have argued for the real NBN for many reasons but one particularly being the ubiquity factor… are now being mocked by those very forgotten (read: unprofitable) people we have been arguing for?

      And… the taxpayer?

      :/ amazing

  5. @Renai I think calling it the CBN is even being too kind as it’s not really a Network anymore, just a whole sort of general mish mash* of obsolete technologies pressed together pretending to be a network!

    I think a more appropriate label would be the MBM (Malcolm’s Bloody Mess).

    *credit to Douglas Adams for this phrase

  6. True dJOS, it’s not actually a network, it’s just a policy pretending to be a network.

    Best case for it’s name would be Coalition Broadband NetworkS

  7. Why did Malcolm stop the cherry picking?

    Checked the cost of 4k TVs?

    Conroy and Ludlam and one or two others doing good work in the Estimates Committee.

    I feel there will be a UTurn happening very quietly but detectable by the middle of the year.

  8. Great, I’ve moved four times in the same suburb and have had four types of broadband technologies, now I have to wait years and watch money being spent on a project that will deliver the same farcical situation…. Sigh

    • @Decka: I feel your pain buddy! Had the same experience a while back when we moved a few times w/in the same suburb as well. It was a total joke back then and I’m not to keen to see the same thing repeated again for another 10-20 years…

  9. I have been amused by how NBN supporters would vote out the Political party that was delivering this incredible project thinking an online petition would bring it back, how naive but how destructive. I now know the true meaning of someone shooting their foot off.
    This (fibre NBN) would have advanced Australia to the top of the tree in ICT, not now, not ever, shame Australia.

  10. I currently feel like the knife block in my kitchen and it really stings. In my street the rods that pull the cable are sitting in the remediated ducts, the pit covers have the pit numbers and installation codes painted on them, the go live date was mid December last year. Thanks Rupert for the absolutely shithouse HFC cable that couldn’t even support your dodgy advertisement ridden Platinum package that I stupidly paid for, for at least twelve years. TO GET WHAT!. Whenever the weather looked remotely wet I would lose the whole service channel by channel at a rapid rate. It scares me as I get into my older years and I want to consult my online medical service and the lovely little USB medical sensors that I have connected between my body and my computer and thus to my medico flatline because a cloud has appeared overhead. THANKS FOR NOTHING CONSERVATIVE WANNABEES because you voted for them, it still does not mean you will be one of the elite and a member of the boys club. If this post gives the impression that I am upset with this issue, well a good Labor supporter would understand but a good lnp supporter better go and see Malcom and get an explanation, or better yet go talk on the AM radio to Alan Jones who will put you right because he knows what is good for you and he is right on top of all of this tech stull.

  11. Liberals – taking the N out of NBN.

    Australia now sits at #50 beneath Mongolia, but ahead of Chile in terms of network speed …

    … and there is only one way to go in the ranking with a capped copper last leg.

    Australia – the clever country? Competitive in a global knowledge service industry?


    • I wanted to know where the phrase “the clever country” came from, and I found that it was an adaptation (in fact, the opposite counterpart) of the ironic and oft-misused phrase “the lucky country”:

      ‘Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.’

      ‘I think we should realise that ‘the lucky country’ provides a descriptive phrase, condemning Australia for what it was, whereas the clever country is a prescriptive phrase, suggesting to Australia what it might become.’

      ‘After all, the alternative to being a clever country is to be a stupid country

      Above quotes are all from Donald Horne.

      Professor Ian Lowe, says in his paper The Clever Country? that Australia has two options. Either ‘we could continue our current economic strategies; this could be called the ‘steady as she sinks’ approach’, or, he says, ‘we could try seriously to become ‘the clever country’ by investing in our own future.’

      We continue to be a lucky country, and certainly not a clever country.

      • GDP/Capita Ranking: Australia:7, Germany:22

        Standard of Living Ranking: Australia:2, Germany:5

        Australia the lucky country having the chance to become even cleverer, perhaps?

        I wonder what a serious China slow-down would do to the rankings?

        Diversification is the key and building a sub-standard comms infrastructure is just plain dumb.

        • A serious China slowdown?

          That’s not a matter of if but when, in my view. whether anything gets done about it ahead of time is sadly not a matter of when, but if.

          So far, in that respect, this mob ain’t helping…..

  12. I think the ANZ boss Mike Smith hit the nail on the head here in these comments,


    The NBN is bigger than what the libs can comprehend and Free trade??? how did that one get by everyone? do we really want to lower our living standards to those of the third world? Everyone takes the week end off or the 38hr week or sick days etc etc for granted, they can very easily be taken away from us, For when all manufacturing is gone and there are thousands out of work, People will be glad to take anything they can get!

  13. You can all whine as much as you want, but all these online rants and hundreds of repetitious NBN debates won’t sway our current government.

    Instead of being faceless keyboard warriors, get off your butts and attend the March in March…


    If you won’t even do that, maybe print out a poster and stick up at your school/uni/workplace/street lamp.

    The NBN is only dead as long as the Coalition is in power, or Tony Abbot in particular is the PM.

  14. The Liberal Party has kept its promise and dismantled Labor’s NBN, but the CBN has never been about supplying a service to all or any Australians it’s been about providing a financial windfall for their corporate sponsors and backers, it’s all about giving them a nice cash injection for all their old and failing technology.

  15. so many people on here are just full of shit
    A. The article comments by Jason Clare come across as suggesting labor weren’t using satellite or wireless. that’s 100% incorrect. But since it was a labor figure, I notice nobody mentions it. Comments that can mislead, even if unintentional, are still wrong.
    B. Everyone blames Rupert. Its a convenient excuse that some labor twit came up with, but nobody has ever provided any proof of it.
    C. Labor were fucking Australia up in other ways. Sure, the coalitions nbn isn’t as good, but they are doing right in other ways where labor were not. You cant have it all. And no labor fan will ever concede this point. Labor were driving Australia into the ground. Its a good thing they are not running the country now and to want them back just to get a FTTH network is stupid and selfish.

  16. The appropriately named COALition’s version is the Neanderthal Broken Network.

  17. @ Realist, I’ll borrow your first one and call it

    The Never Never Network

    because we a never going to see while these arseholes are in power.

      • ” How do we get rid of these morons? ”
        Well we could stick them in one of those life boats and make sure they don’t have enough petrol to get back to land, other than that we will just have to grin and bear it until the next election.

        • Yes then we can use their own “stop the boats” policy to prevent them coming back in!
          I just hope it is not too late to repair the damage so Australia can still have a real NBN.
          I feel those who voted for or at least those who are members of the COALition should be made to pay for the restoration costs.

          • Well once Labor is back in power they can have their Royal Commission too, then the Mad Monk and Fork Tongue Turnball can have their day in court.

          • “Well once Labor is back in power they can have their Royal Commission too, then the Mad Monk and Fork Tongue Turnball can have their day in court.”

            Only problem with that is the cost. How much more money will be wasted before we finally get a decent NBN?

            “Make the bastards work harder, they’re only sitting 70 odd days this year…lazy bitches. Most democracies sit in the region of 150 at least…”

            Our corruption based political system is a farce. It’s time all political donations were made illegal and politicians were all put on the minimum wage and made to actually work for the people instead of the other way around.
            If they want to earn more money they could then be paid bonuses based on the happiness, health, education level and satisfaction of the people they work for.

            Also if they are all forced to use the public health system as well as the public schools for their kids, just watch how fast things would change. Plus of course their private use internet connection should be by the slowest and most expensive service available in the country.
            Perhaps then we’d have the NBN?
            After all if minimum standard living and communications is good enough for some of their employers (us) then it should equally be good enough for them.

          • Our corruption based political system is a farce. It’s time all political donations were made illegal and politicians were all put on the minimum wage and made to actually work for the people instead of the other way around.
            If they want to earn more money they could then be paid bonuses based on the happiness, health, education level and satisfaction of the people they work for.

            `kin fantastic idea, I’d vote for performance based politics, everyone else is performance based these days, lets see them meet some publicly endorsed KPI’s!

      • “How do we get rid of these morons?”

        Make the bastards work harder, they’re only sitting 70 odd days this year…lazy bitches. Most democracies sit in the region of 150 at least…

  18. The NBN was dead the day the Coalition won the election. We all knew that. It was only wishful thinking (and denial) that kept us believing that the dream may live on.

    Now that the reality is finally setting in – we can move on to the mourning phase.

  19. It honestly saddens me when I see comments like Alex’s.

    Yes, the NBN will give most of us better internet connections, however you need to understand the entire picture to realize how big this lie is.

    For $41 billion, which is still a hell of a lot of cash, the Coalition are going to build a mixed technology network, that is far, FAR inferior to the 93% FTTP that Labour were building. I’m not exaggerating here, the difference in speeds is colossal.

    100Mb Download
    5 Mb Upload

    These are the maximum speeds the NBN expects to get out of FTTN when the project is completed.

    1000Mb Download
    400Mb Upload

    FTTP has 10x the download speed, and 80x the upload speed, and that’s TODAY’S FTTP speed, whereas that FTTN speed is what they hope to get by 2019, under optimal conditions. In 5 years time, FTTP could be offering businesses 10,000 Mbit.

    Turnbull has often stated it’s cheaper and makes more sense to only upgrade to what you need now, and worry about upgrading later when you need to. He advocates we should pay for FTTN now, and pay for FTTP later, when/if FTTN stops fulfilling our needs.

    It’s all a big lie to justify wasting $41 billion on his CBN. What he isn’t telling you, is after it’s built, it will be sold off, and no government will watch to touch it for another 30+ years. It will be up to YOU to pay from your own pocket to finish it and get FTTP installed to your door.

    How well do you think the new owners will maintain FTTN, when the alternative is you pay them to get FTTP? If Telstra end up as the new owners (very likely), you think they will look after it any better than they did with their copper network after they were privatized?

  20. I can’t understand how the tax payer builds the line. Then the government charges private companies to use said NBN. Then we pay to use said NBN through a private company. What did we pay for?And in the long run who is benefiting from this?

    • The government pays for the set up fee essentially. About $1600 per premise they suggested.
      Then they resell the services to RSP’s (ISP like Telstra/Optus/iiNet) for a certain fee.
      After about 10 years of full operation, they have regained all the money spent on the NBN + interest and the NBN turns in to a cash cow providing billions of dollars per year. They either have the option to milk it or reduce the price for consumers and increase the tiers (1000Mbps -> 10,000Mbps).

      It’s pointless to talk about how much money that the NBN is going to cost when you realise that all the money is going to be repaid, very quickly, in full.

      Under the coalition model, the NBN will only seek to be installed to those in hard to reach areas that existing ISPs find expensive. The coalition is avoiding cities where there is massive profits to be made due to simple installs. Instead saying that ‘Cable is good enough’ when it isn’t. The return on investment is then next to nil. That is, no cash cow, no decreasing costs, no increasing speeds. Ever.

  21. FTTP “dead”? Nothing could be further from reality in the rest of the world. It is still the right thing to do. Nothing has changed outside Australia. Always remember this.

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