Labor will abandon its FTTP NBN policy


opinion/analysis There is absolutely no doubt that the Australian Labor Party will abandon its Fibre to the Premises National Broadband Network plan and adopt the Coalition’s alternative Multi-Technology Model as official policy before the next Federal Election.

If we’ve learnt anything about the Australian Labor Party since the party lost power almost two years ago, it’s that much of modern Labor has become focused on pragmatism, subduing the idealistic past that it evinced as recently as the days following Kevin Rudd’s landmark election victory in 2007.

You only have to cast your eye back over the past six months to see this trend in action. It was Labor who waved through the Parliament undemocratic laws that would see journalists jailed for merely reporting on botched intelligence operations, Orwellian laws to retain the telecommunications data of the entire Australian population, and ineffective laws that will give Australia its newest Internet filter.

Labor even lowered itself to pass laws significantly reducing Australia’s renewable energy target, laughably including the burning of wood as a “renewable energy source”, and who could forget the odious Australian Border Force Act which will see doctors thrown in jail for fulfilling their duty of care to report abuse of asylum seekers. What a corker.

The list of things which Labor won’t pass, it appears, is desperately slim. It notably includes bills which would see a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption established.

Sure, you can argue that not all Labor MPs have completely lost all perspective. Familiar and friendly faces such as Anthony Albanese, Ed Husic and Melissa Parke have done a great deal of handwringing about a number of the above pieces of legislation, and can be expected to speak up about further controversial issues in future. We’re thankful for this display of common sense and decency.

Of course, nobody from the Labor side of politics actually voted against the legislation they disagreed with, leaving the parliamentary crossbench to fulfil the role of actual Opposition in each case. One wonders how often the Greens consider themselves to be living in the twilight world these days, teaming up with ideological opposition in the form of the IPA and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm to promote the basic human right of not being spied upon 24×7.

(Of course, for all of its virtues and often-rational behaviour, our Federal crossbench has its own crosses to bear. Few Australians would countenance the often-sensible Sen. Leyonhjelm’s mis-targeted war on wind farms and gun regulation, while not everyone agrees that the Greens’ opaque process of electing their new parliamentary leader has its basis in the party’s vaunted ‘grassroots democracy’.)

Given all of this, does anyone seriously expect Labor not to fall in line with the Coalition on yet another issue — the NBN — as it heads towards the polls?

The reasons which will be given inside the party for such a momentous — and to Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy, monstrous — capitulation are stark and almost unarguable within Labor ranks.

Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare will gravely inform the Labor caucus that it would be “almost impossible” to unwind the complex deal which the Coalition and nbn have just spent two years renegotiating with Telstra. Nobody, Clare will say with sincerity, wants to revisit that arrangement for a third time. Senator Penny Wong, who as Finance Minister lived through the mammoth three-year effort to get that deal done the first time around, will nod her head sagely.

Clare will subsequently point out that the trials of HFC cable and Fibre to the Node technology are well advanced, and that, again, it would be “almost impossible” to turn the ship around mid-course and halt nbn’s deployment of such infrastructure. Even if Labor wanted to, Clare will argue, there are higher priorities that will affect Labor’s election prospects more directly. It’s better just to look ‘safe’ on the NBN — as on national security, asylum seekers, and so on.

No doubt Malcolm Turnbull will spend as much time as possible in the pre-election period spruiking nbn rollouts in every possible marginal seat, just as Labor did directly before the 2013 poll, giving Clare plenty of ammunition to make this case inside Labor.

Then too, the Labor faithful will have been well gulled by this time by the constant and incessant massaging of the public message around broadband speeds that nbn has been faithfully carrying out, in a sickening cheer squad effort devoted to “selling” an unwilling public on Malcolm’s Multi-Technology Mess.

There are huge technical differences between the new MTM technologies — the obsolete and outdated HFC cable and Fibre to the Node options — which means that in the long or even medium terms they will come to be completely eclipsed by the Fibre to the Premises model.

But this will hardly matter to the Labor faithful when the Financial Review — that staunch proponent of technical accuracy — is pumping out headlines like “HFC NBN will be as fast as Labor’s FTTP”, fuelled by persuasive statements by nbn CEO Bill Morrow about how HFC will “go head-to-head with Fibre to the Premise” and deliver “amazing speeds”. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out what front pages News Limited will deploy across its necropolitic stable if Labor puts a pre-election foot wrong on the NBN.

Then too, Labor has hardly put its best foot forward in the Communications portfolio over the past several years.

Clare himself is a highly competent and seasoned parliamentary performer as well as a decent person. I respect and like the man and his staff, as I do many within all sides of politics, and I’d like to see him retained in the cabinet in a senior role the next time Labor takes power.

But unlike colleagues such Husic, Michelle Rowland, the now-retired Kate Lundy or Conroy himself, Clare doesn’t have a natural passion for and interest in the Communications portfolio. He has never seriously given Turnbull a run for his money as Minister. Ultimately Clare is destined for other things than being teased by the Earl of Wentworth in Question Time for neglecting to ask him the thorny ones.

While Clare has kept Labor in the game on Communications over the past two years, nobody would expect the Member for Blaxland to put his reputation on the line by going up against one of the most popular politicians in Australia and dying in a ditch for a FTTP NBN policy which many people believe has already had its day in the sun.

The main opposition Clare will face to watering down Labor’s NBN policy will come from Conroy himself, likely with some assistance from Husic and Rowland. Although Clare formally holds the portfolio for Labor, it’s been Conroy who still holds most of the reigns of influence inside Labor when it comes to the project.

Conroy’s been fighting a lone battle to defend his legacy in the NBN Senate Select Committee for the past two years, but may find his liberties curtailed by the Committee’s new chair, Senator Jenny McAllister. Although the new chair is a novice Senator, Sen. McAllister is a former ALP National President who’s probably well-versed at dealing with party heavyweights like Conroy.

In addition, one has to wonder how much fight the greying Victorian Labor Right factional warlord still has in him these days. His compatriot Kate Lundy, who joined the Senate with Conroy almost 20 years ago in 1996, has already left the building. How long before Conroy decides to take his annual salary for life and head for a quiet existence influencing preselection in suburban Melbourne? Does the former Communications Minister have the energy to keep the FTTP vision alive?

In a certain sense, this article is actually quite redundant.

Although it hasn’t yet released its new formal NBN policy, Labor has already given several clear indications that it’s about to abandon its FTTP policy. Clare himself openly told the Communications Day NBN Rebooted conference in November that Labor could not switch the NBN back to a FTTP model if it won power.

The situation was completely cleared up when the party released its draft National Platform in May. The document outright deleted all mention of 93 percent of Australians getting FTTP, instead inserting an onerous note that fibre was “the end game” and would need to be built in “two stages rather than one”.

In the next few months, Clare and his team will be spending a great deal of time “drafting language” and “developing positioning” to plan the precise steps which will see Labor fall completely into line with the Coalition’s MTM policy. It will no doubt feature a heavy emphasis on avoiding the words “Fibre to the Node” and “HFC cable” and stress how, at some vague time in the future, Labor plans on extending Turnbull’s vision to full FTTP.

But that extension will necessarily come at a very far off point in the future, well into the next decade. By that time, Labor will have had ample time to further water down the ambitious broadband strategy developed by the visionary Rudd and Conroy even further.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, watering down promises is what politicians do best.

Image credit: Parliamentary broadcasting


  1. It’s not a directly related “NBN Technical” comment but are the Greens (and Senator Ludlam) quickly becoming a real choice when it comes to major political parties ? It seems these days that if the ALP and Libs merged nobody would really notice.

    Anything NBN related that had Senator Ludlam involved in a major way would surely be a good thing.

    • Well, my background is well-established, so it’s pretty clear that I think the Greens are a credible alternative ;) I worked for them, after all. They are very strong parliamentary performers on their core issues.

      Where they struggle has been on areas which aren’t their traditional strengths — Foreign Affairs, Defence, Economics, National Security etc. If they can get more MPs in with backgrounds like Senator Whish-Wilson’s (a former investment banker) and diversify further beyond their environmental roots, they will definitely continue to grow and become further entrenched. It’s a slow process, but it’s happening.

      Of course, the Labor Left is sharply aware of this phenomenon. If the Greens continue to take seats off Labor, then I expect the Left to gain more volume within Labor and to start fighting harder to keep its ground, especially through better policy development and heading off the Greens at the pass with political moves. We saw this recently with the fuel excise issue, which was widely interpreted as Labor trying to avoid the Greens inking another deal with the Government similar to the pension issue:

      Another challenge the Greens will face as they get larger is the internal bureaucracy issues all parties face as they get larger — it’s hard to keep everyone in the same camp and disciplined along the same lines etc. The Coalition has done a good job of this recently — Labor not so much.

      • As a lifelong Labor voter (until the last federal and NSW election’s conversion to the Greens) and an actual veteran (long retired and on the project management side) of some of the agencies now morphed into the absurd and disgraceful ‘border force’ bureaucratic meme, I am firmly of the opinion that this joint would be hugely enhanced under an enforced benign dictatorship, with Senator Ludlum being drafted into that position immediately (and possibly for life)…

    • You’re right. Have a look at this and see where Labor sits now in the political spectrum.

      Not much of alternative, really. Greens might be it. And to think I joined Labor recently, thinking I might make a difference. Might send them an email asking for my money back.

  2. You were wrong all last Parliament when you took malcolm at his word, and you are wrong again. Clare highlighting the simple facts won’t change their desire.

    As for “Australian Border Force Act which will see doctors thrown in jail for fulfilling their duty of care to report abuse of asylum seekers.” I’d draw your attention to this

    And let’s not forget that all of the Greens posturing, they also signed off on it.

    Labor brought in the original, against a lot of opposition, yours included through giving turnbull another platform to peddle his lies. I’ll go on Labors achievements in power, not their defenses in opposition against obvious wedges to work out what they will do should they get elected.

    • From Said Article

      “The author is right in arguing that the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 cannot “guarantee absolutely” that whistleblowers will be spared from retaliation. – Khanh Hoang”

  3. Very pleasantly surprised to see Delimiter back online – I’ve missed you ;)

    If Labor does backtrack on their plan for a predominantly FTTP NBN, I will be absolutely ropable. The very thought was making me get angry. It’s these kind of long-term/future-planning projects that I enjoy seeing governments engage in. So sick of the political cheap shots, smear campaigns, insatiable instant headlines, stupid slogans and small ideas doing the rounds most of the time.

    • The NBN is now the MTM regardless of what party wins the next election. The Libs will drag it slowly through the mud, for the ALP it would be a poor decision to unwind the Telstra contract – the lack of progress would kill any chance at winning the election afterwards.

      Nope, we’re stuck with Malcom’s POS design that doesn’t meet any of the criteria I thought we were meant to get:
      * Fast enough for current bandwidth requirements
      * Really fast – for next decade’s requirements
      * Easy to determine what technology is used for an address
      * Rationalised technology types to reduce system management costs
      * Upgrade able with minimal outlay / disruption
      * Removal of vertical integration between wholesaler and reseller
      * Ubiquitous
      * weather resistant

  4. We lost ftth when the LNP were voted in. Its over.

    Do we really hand over another $11 billion to telstra to scrap Turnbull’s choice so we can go back to FTTH?

    The human beings who voted this govt in deserve the govt they wanted.

    Dead and buried.

  5. It would be hilarious if the ALP did adopt Malcolm Turnbull’s Malfeasance (aka The MTM), the public aren’t really going to see the low performance MTM access technologies until just before, but quite likely after the next election

    What this means is if the the ALP adopt the MTM and actually win the election, pretty hard to believe with Shorten leading and not presenting a credible alternative government, they will own the disappointment that is the MTM.

    People on FTTN and getting as low as 12/1 and being told it is not a fault (during transition period which could last any amount of time), or those on particularly bad lines in the FTTN footprint being moved to fixed wireless or satellite.

    If the ALP do adopt the MTM they deserve everything they get, I wouldn’t be surprised as they fail to differentiate from the far right LNP. The ALP appear to be a new centre-right faction of the LNP nowadays.

  6. If I remember as soon as the NBN start on the HFC they will have to continue to keep the whole thing going because of the agreement with Telstra for the pay TV service so they might as well use it as best it can.

    But with FTTN they might be able to switch to FTTP but the problem is now its at a cost repair the ducts and pits which will now increase the cost of FTTP even more.

    • The situation you describe (FTTP + HFC) is basically scenario 4 in the strategic review. Labor and The Greens have shown absolutely no interest in that option. It’s hard to see them adopting it if they get in at the next election.

      I’d like you to be right but I fear you’re not.

      • Well it’s the only real option because of the Telstra deal with the HFC once they start useing it which will be before the next election they have to keep the whole thing running for the pay TV service alone.

        I don’t mind FTTB as its the best solution to get multi units upto speed plus being on small runs of copper and weather proof

  7. I doubt if labor will have much of a choice except to honor any contracts that NBN/MTM have signed. So what are you saying Renai that we should abandon Labor and vote Greens, The Greens will never in the foreseeable future have enough numbers to form Government. It’s either Coalition or Labor that can form government and considering Labor started the NBN going in the right direction in the first place. Yes I disagree with many of the things that Labor voted on while in opposition but with most of the media on the Coalition side Labor may only just scrape in if they get in at all and that would be terrible, can you imagine an other three years of an Abbott Government, I shudder at the thought.
    My heart goes to the Greens but my vote goes to Labor.

    • “The Greens will never in the foreseeable future have enough numbers to form Government.”

      They won’t have the numbers so no-one will vote for them so they won’t have the numbers so no-one will vote for them… there’s a fairly obvious way out of this cycle, do you see it?

      “My heart goes to the Greens but my vote goes to Labor.”

      You, ah… you don’t really get this preferential voting thing, do you?

    • One of the fantastic things about our voting system, that REALLY needs to be emphasized, is that you can vote for the Greens AND Labour. There is no such thing as ‘throwing your vote away’ – if you like Greens, preference them #1 and put your ‘more realistic’ candidates #2.

      • Nailed it, i used to be an alp member but after the metadata farce I quit, I’ll now be giving my primary lower house vote and Senate vote to the Green’s.

        • Bingo…. Same here. Stop giving away your votes people.

          It takes so little time to label all the boxes. Stop being lazy. God imagine if voting was voluntary… Shudder

          • You don’t need to imagine… just look at North America.

            Can’t even get any proper legislation on gun laws done because lobbyists have more power than majority due to the fact lobbyists are a guaranteed vote on an issue =/

  8. It’s so good to have you back Renai. I missed articles like this. Great work and thank you.

  9. @Renai I hope you are wrong but I fear you are right.

    My only hope is the clause in the Telstra contract which apparently still gives NBN final say over which Technology they use and where. This would enable them to at the very least throw out the FTTN component and only use HFC as an interim technology.

  10. The cynic in me says you’re right. Further, when MTM is rolled out on a wider scale and begins to fail expectations, if Labor is in power the LNP will distance themselves from it and Labor will take the fall in the mainstream media.

  11. and this is why soon we will have a award winning book called The Frustrated State. Showing what a cluser truck telco in this country is. Which is why i can’t wait to read this book

  12. While I’d like to disagree with you, I can’t see any reason why Labor would fight on this issue. Politically, all they need to do is pay some lip service to ‘better internet’ and move on to whatever they feel is their core
    issues for the election.

    Well… I’ll enjoy the fiber was just installed in my house for the few months I remain here. Fiber that’s surpassed by my colleagues Mexican internet (200/200 IIRC). I’ll see what the internet in Silicon Valley is like.

  13. This article fails to mention the problems with the 97% FTTP rollout NBN.

    Firstly they were the decision to bury all cables, which drastically (fatally) added to cost of deployment and time frame of deployment- in other countries such as the USA these fibre cables are hung from utility poles, its very quick and very painless to string them up pole to pole. The second this country opted to bury the cables, the project was doomed from that point on. The costs of an overhead deployment are far lower and time frames far quicker, simple as that. All the ‘not in my backyard’ crowd killed the overhead deployment and hence killed the project.

    Secondly the decision to make the network 97% FTTP was too ambitious. Do you really think even at its previous rollout rate Australia would have been all wired up by 5 years from now? It wouldn’t have even been 25% complete by the supposed completion date if you extrapolate the numbers we were getting for FTTP- remember the constant articles about slow rollout, target after target missed; target after target revised downwards, contractor cost blowouts, it was impossible to deploy that much fibre that quickly on that budget.

    Lastly the current mixed technology plan which Labor does actually support, does allow customers to buy fibre from their nearest node or fixed wireless tower at their own cost. This is normally standard procedure for getting a fibre line. The take up of this in the UK is around 20%, meaning that deploying fibre to 97% of homes despite only 20% of homes in the UK actually wanting/needing it was a lavish, lavish thing for the tax payer to be doing. On that take up rate alone thats a 77% blow out and fundamental flaw in the 97% FTTP model. Most homes in the UK are quite happy with fibre to the node as their default, cheap, system. The homes that can afford it and do want to pay extra take up fibre. There’s no problem at all with that model. No one (except Labor) said the fibre had to be ‘free’.

    In short their entire strategy was doomed to fail from the very start, the strategy relied on assumptions that were incorrect and the new NBN system is actually not that bad. If you want fibre you can just buy it.

    • You are seriously misinformed, Just to start you off, read this to correct your 1st incorrect assertion:

      “According to AAP, the NSW Government, as represented by Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner, believes NBN Co is not offering it equitable terms to access power line infrastructure for overhead fibre rollouts in areas where the cable cannot be laid underground, with Stoner believing NBN Co is offering $400 million less than the state needs to recoup its costs in the area. Negotiations between the two sides have reportedly broken Down…”

      • Well they shouldn’t have let the talks break down then should they. Look that horse is long dead but don’t that stop you keep flogging it.

        • @ aaricus

          I can’t see where anyone (else anyway) was flogging the dead horse?

          To the contrary, it’s now obvious that a lot of people, even previous rusted ons, are now in hindsight realizing exactly how superior in pretty well all aspects the original plan actually was (just as we were saying back then) compared to MTM … One particular advantage continually overlooked was the lessening of Telstra’s stranglehold over Australia’s comms. Alas now the Telstra hands are again tightly around the old oesophagus as tight if not tighter than ever.

          But primarily everything negative you mentioned about FttP cost blow outs, missed targets etc, apply just as much to MTM as they did to FttP… AFAIK, not one person has been commercially connected to FttN as yet (clarification please Renai)? So any target now reached no matter how greatly reduced and/or fluffed up by the new management, are simply because of the previous NBNCo’s hard work and continued contracts (yes they built it from scratch – the new management just have to steer).

          MTM blow outs – copper maintenance of $1B p.a. Needed upgrades to HFC to bring it up to scratch. Targets missed, 25Mbps – 50Mbps for all Australians by 2016 (already admitted, will be missed) and in the end, even with all the same problems and hurdles, we all receive an inferior, outdated product and a less valuable asset, which won’t repay itself as quickly if at all.

          I always find it humorous too, that some will accept that FttN is quite ok for the government to supply, but not FttP… simple question, why?

          Anyway, the fact that you supplied pretty well completely incorrect info (such as 97% FttP and saying all cabling underground – it was flouted to hang them in areas, but there was an outcry of unsightliness, for such an idea) and in reply then wanting to simply blame others for flogging the dead horse when the incorrect spiel was corrected, rather than just accepting the facts, pretty well sums it all up.

          Cheers Alex

          • @Alex

            That supposed $1 billion per year maintenance fee is not correct.

            The current bill is not quite $1 billion per year, and we are ripping out effectively 70% of the copper, and only utilizing the last mile.

            It will probably be far less, around $250 million per year.

            Fibre to the node means the vast majority of ‘backhaul’ copper will be disconnected and will no longer be a problem.

            Last mile faults are not going to cost $1 billion dollars per year I don’t know where you get these numbers.

          • Wrong again!

            Most of the maintenance is between the pillar and the premises which is were most of the joints and issues like remote battery and Baghdad repairs are. The distribution cables from the exchanges to the pillar are comparatively in very good condition.

            FTTN is is only going to make these issues more noticeable due to the much higher frequencies being used by vdsl2 etc.

            Perhaps you should spend some time in the industry instead of swallowing Murdoch/liberal propaganda and trying to pass it off as fact?

          • +1 Derek…

            The same people also love to ignore the extra power requirements needed for FttN and the list goes on and on.

            All to, unsuccessfully may I add, try to justify this substandard, obsolete technology (yes the same technology the very people now lauding used to oppose and refer to as fraudband) which will inevitably take just as long (in 2014 Bill Morrow let slip that MTM would be a decade long project) and cost as much if not more by the time “everything is truly factored”, even before considering the requirement for FttP…

            And I note whilst only one part of my many parts mentioned was singled out (and wrongly so) my sole question still remains unanswered.

          • Derek is correct
            Aaricus are wrong.
            IInet the only company that has built FTTN in this country has stated that most of the faults have acquired in the last mile of copper. The same copper that Turnbull debates with Conroy about using admits to the waterlog and crap full of pits his copper is sitting in. Or Turnbulls own SR states by 2027 the CAPEX + OPEX of FTTP and MTM will cost the same.
            Or the fact that now instead of the MIN 25Mbps we where promised or the “At least 25Mbps” in Turnbull’s SOE its now a once a day 25Mbps should already explain how poor our copper really is.

    • Firstly the opt to have the cable in the ground as the infurstruature is already there. The prob in the US and UK is that the copper is directly buried in the ground so they have to dig up yards to put ducts in for the fiber. The only reason for NBN to do that is if Telstra hasn’t maintained the ducts which now under the new agreement that cost now falls on NBN

      Second/Third its 93% was for FTTP. The model for FTTP was that the 100/40 user would pay for the network. It cost the same to deliver 12/1 as 100/40 so if NBN makes a profit of $2 on 12/1 it makes $12 on 100/40.
      Using the latest figures on a 10 mil premises.
      12/1 35% $7mil Mth
      25/5 42% $16.8mil Mth
      100/40 18% $21.6mil Mth
      And if you use FTTN rollout figure so far like the latest 200000 premise which is going to take a year which is currently slower than the FTTP rollout.
      But you have seem to forgot the min 25Mbps by 2016 we where promises before the election.

      With the FOD average price higher than the new FTTP of $4300. Wasn’t Turnbull claim to fame was that doing MTM would make doing FTTP cheaper later so why does it cost more?

      But the worst part is Turnbull own SR states by 2027 the FTTP CAPEX + OPEX = MTM CAPEX + OPEX. Which one would you invest in?

      So now the Gov investment is only $1B cheaper than Labor, but cant even give us the min 25Mbps (1Mbps faster than ADSL2) now a once a day service of 25Mbps while labor was offering up to 100Mbps.

    • The only person that killed the project was Malcolm Turnbull. Sacking the experienced execs and switching to a whole new model mid-project with the expectation that it will save substantial money and time was completely delusional, and here you are talking about more future fantasy models to purchase FTTP on demand.

      No doubt Labor’s FTTP rollout was going to be late, and the costs where going to blowout but at least it would have been a valuable piece of infrastructure. As a family who remote works I tried the 25/5 on FTTP to see what Malcolm’s FTTN would be like. It was an absolute disaster when 2 people were working from home and I lasted less than a month before upgrading to 100/40.

    • Except for the the very likely inability of the MTM to actually pay a proper Return on Investment.

      The original plan would have had those who were using the NBN paying off the cost of investment. The new mtm plan is not looking good from that point of view. Which will mean we will likely end up paying for it in our taxes. Yay.

    • @aaricus thats the thing, people were paying for FTTP, by taking up the service and paying for it. Just like users pay for roads by either paying a toll or paying car rego, petrol and other road related taxes.

      This argument that someone should pay for their own personal FTTP is ridiculous. Its far far cheaper and economical to roll the fibre out to everyone and then charge for usage of it. Could you imagine if we all had dirt roads, but one person on the street wanted the road sealed to their house. They end up paying for a lot more than they should, others benefit from their high initial costs.

      Just like if you have gas along your street, you don’t have to use it, but its there if you want it. Under the current model we have very little choice, no way of paying for bandwidth that we use and if we want more and can’t get it its far far cheaper and easier to actually move houses. Then all the sydney people who complain about house prices for example. How many jobs could be done from the country if decent reliable FTTP was installed. I’d say a lot of jobs, so it would ease the burden on housing as well. I live in Canberra and I struggle to work from home because my ADSL connection just isn’t good enough sometimes. Takes me forever to upload files to the office, so much that its often quicker to drive into the office to upload those files. That is just working from home, let alone if someone in the house was say streaming video.

      As usual sound technical policy (admittedly I think they could have implemented it better, with more FTTB to speed up the rollout initially and looked at other ways rof rolling out fibre), has been ruined by politicians only caring about getting elected and their own jobs. People are starting to get annoyed by the politicians of today, far more information is available and governments that look after their selves first have a short shelf life.

  14. To me the Greens are conservatives (opposed the CPRS and Malaysian Processing Centre, the last making Manus Is and Nauru inevitable, helped the fat clown remove the debt ceiling and now the debt has blown out over $100Bn with little publicity. Recently, for an encore, they helped the Libs cut pensions, especially for women.

    Ludlam is OK as far as knowledge goes but is a bit of a Peter Pan.

    It is going to be really hard to switch NBN Co back to FTTH. If Delimiter wants to have some real impact how about studying the situation and mapping out ways FTTH can be rolled out again. Stop with the hero worship!

  15. It seems to be common ground with both major parties that MTM is a pitstop on the way to FTTH. That being the on the record case, how hard is the following sell: “Labor is going to leapfrog the interim MTM step and go straight to FTTH. While saving money in the long run, this will require more money early on but will mean the extra advantages of and revenue from FTTH will start to flow sooner. Besides unemployment is higher and interest rates low so it is wise to make this move now.”

    Surely it is not beyond the wit of the spin meisters to sell this idea. As long as it can be reduced to three words.

    • Sorry Richard.
      Sounds good, a pitstop on the way to FTTH.

      Impossible, NBN will never be able to afford the cost of upgrade due to OPEX (Big noise over NBN having to employ thousands more – operations, maintenance, repairs, spares, warehousing for spares and cable drums of copper now for 5, soon I guess 6 or 7 technologies (WiFi and regional Mobile), for individual users entrepreneurs etc, the cost of their individual FOD when the rest of the country is in the third world, better considering the costs etc of emigrating .

      The Liberal MTM cheer squad in reality had no idea of the disaster they were visiting on themselves and on the country in their ridiculous ideological spite

  16. Labor shouldn’t abandon FTTP as a long term strategy, but as a medium and short range strategy. in 20 years from now, it will be easy to demonstrate how long term planning of Internet infrastructure is beneficial, whether or not that plan is actually achieved. Just watch GDP growth among countries and how it is directly correlated with Internet speeds and capacity.

  17. By the next election, work on FTTN and HFC will have only just started. For most premises, NBN will still be free to choose between FTTP and FTTN deployments, and the increasingly obvious limitations of FTTN will push them to deploy more fiber. They may be locked into using the HFC networks, but infill of premises on the HFC networks will likely end up being RF over glass.
    In short, Australia is too small to stop the global transition to optical fiber. We’ve just managed to take the slowest, most expensive and painful route possible.

    • Given time constraints and being painfully aware of Turnbull’s clusterbork, I support, no, implore Labor to keep up the current project and not to stop putting _something_ in the ground, even if it is something terrible they’re putting in the ground. Turnbull’s legacy will show itself soon enough with the copper and HFC remediation (euphemism for a logistic nightmare akin to British Telecom’s).

      Time is of the essence now and this somewhat reduces the pain that we ICT observers are all feeling. It is sadly much better to try to add some rationality into the network build while leaving what has been virtually set in stone with the renegotiation of the access agreements.

      As David so brilliantly pointed out, NBN Co’s (how are we going to distinguish the organisation from the network without the Co?) being allowed to choose the technology is going to be key.

  18. I think Labor would have a chance if they can do something to Fibre-on-Demand option to those who already have FTTN wanting FTTP. I don’t mind chipping in 3-5K just to convert FTTN to FTTP.

    • And if it is more than that as it almost certainly will be? Apart from being seriously inefficient.

    • But it won’t be GPON FTTP just a Fibre split from an FTTN card, as such impacted by the traffic, congestion, compensation etc inherent in that FTTN Node.

      Besides you have a truly second rate team running NBN, would they be capable of doing a good job. their remit is to destroy competition to Foxtel maintain, operate and upgrade and extend Ruperts Foxtel and Sky pay TV network. The rest is just window dressing for the public

  19. two questions –
    1. how much scope and wiggle room is there in the current deal to continue with FTTP for non greenfields or is that precisely what was ended by the new deal kicking in ?
    2. could labor try to leverage snap profits for Telstra over long term payment to them by reverting to something similar to the old deal (1500 per location taken off copper and onto FTTP) and upping the amount to 1650 or adding some other value like committing to certain labor and maintenance being through Telstra themselves ? in essence, Im asking if there are ways to configure the deal so it further benefits telstra without that being a purely monetary sting that would be politically poisonous for labor and make FTTN/FTTP look like ping pong flip flop policy that becomes more of a train wreck with each change of government ?

  20. You get, what you elect. Labor is sacrificing a bunch of values to the fire, knowing that the arrogant recalcitrance from the past will prevent any short term re-election.

    Voters are fickle and as a group, do actually have a group consciousness. Much like a flock of sheep, that group think is typically based on panic actions to sudden movement. Labor know this. Regardless of occasioned protests and heckling, they _know_ the conservative, phobic populace (just look at how successful the mere threat of ISIS has been!) won’t vote them in, again, without appearing to be helpful both in the senate and parliament.

    Folks voted in LNP purely because of the Labor melt-down, and percieved injustice of ousting a politician that had the populist vote, but was none the less a control freak desperate to retain power. At any cost. We knew what we were getting. Labor knows it is just as tainted. But if it is conciliatory and stable ahead of the next election, whilst letting Libs basically perfect shooting feet, they come out on top.

    Greens have some great ideas, mind. But they will always struggle to actual drive policy. Something tells me this is why delimiter is back in print :)

    Which brings us to the NBN. A true cluster fu–, err bomb if ever there was. It would be financial stupidity and waste of the highest order to undo Malcolm’s vision. He has been quite thorough in ensuring the next lot will be stuck with outcomes (quite hilarious in the context of demanding labor not do the same at the time. Ah. History. Always written by the victor).

    So. We get, what he general populace asked for. Along with border force and every other morally repugnant decision (that all concerned should damn we’ll get in the van, for).

    The only option in future is to suck up the cost to migrate to fibre. How we pay for it generally speaking is irrelevant. We just will. Either through a tax based loan, or outright wallet grab. The country won’t really stand for yet more delays.

    Debate is over. Has been for 3+ years. Best we can do is hold both parties to the fire to ensure they start DELIVERING.

  21. While not a technical comment…Oh My God….how I missed your articles Renai. WELCOME BACK!

    So glad I have just completed a house build in a FTTP area up here in QLD!

    As was evident this year with the wide spread adoption of streaming TV and higher definition content a FTTP model would have been the best future proof solution. This will be a demand of the mainstream non techie voter over the next five years as they find themselves left behind in this media orientated society. I agree that the path now for communication is now set in stone for the next decade with the MTM model. It is frustrating however to think of the time and money wasted when FTTP will again be considered.

    I do agree with the ALP and sympathise if indeed they back MTM, the priority now would seem to firstly get a model rolled out as expediatenly as possible to get off DSL. Continued delay of further negotiations is not an option.

  22. Seeing as FttN won’t actually work, and they’re going to be holding that baby if they win, I say good luck to them. I mean, can you imagine them saying that they’ll push on with FttN as it’s more ‘pragmatic’ only to discover it was undeliverable like we all said in the first place? LoL.

  23. My view is that Labor won’t totally abandon its FTTP policy, so much as promise it will be done in some indeterminate future.

    Frankly, that’s acknowledging the reality. Turnbull has wrecked the policy (and I, for one, will never forgive him for that). To use an analogy, Turnbull has steered the ship into dangerous waters, and rather than try to turn this behemoth around and get back onto the original course, a future Labor government is going to have to navigate through it and out of the other side.

    Respectfully, I think the premise of this article is mistaken, as Clare has acknowledged this reality some time ago. “But the underlying principle here is that … the endgame is fibre. The question is how and when would we get there? The original policy was you do it in one stage. Now it’s going to have to be done in two.” Adam Bender (Computerworld) on 18 November, 2014 14:22

    It’s wise to hold a healthy level of scepticism about their intentions. For example, a Labor government could essentially just allow fibre to be rolled out by competing private companies when and where profitable, and that would still technically be Australia moving towards Fibre. However, traditionally, Labor policies are enacted through large, centralised projects. Furthermore, a fibre NBN is consistent with Shorten’s STEM vision/rhetoric in his 2015 budget reply.

    We can only hope that, should the true NBN vision still live, that a future Labor government will allow NBNco independence to roll out fibre based on economic and technical considerations (targeting dense, low-cost, profitable areas first), unburdened by political concerns – which is, ironically, the most politically sound plan of action and the plan that will give the NBN the greatest chance of success.

    In conclusion, while we cannot be sure to what extent a future Labor government will keep to its word, what we can be sure of – from almost two years of missteps, bad policy and errors of judgment – is that the Abbott Coalition government will never give Australia a chance. I am by no means a fan of Labor, but the Coalition really does need to go.

  24. If Labor is to abandon FTTP then they should go for FTTdp.
    I realise that is not as good as FTTP, but this would enable a proper Fod, and maybe alleviate the naysayers who say “If you want fibre pay for it yourself”.
    That may be palatable to the voters.

  25. I had 19 Mbps on my ADSL. Wish they would keep it.
    Now I am forced to NBN (FTTP) I must pay the same for 12 Mbps!
    $10 more if I want tier 2 speed.

    • This is the big problem for residential customers. If the NBN workers ever come to my suburb I would be in the same position, having 13Mbps right now on ADSL2+ and I have had this speed since 2008.

      I have looked at NBN plans from several companies and quite frankly it’s a raw deal. It takes a lot of the gloss off the NBN from an ordinary customer’s point of view.

      They need to find a way of bringing the prices down.

    • @ Colonel.

      In regards to the “previous FttP plan”… Mike Quigley gave an undertaking to all Aussies when head of NBNCo via the NBN Corporate/Biz Plan, that NBN prices would be on par or cheaper price wise for the same or better product.

      Of course this has now sadly gone out the window, as has the superior future FttP roll out, since the change of plans/NBN management/government… to Australia’s/our detriment, as you have pointed out.

      On the bright side, down the track when you need far greater speeds (down and more importantly up) than you could ever achieve via your ADSL, you’ll have the capability. As such, I’m pretty sure you’ll, in hindsight, be grateful for having received FttP.

  26. Regardless it is going to be fun watching how the NBN as well as the rest of our infrastructure copes in the future. Sorry but those domestic Solar Panels will be largely toast.
    Interesting times ahead.

    I sorely missed Renai’s articles.
    However Climate Change has become an interest as weather and climate will to a large degree impact every area of our lives, and the possibility is there for it to be coming far sooner than expected, well within the lifespan of our MTM. With that will be extremes and storms like we have never known, lightning, intense rain events, gale force winds, searing heat and drought. How will that copper cope (HFC is part copper, the fibre part is owned by Telstra and leased by NBN)

  27. Renai, do you ever get it right? You’ve recently put out a piece contradicting this one. And this claims ‘there is no doubt’
    You seem incapable of letting your po actually putting out anything that’s not full of your buyer for the green and therefore against the Labor party.
    Do you EVER pick up a phone and try call shadow ministers etc? Have you ever done an interview? Do you ever ask questions? You just collate press release snippets of information. Quite a joke.

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