Switkowski confirms FTTN for Tasmania



news NBN Co executive chairman has confirmed the Coalition’s Broadband Network model will see a Fibre to the Node deployment through at least part of Tasmania, in a move that the Opposition has branded as yet another example of “Liberal lies”.

Many Tasmanians believe the Coalition, specifically Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, committed the Coalition’s Broadband Network rollout (CBN) in the state to a full Fibre to the Premises deployment during last year’s Federal Election campaign. However, in fact, Turnbull never explicitly made such a promise; stating only that a Coalition Government would honour construction contracts signed by NBN Co. Some Tasmanians took this statement to mean that the Coalition would commit to a full rollout of Fibre to the Premises broadband in the state. However, Turnbull never committed to such a promise; and such contracts are known to be able to be modified.

The Coalition has always stated that it preferred a Fibre to the Node and HFC-based approach to the NBN. In mid-December, NBN Co delivered its Strategic Review, recommending that Labor’s all-fibre approach to its broadband network be replaced by a mixed FTTN/HFC cable/FTTP approach under the Coalition.

Speaking on ABC Radio in Tasmania this morning, Ziggy Switkowski confirmed Fibre to the Node would be used in Tasmania. “Obviously in the previous model, the infrastructure was going to be an all fibre infrastructure,” he said. “Post the election and post the strategic review, we’ve now agreed on a multi-technology model where we’ll seek to use a existing copper network where we can.”

The move should not come as a surprise to Tasmanians, given that Switkowski’s comments represent the consistent line which the Coalition has taken on the issue.

However, the Opposition immediately leapt to the attack, with Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare and Shadow Minister for Regional Development Julie Collins issuing a statement damning the Coalition over the issue.

“Tasmanians are the latest to be deceived by a broken promise from the Liberal Party,” the two Labor MPs said. “Before the election Malcolm Turnbull said a Liberal Government would honour existing contracts to roll Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband out right across Tasmania. These contracts are to build a fibre-to-the-premises network.”

“Today, NBN Co boss Ziggy Switkowski has confirmed this promise will be broken. He told ABC radio this morning that parts of Tasmania will in fact get the Liberal’s second rate broadband model and not Labor’s super-fast National Broadband Network.”

“Tasmanians went to the polls in September last year thinking that regardless of the election result, all homes and businesses in the state would get superfast fibre-to-the-premises broadband and not a second rate copper network. That has now been shattered by this broken promise.”

Clare added: “Before the election Malcolm Turnbull promised to honour existing contracts. He has broken that promise. “This is an issue of trust. The Liberal party has lied to the Australian people again and it shows you can’t believe anything they say,” Clare said.

And Collins said: “The truth is finally out there and the truth is that Tony Abbott has pulled the plug on Tasmania. The superfast broadband that Tasmanians expect, need and deserve is now a shattered dream.”

Labor Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings has previously accused the Coalition Federal Government of having “conned the Tasmanian public” with respect to its plans for the Coalition’s Broadband Network project in the state, having failed to commit to a full Fibre to the Premises rollout despite the State Government’s willingness to work with Canberra on the issue.

My opinion on this issue is detailed in an article published in Delimiter 2.0 (paywalled). As I wrote in October:

“Malcolm Turnbull never specifically promised Tasmanians that the all-fibre NBN rollout in the state would be completed as originally planned. But if there is any one state in Australia that deserves to have a universal Fibre to the Premises National Broadband Network, it’s the Apple Isle, which has been a perpetual broadband backwater for the past decade and more.”

Image credit: NBN Co


  1. “My opinion on this issue is detailed in an article published in Delimiter 2.0 (paywalled). As I wrote in October:”
    I for one find it disappointing that politcians aren’t held to a slightly higher standard. Accepting phrasing that deceived many people as acceptable because he didn’t explicitly promise, just led people to believe it was going to be FTTH. Not only that but attacking those who asked for a more concrete promise on FTTH, saying he had said he was going to honour the contracts.
    This is unaceptable for the majority of people with their friends and colleges, how much more acceptable should this sort of thing be of those who are meant to be running the country?
    I am sad you accept deception from politicians. What’s next? If he had his fingures crossed it wasn’t a promise?

    • I am sad that the stupid Tasmanian media didn’t pick up on the nuances of what Turnbull and the other politicians said during the Tasmanian election, and call them on it. I certainly pointed this out at the time — that Turnbull had explicitly not promised full FTTP for Tasmania. He said precisely the same thing about Tasmania as he said about the mainland: Contracts will be honoured. He did not promise full FTTP and anyone who thinks he did sadly misinterpreted his comments.

      • Oh I know he didn’t promise it, and was sad when they seemed to accept he had, they should have pushed he even more for a yes or no answer. What do you do when a politician starts getting nasty when questioned for a concrete answer as Turnbull does in these cases?
        In lue of a concrete answer from Turnbull I now assume the worst, he never fails to exceed my worst case, but at least I am looking in the right direction. With a concrete answer, I expect it to just be a lie.
        It has got to that. Two years ago I would have voted for Turnbull. Pre election I thought he’d be a better PM than Abbott. Now I think he is so dishonest he shouldn’t be in parliment, a business, or anywhere he can cause damage.

      • I know a lot of people that thought those statements meant anyone in the “green smears” would be getting their FTTP. No matter how much you told them it was legal double speak, they would not listen. People (in general) are far too trusting of politicians because they are not experienced in the nuances of the English language. There is a reason the MSM didn’t call them on their double speak; they were complicit in getting the LNP in to government!

      • BTW, my opinion of Turnbull has nothing to do with FTTH, FTTN, anything like that. It’s the way he goes about things. The inability to trust anything he says without analysing the heck out of it, the blatant loading of studies to make sure he is “right”, the almost exclusive focus on political point scoring, being a grade A hypocrit (eg. recent satelite capacity problems being blamed on labor after claiming two years ago there was more than enough comercial capacity). Mainly the inability to just get on with the job and stop playing with things for political point scoring and blaim gaming. Turnbull, I don’t care who or what is responsible, that is not your job, you job is to implement the best damn communication policy for this country.

  2. First thought was… wow even for Ziggy this is petty.
    Second thought was… and forgive my cynicism… I guess if they did do FTTH for all of Tas and it was well received, it could give the opposition some political capital. Can’t have that.

  3. If it weren’t for the fact that the NBN is now defunct, I would find it amusing that people can be conned in to voting one way or another once every 3 years, then when they realise what a bad government they elected and that they are stuck with their party of choice for three years, wildly complain at all their “lies, damn lies!”, then allow themselves to be conned again in 3 years time.

  4. Renai, I, like you were not impressed by the weasel words that Turnbull used during the election campaign, but…how is the general punter supposed to interpret stuff like this:

    “There’s 120,000 homes and premises under construction now, under contract, under way, but 85,000 Tasmanian premises will miss out,” Ms Collins said.

    That was contradicted by TasICT chief executive Dean Winter, who said contracts were in place to roll out all of Labor’s originally proposed FttP NBN across the state.

    Tasmanian Senator David Bushby also dismissed Ms Collins by saying the Liberals had costed their policy on Labor’s full Tasmanian roll-out, confirming it would honour Mr Turnbull’s earlier pledge to fulfil all contracts”

    and this:
    “Mr Turnbull also said a reference to completing the broadband rollout by 2019 was the national plan rather than the 2015 date for Tasmania.

    Mr Winter welcomed the Liberal clarification from Mr Turnbull”

    • No offence to them, but whoever wrote that article was an idiot. The following sentences are factually incorrect, representing total bullshit reporting:

      “Mr Turnbull confirmed a previous pledge honouring all existing contracts signed by NBN Co to roll out Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) in Tasmania as “the alternative would be to breach them and that is a course we would not countenance”. As NBN Co has all of its Tasmanian contracts in place, it effectively means whatever the election result, all houses and businesses planned to receive FttP will receive it.”

      In addition, TasICT CEO Dean Winter was also factually incorrect when he said:

      “That was contradicted by TasICT chief executive Dean Winter, who said contracts were in place to roll out all of Labor’s originally proposed FttP NBN across the state.”

      If you’ll note, even Tasmanian Senator David Bushy did not explicitly state that Tasmania would receive FTTP, he merely said the NBN would be rolled out across the state.

      Stupid journalists, industry groups who didn’t listen clearly to what Turnbull said, and editors who didn’t fact-check at all. I’m sorry, but what happened here was clear. It is not Turnbull or the Coalition who hoodwinked Tasmania. It was the state’s own media and ICT industry groups. If you read the articles published on this subject, it is clear the journalists had no f*cking idea what they were writing about.

      • Quite correct Renai, We get the government we deserve. As i have stated before, Tasmania as much as they deserve a proper broadband helped elect these liars to power. Chickens and Roost. You watch now they will probably put in the libs in the state government too. Bad as labor may be, the lnp are going to be far worse.

  5. Why even bother with it at all just a waste of money of a sub standard infrastructure,

  6. With respect Renai, I don’t think people can be blamed for being deceived by Turnbull being clever with his statements. The NBN that was being built was FTTP to 93%. From the moment he said he will complete the NBN, many people were of the impression he would complete that NBN. Then he started adding the little nuances and outs that will let him build an NBN that wasn’t really the NBN. Even you stopped calling the NBN, because that’s not what it was anymore. Many of us pointed out this deceptiveness from day one. Sadly, others never picked up on it.
    Had Turnbull actually given his “”CBN” a different name from the outset, we would not have the confusion we see now.

  7. I feel bad for the construction companies in Tas that went out and bought thousands of fibre splicing tools… Now they have to go back and exchange them for gel-packs and sticky tape.

  8. A lie by deception and omission is still a lie, if Mr Fraudband failed to correct media pundits and others that assumed the FTTH network would be completed in Tasmania (these ideas were heavily present in statements made by liberal candidates and in the media), he’s still a liar.
    Mr Fraudband shouldn’t have been allowed to use the terminology of “NBN” for his version of product that was substantially different from the definition of NBN in “about us” on the NBN website.
    People unfortunately believed he would complete the “NBN” because that is exactly what he was promising.
    Mr Fraudband’s definition of the NBN network had no resemblance whatsoever to the either public’s or NBN Co’s accepted definition of the NBN.
    Mr Fraudband is just a F**king liar.

  9. Why are we changing the NBN rollout in Tasmania before we have even determined the “best” way to actually do the rollout?

    Just what is Ergas supposed to be working on anyway, if the result is predetermined?

    What is Ziggy’s rationalisation for the change from FTTP to FTTN?

    So many questions, so few answers.

    • The simplest answer is invest in Telstra.

      We’ve been sold out and the country won’t realise it for another few years.

  10. “Obviously in the previous model, the infrastructure was going to be an all fibre infrastructure,” he said.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the old contract it wasn’t implied or assumed it would be FTTP, it was specifically written in the contracts as the technology they have to be roll out.

    How can you claim to be honouring an existing contract if you change the most fundamental aspect of what the original contract was promising to achieve?

    If someone is going to build you a 3-story mansion, and someone else says they can do it cheaper and faster while honouring the contract, would you consider them meeting that promise if they turn around and say it’s only going to be a single story now and made of fibro, but the builders will still have a job?

  11. NZ is abandoning FTTN, the UK is regretting the FTTN and third world countries are deploying FTTP – WTF are we doing if not buying the crap other countries are throwing out?

  12. what a joke.

    but what is worse how is if was widely known before last election it wouldn’t have changed anything.

    its clear the NBN polices differences between the two parties were far too technical for the vast majority of people.

    Only a few percent of the population understand the difference between a bit and a byte.

    hell my wife worked in IT for a few years and has no idea how the CBN compares to the NBN.

    • “its clear the NBN polices differences between the two parties were far too technical for the vast majority of people.”

      That’s right. The fact that the media and ICT lobby groups weren’t savvy enough to clearly specify the differences in policies, should illustrate how difficult it was for a regular voter to be truly informed of what was happening with the NBN in Tas. I almost think that TasICT were attempting to call Turnbull’s bluff with their media statements about contracts in the state proceeding under a coalition government, but if so it obviously backfired when Turnbull made no attempt to correct them.

      Regardless, Turnbull deliberately gave false hope when he promised that contracts would be honoured (why do so if it’s ultimately an irrelevant fact?). He didn’t make any attempt to clarify the conditions these contracts would continue under (not until after the election, when the “only where work has commenced” clause was suddenly added). That alone makes him untrustworthy.

  13. There was a prime minister long ago who once said “there would be no carbon tax under a government I lead”. That same PM once elected enacted what was called Carbon Pricing and tried to argue that it wasn’t actually a tax. That this is what she meant when she said it and if anyone assumed otherwise they should have paid closer attention to the potential for slipperiness in the statement. The then opposition hammered her for it.

    Now Turnbull after saying that the contracts would be honoured is saying that Tasmania will get FTTN. Whether he actually said explicitly that FTTH was the go or not is not the issue. The issue is that people ran with that assumption, voted based on that assumption and he didn’t do anything to try and correct them. I had assumed Tasmania was getting FTTH and I had paid more attention to this than the average voter would have.

    For a party who created a lot of capital pre-election about being honest, fair, straight talking and transparent this isn’t a good look.

    • That same Prime Minister clarified her position two days latter in a national news paper “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism…. I rule out a carbon tax.”.

      BTW Tony Abbot has also said in the past the best approach would a Carbon Tax. Should we hold him to that comment.

      MT and other members had been directly ask about the role out and implied one thing while meaning another.

  14. Interesting to see that even Tasmanian Liberal leader Will Hodgeman is fighting for fibre in Tas (or so he says – conveniently at state election time).

    His voice wont make the slightest difference to whether we get FTTP, but it at lease illustrates the strong bipartisan support an FTTP rollout has in Tas.

  15. It seems immaterial whether Turnbull promised, or was perceived to promise a complete FTTP rollout in Tasmania. (an existing final stage contract doesn’t mean contracts for all work had been issued.
    He guaranteed 25mbps within 3 years and had a “fully costed” policy. Both of these statements have turned out to be grossly inaccurate, if not outright lies, why would any “promise” have turned out differently.

    I actually agree with one of his positions, although he didn’t clarify it as being only applicable to the CBN. The network he is proposing is only suitable for downloading movies and Australia doesn’t need it!

    His solution will now be “up to 25mbps” within 6 years, but current ADSL, dialup etc already deliver “up to 25mbps” then he should consider it already complete and leave it alone for a future government to fix. (my cancelled landline supported 31kb dialup and occasionally worked long enough for a phone call, but that still qualified as up to 25mbps)

    We don’t need faster movie downloads, we NEED a telecommunications infrastructure capable of serving Australia for the forseeable future. We are that accustomed to dismal upload speeds that we accept we must use alternatives or forgoe the opportunities entirely.
    Eg. Tonight I need to send photos for a food exposition in Japan, representing Victoria. I’ll need to create thumbnails for a selection and send those, after they choose which photos they need, I’ll have to spend hours uploading them, or drive to Melbourne (Austpost would take too long). Any other material such as video presents too many logstical problems and I wouldn’t consider attempting it, Advance Australia Fair… pffft

  16. Renai, can I refer you to page 22 of the 2012 NBNCo Annual Report. This is what they said – “In March 2011 NBN Co awarded a contract to Visionstream Australia, which is part of the Leighton Holdings group of companies, to complete the fibre network rollout in Tasmania. This will cover around 200,000 homes and businesses in towns and suburbs across Tasmania.” Why wouldn’t Tasmanians believe that meant that they would get FTTP if the contracts were honoured. Turnbull and his fellow luddites knew that Tasmanians, rightly or wrongly, believed that his assurances meant that they would get FTTP. He did nothing to convince them otherwise. In fact it has taken up until yesterday’s comments by Ziggy for the Coalition to explicitly state that the FTTP rollout would not be completed. We shouldn’t have to take statements from politicians with a grain of salt. Being tricky or clever with words is not a virtue and it is not acceptable behaviour. It is a sad state of affairs when none of our representatives has a moral compass.

    • Turnbull made precisely the same statements about mainland Australia that he did about Tasmania. Yet somehow the media and commentators in Tasmania failed to understand that “honouring contracts” did not necessarily mean FTTP.

      • Renai, the reason Tasmanians had a different take on it was because they were told by NBNCo that the contracts had been signed with Visionstream to complete the full fibre rollout in the State. See the quote above from the NBNCo Annual Report 2012. If those contracts were going to be honoured, as Turnbull said, why wouldn’t you draw the conclusion that you would get FTTP.

          • The rest of the nation didn’t have signed contracts for the full fibre rollout in their States. Tasmania did. Of course Turnbull refused to confirm it – it was never his intention to “honour” the contracts in the way that people (mis)understood.

            Were Tasmanians justified in their belief that they would get a full fibre rollout? Yes: The contracts had already been signed for a full fibre rollout, and Turnbull claimed he would (weasel word) “honour” those contracts.

            Were Tasmanians foolishly deceived? Yes: Turnbull is a conman and a fraud; ha ha ha, silly Tasmanians!

            But while we can’t rightly say that Turnbull lied or broke an election promise (at least, for this one), let’s call it for what it is: Turnbull deceived Tasmanians on the NBN. That should be the headline.

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