Reality check: Tasmanian overhead FTTP trials have already been done



blog It was certainly a nice political manoeuvre last week by Malcolm Turnbull when the Communications Minister let himself be ‘persuaded’ by Tasmanian Opposition Leader Will Hodgman to conduct trials of overhead Fibre to the Premise broadband infrastructure in Tasmania. Hodgman gets to look like he’s got influence in Canberra and is pro-FTTP for Tasmania, while Turnbull gets to look like he’s listening to the people on the ground, leaving Labor Premier Lara Giddings (whose actual idea it was) out in the cold. However, as the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union argues today in an extremely valid point, there’s no real need for more overhead FTTP trials in Tasmania — those have already been done. Computerworld reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“The union said 17,500 Tasmanian homes had already been connected to the NBN using above ground electricity poles and wires, with communities including Deloraine, George Town, Scottsdale, Smithton, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna.”

When you also consider that the TasCOLT trial from 2005 saw some 1,250 premises in New Town, South Hobart and Devonport connected to FTTP, also using Aurora’s overhead power poles, and that an extremely detailed report on that initiative is still available online (see the PDF here), you have to wonder why Turnbull actually wants to do more trials of FTTP in Tasmania that would lead to a full FTTP rollout in the state, or whether this move is just another soundbite akin to the misleading “honouring contracts” statement which the Liberal MP fed Tasmanians prior to the Federal Election.

I’d like to hear an answer from the Minister as to why we need more trials of overhead FTTP infrastructure in the Apple isle, when so much work along these lines has already been done. I’ll be calling the Minister’s office this afternoon to request a comment along these lines.

Image credit: Screenshot of ABC broadcast of Turnbull press conference


  1. “I’d like to hear an answer from the Minister”

    You may get a response, but you won’t get any answers from the Minister on anything.

      • Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that Turnbull is only ever frank when it is politically expedient for him to do so. Otherwise, all you’ll get from him is bollocks with a side order of FUD.

      • So Renai,


        “I’d like to hear an answer from the Minister as to why we need more trials of overhead FTTP infrastructure in the Apple isle, when so much work along these lines has already been done. I’ll be calling the Minister’s office this afternoon to request a comment along these lines.”

        Did you get a comment?


  2. Make no mistake. This is a political maneuver, nothing more. The Coalition has no interest in FTTH at all. This is just more posturing from the Tasmanian and Federal Liberals to make them seem more open to Tasmania’s needs, when in reality it’s just simply to get them over the line in the upcoming election.

    Mark my words – NOTHING will come of this if the Libs win in Tassie. Neither will anything come of it if the Libs lose. Malcolm Turnbull simply will not allow just one state in Australia to go full FTTP. It’s completely against his ideology on the CBN, plus it will almost certainly lead to other states (rightly) demanding the same treatment.

      • I would probably have to argue that because Abbott is in control of the LNP, Turnbull has to block FttP wherever possible.
        If Abbott wasn’t such a negative opposition leader, he may have been able to not force stupid policy decisions on the rest of the country.

    • I think it goes much further than not having an interest in FTTP for Australia, it’s more of an active interest in ensuring Australia does NOT get FTTP.

      Turnbull’s professions that he is strictly “technology-agnostic” are a great load of bull.

      Turnbull (I say Turnbull for the sake of convenience, when really I’m talking about the Liberal Party of Australia) focuses entirely on the cost side of the equation, and utterly ignores the benefits and outcomes side of the equation. He’ll always go for the nastiest, cheapest solution, even if the marginal cost difference between FTTN and FTTP is minimal. I don’t doubt that even if FTTP was shown to be the cheaper option for a given area, he would obfuscate and mislead and dissemble and misinform to ensure that FTTP was not rolled out.

      • So he buys the VW Beetle rather than the Porsche 911, just because the VW is $5 cheaper.

  3. I believe that Turnbull hasn’t actually committed to anything other than to “consider” conducting a trial… which pretty much means all bets are off after the Tassie election.

  4. The reality is that Turnbull has lied about rolling out fibre in Tasmania. The contract was for fibre as he clearly stated in his blog.
    The only reason this “trial” has been raised is because Hodgman hit one of the Libs very raw nerves when he said the NBN could cost them an election. The NBN has already contributed to costing the Libs an election, so its no surprise at all they went full damage control mode when Hodgman swallowed his foot. The PM even got involved – with all his NBN cred!!

    Tasmanians are right to be angry because they have been blatantly lied to. This will placate some of them, until the election is over at least. That’s Turnbull’s aim. Turnbull is once again waving a promise at them he never intends to keep. He wont roll out fibre. Its appalling that he is going to take them for fools twice. After the election Turnbull will simply say its too expensive or something similar, and FTTP will be off the menu again. The poor Tasmanian’s will get screwed over again, Turnbull wont give a rats, and the media let him get away with his blatant lies. All very sad.

  5. A very pertinent point which highlights the spin and rhetoric being put out by Malcolm Turnbull.
    And it typifies his attitude. All spin, no substance.

  6. Probably worth reading Aurora’s senate submission.

    The costs they experienced in Stage 1 and 2 were between 3-4k per premise, twice what it needs to be for aerial roll outs to be the viable option they are spruked as. Build process has changed this then, but that has never been tested (the current plan only uses overhead for the very last section and only as a last resort).

    NBNco already have public problems with Aurora under the existing agreement (ie, they cant connect users via overhead in some areas due to no process with Aurora).

    Its a trial on the costs under the improved since stage 1 and 2 build process and how it will work when its not Aurora directly doing the construction.

  7. The contractors currently protesting and initiating legal action have clearly believe they have been lied to as well. They had contracts in place which they had tooled up for. Turnbull stated he would complete existing contracts which he admitted were for fibre rollouts. Now he has reneged and is going to take the contractors to the wall. More losers from Turnbull lying.

    • Maybe they should sue Turnbull and the NBNCo management individually, after all they are just Tony and Malcolms yes men if it is at all possible.

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